Ford Ranger suspension towing upgrade.

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 22:01
ThreadID: 134223 Views:22744 Replies:12 FollowUps:16
This Thread has been Archived
Hi guys,
I have a new Ford Ranger PX2 XLT. I will be towing a van with a 3000kg ATM and a ball weight of almost 300kg according to the local weighbridge. I am looking to upgrade the suspension to cope with the van and handle the likes of the GRR, GCR etc. plus a a bit of beach and general 4WD exploring.
Talking to local retailers and installers I have been advised.

1) Airbags are all I need
2) Fit overload springs in the rear (300kg)

3) Fit one of several brands of off road suspension susch as Ultimate, Tough Dog, Old Man Emu and several other brands which all include a 40/50mm lift and various spring rates.

What are your thoughts on whats the best and safest for towing over the next few years.
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: TomH - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 23:35

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 23:35
Airbags are the one thing you dont need.
You should also check the allowable GCM before you spend any money as these things can run a bit close more easily than you might think
AnswerID: 608182

Follow Up By: Gerard S - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 23:49

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017 at 23:49
As I said above Tom....Ive been over the weighbridge and will be within GCM.
FollowupID: 877962

Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 17:21

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 17:21
What about the GVM?

I tow a 2500kg van but when i added all the various weights up including ball weight, passengers, all the added accessories including bullbar, canopy, longrange tank etc etc, I found I going to be 20kg over the allowed payload.

I had the ARB GVM upgrade done to the D-Max which gives me an additional 270kg that I can carry, not saying I ever will but nice to have a bit in there.

This gave a 40mm lift and with the van on, even without the WDH, it sits quiet level - WDH only needs 4 chain links.

FollowupID: 877978

Follow Up By: Gerard S - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:32

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:32
I haven't added bullbar, canopy, long range tank etc in order to keep my GVM?GCM under control. I'd like a bullbar but at 70kg I'll wait and see how we go over the scales next time.
FollowupID: 877988

Follow Up By: Supersi - Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 05:05

Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 05:05
Have you looked the Smart Bars? Much lighter.
FollowupID: 877992

Reply By: gbc - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 00:15

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 00:15
Spring and shock upgrade all round - it transforms the vehicle. Mine is a 300 k.g. 'comfort lift' with kings coils/leaves and old man emu shocks. Don't short cut the suspension. King springs do about 5 different combos for a px/2 so you'll find what you are after there. For the record I have had firestone airbags on a hilux and ironman overriders on a Colorado. They do not compare.
AnswerID: 608184

Reply By: Member - DW Lennox Head(NSW) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 06:21

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 06:21
Definitely no airbags as they can and will bend chassis rails. I have had that experience as have many others with rear leaf springs.
I upgraded with OME heavy duty pack and could not be happier.
AnswerID: 608185

Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 18:43

Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 18:43
Not necessarily DW, the OP doesn't say if he has dual cab, extra cab, or single cab . . . dual cabs of course mostly have terrible back axle placement, and more overhang behind, when loaded incorrectly, some do bend when put through off road stresses.
Extra cabs are better, single cabs would be almost impossible to bend one, even in the Tritons.

That said, I haven't seen any PX Rangers bend, they are a lot stronger than previous models, and even then I haven't seen any instances of PJ / PK bending either.
Mostly it's the Triton dual cabs, they are very susceptible to the bent chassis damage, but have seen examples of Defenders and Hiluxes bent.

Air bags can certainly accentuate the problem of incorrect / over loading when not used correctly.
FollowupID: 878005

Reply By: Member - liftnlock lux - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 09:51

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 09:51
Be careful with the air bags as they can point load the chassis and causes it to fold. There are a few videos on YouTube showing the sad end result. I beefed the springs up and used a good set of shockies on mine and towing is great but I sacrificed a bit of ride comfort when not towing. Go for option 3, hope this helps
AnswerID: 608189

Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 10:33

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 10:33

As per the other posters, stay right away from airbags. There are numerous examples of bent chassis of Rangers, BT50s and other utes due to heavy loads and airbags. There's a bent current model BT50 sitting at Mt Dare. No outrageous mods, just a run of the mill canopy, suspension upgrade and airbags. In August last year it had been there for months - probably an insurance write-off.

On my 2014 BT50 I got a Lovells GVM upgrade to 3500 (doesn't change GCM) but still have to watch weights closely. No airbags. Very happy with the setup.

