Suzuki Vitara-ToughDog Suspension

Submitted: Wednesday, Aug 04, 2004 at 21:33
ThreadID: 15308 Views:4652 Replies:9 FollowUps:4
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Hello All, this is my first post here. I read an old archive about some bad experiences with Tough Dog suspension, fitted to a Prado. I've just spent over fiften hundred dollars on new foam cell struts, shocks & rear poly bushes, [ARB was the same give or take fifty bucks] I had Lovells 2in raised coils fitted at the sam time, so the other parts are extended to suit the longer coils. The rear end seems fine, much stiffer but still better than my old Sierra ever was but the front struts I'm not happy with. The body/chassis can be moved through a range of more than 15mm without the strut rod moving at all, the old Suzuki struts didn't do this at all. There is a very slight vibration thru the steering at all speeds on smooth tarmac, more noticeable at 60 km/h or so.
This 'vibe' feels like a spring oscillation to me, and if a small bump is driven over there is a decided 'bump' from the front end, but what scared me the most was a trip to Orange this week for work, I struck some bitumen 'corrugations' on a bend at around 105 km/h and the car 'walked' over the centre line!!!!!!!!!! That's when I stopped and checked that all was still tight and noticed that the struts were not controlling all the body/chassis movement. This is my first coil sprung 4WD after a diet of leaf-sprung Zooks. Someone asked if Lovells supply Tough Dog with their Coils, and yes they do!
The strut looks like it has been made too long, or with the retainer that bears on the top strut mount in the wrong place. They are much longer than the stock struts. The fitter is at a loss, he thinks maybe there is a poly bush available for the top mount, I took the Vit back on Monday afternoon, showed it to him, he rang Lovells, I called twice, still no answer, I called yesterday, Tuesday, no answer, called today[Wed]and was told they[lovells]are calling tomorro for sure. If I'm not satisfied by what I'm told tomorrow than can have the whole lot back, give me a refund & I'll go and see ARB.
BTW my Zook is a 93 Estate with 240K on the clock, yep the stock suspension was shagged! Anyone else had dramas of this type? Any help appreciated! Cheers Scott.
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Reply By: cj - Wednesday, Aug 04, 2004 at 23:57

Wednesday, Aug 04, 2004 at 23:57
Get the ARB setup. They make the best struts for the Vitara. I've had their suspension in both SWB & LWB and they both ride better than standard. They won't give you the ultimate in articulation but they do provide a good allround package. You could also add 20mm coil spacers front & rear and flip the front strut mounts while your'e at it as there is unused travel in the struts. You could talk to Allsprings in Sydney for coils if you want to put together your own setup with the ARB OME struts and Rancho shocks in the rear and if you add the coil spacers get some camber adjusting bolts from Pedders to fix the alignment.
AnswerID: 71349

Reply By: Hero - Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 13:43

Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 13:43
What ever you choose, get it all from the same manufacturer, so it all works together , like an integrated system of matched shocks and coils. Shop around and ask lots of questions.
AnswerID: 71393

Reply By: Member - Stephen (WA) - Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 15:21

Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 15:21

from what you describe, it sounds like the installation of the front shocks is incorrect. It sounds like you have 15 mm of clear "play" on the front shocks. This'll also lead to the vibrations that you are experiencing and the thumping you hear/feel. The steering at higher speeds is not surprising as your front wheels will only be in contact with the road for a short time as they continually bounce up and down.

In the current configuration your vehicle is unsafe as you effictively have no s/a action on your front end. In an emergency stop you will skid far further than if all was well.

The shock mounts with the free play will flog out in no time at all.

Take it back to where you had them installed and insist on the shocks being installed properly. You paid good $$ for a professional job - not for a death trap.

Stephen J.
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AnswerID: 71400

Reply By: cj - Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 16:45

Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 16:45
Struts up front shocks down back.
AnswerID: 71406

Reply By: cj - Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 17:06

Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 17:06
If it has been installed correctly (?) it sounds like you have a problem with the front struts, you could try another set but honestly the Old Man Emu are the best, they are longer and have more travel than any other option. I'm now swapping to a Calmini 3" suspension system in mine and will keep the OME struts as there is nothing better. OME have two spring rates for the Estate, a medium duty (180lb) and a heavy duty (200lb). I would only put rubber bushes in my suspension as you will lose flex with anything else. Allsprings have had experience with Vits so it would be worth the call. I probably wouldn't use Ranchos in a heavier vehicle but in a vehicle as light as a Zook they seem to be fine.
AnswerID: 71409

Follow Up By: scottm - Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 18:33

Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 18:33
Thanks for all the advice, the saga continues! I'm told there is a different top mounting assembly available, designed to work with these units. I will know more tomorrow. There is also an issue now that ven though the front struts are labelled as 'foam cell', acording to 4WAY they are not, I received correspondence from 4WAY today and was told all struts are gas. I'm going to find out one way or another, and ask for a copy of the suppliers invoice.
I may be opening a can of worms here but I do wonder where I would stand if the vehicle is involved in a collision in its current condition. It's interesting to note I received quotes as high as $1700 for what I had done, as it turns out ARB would have been and learn.
I post here when I have some more info, good or bad! Thanks again all!............Scott.
FollowupID: 331600

Reply By: ross - Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 20:10

Thursday, Aug 05, 2004 at 20:10
Stick with it Scott,dont let them get away with it.
AnswerID: 71429

Follow Up By: Charlie - Friday, Aug 06, 2004 at 19:07

Friday, Aug 06, 2004 at 19:07
I'm sure toughdog shocks are OK if mounted correctly but there very expensive,I'd try and get a refund if possible and go to OME there are only half the price and will do the job.The main attraction of the toughdog units is their length but you can add a spacer on top if need be although the OME units handle a two inch lift OK.
Regards Charlie
FollowupID: 331739

Reply By: scottm - Saturday, Aug 07, 2004 at 21:39

Saturday, Aug 07, 2004 at 21:39
Thanks Charlie, after closer inspection today it would seem the struts are too short. They are 'topped out' on full extension with the vehicle at rest, the only upwards movement available is in the bush itself. It would appear the strut has been made WAY too short, perhaps the box was incorrectly packed.

In any case, I told my mechanic today to call Lovells on Monday, I want the struts replaced with corect length ones, to properly control the springs or the whole lot can be removed, rear and all for a full refund of my 1500 bucks and I'll go for an ARB setup. I went to see 4WAY today in Sydney, their office was closed and I have had no reply from my last email. I would never recommend their products to anyone based on my experiences.

I'm not wasting any more time or money on this, if I don't get this issue solved to my satisfaction on Monday, 4WAY can have it all back. It's just not good enough.
AnswerID: 71686

Follow Up By: scottm - Monday, Aug 09, 2004 at 19:48

Monday, Aug 09, 2004 at 19:48
But wait, there's more.......I received an email today from 4WAY, it said
"We have had some conversations with the reseller of this products and it
was supposed to be followed up. Can you advise what has been done."

In short, nothing. there appears to be a lack of communication between 4WAY, my mechanic & Lovells[the reseller?] Meanwhile, my Zook still feels unsafe and the problem is still unresolved. I've given all parties concerned in nthe supply & fit until midday tomorrow or it goes back to have all the ToughDog/Lovells parts removed, and my old factory bits reinstalled. I'll buy ARB and get what I paid for. Thanks for all the help & advice.
FollowupID: 332087

Reply By: scottm - Friday, Aug 13, 2004 at 20:18

Friday, Aug 13, 2004 at 20:18
Hi All, new lower rate front coils fitted today with new strut top mounts too. Much improved at lower speeds, take it for a wheel alignment tomorrow then a decent drive to see how it goes, but initial impressions are good! Thanks to all who offered advice. Cheers Scott
AnswerID: 72526

Follow Up By: toughdog - Thursday, Aug 19, 2004 at 01:23

Thursday, Aug 19, 2004 at 01:23
Dear Scott,
I guess that this should be a lesson learn't. When you purchase a particular brand, all the bits should be matched, not coils from one manufacturer (Lovells) and shocks from another (4Way). When you purchase another brand, whatever it is, all items are matched. I believe that you have been a little unfair when we are the 3rd part to all of this. I can only react to inquiries from my resellers and when they drag their feet and do not make that inquiry or follow up it makes 4Way look bad. The coils they supplied lifted that vehicle too high thus the topping out of the struts and lack of control.
Keep me posted on any developements and please contact me with your thoughts after your trip.

John Agostino
FollowupID: 333367

Reply By: scottm - Thursday, Aug 19, 2004 at 19:42

Thursday, Aug 19, 2004 at 19:42
Thanks for the reply John, I had no idea that Lovells would not supply a 'matched set' of components, after all they have been around a long time! My vehicle is around 20mm lower at the front, due to the shorter coils; I can live with that cause when the back of the wagon is loaded up it will sit more or less level. I still have not used the Vitara in any type of offroad conditions, when I do I will be travelling with my brother, who drives a stock '94 SWB Vitara soft top, we'll make comparisons with wheel travel etc and see how it all works together. I'm convinced the rear is a huge improvement in travel, that could be seen on the hoist. The Zook feels much more composed on the road, and less 'skittish', fast dirt roads will be the litmus test I guess. BTW I was with Suzifour in their workshop when this was all installed, and took for granted it was all supplied correctly. I'll post here after my trip in a couple of weeks to let you[and others] know how it behaves.
Regards, Scott Moncrieff.
AnswerID: 73308

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