Lexus AHC suspension

Submitted: Friday, Jan 18, 2019 at 17:58
ThreadID: 137693 Views:2211 Replies:6 FollowUps:29
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Has anyone had experience with the Lexus hydraulic suspension on rough/ corrugated roads? I'm trying to determine whether to replace the AHC with standard suspension or not. The vehicle will be used mainly offroad in remote areas.
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Reply By: Member BarryG - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 10:04

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 10:04
Hi DingoBlue,

I have a 2005 Sahara that had AHC when I bought it 2nd hand.

In my experience, when laden for a trip and towing our Ultimate Camper (100kg ball weight), the AHC failed to work properly. Often, I would notice it was in the Low position and would not climb back up to Normal. Corrugations though did not seem to affect it. The owners handbook states that the vehicle should not be driven long distances in the Low position.

I took the Sahara to a well-known 4WD supplier in Darwin and they suggested replacing the rear coils with HD ones and fitting PolyAir bags. This certainly fixed the ride height issue, but introduced a bigger problem. It was now almost uncontrollable on corrugations, particularly on bends. But I didn't find this out until long after I'd left Darwin.

On my return home, I researched the issue and found many people who were dissatisfied with AHC with a laden vehicle. I had my AHC totally removed and Bilstein shocks and torsion bars fitted, retaining my almost-new HD coils and airbags. It now handles like it should! We travelled across the Anne Beadell Highway, the Gunbarrel Highway and the Gary Highway in 2017 and had no suspension problems at all.

Good luck!

Barry

AnswerID: 623285

Follow Up By: Member - DingoBlue(WA) - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 10:35

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 10:35
Thanks Barry,
just the info I was looking for. When laden and towing you say the AHC went to the low position, did it stay in low when you were over 30kph?
As a matter of interest, how much did it cost to remove the AHC and replace with standard suspension?
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Follow Up By: RMD - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:06

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:06
Barry
The suspension place definitely didn't know how the system worked if they made it dance on corrugations.
Every mod creates it's own set of problems.
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Follow Up By: Member BarryG - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:09

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:09
Yes RMD, I too was surprised (it was a well-known three-letter brand).
Barry
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Follow Up By: jbhorne@bigpond.com - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:21

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:21
Had mine to suspension shop they eventually put it in too hard basket,
Someone recommended king springs installed them no probs.
Jeff
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Reply By: Member BarryG - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 10:55

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 10:55
Yes, stayed in Low until I unhitched, then back to Normal again.
If I recall, the changeover cost me just under $4000. I had it done at Autocraft in Geelong in Victoria (Daz is the guy to speak to). When I had mine done, he said he was doing a few every week!
AnswerID: 623287

Follow Up By: jbhorne@bigpond.com - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 11:37

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 11:37
Had same problem as Barry ,replaced rear coils with King springs
That was 8 years ago all ok since,tow 25’ Jayco 300 ball,mid range setting on control.
Jeff
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Follow Up By: Member - DingoBlue(WA) - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 11:46

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 11:46
Thanks John,
Did you keep the AHC and just upgrade the springs? If so, did you have any handling problems as Barry mentioned?
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Follow Up By: Member BarryG - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 11:56

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 11:56
The way the system was explained to me is this: Part of the load is carried by the coils and part by the shockers. When heavier coils are put on and the vehicle is lifted somewhat, then the shockers decide that they don't have to do anything. The result being no effective rear shockers! This results in very skittish behaviour over corrugations. Even the speed hum at Bunnings resulted in a bouncy, bouncy feeling.
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Follow Up By: jbhorne@bigpond.com - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 14:40

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 14:40
No lift no nothing just king standard replacement springs for the 100 series abc.
No difference to ride or handling
Jeff
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Follow Up By: Member - DingoBlue(WA) - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 15:38

