Canning stock route

We are planning to cover the CSR this July / August in a new Mazda BT 50 and was concerned whether stock standard suspension would be adequate for the trip if we took our time and drove to the conditions.
All comments and opinions would be welcome
Thanks in anticipation
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Reply By: Greg J1 - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 19:45

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 19:45
Hi Chris. We traveled down the canning in 2016 in a stock standard single cab ute and camper trailer. The only thing we changed were the tyres. We had no problems at all. But. We like to keep it simple. No excess weight.

The only 2 cars we met who had suspension troubles were a Ranger and at bt50. Both left rear spring failures. Both were dual cabs and looked very heavy.

We have since replaced our suspension with a good quality after market set up and wished we had had it fitted before we left on our trip. We only picked the ute up 3 days before we left. I would definitely fit decent suspension and tyres before a trip on the canning. There is more than a few corrugations out there!!!
Regards Greg
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Reply By: Member - christopher w2 - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 20:00

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 20:00
Thanks Greg. Much appreciated. We won’t be towing anything and weight shouldn’t be a problem but we are still cautious re suitability of the suspension. Regarding the two instances you stated one wonders what the real cause was, design, weight, use etc
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 20:17

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 20:17
Chris. I would probably think 2 factors, weight and speed. But in saying that the track is extremely corrugated. I would do myself a favour and upgrade your car. Your a long way from anywhere out there.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 23:52

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 23:52
There are recognised problems (by Ford and Mazda) regarding the quality of the original springs in the BT50 and Ford Ranger 4WD's.

Spring sagging on these vehicles is being complained about on a too-frequent basis, and both Ford and Mazda have been replacing springs under warranty.

Product review - BT50

BT50 spring sagging

If you wish to venture Outback and carry some reasonable amount of camping equipment and supplies with you, then I'd suggest a suspension upgrade would be the order of the day.

You don't realise how poor original suspension components are on many 4WD's until you've had them replaced.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: splits - Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 12:18

Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 12:18
We won’t be towing anything and weight shouldn’t be a problem but we are still cautious re suitability of the suspension

I think a lot of people would have a lot less trouble out there if they were towing something. Excessive weight and speed are the two big killers in that type of environment.

I have done a lot of desert driving going back for over fifty years on the type of roads that were little more than two wheel tracks. I have never modified a car for those conditions but I have for sealed roads. If the suspension in these utes were not suitable for the bush, their manufacturers would be having a very difficult time trying to sell them to the local people out there.

The main problem with the Canning is not the road surface but its length. Just about everyone has to carry extra fuel and water. When that is added to all the extra stuff owners cram into the cars in an attempt to cover every possible problem, the car is usually left overloaded and gasping for breath. They then take it into the worst environment that it is ever like to see and wonder why things break.

None of the desert tracks that I have driven on have had a surface that comes even remotely close to being as rough as many of the tracks in the Victorian High Country and along the rest of the Great Dividing Range . If only those mountain tracks were corrugated and nothing else. You don’t see all the car damage occurring on them that you see in the Outback. That would be because owners don’t load the cars to their limit or beyond in those areas and there is no speed involved.

You have most likely seen the bent ute chassis story in 4x4 Australia magazine on the net. What is not shown in that story is the editorial in the magazine. The editor mentions Land Rover specifying a lower off road carrying capacity than their sealed road capacity. He then says all cars should have their capacity reduced by around 40% in off road conditions. I was taught 50% in the Armed Forces.

There are light weight carrying trailers on the market that look like a chassis, draw bar and mud guards plus a bunch of tubes that resemble a car roll cage. These tubes locate things like jerry cans, large aluminium tool boxes and extra wheels. The trailer does not have a heavy steel body or tailgate.

