Suspension lift benefits?

I've just taken delivery of a new dual cab 4x4. I'm now going through the process of preparing it for off road touring work. This includes a suspension upgrade. If that upgrade results in a 50 mm lift fair enough but is there any real point in doing a lift as a separate exercise? What are the benefits if I'm sticking to the same size rims and tyres?
Interested in your thoughts
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Reply By: Bushranger1 - Sunday, Apr 10, 2016 at 21:45

Sunday, Apr 10, 2016 at 21:45
Having owned 4wd's all my life & having a Hilux with a 50 mm lift for the past 6 years I wouldn't be without it. Standard rims & tyres but makes all the difference when the going gets tough.
Upgrading to a new vehicle soon & it will certainly be getting a lift as soon as I purchase it.
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Reply By: Member - Roachie - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 05:58

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 05:58
It makes a significant difference for ramp-over, approach and departure angles; meaning the vehicle may be able to negotiate tracks that are strewn with obstacles such as large rocks etc.

However, with the same size tyres still fitted, you don't enjoy any increase in ground clearance under your diffs/axles etc.

Generally speaking (but not always), people incorporate larger tyres with the suspension lift, so that they maximise the ground clearance benefits available.

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Reply By: Alloy c/t - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 07:52

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 07:52
A 50mm lift + a slight increase in overall tire size makes all the difference to actual 'off road' capability , you don't mention other mods such a hanging a bull bar of the front [ extra weight basically demands a suspension upgrade ] , as for same size rims and tires ? Once its lifted it will look like it needs bigger rubber so just keep it in mind , Eg. going from a 265/70- 17 HT [ or crappy factory A/T that new 4x4 come from the factory with ] and going to a 285/70-17 AT will lift your diffs 14mm .
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Reply By: Hoyks - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 08:27

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 08:27
You shouldn't just go for the 50mm lift that is stated on the packaging.
You also want to look for up rated springs that are designed to carry the load you are going to put on it. Stock springs give a good ride from the showroom, but aren't much chop if you want to actually carry any weight.
With standard springs and my camper on the ute, I had all of 40mm between the bump stop and the axle on the back end. It didn't take much of a dip in the road for the two to clash. I went with a 50mm lift and 150kg constant load springs (I have an alloy tray which is lighter than a tub, so for a factory tub it is closer to 300kg constant weight springs).
With the camper on it all settles to the factory ride height.
Next job is to address the front end which is compressed a bit with the weight of a steel bull bar. It now has a tendency to bottom out on dips that it would have ridden over fine with out the added weight.

So, here is mine. Not tall by a long shot, but the the stock springs had it dragging it's ass and the headlights only good for hunting possums.
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Reply By: Jackolux - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 09:46

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 09:46
What make of vehicle are we talking about , where do you intend to use it ?
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Follow Up By: Macquarie - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 10:59

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 10:59
Spot on Jackolux. I have a Ford Ranger PX series which has upgraded rear springs, shockers and air bags to cope with a loaded tray and the 240kg ball weight of an off road caravan, but as I do not do any rough and tumble off road work I have no need for a suspension lift.

So the (realistic) intended use of the vehicle is the key from which the other questions and answers will flow. If only occasional off road jaunts are on the cards the expense involved may not be justifiable
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Reply By: Iza B - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 10:56

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 10:56
Off road touring? Not sure how rough you are expecting. I took my DMax from the showroom (1500k on the clock) to do the Simpson, west to east. Standard everything. Did Big Red first go after the lifted and locked 100 series in front of me needed three attempts. I'll do mods if I start going places that need it.

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Follow Up By: Member - Allan L2 - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 12:04

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 12:04
Iza, What model D Max do you drive?

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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 12:24

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 12:24

my stock standard PJ Ranger has been remote (Simpson, Gunbarrel, Anne Beadell, Ruddall River) and never had a problem with negotiating tracks. Did a few of those on the standard tyres as well.

At the start of the Simpson crossing last year one fellow traveller looked at me quizzically and asked if I thought I would make it across in my "little ute".

I had to have a second go at a couple of dunes early on but that was more my lack of experience at the time.

I have the advantage that I mainly travel solo with a small tent or swag so improving the weight carrying ability is not an issue.