A big factor for you is the 300kg ballweight. On my BT, the ballweight of my van (160kg) plus nearly half again goes onto the rear axle due to the rear overhang. Standard towbar, no extended goose neck. Your Ranger won't be much different, so you're looking at nearly 450kg going onto the rear axle JUST FROM THE VAN. That's without putting anything in the ute. Consider that when deciding on rear springs and when loading your ute.

Another thing to consider is that the half (or whatever) of the ballweight that goes onto the rear axle comes off the front, so your front is going to be nearly 150kg lighter. Think about brakes and steering. This will have been considered by the engineers when deciding on towing ability, but think about it nonetheless when considering loading in addition to the ballweight and when considering front springs.

To work out the effect on axle loads caused by the ballweight, measure the overhang from centre of rear axle to the ball. Divide that by wheelbase to give a fraction. Eg, 1500mm overhang, 3000mm wheelbase = 1500/3000, =0.5

Multiply the ballweight by the fraction. eg 300 x 0.5. = 150

That is the amount of weight that comes off the front axle.

Add that amount to the ballweight to give load caused by ballweight on the rear axle, eg 300+150, = 450.

Might be worth measuring up and doing your own calcs.


Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 608191

Follow Up By: Gerard S - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 14:12

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 14:12
Great reply. Appreciate your time and knowledge....I'm tending towards OME HD package.
FollowupID: 877973

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 15:09

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 15:09
You're welcome :-).

There is one more thing worth mentioning - rear axle load limit.

On the BT50 and Ranger it is 1850kg unless you get a certified upgrade.
With that ballweight thing going on it is easy to exceed the rear axle load limit even before you get to GVM.

And don't forget to add the ballweight (eg, your 300kg) to the weight of the loaded vehicle and keep the total under GVM - ie the ballweight is part of the vehicle's load.

All this weight stuff with caravans and tugs and how it affects stability, braking and steering has been a topic of the road safety conversation lately.

Take care.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 877975

Reply By: Grizzle - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 14:19

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 14:19
My son put the ARB/OME kit on his dual cab ranger. The kit is engineered for the GMV upgrade but he hasn't actually had it certified. We tow a Ski/Wakeboard boat and the suspension copes easily. The boat and trailer would weigh around 2500KG

The only issue is that it now has a slight shudder when slowing to a stop and initial pull away. It is a standard issue with the 2 inch lift.

The car also drives well when not towing. He has an ARB canopy, bullbar, winch, roof rack but no drawers in the rear.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 608198

Follow Up By: Batt's - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:29

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:29
I think you better find someone who knows a bit more about setting up suspension or looking for another problem that may have come about as a result of the lift because if your under the belief that it's standard issue to get a shudder with a lift you are completely wrong. That's the first time I have ever heard anyone say that and actually believe it's quite ok I'm blown away by that seriously.
FollowupID: 877987

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:49

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:49
Batt's and Grizzle

It's a known issue with lifted Rangers and BT50s

You can fix it with a spacer kit on the tailshaft centre bearing and if necessary, wedges between the rear springs and axle to improve drive line angles.


Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 877989

Follow Up By: Grizzle - Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 04:20

Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 04:20
Thanks for that Frank,

I know he's hadvit back to ARB a couple of times to have the centre bearing spaced but we will look into the wedges.

And Batt's, yes I hear you. I couldn't believe it myself! He went to ARB because he wanted to do it "properly"!!

You live and learn eh??

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

FollowupID: 877991

Reply By: splits - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 16:28

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 16:28
That van is too big for a Ranger or similar size ute. Ford claim it will tow 3000kg ( or maybe it is 3500) and it will but they don't say what it can tow. There are countless things that can be towed that are half the height and length of a van that size yet they can weight the same amount but have a lot less ball weight. Their handling characteristics are such they will not throw the car out of the way like that van can if it ever gets the wobbles.

Everything behind the rear axle from the ball weight to the tow bar to whatever is in the car and even the car body itself is all sticking out the back unsupported.

You can fit heavier springs, air bags or even a block of wood between the axle housing and chassis and all of that weight is still there. That is not a problem when the car is stationary but bounce it along a dirt road or even a rough sealed one and the forces generated as the end of the chassis has to suddenly lift that load or catch it is as if falls will take it outside its design limits. It will be flexing up and down like the end of a diving board.

The big killer is not weight but the amount of material (mass) in everything. Mass requires a lot of energy to move it rapidly from rest. When it falls it builds up speed and hits hard anything that tries to bring it to a sudden stop.

