Suspension Upgrade

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 20:52
ThreadID: 111159 Views:1563 Replies:5 FollowUps:5
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Situation: 07 Pathfinder (250,000k's) + 1690kg single axle van.
Planning 6 month x 10,000k trip generally on good roads.
Question: What should I be doing, if anything to beef up the rear suspension?
Possibilities, new springs and shockers, heavy duty springs, Aeon rubber springs, Air bags, or a combination of these.
How can I do the least to gain the most? Would appreciate any help. Cheers, Brett
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Reply By: TomH - Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 22:42

Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 22:42
If it has coils in the rear put a set of progressive springs in I had airbags and after putting the springs in never bothered with the bags again
AnswerID: 546150

Reply By: Batt's - Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 01:02

Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 01:02
First there aren't many good roads in Aus lol. If you are not to sure about your requirements I would strongly suggest talking to a reputable caravan dealer because they should know what their talking about or a 4WD accessories outlet TJM, ARB, Opposite Lock etc. Don't forget to check your tyres are up to the task probably need L/T and find out what tyre pressure is recommended.
AnswerID: 546154

Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Feb 20, 2015 at 23:16

Friday, Feb 20, 2015 at 23:16
If your suspension is still in good condition and your springs haven't already begun to sag you can just fit airbags in the rear to help bring the rear back up to the correct ride height when you're towing. The polyair bags in my ute lasted 9 yrs before one split recently which is a good run considering the weight they have carried.
FollowupID: 834017

Reply By: mike39 - Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 08:36

Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 08:36
For the sort of trip you have planned I would replace the van wheels with ones to match the tow vehicle.

At 845kg./wheel you are quite heavily loaded and should any tyre problems arise you would now have 2 spares.

We have an 1800kg. single axle van and after suffering several tyre failures replaced the L/T wheels with L/C split rims, 750-16 tyres to match the tow vehicle.

Most of the previous failures were when you have to get of the main bitumen paving and onto the gravel shoulder. If there is a 50-75mm "step" back up to the bitumen, unless you swerve onto the road surface that step can destroy the van tyre wall.
AnswerID: 546160

Follow Up By: cruiser 3 - Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 08:55

Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 08:55
Wouldn't putting larger diameter wheels and tyres on the caravan place more side to side leverage effect on the wheel bearings and stub axle ???
FollowupID: 833893

Follow Up By: cruiser 3 - Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 09:00

Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 09:00
I should also add that I have towed my 16 ft, single axle van around Australia several time including through the centre as well as numerous dirt side roads and I have never had a tyre failure. That was with the van manufacturers recommended tyres and pressure (LT tyres)
FollowupID: 833894

Reply By: member - mazcan - Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 11:33

Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 11:33
hi brett o
i suggest you take a look at they have helper set ups as well as full replacement systems i 'd shy away from asking caravan dealers they will just send you anywhere for a commission kick-back cheers
AnswerID: 546171

Reply By: 671 - Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 19:52

Thursday, Feb 19, 2015 at 19:52

First of all if you stiffen the rear suspension only and don’t do the same to the front then you can easily change the car’s handling characteristics from the factory designed understeer to one that is prone to going into sudden oversteer. Transferring more weight to either the front or rear outside wheel in a corner by altering springs and sway bars is a very long time honored way of changing the way a car handles.

No car should need a new suspension from an unrelated company to make it do the job it was designed to do. The usual problem is the rear end sags because the combined weight of the occupants is not enough to fully load all the seats so the car often ends up with too little up front and too much down the back. This can become much worse when a trailer or van is hooked up.

Try loading the car correctly first then attach the van and see what happens. Don’t forget to see if the car manufacturer wants a weight distributing hitch used if the ball weight exceeds a certain amount. If they say one must be used then don’t ignore it and fit heavier springs. They don’t do the same job as a hitch.
AnswerID: 546198

Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Feb 20, 2015 at 23:05

Friday, Feb 20, 2015 at 23:05
That's confusing if the manufactures suspension is designed to handle the load which honestly it isn't so just say you put 5 people in the car and their gear in the back the rear will usually sag so your saying that some of their gear should be placed further forward to eliminate rear sag which you said wouldn't happen in the first place because the manufacturer has already allowed for this by fitting the correct suspension but most of us know they haven't. So then you have no choice but to upgrade the suspension at your own expense or fit a WDHT when towing to compensate for poor quality suspension which was only designed with comfort in mind and not load carrying ability like it should have been.. So you can't use the cargo area as it was designed just remember that manufactures all brag about how much cargo area they have but in the real world you can't use all of it so where are you going to put the gear on the bonnet or on the passengers laps. Also even if by some miracle you have your car loaded evenly your car will most probably ride like a boat down the road so suspension upgrades are quite often the safest and only option. I've had 5 wagons both leaf spring and coil and if you take a look most have a lot of rear overhang and none of them can safely carry what the manufacturer recommends without compromising the handling ability of the vehicle and that is why after market suspension is safer and has a massive place in the market. Discluding factory self leveling air bag suspension which is safer again.
FollowupID: 834016

Follow Up By: 671 - Saturday, Feb 21, 2015 at 01:23

Saturday, Feb 21, 2015 at 01:23
Batt, we have have had this discussion before. A car will carry its full load without needing another company's suspension but it won't do it in every conceivable configuration that every owner wants. There are widely varying amounts of weight placed in each model car and it only becomes a problem when you start getting up near maximum. That is when weight distribution becomes critical if you want to avoid a sagging rear end.

If you load a car up to GVM and the rear is sagging then take it back to the dealer and ask why. If they haven't a clue then ask for a factory rep to call and see you. If you have loaded it correctly then it is their problem, not yours.

As for a WDH: If the car manufacturer says you must use one above a certain tow ball weight then it is part of the suspension design and must be used. They don't tell you to use one because they have fitted the car with a poor quality suspension.

FollowupID: 834019

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