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 15:38
thanks Jeff,
sounds like a much better deal than forking out $4k however, may still have to do that down the track when the AHC gives up the ghost.
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Follow Up By: jbhorne@bigpond.com - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 20:57

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 20:57
Same here very expensive to replace parts on ahc
Would like to keep it as long as possible I like lowering it back under ball then lift it fascinates a lot of people as to how easy it is to hook up.
Jeff
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Follow Up By: KevinE - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 09:42

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 09:42
Do you drive it on corrugated dirt roads Jeff?
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Follow Up By: jbhorne@bigpond.com - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:45

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:45
Hi Kev
Not as often as I would like but handles it well,had it on a lot of corrugated bitumen roads in Qld and SA lately.
Jeff
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Reply By: bobsabobsa - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 21:06

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 21:06
Hi
I am running a 2006 Sahara AHC
to upgrade you want to go to King Springs KTRS-79 these still allows to raise and lower
If you still have a problem you can put 30 mm spacers in as well
Now the tricky stuff there is a heap of information on LCOOL site and I8MUD
I have just set up the Techstream program on my computer ,this allows me to check the pressure of the system from and rear ,so I can balance the pressures reason being I am fitting a bullbar
They are around 40 dollars from evil bay but you can get them lower
This program let you do what Toyota does ,google Techstream open port for toyota
You need to change the oil in the system now and again and will need 2 x 2.5 litres containers it is toyota oil and at $25 each
I simple job once you know how
I traveled many a dirt road and love how you can make it softer and it smoothes out the corrys
The ability to lower it to get under and raise it the get over things is great
also i level the caravan front to back when bush camping
The suspension will self level on braking so the front does not dip so much and on take off
As you increase you speed it will harden to give more stability into the corners a very good bit of gear if you can keep it
Think BMW and Mecedes the sporty ones have this suspension
I am only up to 130,000kms now and have towed most of it It did got into low mode a couple of times when new ,but fixed that with the KS79 springs
heard on guy has 500,000kms and the AHC is still ok
cheers bob
AnswerID: 623296

Follow Up By: jbhorne@bigpond.com - Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 22:11

Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 at 22:11
Bob
I have 300 on mine still happy.
Jeff
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Follow Up By: Member BarryG - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 11:15

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 11:15
Bob,
I agree. When AHC works, it works really well. But when it fails, it is crap and expensive to fix (impossible if you are remote)!
Barry
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Reply By: Member BarryG - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 11:14

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 11:14
If anyone is interested, I have some spare parts from my AHC removal exercise.
I have the main pump, the accumulators and the rear shockers available.
Barry
AnswerID: 623304

Follow Up By: jbhorne@bigpond.com - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 11:49

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 11:49
Hi Barry
How much are you looking for all the parts
Jeff
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Follow Up By: Member BarryG - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 11:51

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 11:51
How about $350 the lot? Pickup only, at Anglesea, Vic though.
Barry
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Follow Up By: jbhorne@bigpond.com - Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:29

Sunday, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:29
Hi Barry
Will give it a miss at the moment,someone will be interested,didn’t realise there were as many ahc vehicles around as not even my Toyota dealer had any idea about them,or how they actually worked.
Jeff
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Follow Up By: paulymcp - Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019 at 08:48

Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019 at 08:48
G’day Barry,
Stumbled on this thread... any of those AHC parts left? I am particularly interested in the accumulators/globes.
Thanks
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Follow Up By: Member BarryG - Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019 at 08:54

Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019 at 08:54
Yes Paul,
All available at Anglesea, Vic
Barry
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Follow Up By: paulymcp - Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019 at 09:48

Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019 at 09:48
Thanks Barry, would you mind sending me an email so we can talk about it some more?
paulymcp at gmail dot com
Thanks
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Reply By: Member - IndroCruiser - Thursday, Jan 24, 2019 at 02:15