If people would use something like that on the Canning, Anne Beadell etc, then their cars would be well under both their maximum carrying and towing capacity and their chances of breaking something would be just about zero even if they were going a little too fast..
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Reply By: Gaynor - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 20:12

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 20:12
Did it as a passenger in 2010 in a pretty much stock standard 2WD Peugeot 505. Only things changed was fitting a larger fuel tank in the boot and a strong sump plate and removing the back seats for storage. Everything else pretty much as is. Kept it very light and drove to the conditions. But still, that was a fast trip. 12 days. The rear shocks died about halfway through, but we were able to finish under our own power.
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 22:27

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 22:27
Peugeot. Say no more.

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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 20:34

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 20:34
Did the top section in a standard height Dmax towing a trailer. Only thing different was AT tyres
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 21:01

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 21:01
Hi Christopher,
I personally would not do the CSR without a suspension upgrade, it is very isolated out there. Weight is the killer. As some have said, they have got through on standard suspension, but that could have been more good luck than good management. IMHO if you can keep the weight of the BT50 with everything in it under about 2.4 tonne it is probably doable. The fact that you are asking this question suggests that your outback driving experience could be limited which would be another reason in favour of a suspension upgrade. Lastly the CSR is a great trip, (I have done it 3 times) and without the total confidence in your vehicle it may just take the edge of your enjoyment. What ever you decide, have a great trip.
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 21:51

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 21:51
Absolutely true chris. ( seems to be a few chrises on ). In my situation my son had an accident in our usual tour vehicle a week before we were due to leave We had ordered a new ute for our business and low and behold it was ready to pick up 3 days before our departure. We swapped our tray over from the damaged ute so we had a canopy and fridge etc and off we went.

The canning is no place for a under set up vehicle. We were just dealt a rough hand before our departure.

After all that it is a very special place. I do hope you enjoy your self out there
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Follow Up By: Member - christopher w2 - Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 00:37

Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 00:37
Thanks for your comments again much appreciated.
FYI we did the GRR,Bungles, Tanami into Alice Springs and home to Perth via Uluru and Great Central road in a Mazda CX-5 with no issues. I think the CSR is a totally different kettle of fish hence my question.
For me it’s all about the preparation and to try to cover most contingencies before we leave rather than trying to make do half way through
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Reply By: rocco2010 - Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 21:47

Friday, Mar 09, 2018 at 21:47
As others have said weight is the key. If you can keep it down and drive to the conditions and do things like stop regularly to give the shocks a chance to cool down you could be right.

But sometimes things just break. Even new upgraded suspension.
I have seen blogs from people who have you beaut new suspension and have had issues.

Instead of investing in new suspension do you have the ability to replace a shock if it fails? If so maybe just carry one spare for front and rear. I know of a tour company which takes groups there most years and that is the requirement. Of course the guide is handy on the tools!

If a shock fails early you can bale at well 23 or 33.

I might be a misguided optimist (and I am sure some one will tell me) but I believe that a reasonably modern well maintained ute or wagon that has not racked up 100,000km or more of outback touring already would probably be OK, again driven with care.

I have been on the CSR twice, but not done the whole length and none in the groups I was with had issues.

Good luck. It's a great adventure


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Reply By: Hoyks - Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 08:45

Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 08:45
I'd upgrade the springs at the very least.
I have a BT50 and found the rear springs to be good on road without much weight, but too soft for carrying a load off road. Even on good roads with the occasional dip in them, the springs would compress to the bump stops with a moderate load onboard which will make the shock adsorbers work harder through more of their stroke and I don't think is good for the chassis in the long term getting repeatedly hit hard in the one spot.

Heavier springs will carry the load better. Heavier springs will also not oscillate/bounce anywhere near as much and the shock adsorber won't have to work anywhere near as hard, travel through as much of its stroke to control the bouncing therefore won't heat up as much, blowing seals or degrading the oil.

