The benefits of upgrading your 4×4 suspension
Considering going off-road or carrying heavy loads, your suspension might benefit from an upgrade.
During the design phase of a four-wheel drive, engineers invest a lot of time and money figuring out the suspension system needed for a particular vehicle. They evaluate the springs, shocks and performance of the suspension using different weights – from the light load of a single passenger, through to towing heavy weights like a caravan. But at the end of the day it must drive nicely out of the show room to sell well.
Although this suspension is often adequate for road cruising or carrying light weights, going off road or adding heavy weights can put a four-wheel drive’s suspension under pressure. The suspension might be smooth on a highway, but the quality quickly deteriorates when the vehicle is taken across off-road terrain or sags badly under heavy loads.
Put simply, standard suspension is good enough for most scenarios but upgraded suspension leads to all round better performance or significant improvement in the specific area you require.
So if you plan to go off road or carry heavy loads in your four-wheel drive, you might soon discover your vehicle’s standard suspension may not be suitable.
Why upgrade your 4 x 4’s suspension?
There are many reasons to upgrade your four wheel drive’s suspension. Some of these include greater vehicle clearance, longer wheel travel giving better off road performance, better on road handling, better load carrying capabilities.
If you carry or tow heavy loads upgrading rear springs will make a huge difference in vehicle safety and handling, preventing the rear from sagging and keeping the vehicle balanced.
Replacing shock absorbers can improve ride comfort both on and off road, they should out perform original shock absorbers plus be more robust in construction.
How is the suspension upgraded?
In a four-wheel drive, the suspension is usually raised up to 50mm, which is the maximum legal limit before an engineering certificate is needed.
The vehicle height is determined by its load carrying springs. Most vehicles use large coil springs over the front axle and coil or leaf springs in the rear.
To improve 4×4 suspension these springs are changed out with customised replacements manufactured to carry added weight/lift vehicle height. Manufacturers have developed springs to cater for many different weights in vehicles. This means you can select different springs depending if you have bull bar, winch, constant rear weight etc. Shocks are installed to control movement and dampen the bumps.
Shock absorbers for your suspension
One of the main shortfalls with standard shock absorbers is when used in situations such as corrugated roads the oil heats and can become aerated. This aeration is commonly known as ‘shock fade’, once this happens the oil characteristics change and their ability to dampen is reduced. Aftermarket shocks generally have larger oil capacities reducing heat and use methods such as a low pressure nitrogen charge on the oil to prevent it from aerating.
Why Dobinson’s suspension for your four-wheel drive?
GCCEM recommends Dobinsons for all your suspension needs, as we find their suspension range to be one of the best, and all their springs are made in Australia. Plus, Dobinsons suspension can often be customised down to minor differences, such as whether you are winching with a nylon or steel rope.
The Dobinsons range is high quality parts and superior design that undertakes a rigorous testing process before being sold.
Not seeing exactly what you want for your vehicle in the Dobinsons range? That’s no problem, through our quality suppliers can also provide Oztec, Bilstein, Terrain Tamer plus more.
Things to remember when upgrading your 4×4 suspension
Don’t forget that when the suspension has been upgraded on your vehicle there may be additional grease points such as rear leaf spring hangers.
Fitting air bags can be an option if heavy loads are infrequently carried as you can opt for softer springs for day to day driving and charge up the air bags when carrying load to help maintain ride height.
Remember that when setting up a vehicle, either for towing or carrying extra weight, the end result should be to ensure your four-wheel drive remains level to keep weight on the front wheels and the vehicle balanced.
A suspension upgrade is an important 4×4 accessory
A suspension upgrade for your four-wheel drive is one of the most important refurbishments you can carry out on your vehicle.
With the option to choose the quality of your shock absorbers, and tailor it to the specifics of your 4×4, it’s a simple change that can increase your vehicle’s performance.
So if you plan to head off road, make sure you take a look at your suspension before you go, your passengers will be sure to thank you for it.
Finally, upgrading you vehicle suspension will not change the maximum load rating for the vehicle or how much you can legally carry. Upgrading GVM or GCM is possible but not a straight forward process. Upgrading suspension will however allow your vehicle to perform much better carrying weight than it was originally designed for.
For all your after-market suspension needs on the Gold Coast, please contact us today.