Thursday, Jan 24, 2019 at 02:15
I drive a 2006 Landcruiser Sahara with the AHC system. Residing in Brisbane means that the vehicle and AHC system do not get a huge amount of hard work and are still in great condition at 12 years and 180,000kms of age. I have toyed with replacement of the AHC system but have dodged doing so. Instead I have added airbags as 'helpers' to rear coils and I am getting ready to replace the four items (one near each wheel) which Toyota calls Gas Chambers but are often are described as 'spheres' or 'globes' on the various forums. This is not difficult but even in Brisbane it is difficult find anybody with actual experience on the system, so I am going to do it myself. The job will involve the procedure of depressurising the AHC system so as to replace the parts safely, then bleeding the system and repressurising afterwards. I use the following ih8mud links as my "reference manual":
https://forum.ih8mud.com/threads/definitive-list-of-ahc-maintenance-items.604577/
https://forum.ih8mud.com/threads/props-to-paddos-ahc-fluid-replacement-method.925459/
I check local Toyota pricing for parts but usually I find far better deals buying AHC parts from Amayama in Japan and Megazip in Singapore. Freight costs are substantial but the landed cost in Australia usually is much lower than local pricing. I have no complaints with the their service and reliability.
The operation of the AHC system at various speed and load conditions is described in detail at -- this Toyota document is worth a read and may explain some of your load experiences. I have yet to do it, but the next step is acquisition of "Techstream" so as to have a look at the front and rear suspension pressures and possibly adjust the front torsion bars if required. The 'globes' which are mounted outside the chassis rail between the wheels are nitrogen charged and are the real shock absorbers. The items which look like shock absorbers are simply hydraulic struts which the system uses to raise, lower and level the vehicle. I am not sure of the life of the nitrogen charged 'globes' in a harsh, corrugated environment -- I suspect they probably have a similar life to a conventional shock absorber.
AnswerID: 623366

Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Jan 26, 2019 at 18:13

Saturday, Jan 26, 2019 at 18:13
IndroCruiser - Try PartSouq in UAE as well, for your Tojo parts.

Their freight charges are very low, as compared to Amayama and Megazip.
Every part is air-freighted via DHL and they usually arrive in 6-7 days (to W.A.).

The PartSouq site is very user-friendly and they have good photos of most parts.

As a general rule of thumb, PartSouq parts costs, usually end up around half the local parts retailer and dealer prices.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: paulymcp - Friday, Feb 22, 2019 at 09:53

Friday, Feb 22, 2019 at 09:53
I do cruiser or Ron N,

Has anyone bought accumulators from overseas recently? How much are the customs costs some sites are speaking about?

Thanks,
Paul
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, Feb 22, 2019 at 12:15

Friday, Feb 22, 2019 at 12:15
Paulymcp - I haven't bought accumulators from overseas recently, but I've bought numerous other parts and small components, including items from Partsouq.

The "Customs costs" you speak of, are duties and GST payable on imported items.
As with most Govt operations, their systems are geared to what they can grab under structured arrangements.

There are still import duties payable at 5% on many items. The full list of dutiable products is available on the ATO website.

Customs duties rates

GST may be payable on all imported items. Previously, there was a lower limit of $1000 for the value of imported items - above which, GST was imposed.

From 1st July 2018, the Govt legislated for GST to be charged on all online purchases, of any value.
As with most legislation, the enforcement is patchy and lax, as it's impossible to police all purchases.

Australian Border Force - Buying online

What has happened is, the authorities have targeted those companies carrying out more than $75,000 worth of business in Australia - using the $75,000 gross income limit of Australian business operations, above which level, the business has to then register for GST.

The authorities have simply extended the GST requirement to overseas businesses, as well as Australian businesses, to try and enforce the GST collection on small transactions.
The GST is collected at the point of sale, not upon entry, from those overseas businesses who have entered into GST registration in Australia.

Thus, eBay has been forced to charge GST on ALL overseas transactions done through its website.
Naturally, many overseas businesses have now refused to register for GST or have declined to deal with Australian customers, claiming it's not worth the GST registration and administration hassle, for their level of sales to Australia.

