suspension systems for four wheel drives

GOOD AFTERNOON LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, At the moment I am going through the exercise of replacing the suspension, on our ti550 Pathfinder and as is customary when doing research you get to ask a lot of questions from knowledgeable people.
What I am enquiring about is how do you tell the difference between a good suspension system and a bad one. I am still waiting on a couple of more quotes to come in.
We are in W.A, and I have been to just about all the four wheel drive shops in our local area and they all seem to have different products that do the same job, do the four wheel drive shops have the essential personnel to fit and tune the suspension system that they are fitting.
Our problem is the we are about to take delivery of our new van over the next couple of months and the ball weight is going to go from 210 kg old van to 290 kg, or maybe more we don't know as yet. now the back of the pathfinder sits down even with airbags fitted, and as we only have a standard suspension fitted at the moment even with air bags we have considerable dip we also use a WDH system with Hayman Reece tow hitch, so if some one can tell me what is a good suspensions and what is bad please could you inform us . Thank you.I I have never changed a suspension system before, on any of our vehicles and we have had plenty of them so I don't know about suspensions but I am willing to be informed. thank you very much
Broodie H3
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Reply By: Member - Munji - Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 16:37

Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 16:37
Broodie H3

Try West Coast Suspensions in Osborne Park
good luck
AnswerID: 591051

Reply By: mountainman - Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 17:59

Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 17:59
Your going to love that v6 diesel
most dont do custom work. .
ULTIMATE suspension can do any vehicle.
just not sure if theyre in WA.

AnswerID: 591059

Reply By: Ross M - Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 18:24

Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 18:24
G'day Broodie.
I am not a fan of airbags on std chassis as it concentrates forces between/midway of the two spring hangers which are designed to distribute the load.
290kg is quite a lot and equates to around 500 kg or a little more of a similar load in the tub.

The problems is it is also acting as a lever to raise the front, hence your WDH. The D40 chassis is not real thick and does bend, so having awareness of that possibility should make you select a suspension which has considerable up travel, ie axle to bump stop clearance ( way more than std) so it can absorb the mass transfer weight of the van over undulating country. The shocks will also have to be far more capable so it controls the mass movement, the OE shocks are very unlikely to be able to do that. The front shocks are also the ones which control pitching, for/aft and they are very important to provide steering and braking dynamics which the OE one probably can't do well, especially in an emergency maneouvre.
They have to have more ability to dampen too.

Decent leaves which will hold the weight where you want it to is essential, ie, the running clearance and upward travel and the shocks are to match.
Most 4WD shops only have a book which says what to sell you. The person at the counter is unlikely to know much about suspension despite having fitted many to vehicles.
Fortunately, some places are "genuine" specialists and do know how suspension works. Most do not.
AnswerID: 591062

Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 19:43

Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 19:43
Hi Ross, thank you for the comments all valid and sound reason. the pathfinder we have has coil springs all the way round what I am after is for peoples recommendations good bad and average on the type of shock absorber we should use, our travel requirements are dirt road travel, hence the new van. I don't know much about shockies and from what I have been told so far there are several different ones to choose from, and to be quite honest a bit Daunting.
As we propose to do a lot of dirt road touring I need to get input as to the type of shocky to use, as we are very aware of the weight factors governing what we can and cant do, also I have been told that I should put a 40 mil lift under the vehicle to allow for extra travel in the suspension. Ross if you could explain that to me that would be greatly appreciated.
thank you for your input so far.
Broodie H3
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Follow Up By: scruffy - Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 07:50

Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 07:50
Hi, I would give Dobinsons Suspension a ring as they produce a good set up. Have used their setups in a few different vehs and never been dissapointed.
FollowupID: 859150

Follow Up By: Ross M - Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 13:24

Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 13:24
Sorry Broodie,
I overlooked the Pathfinder bit. Realizing it isn't a leaf spring D40.
Most spring makers have up rated coils to suit loads and so some info from them would be good to have as they make the springs which others sell, and so know what ratings they have, the shop books don't necessarily have that info.
As above Dobinsons are a good start for a suitable spring.
Seeing you are using a heavy ball weight van, the shocks will need to have that increased capability mentioned and so I would seek out Bilstein or Koni which can dissipate the heat developed within the shocks oil, when used in/with continual corrugations etc.

B or K will have a suitable shock in their listing to suit the increased ride height, ie, a longer shock extended length, and will cater for the mass it has to control.
The 40mm increased ride height will give both ends the ability to absorb and slow down the movement so there is no bottoming of the suspension at either end. (driven sensibly as you do). Bottoming is what kills chassis and axle/suspension components.

With the Bilstein or Koni they have a single tube design on most and they allow heat of the oil to be dissipated more effectively/easily than a twin tube design where the heat can't get out to the outer tube fast enough, hence thinning of oil and loss of shock control ability.
If B or K, you may require a shield on the tube of the shock so it doesn't cop a whack from a stone (on the rears) and dent the tube. That would make the shock damaged.