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 09:53

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 09:53
For sand the best single thing to do is fit taller tyres. They increase the contact patch and don't do much to increase rolling resistance the way wider tyres do.

The Simpson tracks don't require a lift kit unless you're loaded up to your bump stops - which isn't a wise idea anyway.
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 10:59

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 10:59
Just my personal point of view, and having owned 4WDs of one sort of another most of my adult life (mainly Toyota Landcruisers) I find the biggest difference you can make to where you can go without getting stuck is the type and size of tyres you fit. At the end of the day, regardless of whether your axles and under body is clear of the terain (certainly an advantage) the tread of your tyres and how well they cope with the prevailing conditions will determine whether you move forward or not.

Having said that, if you intend getting into some really extreme country, a 50 mm lift will be of decided benefit. Also upgrading the carrying capacity, particularly the rear, will stop your vehicle's bum dragging when you load up your camping gear, extra water and fuel, etc.
I reckon it's amazing where a basically stock 4WD with reasonable tread will go in the hands of a reasonably capable driver.

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Reply By: Jackolux - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 14:01

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 14:01
Most suspension upgrades will probably lift the vehicle , how much really depends on the vehicle .
I got a GVM Upgrade on my Dmax before first rego , the lift at the front is only about 30mm the rear a little more ,
The Dmax has a issue with the CV's , they seem very easy to break , most IFS vehicles really shouldn't be lifted to hight without a Diff Drop Kit , 50mm should be ok .
Unless you go a lot bigger diameter tyres , you really get bugger all more clearance but that altered the gearing , the best on road performance and fuel economy will be with std size tyres .
If you really want to get into rugged 4x4 country , Vic Highcountry , diff locks are the way to go , if you don't already have a Locker as Std , consider fitting one , two is even better .
My last 3 4Wd's have had lockers . I have 2 eLockers in my Dmax ,
AnswerID: 598492

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 15:17

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 15:17
Unless you intend a lot of rock hopping, I wouldn't bother.

I added a set of Supersprings to my dual cab to give a little more support when towing my 2000kg camper and in doing so, achieved a 50mm lift to the rear with the lowest setting, unloaded. This may have been because my standard springs were about 5 years old when I added the Supersprings and may have been a little on the soft side.
Work well. Ride is excellent, both unloaded and with the camper hitched up.
Cost about $500 and can be easily installed yourself.


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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 10:44

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 10:44
Was that after you took your avatar photo?
It looks like you are sagging in the ass there.
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Reply By: Member - WBS - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 17:53

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 17:53
Thank you for all your responses. I appreciate that you made the effort to give me some of your time and advice.

To answer some questions relating to my post:
The vehicle in question is a 2016 Mazda BT50 XLR Dual cab 4x4 auto.
I will be adding a bull bar & winch, snorkel, long range tank, canopy and a rear storage drawer (self built).
I am putting in an upgraded suspension to cater for the extra load and it appears that a 50mm lift is part of that upgrade hence my question.

Prior to this vehicle, I owned an 80 series and I certainly did not get that lifted but I did upgrade the shockers and and added polyair springs. That was sufficient to suit my needs. I won't be adding polyair springs to the BT50.

I plan to go to Cape York, The Gibb River Road and some other places I haven't thought of yet. I go off road but I'm not into the real hard slog 4WDing like the infamous parts of the Telegraph Track , for example. I don't do four wheel driving for the challenge of tracks, I do it for the experience of seeing new places.

There is not way I'll ever get bigger wheels or tyres. I'm more than happy with my 265/65 R17 BF Goodrich AT/KO2 tyres.
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Follow Up By: mountainman - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 20:11

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 20:11
The tele track isnt that hard.
there are bypass tracks if vehicle damage is a worry.
and common sense prevails
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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 21:50