But if you deal with overseas businesses direct, who have less than AU$75,000 in Australian sales, or are not registered for GST, and are happy to deal with you - and you buy less than $1000 worth of goods - then GST is rarely collected.

It is only if the shipment is examined upon importation, and deemed to be undervalued, is when you may be hit with a GST charge.
Customs will then hold that shipment and advise you that GST must be paid before it can be collected.

I recently imported several hundred dollars worth of forklift parts directly from a forklift parts supplier in Malaysia, they were flown in via DHL, they were valued at under $1000, and they went straight through, with no delay, and I didn't have to pay any GST.
These parts were in my hands within 5 days of ordering, despite coming from an Eastern Malaysian island.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: paulymcp - Friday, Feb 22, 2019 at 14:06

Friday, Feb 22, 2019 at 14:06
Thanks Ron!

Sadly, since I need the 4 accumulators, it will be beyond 1000... and apparently, because of how they are classified as ‘under pressure’ (ie explosive), they might have other difficulties.

Thanks again!
Paul
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, Feb 22, 2019 at 15:33

Friday, Feb 22, 2019 at 15:33
Paul, with expensive items that are in multiple numbers, you could break the purchase up into two lots of different purchases.

Sealed accumulators under pressure cannot be shipped by air, but if they're capable of being drained and charged, they are shipped in an uncharged state, and pressurised after fitment.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - IndroCruiser - Saturday, Feb 23, 2019 at 12:23

Saturday, Feb 23, 2019 at 12:23
Hi Paulmcp –

Ron N has provided as thorough rundown on current tax including GST and import duties payable for Australian deliveries. As he has explained, these either are payable by the Seller (and passed through to the Buyer) or the Buyer will be asked by Australian Customs to pay outstanding GST (and duties if any), before the goods are released and the delivery is completed by the relevant Courier.

Sometimes goods of smallish size and value may slip through the Australian Customs net and delivery may be completed without such payments. Breaking shipments into small sizes MAY increase the chances of this happening but DOES NOT guarantee it. It is best to assume that the required Australian GST etc will payable at some point in the supply chain before goods are received.

Aside from tax issues, my own observations are that prices from the three relevant large on-line stores – Amayama, Megazip, and Partsouq – vary over time, probably moving with changes in their own buy prices, freight costs and exchange rate exposures etc.

I also notice quite a lot of offers from multiple eBay sellers, many based in Japan, and their prices are highly variable as well. I have not used these due to a personal preference to deal with suppliers that actually publish their business address and preferably provide contact details.

In October 2018 I successfully purchased and received at home in Brisbane two front globes and two rear globes (formally described by Toyota as ‘Gas Chambers’), supplied by Megazip. Amayama had advised that they were out of stock. Megazip advised that they would supply from UAE, then after the order was placed advised that the UAE warehouse was out of stock and that they would supply from Russia – and about 10 days after ordering the four items were received from Russia, well packed and in good condition. There was no question or requirement at any stage about somehow depressurising the ‘globes’ and repressurising later. I have yet to find any description anywhere as to how this actually could be done – Ron N may be able to help further on this point? The Factory Service Manual is silent on this point – it only describes how to depressurise spent ‘globes’ by cutting (destroying) them with a saw under a protective blanket.

Amayama has an Australian warehouse in Sydney which probably acts as a consolidation or distribution point in their supply chain for Australian deliveries. Contact details including a telephone number are shown on the attachment. May I suggest that direct contact with Amayama – Sydney may be a good way to discover more about their import process and delivery arrangements for ‘globes’ and other items.

The attachment also shows a pricing comparison I made last month and included a Brisbane dealer. You may wish to check local pricing at your nearby Toyota dealer. GST would need to be added to non-local suppliers.

Hope this helps!

