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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone-

First time posting after being a viewer of the forum for quite a while now. Let me start off by saying that I am probably the least qualified person in this forum to work on a truck. Mechanic work and motors have never been my thing. I’m a career carpenter, if I can’t beat the s*** out of it with a hammer, I can’t do much with it lol.

On a more serious note, I just don’t have the patience or understanding for vehicles and small engines. I’m limited to small amounts of maintenance that I can actually do, but luckily have a couple good buddys that are always willing to help. The love I have for my truck is like most guys here though, she’s my baby and I take care of her as much as I can.

Down to my questions now- I’m sure you guys will have plenty of great input for me so thank you in advance! I’m also aware of similar threads, but little seem to cover non-lifted trucks, or the style of my truck...

Specs-
2003 F350 7.3 SRW 4x4
Short bed/Super cab/240k
8’ CM flatbed installed (previous owner cuz down to fit short bed and actually did a pretty decent job)
6’ bed boxes on either side (diy utility bed)
Custom build heavy duty ladder rack.

Picture for reference, I’d take a new one now if she wants buried in a foot of snow.
Tire Motor vehicle Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle

I have done LOADS of maintenance work on this truck over the last 4 years if ownership, and also installed a performance Monster Transmission and torque converter 2 years ago (had a mech break my stock tranny when plugging motor back in after doing every seal)

That all being said, I carry roughly 4,000lbs in payload between the weight of fasteners, tools, equipment, ladders, staging, etc. almost daily. I also never plow, and very occasionally will tow a small bass boat or open trailer with lumber and materials on it, so this truck is pretty underused for its intentions.

Just wanted you guys to see where I was standing with what I have going on in terms of weight and ride-

So about a year ago, she started to develop the infamous leaf spring squeak. Like others, sometimes it’s gone for weeks, other times I can’t get into the truck without it creaking like a hotel room bed during a honeymoon. Not only does it drive me crazy, but as a self employed contractor, it’s borderline embarrassing pulling up to a job and IMO just sounds unprofessional. Have cleaned/scrubbed the heck outta the leafs and oiled them but it always comes back. Also noticed the silencers rotted off, so yes, I need to replace them, but with other suspension issues maybe it’s worth spending the money on a new system?

On top of the squeak, the rough ride is just starting to get a little much. My wife can’t stand it, and I don’t want my soon to come kids to be getting whiplash every time I run over a pebble. So I’m looking to soften it up as much as possible. new Rancho shocks front and rear helped, but didn’t last long.

The truck sits normally low, due to the weight of the flat bed, accessories and tools, but I also feel like it sits a little too low (and have had comments made about it from other guys as well). I have considered just spending the $2,100 and getting upgraded leaf springs in the rear, and replacing the front with new stock leafs. Although the mech at that specific suspension place told me it won’t do anything to restore the natural height of the truck, I don’t see how it couldnt? Leaning heavily toward this option in terms of bumping up my payload, but should I consider doing more to get a smoother ride? And is he BSing over the height staying the same? I’m thinking this option and a leveling kit?

Money isn’t too much of a factor (as long as it’s not worth a fat down payment on a 2018 F350) but I was also considering either 1.) add a leafs, 2.) air bag suspensions, or 3.) a combination of new leafs, leveling kit and air bag suspension.

I’d love some feedback, advice, and guidance here. I’m really looking to get the truck to ride softer, and also get a little lift back to it, all while maintaining the payload capacity or increasing it.

I’ve read that air bags are mainly meant for towing heavy weight, so would that be pointless? Also seen that increased payload will smoothen the ride (which I’ve noticed when the truck is really loaded down), but since she naturally carries a heavier load daily, I figured I can pretty much say I’m already doing that. Is the lift that I’m looking for something as simple as a leveling kit? I’d like to avoid lifting it if possible, just because I don’t know the max lift I can get without having to start changing other things (shocks and whatever else?) and would like to keep this as simple and as stock as possible.

Like I said, I plan on paying a well trusted and rated shop to do all this, or pay a buddy, but just don’t know which route I should take in terms of options. What’s all your .02?