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 21:50
I have an 80 series as well. It will be interesting how you feel the BT50 operates in conditions vs the 80.
There is a big difference in stock height between the 80 & the BT.
My son in law had recently purchased a new stock Hilux, very capable machine but lacks in the height department for a few reasons.
A few things we changed to gain height without a lift.
We changed tyres from 265/65/16 to 265/75/16, this gave a bit more diff clearance but if you remember where both diff housings are located you can hopefully avoid damaging them.
Took the side steps off which gain close to 100mm extra clearance.
As we like to do our own servicing, the stock clearence is useless to get to the sump plug or work anywhere else without any sort of hydraulic lift, a 2 inch lift would solve that but borrowed ramps proved to be almost as effective and cheaper.
Some obstacles have also proven to be difficult without lockers, however, applying good hand brake and front brake control has also proven to have the same characteristics as having lockers.
A 50mm lift also helps one with a bad back to get in and out of their vehicle, I can vouch for that.
I also like to tackle the tracks that leads to great scenery destinations, these tracks are not what you would call extreme but a 50mm lift has made these trips a less stressful one.
80 series wheel base length is 2850mm compared to the bt50 3220mm.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 09:57

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 09:57
If you look at Dobinson kits, they do three. One with no lift, another with 45mm but no real extra load, and a third with lift and extra load capacity of 100-200 kgs (rear).

The best simple way to get a bit of a lift along with more contact patch when aired down is to go for a taller tyre. Unlike a lift kit, this raises everything.
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Follow Up By: Macquarie - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 10:01

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 10:01
Hi WBS, My 2014 Ford Ranger setup is similar to yours in so far as the rear drawers, long range tank, and canopy; I do not however have a bull bar or winch fitted.
My suspension upgrade consisted of upgrading the rear springs and shock absorbers but nothing altered on the front end. The resultant "lift" to the rear end was only a few mm. The work expertly done by Suspension Supplies Australia(SSA).
So if it not essential to have the bull bar, winch, lights etc fitted the frond end suspension work and lift can be avoided. Sure if you wish to go all "wild and woolly" the winch is probably a must have, but the Gibb River Rd and its ilk do not fall into that category.

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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 00:21

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 00:21
Hiya again Cruiser 91 interesting my 80 series didnt have really much more clearance than my 2010 Hilux I measured it .My Hilux has 17inch standard rims with 265/70 tyres.Only thing that worries me is front end on Hilux.The 80s has a rock breaker as you know .Hilux maybe need to be bit more careful even though got stone guards everywhere necessary ...I do have lift kit by Dobinsons but not sure which one as already fitted when I bought it.Defenitely helped now I have packed the kitchen sink in the back but still have 90 litres water and 150litre of fuel to add.getting itchy feet to go and good missus asking when the hell we goin!! cheers
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Reply By: Member - Odog - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 18:55

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 18:55
Hi WBS, I did the suspension upgrade on my prado, not long after I purchased it, from new.. Went with old man emu, through arb, as they supplied and fitted all the accesories as a discounted bundle package.. With bull bar and winch, and towing either camp trailer or boat, they put heavier front and rear to compensate.. Biggest advantage I have found, is no more body roll, handles so much better on the road.. Much better to drive, and when loaded, it sits well on the road, the fifty odd mil of lift is a bonus.. Cheers Odog
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Follow Up By: 671 - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 22:24

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 22:24
I plan to go to Cape York, The Gibb River Road and some other places I haven't thought of yet. I go off road but I'm not into the real hard slog 4WDing like the infamous parts of the Telegraph Track , for example. I don't do four wheel driving for the challenge of tracks, I do it for the experience of seeing new places.

It looks like you do much the same as me but I have a different approach to most 4wd owners. I do it all in standard cars.

I had my firsts taste of remote Outback driving in 1967. W
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Follow Up By: Member - WBS - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 22:49

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 22:49
And why not! They can certainly get to places we snooty nosed 4WDers think is our domain.

Have you seen the youtube video of a young bloke and partner driving up the Gibb River Rd In a 2wd 2003 Ford Falcon Station Wagon no trouble at all? Have a look here:

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Reply By: 671 - Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 23:31

Monday, Apr 11, 2016 at 23:31
"I'm now going through the process of preparing it for off road touring work. This includes a suspension upgrade. "


I went through that process nine years ago with my current 4x4 ute. I fitted it with a HF radio, standard size (205X16) mud/rock LT tyres, an auto locking diff in the front, high diff and gear box breathers, some wire mesh behind the grille and that was it. Since then it has been over three of Len Beadell's tracks, many other major and minor Outback roads and dozens of Victorian High Country tracks. Next month it will be off again on a trip that will include Cameron Corner, the Plenty Hwy, the Gibb River Road and across the top of the NT.