IndroCruiser
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Follow Up By: paulymcp - Saturday, Feb 23, 2019 at 16:53

Saturday, Feb 23, 2019 at 16:53
Thanks for the follow up Indocruiser!

I have contacted Amayama, this was their reply Friday 22/2/2019...
“We supply new genuine OEM parts only. For some parts, we have some other brands too, but if the part is listed as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, the parts are genuine parts.

However, I'm afraid we cannot supply accumulators;

Japanese Customs does not allow flammable, high pressure
or prohibited items such as accumulators, hybrid batteries, airbags or gas
generated seat belt pretensioners to be sent by any form of
shipping from Japan without an MSDS document (data sheet
from the manufacturer outlining safety procedures for the product)
which the manufacturer has refused to provide to us, so
I'm afraid we cannot supply it.”

The prices in the table are similar to what I have been looking at.
But, the Toyota price I saw for 1 front globe was $950. I should probably check what it would cost to supply all four.

Thanks again, I will update when I have it all sorted!

Paul
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Feb 23, 2019 at 17:19

Saturday, Feb 23, 2019 at 17:19
Indrocruiser, thanks for the detailed followup. I have no personal experience with the Toyota air suspension "Gas Chambers", so I was only working on the presumption that they were units that were workshop chargeable with a Nitrogen bottle.

I have personal experience of many Nitrogen-charged accumulators in other applications - but all these are valved, and one can release the pressure from them and also charge them up to factory setting pressures.

I wasn't aware the Toyota suspension accumulators were charged, then permanently sealed. That would make them ineligible for air transport.

Cheers, Ron.
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FollowupID: 897452

Follow Up By: Member - IndroCruiser - Sunday, Feb 24, 2019 at 11:50

Sunday, Feb 24, 2019 at 11:50
Thanks Paul. Given the feedback from you and from Ron, I may have been lucky to receive my Megazip shipment of four new genuine ‘globes’ (two front, two rear) ex Russia in October 2018. Perhaps Russian Customs does it differently to Japanese Customs. The shipment came via the regular Megazip courier and would have passed through Australian Customs before arriving at my front door, with the last leg being via Australia Post.

Thanks Ron. Your descriptions of the procedures make sense and are supported by Paul’s direct feedback from Amayama. It does appear that Toyota prefer as many items as possible to come through their own Dealer supply channel (with the relevant MSDS)! So a changeout of four new ‘globes’ would cost around AUD4,000 in parts alone – and this would mean that it may make better sense to quit the AHC system and replace it with a more conventional suspension, as many have done.

The construction of the ‘globes’ is as shown in the attachment. I am unclear as to how the nitrogen fill take place during manufacture but I can confirm that there is no valve or provision for discharge/recharge.

In my case, having actually received replacement ‘globes’, I am on to the next frustration – measuring the hydraulic pressures in the system so as to make such adjustments in load sharing as maybe possible between the AHC components and the mechanical torsion bars (front) and springs (rear). Mainly, this could involve adjusting front the torsion bars which is not hard and possibly renewing the rear springs or adding spacers. I would like to measure before and after the changeout of ‘globes’ using the Toyota Techstream software to access the relevant Electronic Control Units (ECU’s). However, Murphy’s Law strikes again! See report and request for help at:

Techstream for MOBD

Any comments and advice would be most welcome. I am trying to avoid the messy arrangements required if hydraulic pressure gauges are the only way forward to test AHC system pressures front and rear (using the Factory Service Manual procedure). There must be another way!

Regards,
John
IndroCruiser
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FollowupID: 897460

Reply By: Member - IndroCruiser - Wednesday, Jan 30, 2019 at 16:58

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2019 at 16:58
Maybe this is a bit off-topic but I would certainly welcome advice ….

Just looking at the “Arithmetic of Kilograms” in relation to my 2006 Landcruiser Sahara 4.2 litre Turbo-Diesel with AHC and TEMS, similar to Lexus LX470. A non-diesel Lexus vehicle might be a bit lighter.

