Rear Suspension Support Options for 2005 Acura MDX Towing 2800-lb Coleman Pop-Up Camper

Question:

I have a 2005 Acura MDX and tow a Coleman Westlake popup 2.8k. Ive got about 3 inches of sag when I hook up my camper. While I know I can use a WDH with this camper Im considering helper airbags instead as I can also use them when the SUV is loaded. Ive looked at both the Airlift and Firestone products and they appear nearly identical to my untrained eye. Do you recommend one over the other given my vehicle and usage? Thanks.

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Expert Reply:

The 2005 Acura MDX has a maximum tow rating of 4500-lbs. You can check your owner's manual to confirm the rating for your particular vehicle. Your 2800-lb Coleman Westlake Pop-Up camper trailer is likely to be within its capacity even when fully loaded for a trip. Still, the sag you are experiencing may be remedied or at least reduced by a weight distribution hitch, which is a better option than air bags for towing. Since the vehicle is nearly 10 years old you might want to have a qualified shop inspect your suspension to ensure it is in good order; a rear-axle kit will not correct a vehicle suspension that is worn or damaged.

You indicate that in addition to towing your camper you also have occasion to pull cargo loads with your MDX. The trouble is that these two different applications cannot be ideally served by a single product. The best solution for your rear-end sag when towing your pop-up is a weight distribution hitch. The best solution for pulling heavy cargo loads inside the MDX is a rear-axle air-spring or jounce spring kit such as one of those shown on the included link.

We do not recommend using both a weight distribution hitch and a rear-axle helper spring kit at the same time as these two different items can tend to fight each other and lead to erratic handling. If you do need to address both of these activities, towing and hauling, then an air bag system is a better choice than rubber jounce springs since the air bags can be deflated when necessary.

The two air bag systems offered for your MDX, # AL60815 from AirLift and # F4179 from Firestone, are similar and rated equally at 1000-lbs. Both install inside your rear coil springs. I have linked an article that provides background on the Firestone Air Springs.

Selection of a weight distribution hitch starts with a precise measurement of your camper's fully-loaded road-ready tongue weight, with all gear, supplies and equipment just as it will be when you hit the road. To this measured trailer tongue weight you must add the weight of any cargo in the tow vehicle that sits above or behind the rear axle, such as a fully-loaded cooler for example. This total combined tongue weight load will be the basis for selecting a weight distribution system. I have linked both an article on how to measure tongue weight and one concerning weight distribution systems in general that will give you lots of good background as you consider your best options.

I have included a link to our main page for weight distribution/sway control systems where you can review systems based on your measured tongue weight load. Simply click on your tongue weight at the top of the page to see compatible systems.

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Adam R

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