It has no bull bar, long range tanks or any other heavy items. The closest it has ever been to GVM on a remote trip is 200kg. That is under it, not over it.

You do not need to change suspensions to do what you intend doing. If you have the car sagging under excessive or incorrectly distributed weight then modifying the suspension won't fix it. It will make it sit up a little higher and look better but the car is still overloaded or incorrectly loaded and the reduction in reliability that it will suffer is still there.

Don't forget when loading a dual cab that the car has been designed to carry five heavy people, not an average weight mum and dad plus three little toddlers. If you can't fully load the front half then you can't take it up to its maximum capacity without overloading the rear end.

This article is well worth reading. bent utes This is a major problem with cab/chassis utes in both two and four wheel drive form and it is not the fault of the car.

If you really have to take a lot of stuff with you then hook up a small box trailer. The car should then be well under both its carrying and towing capacity and, providing you don't drive it like a bat out of hell on rough roads, reliability will be right up at the top of the scale.
AnswerID: 598521

Reply By: Michael H9 - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 00:42

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 00:42
Personally, I don't like mucking around with the basic structure of the car. People far smarter than me designed it, the trick is to make sure the car is designed to do what you want it to do in the first place. I've been on lots of difficult and challenging tracks with nothing more than slightly larger tyres in a decent AT pattern. I like to travel light and use less fuel. The extras you bolt on are usually the first things that rattle off. Both the driver trainers in my club drive stock standard cars with good tyres and you wouldn't believe where they can go. ARB would go broke if they were waiting for my money. Anyway, everyone is allowed to think what they like....and that's what I think. :-)
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Reply By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 10:12

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 10:12
Having gone for an 'off the rack' solution to get more lift and load capacity, I would never do so again. Design and quality weren't up to par, and this was from a major player at the cheap to medium end of the market. I'm now on the 3rd set of struts at the front and 2nd rear setup because of both bad design and poor manufacture.

My advice is to go to a specialist suspension place to discuss your needs and then cry once with the credit card.

We ask a lot of our suspension and for the most part 4WD setups aren't adjustable so we have to understand what trade-offs we can live with and how to minimise them.

Airbags have been a popular way of effectively increasing the spring rate and they still have a role. There are more struts coming onto the market with adjustable spring preload (to counter sagging when loaded) but I doubt few of us are willing or able to crawl under the wagon with a C spanner at the start of a trip, and we may well need more compensation than the unit provides anyway.

For proper performance the shock damping rates need to be tuned to match the spring rates. In the case of Dobinson's three basic kits to take one example the same shocks are used in each one. So you're behind before you've gone out the driveway.
AnswerID: 598542

Reply By: fisho64 - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 18:51

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 18:51
not intending it to sound rude, but generally if you dont know what any particular mod will achieve then you really dont need it.
Too many magazines telling what we "need" to have...
AnswerID: 598563

Reply By: Nifty1 - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 17:42

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 17:42
And don't forget, since you are in Victoria, that you are probably limited to a tyre no more than 15mm in diameter bigger than the maximum specified for your vehicle. That gives you a 7.5mm lift! That's a VicRoads rule and it's what the insurance companies tell me they fall back on when the chips are down. (But I reckon there must be a big loophole somewhere because most of the 4WDs I see are clearly well over this).
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 19:28

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 19:28
There are 2 options in Victoria. Option 1 13.3.1 allows a 50mm diameter increase while Option 2 13.3.2 allows for a 15mm increase. Don't ask me why there are 2 options, I was just reading the document. It used to be 15mm in NSW until recently, now it's 7% which works out around 50mm on a 4wd tyre.
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Reply By: Supersi - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 19:21

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 19:21
I put ARB suspension onto my BT50 (MY 2106), 300kg rear springs. Compared to the standard set up its a completely different vehicle to drive, much more comfortable both unloaded and loaded and much much better handling. Also did the GVM upgrade at the same time.
AnswerID: 598609

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