Thanks in advance! Next topic I’ll have you guys help me out with my never ending alignment problems, and constant UJoint destruction😅
 

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I suspect your 03 F350, like my 02 F250, has an overload leaf, which if the truck is running empty is up in the air but when its about half loaded, touches down on brackets. this was added to the Super Duty some time by 2002, eg, earlier trucks didn't have it, later ones do.

when my kid put 1500 lbs of oak firewood in the back of my truck, they were squeaking quite a bit.

solution is to unload the truck so the overload leafs are NOT making contact with the brakcets (or put the truck on a heavy duty lift such that the rear wheels drop down, or maybe jack up one side of the frame, grease that side, then jack the other side...) and apply a smear of a nice thick sticky grease to the top of the ends of each overload leaf (so 4 places total).

if that doesn't fix it, then you probably need new bushings on ends of the main leafs (again, 4 places).

re softer ride, thats not compatible with heavier load capacity, as softer springs will cause the truck to sag more under load.

now, better shocks might improve the ride, especially iit feels bouncy when you hit a bump or dip... I'm still waiting for the rest of my order of Rancho 9000XL adjustable shocks to come in so I can try this myself (the rears are still back ordered from the factory). I run with a rather light load most of the time (200 lb fiberglass shell, and often just a bunch of bulky astronomy gear in the back, and some camping chairs and such, probably only 200-300 more lbs), but sometimes I'm towing a 5000 lb trailer AND carrying 1000lbs plus, so I want to be able to adjust the rear shocks to suit the load.

air bags stiffen your suspension, they can't make it softer. the idea is you can run the airbags with only minimal pressure when running light, and pump them up to level the truck when running heavy. as even my max regular loads barely touch the overload leafs, I don't see much point. if I was regularlly carrying more, then I'd air bag it. I put airbags on my Toyota Tacoma 4x4 and it HUGELY improved the experience towing a 3000 lb trailer with 1000 lbs of gear and passengers in the truck but that truck only had a 1200 lb total payload.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I suspect your 03 F350, like my 02 F250, has an overload leaf, which if the truck is running empty is up in the air but when its about half loaded, touches down on brackets. this was added to the Super Duty some time by 2002, eg, earlier trucks didn't have it, later ones do.

when my kid put 1500 lbs of oak firewood in the back of my truck, they were squeaking quite a bit.

solution is to unload the truck so the overload leafs are NOT making contact with the brakcets (or put the truck on a heavy duty lift such that the rear wheels drop down, or maybe jack up one side of the frame, grease that side, then jack the other side...) and apply a smear of a nice thick sticky grease to the top of the ends of each overload leaf (so 4 places total).

if that doesn't fix it, then you probably need new bushings on ends of the main leafs (again, 4 places).

re softer ride, thats not compatible with heavier load capacity, as softer springs will cause the truck to sag more under load.

now, better shocks might improve the ride, especially iit feels bouncy when you hit a bump or dip... I'm still waiting for the rest of my order of Rancho 9000XL adjustable shocks to come in so I can try this myself (the rears are still back ordered from the factory). I run with a rather light load most of the time (200 lb fiberglass shell, and often just a bunch of bulky astronomy gear in the back, and some camping chairs and such, probably only 200-300 more lbs), but sometimes I'm towing a 5000 lb trailer AND carrying 1000lbs plus, so I want to be able to adjust the rear shocks to suit the load.

air bags stiffen your suspension, they can't make it softer. the idea is you can run the airbags with only minimal pressure when running light, and pump them up to level the truck when running heavy. as even my max regular loads barely touch the overload leafs, I don't see much point. if I was regularlly carrying more, then I'd air bag it. I put airbags on my Toyota Tacoma 4x4 and it HUGELY improved the experience towing a 3000 lb trailer with 1000 lbs of gear and passengers in the truck but that truck only had a 1200 lb total payload.
awesome I’ll give that a shot! Thanks for The reply!
 

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Maybe I’m missing something, but if the top overload leaf is what is causing your squeaking, I’d remove it. Most people do. But since you carry ~4000lbs in the bed, I’d buy 2 new heavy duty leaf spring packs for the rear, and leave the goofy top overload spring out. Maybe consider F450 springs. For the weight you haul I would want at least 5 springs plus the bottom overload

Here’s one that’s 6 springs + bottom overload


 
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