Try an experiment with a brick that weighs say 2 kg. Place it on your bare foot and it won't hurt. To accelerate it rapidly you will have to kick it and that will hurt very much. Pick it up and drop it on your foot and you definitely won't do it again. The weight of the brick did not change at any time just like the weight behind your axle will not change. It will be all that material moving up and down quickly that will do all the damage.

Another point when loading utes, particularly dual cabs, is they have five seats. Those seats have been designed to carry five large adults, not just an average size mum and dad and three little children. If you want to load the car to its maximum then you must put the maximum load in the seats. It is so easy to have too little up front and too much out the back.

Read through these links.


Don't take any notice of the comment by the man from Alice Springs when he says a car needs a well sorted suspension. That can be an advantage in some situations but it can not take heavy material off the rear end and move it forward.

The editioral in that magazine said the load should be reduced by 30 to 40 percent in off road conditions and they are right. The advertised maximum towing and carrying capacities are for good highway conditions only. Some manufacturers, and maybe some dealers, will tell you this if you ask them but others leave it to owners to find out for themselves. That can often end in tears.

This one looks into the overall handling characteristics of towing. Click on "The Author" at the top of the page. He does have a clue or two on the subject.

These two are also well worth reading.


AnswerID: 608201

Reply By: 1094 - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 19:14

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 19:14
Would this van be legal with a 200 Series?
AnswerID: 608209

Follow Up By: splits - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:23

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:23
"Would this van be legal with a 200 Series?"

Yes it would be and it is also legal behind a Ranger but in the interests of safety and vehicle reliability, it is not advisable.

I have never seen a Landcruiser station wagon with a bent chassis but I have seen them with broken rear axle housings and sheered wheel studs. That is caused by overloading and the extreme forces exerted on those parts when the wheels ride up over a bump at speed and they have to instantly lift the car or when they drop into a depression in the road and the car comes crashing down onto them.

They have no problems supporting that excessive weight on a weighbridge but are often stretched beyond their limits when the car is in motion.

Air bags or heavier springs can lift the car and make it look good but they can't take the excessive weight away.

Air bags have their own set of problems. They are exponential springs, not linear springs like coils or leaf springs. The more you compress them, the more they resist further compression. Bump rubbers do the same thing. The have caused plenty of problems with ute chassis.

Linear springs compress in proportion to the load. i.e double the load and you double the compression

Any tow car should be at least as heavy as the van and preferably 20 to 30 percent heavier. The wheelbase should be as long as possible and the rear overhang, i.e the distance between the axle and the tow ball should be as short as possible.

That distance is a lever. On most cars it is around 1.2 meters. That makes it very easy for a big van that is subjected to a sudden change in direction at speed to grab it and give the car a really good "wag" around. It happens far too often when huge vans are put behind lighter weight and fairly short wheelbase cars.

Big long end heavy vans of that weight should be behind cars like F series Fords, small trucks or maybe an Iveco Daily.
FollowupID: 877986

Reply By: Supersi - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 21:06

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 21:06
A lot of good advice in the above responses.

Definitely no air bags

From my experience with a 2015 BT and before that a PX Ranger, towing a trailer with approx 240kg ball weight you would need 600kg rated rear springs - Ive got OME on mine. 300kg will not be enough - tried them.

Yes, I have an alloy canopy fitted out with fridge, compressor etc, so not an empty tub and find the ride is so much better than factory suspension even without towing a trailer.

AnswerID: 608212

Reply By: Batt's - Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:50

Thursday, Feb 02, 2017 at 22:50
Air bags are perfectly ok to use if used correctly and for the right application, that is where most people go wrong they don't learn anything about them just get them, usually overload their vehicles and go off road then blame the air bags for bending their chassis it's the easy way out. Now through the foolishness of a few it has created a big scare campaign warning people to avoid them well it's complete nonsense.

Buy a vehicle to suit is the first and most important thing to get right don't tow up near the max or beyond like lots are doing these days if you need to upgrade your suspension to tow a heavier van ask yourself why and what extra stresses am I going to put on the vehicle then resort to the first point and buy the correct vehicle. Remember when you go off road your towing capacity is reduced so why shouldn't the vehicles payload be reduced as well to suit off road conditions.
AnswerID: 608219

Follow Up By: splits - Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 15:37

Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 15:37
" Air bags are perfectly ok to use if used correctly and for the right application,"

What is the correct way and what is the right application when you are dealing with a car than has not been designed to work with them?