3,260 kg Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) per OEM plate on engine firewall
2,740 kg on NATA weighbridge, no pax, unloaded, NO accessories, OEM tanks full
------------
520 kg left over for accessories, pax and their stuff, ball weight if towing,

Guesstimates:
85 kg for steel ARB Bullbar
25 kg for Kaymar wheelcarrier (NOT full rear bar)
15 kg for snorkel, lights, UHF etc.
35 kg for additional alloy spare wheel and tyre
160 kg for 2 pax
40 kg baggage for 2 pax
40 kg loaded fridge
40 kg drinking water
40 kg tools and recovery
40 kg camping equipment
------------
520 kg total for for accessories, pax and their stuff, nothing left for other ideas!!

The above guesstimates could be adjusted according to personal circumstances. Some weight saving could be achieved by taking out the Third Row Seats and trimming a few other things. But the point is that there is not a lot of leeway within the allowable GVM. With vehicle only – most combinations of additional pax, rear bar, winch, long range tanks, drawer systems, roof rack full of stuff, etc, etc, may push the vehicle over the GVM limit.

If a trailer is towed which has a braking system, then an Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) of up to 3,500 kg is allowable for the trailer including its load. Obviously, weight sharing between vehicle and trailer becomes possible – but the ball weight must be counted in the vehicle GVM. So there is a bit of a balancing act here.

Some form of GVM Upgrade would provide additional carrying capacity. This will be tricky because no Second Stage Manufacture (SSM) Approval is available for Lexus LX470 or 2006 Toyota Landcruiser100-with-AHC in any State/Territory as far as I know. So a GVM upgrade probably means stronger rear springs and possibly stronger front torsion bars, new shocks, a few other minor mods AND engineering sign-off of all this AND certification of a new GVM with new plate on the firewall. Just adding stronger springs without a certified GVM upgrade may be telling the world that it is planned to exceed the GVM and lead to all the unhappiness that goes with that. Finding an engineer who will certify a GVM upgrade while retaining the AHC system will be a challenge. Replacement of the AHC system with a conventional suspension may be a more likely way to obtain sign-off and certification of an increased GVM – but let the the suspension experts advise. The Qld situation per Qld Code LS11 is that a non-SSM GVM increase such as this is limited to 10% above the original GVM because no SSM approval is available. I suspect that the situation is much the same in other States/Territories? Also, a Gross Combination Mass (GCM) upgrade is not allowed in this situation so the GVM upgrade will have the effect of reducing the allowable trailer ATM (so as to maintain the same overall GCM).

Then if we have a look at the AHC description from Toyota/Lexus Service Manual as attached to my previous post in this thread, we find:


This suggests a limit of about 572 kg added to OEM kerb weight at which point the vehicle is likely to sink from “N” mode to “LO” mode and will not raise itself until some load is removed. This is much higher than the weights guesstimated far above.

Therefore, on my guesstimates above, a sinking vehicle is telling me one of two things – either the vehicle is unbalanced front-to-rear and the rear AHC pressure is way too high causing the AHC to give up, OR, the vehicle is way above its allowable GVM, all pressures are too high, causing the AHC to give up.

Mrs Indrocruiser and I both like the comfort and convenience of our AHC vehicle and its Toyota Electronically Modulated Suspension (TEMS) – and so the AHC stays for the time being. The vehicle only has the items mentioned in my list of guesstimates. The Third Row seats come out, we drop the camping equipment in favour of staying at cabins in Tourist Parks and we can live within the original GVM. We have airbags inside the rear springs to help carry the rear load the and rear AHC pressures, if necessary. One day we might consider towing a camper, maybe AOR Quantum or similar – but if ball weight is around 200 kg, we will have to be careful about what stuff goes where.

Comments and advice are most welcome!
AnswerID: 623529

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