I installed springs that were better suited to the load I carry and left the stock shock adsorbers in there. This was after only 3 weeks of ownership too. I put my camping gear on the back in preparation for a Cape trip, then drove from Brisbane to Newcastle for a shake down run. That run on the highway told me that the back end would be wallowing under the load and would be asking for trouble on the long trip north on back roads.

A pair of up-rated springs, bushes and bolts was around the $750 mark. I fitted them myself without much trouble. Paying someone, you probably wouldn't get much change from $1000... But whats a recovery from Well 26 worth??

Rear shock adsorbers are easy to replace; 1 x top and 1 x lower nut + washer. Remove and install replacement tube.

If you are tooling up to go and do a trek of this caliber, I think it would be worth your while to fit 2 larger diameter shock tubes to the back end and carry the stock ones as spares.
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Reply By: Deejay - Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 08:50

Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 08:50
Chris. We drove CSR in 2012 and all the vehicles (4) in our group had after market suspensions. We all fitted new off road tyres (whether the current tyres were still good or not) and took a second spare (carcass only). We were also lucky enough that one of our group was good friends with a guy who owned an off-road store who loaned us new shock absorbers should we need them. We drove sensibly and took our time and considering out vehicle weights and the track surface, ran tyre pressures of 25psi. We also took tyre changing equipment. As luck (or good preparation) had it, we never had any tyre or suspension problems. I would also advise that you keep the bulk of the weight in your tub well up towards the back of the cab.
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Reply By: CSeaJay - Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 15:16

Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 15:16
Although I have in the past replied to occasional 4wdrivers doing the occasional trip that a suspension upgrade is not required, I would not suggest stock standard on the CSR
It is in a different level; remote and continuous conditions.
I would recommend to anyone doing this trek to have a good suspension, and good (and new) LT tires.
Yes aftermarket suspension has failed, but you will also find excessive weight and speed was contributing factors and in those situations stock suspension would also have failed (or failed faster)
One bit of advise, echoing previous comments, keep your weight down (more so than other trips you have done) and drive to the conditions. It is NOT just a nice saying.
And then enjoy the trip! it is something different and remains an adventure.
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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 18:46

Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 at 18:46
Chris, whatever else you may do, replace the original shockers before you go with known high quality and heavy-duty types.
Everyone may recommend a different brand..... my preference is Koni. They are not cheap, but they are cheap insurance.

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Follow Up By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Sunday, Mar 11, 2018 at 21:59

Sunday, Mar 11, 2018 at 21:59
Hi Chris, having travelled the csr last year I saw some really sad failures. I particularly felt for the chap and his son that had to leave their group for Newman as his new Bilstein shocks had failed.....stuffed his trip, but I respected his efforts to set his vehicle up as best he could!
I'd be listening to the guys who have done this trip before. You must be assured your springs and shocks are up to the task of carrying your load over some very corrugated sections. Weight, speed and tyre pressures are fairly critical in my view. If you can manage these within the capability of your suspension then your probability of having a good trip is almost assured. Have a good trip.
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Follow Up By: Member - christopher w2 - Monday, Mar 12, 2018 at 01:18

Monday, Mar 12, 2018 at 01:18
Thanks to all those who have contributed their suggestions. It certainly makes my decision making process so much easier possibly at the expenses of my bank account which on reflection is cheap insurance
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Follow Up By: Harry C - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 20:38

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 20:38
Hi Allan which Koni do you use the Hard Track or the Raid on your Landcruiser.

Cheers Harry.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 22:44

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 22:44
Hi Harry,

My shocks are Koni Heavy Track 50mm adjustable. The four cost $845 from ARCHM Industries eBay store.
They have performed well.

I was tempted to get the Koni Raid 70mm but just too expensive at nearly twice the price.

If you have any further questions, get back to me quickly as I am heading remote and offline for the next two weeks from tomorrow morning.

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Follow Up By: Harry C - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 06:31

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 06:31
Thanks for that Allan I have had Koni's on a different vehicle and found them very good. I am thinking of a set for my cruiser ute..

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