I first heard about Liquid Spring Smart Suspension after I made suspension improvements to my Winnebago a few years ago.
After driving it awhile I realized the difference between ride and handling. The RV handled much better in turns and when passing semis. There was less body roll and it tracked better to the road. However, the ride continued to be harsh, especially over bridge transitions and bad roads.
An online friend described his ride as “blissful driving punctuated by moments of sheer terror!” Most owners of a gas motorhome can relate to that. Over time, I learned to anticipate and minimize situations that would induce “terror”, so I slowed at transitions, and carefully avoided ruts in the road.
I talked to the owner of Henderson’s Lineup, where we had the work done, and he suggested I consider Liquid Spring Smart Suspension to improve the ride. In fact, he let me drive his motorhome, which had it installed on the rear (at the time, Liquid Spring for the front was still in development). During the test drive, I was amazed at the ride improvement. When going over a railroad track, you could feel and hear the normal thump in the front, but you didn’t hear or feel the corresponding thump in the rear. Instead of a thump thump, it was thump nothing. However, just as now, Liquid Spring was expensive and I decided not to install them at the time, but knew I wanted them for our next RV!
Here’s a short video from Endless RVing that I watched several times after that test drive:
That brings us to our 2023 Newmar Bay Star! After taking delivery of it on September 15, 2022, we made arrangement for Liquid Spring Smart Suspension to be installed the following Wednesday!
After getting several quotes, I decided to have them installed by DZ Services in Sacramento for $25K. Henderson’s Lineup in Grants Pass is a quality outfit, but their quote was $30K! I could also have had it installed at the Liquid Spring factory in Indiana for $21K, but the 4,400 round trip would eat all the savings and also take too much time. Wayne Wells at Liquid Spring recommended DZ Services, and that was good enough for me.
DZ Services, owned by Don Zimmerman, is a small 2-bay shop in north Sacramento.
Don has been in the Bus industry for a long time. He started installing Liquid Spring several years ago and has a tremendous amount of experience. He is an honest guy and takes pride in quality work.
The installation involves taking off all the suspension components provided by Ford….shocks, springs….everything! Yikes!
In its place is a Smart Suspension System that evaluates speed, steering, braking, and road inputs 1,000x per second to automatically optimize ride quality and handling. It basically turns the F53’s horse and buggy springs into a four-corner independent suspension system. Though you still have a solid axle, it adjusts each wheel independently, reducing vibrations and road shock. What you end up with is a much smoother drive.
Here’s a link to their website: https://liquidspring.com/rv-suspensions/
And here’s a few photos of what it looks like after installation:
A control panel in the cab let’s you fine tune the controls during a drive. I generally leave it in normal mode, but there is also sport mode and a comfort mode. You can also lower or raise the RV by about 3 inches, which comes in handy when exiting a steep driveway. Just raise the rear suspension and avoid bottoming out! At 15 mph, the system automatically reverts to normal height.
The first test was during the drive home. There were very strong side winds coming from the passenger side, and the Liquid Spring suspension compensated perfectly, with no body roll. There was also a noticeable change in the the smoothness of the ride. It’s not too soft, like you are floating. You still feel the road, but it’s not as harsh or jarring as it was before. It’s quieter inside, and there is not as much movement within the RV.
I find the drive much more pleasant, as I don’t have to constantly monitor overpasses or hunt for the smoothest path on the roadway. Because of that, I feel more relaxed while driving and I’m less tired at the end of a driving day. In fact, it feels similar to driving our CR-V, the car we tow. That’s pretty high praise for a motorhome!
The only issue, which we knew about ahead of time, is that Newmar makes their entrance steps extend closer to the ground than other brands. The Liquid Springs, in a day or two, will settle to their lowest setting, and this causes the steps to touch the ground when extended. This is only an issue when the RV is in storage, so we extend the front jacks while in storage to prevent this. Really a minor issue.
Also, I don’t think Liquid Spring Smart Suspension is for everyone. The expense may not be worth it if you are happy with your current ride. If handling is all you want to improve, there are less expensive fixes. Also, if you mainly drive in an area with good roads (NOT California), then the added expense may not be worth it, as the F53 chassis is fine on good roads. Finally, the Liquid Spring upgrade will use about 500 pounds of your cargo carrying capacity, so if are near your load limit it may not be possible to upgrade.
For us, however, this has been a great upgrade to our motorhome and our traveling adventures. The bottom line is that we are extremely pleased with the Liquid Spring Smart Suspension and would not own another gas motorhome without it. Period.
Al & Deb