Can you direct me to any credible research that has proven this?
FollowupID: 877999

Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 21:28

Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 21:28
If you do some research you'll find air assist bags have been around for a long time while I don't know the exact date but they have been used in race cars, drag cars from memory as far back as the 50's if not the early. They were used in some of their tow vehicles and sometimes their trailers as well so they are not a new idea but as I said if you use them correctly and for the right application which if people were smart enough to figure that out some 70 odd yrs ago surely it can't be that difficult a challenge today one would think. But to me it seams like it has been for those who have damaged their vehicle from misuse and it is likely to keep happening and air assist bags will keep getting bagged because of this.
FollowupID: 878009

Follow Up By: splits - Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 23:23

Friday, Feb 03, 2017 at 23:23
I know they have been around for a very long time and they certainly work well when they are part of the original equipment it whatever they are being used in. Race cars would be one of the many examples.

We see them today in new cars but each design has millions of dollars of research and development behind it by car manufacturer's chassis design engineers. That is totally different to buying a few hundred dollars worth of them and installing them in another multi dollar chassis/suspension design that has not been designed to have them added to it.

It is hard to blame car owners who have damaged their cars with them when there are small companies selling them and praising their benefits as well as an endless number of people on net forums telling others that it is alright to use them and they do a great job.

So far on the net I have only seen one person who does know how they work say they can be useful in one particular situation. That was Collyn Rivers about four years ago when he said they can be useful for softening the ride on an empty ute but then stressed they should not be used to lift sagging suspensions or carry higher loads.

The pressures required for high loads and the exponential compression characteristics of air bags is like sitting the chassis directly on oversize bump rubbers. Those rubbers have to bring a fast falling chassis to a very rapid but slightly cushioned stop. It is either that or it slams into the axle housing with a hell of a metal to metal bang.

Bags become the springs in cases like this and, given enough pressure, they can easily be like rocks by the time they are around 70% compressed. When that happens, the chassis stops instantly on top of the bags while the rest of it behind the bags keeps going down without anything on its far end to support it. No wonder so many have bent.

You always see bent chassis cars with the bend right on the top of the bags while those without them bend further forward near the front spring hangers. You also see a lot more bent air bag equipped cars than those with just heavier springs.

As long as we have companies telling customers their standard suspensions are rubbish and their springs or air bags can lift the the car and enable it to carry heavier loads in the bush of all places, we will continue to see many broken cars.

You can't always blame the owners for it.

You also have another issue with leaf spring utes. When they are fully loaded with the load correctly distributed, the rear springs are supposed to be flat or very close to it. The front eye will be down at axle level or lower while the rear shackles will be up much higher.

When the car leans into a corner, the spring will compress even further on the outside of the corner while the other one will have weight taken off it. That changes the angle of the axle in relation to the centre line of the car and assists in cornering stability but that is another story for another day.

If you have the thing jacked up with aftermarket springs or air bags, that vital stability assisting feature will be stuffed up.

That does not help one little bit when you have a 3000 kg caravan on the back.

The trick is don't play around with car suspension designs unless you know exactly how they work and what gains and losses your alterations are going to give you.

FollowupID: 878011

Follow Up By: Batt's - Saturday, Feb 04, 2017 at 06:48

Saturday, Feb 04, 2017 at 06:48
I meant 60 odd yrs not 70

Not sure how you soften the ride on an empty ute by adding air assist bags that would make it slightly firmer as you are suppose to leave some air in them when not in use. Any way obviously your against them and will never be convinced they can be used safely on a leaf sprung vehicle without causing damage so I'll leave it there.
FollowupID: 878014

Follow Up By: splits - Saturday, Feb 04, 2017 at 22:20

Saturday, Feb 04, 2017 at 22:20
" Not sure how you soften the ride on an empty ute by adding air assist bags that would make it slightly firmer as you are suppose to leave some air in them when not in use".

Contact him and ask him to explain how.
FollowupID: 878036

Reply By: The Bantam - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 00:50

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 00:50
Remember all towing ratings are for " smooth improved surfaces".

Offroading a 3 tonne van behind any passenger vehicle or passenger derived commercial is simply rediculous. ..... particularly if it is a rear hitched pig trailer.

AnswerID: 608315

Reply By: Member - Teago - Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 16:11

Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 at 16:11
I have a very similar weight / rig and have the Ranger as you have
I put Air Boss bags in and threw them away . I am towing with stock standard suspension and go where you wish to go with out a problem . Forget an uplift that will not help your towing or for that matter anything else .
If anything and extra leaf in the spring . That is only if your vehicle sinks down
I have an Engel in the back as well as a swag of tools and water Rgds Teago
AnswerID: 608477

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (9)