I fitted Bilsteins to my 2011 Dmax and the handling and steering acuity and control vastly improved.
The OE shocks at 5000km were almost useless at anything other than looking like shocks.
Probably Nissan hasn't fitted high quality shocks in the first place,ie enough for sales purposes on a test drive, but they won't have any additional control capability which you will require.
FollowupID: 859180

Reply By: Member Ray M (QLD) - Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 22:26

Friday, Oct 02, 2015 at 22:26
Hi Broodie, I am having Terrain Tamer suspension fitted to my BT 50 in 2 weeks.
Their new design coil springs look the goods to me and have good reviews.
They have quite a lot of info on their web site including videos, so may be worth a look.
Cheers Ray
AnswerID: 591087

Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 12:07

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 12:07
Hi Ray,
I am sorry it took so long to get back to you, my choices have come down to three, Pedders Track rider system, the Iron man tough dog suspension with gas and foam cell shockies, and the terrian tamer system, the old man emu has been discounted as being to expensive,$2,950 plus wheel alignment, although I do believe they have a good suspension system. I still need the quote to come in from Westralian suspensions yet, hope fully it will get here today.
Thank you very much for your input if you know of any others that I need to check out please let me know.;
thank you
Broodie H3
Have car will travel

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FollowupID: 859257

Reply By: Sigmund - Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 10:49

Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 10:49
Find suspension specialists, don't trust to general 4WD service places.

With that ball weight plus your luggage you'll need stiffer springs or longer struts or both at the back. That has to be calculated. For optimum performance you want your loaded sag to be a third to a half of the shock travel down from the top. Of course when unloaded that's going to give you a harsher ride - the only way out of that is to get a shock with an adjustable preload and be prepared to adjust it.

The shock damping rates need to be set with the spring rate and the intended driving conditions in mind.

If you want to do this properly don't expect much change out of two grand. Look at Bilstein or Koni shocks.

I've tried to do it with a Dobinson kit and if my experience is typical wouldn't recommend that brand - for reasons of poor design and durability. It took 3 front strut combinations to get a satisfactory result - the 2nd was positively dangerous for it's poorly controlled rebound. Plus one shock blew a seal while still young and another started knocking at the top of its stroke also when as new.
AnswerID: 591110

Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 13:55

Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 13:55
Hi Sigmund, thank you for your input you are the fourth person to tell me to stay away from Dobinson, just a quick question did you fit the setup yourself or did you have it in stalled the other three did the installation themselves, they apparently ordered the gear and self in stalled, and this is the Quandry that I am having.
I am quite capeable of doing the installation myself as I do have all the equipment on hand to do it also I have a very big shed and all the lifting gear left over from my truck driving days, but from what I have been told if you put the wrong spring and shock in the wrong place you might as well not have done it, that is why I am asking the question.
I have read nothing but good reports on line from people that are very happy with Dobinson suspensions but I have also read conflicting reports about every system that I have been looking at, so the questions keep coming HELP. LOL
Broodie H3
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FollowupID: 859185

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 14:14

Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 14:14
I went for Dobinson kits designed for the vehicle & starting with lift & load. Installed by my 4WD service guy. He's been very good in responding to the problems.The springs at the rear were way too stiff, even with 150+ kg added. Front rebound was RS as noted. That kit was replaced with a lift & comfort kit - that provided an acceptable spring rate under load at the rear but front rebound was still hopeless.

I then shelled out the difference to get Dobinson remote reservoir adjustable preload shocks at the front which work OK.

That experience left me wondering how well Dobinson know their stuff.
FollowupID: 859186

Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 17:25

Saturday, Oct 03, 2015 at 17:25
Thanks Sigmund
I shall have to look into it a bit further I'll let you know the outcome in the future
Broodie H3
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FollowupID: 859190

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 07:47

Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 07:47
Good luck with it.

Struts have to do a lot of work under varying conditions, from light loads to heavy, smooth roads to corrugated dirt. The task of the shock is to control motion and turn it into heat. Many manufacturers cut corners and put cheap units on, that might be OK puttering around the urbs. Once you want to do more than that you can't expect a $120 shock to cut the mustard.

Shocks are also wear items. Oil, seals and bushes wear and need replacing in time. The more work they have to do the shorter this time is. Any shock can be rebuilt but it's not worth it with cheap units. I would expect to replace an OEM unit by 30-40,000 km if it's been used for towing, offroad or extensive dirt roads. Shocks can be checked on a dyno at a specialist suspension place.
FollowupID: 859195

Reply By: swampy - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 11:23

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 11:23
hi ,
The key is to match 4 areas, the shocker to spring pack combination for its intended use with the customers expectations .
Most places struggle with any of the above
Spring choice is relatively an easy choice but most definitely requires an ADJUSTABLE /RE- valvable shock for the best results .[many of the basic externally adjustable shocks are hit and miss at resolving ride issues ]
The designer maker and installer need to be under one roof so issues have a better chance of being sorted . Fit test adjust fit test adjust fit test etc etc

Ps u should try buying comfort & load carrying kits for 2wd work utes . Most are terribly mismatched [spring and shock]


AnswerID: 591198

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