Suspension whilst towing c'van

Submitted: Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 16:28
ThreadID: 33648 Views:2043 Replies:11 FollowUps:0
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Gidday everyone,
I have a 1994 GQTD42D with aftermarket turbo fitted and tow a rebuilt (gutted back to frame, new interior/exterior)1974 viscount c'van. We only ever tow it to a wonderful place called honeymoon bay NSW, on school holidays, approx 20K's from home. My problem is that when everything is loaded up the poor old GQ sits very low at the back. Low to the point that I have to jack up the back of her just to fit the jockey wheel when the c'van is in place. The springs appear ok. There is alot of talk about 2"/3" lift jobs and polyair cushions. I am thinking of the polyair system as I don't think the lift job is necessary, as I don't do alot of offroad stuff. Would I be right? Any advise or assistance would be very welcome.
Thanks in advance.
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 17:11

Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 17:11
There is quite a few options and I guess you don't want to spend mega bucks , now this link will be expensive Site Link

but this might be better for you if you go to a 4x4 store and enquire about the little airbag helpers for coils or leaf
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AnswerID: 171324

Reply By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 17:17

Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 17:17
Here's the one i was looking for

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Reply By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 17:25

Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 17:25
Mate, the 1st thing I'd do is grab your bathroom scales and take them out to the van...........stick under the jockey wheel and lower the weight down onto them.

It sounds to me like your ball-weight (sorry, not trying to be personal or anything......I mean the ball weight of your van....hahaha) might be a bit over the top. If the scales go up more than say 60 kilo's (only a rough guide), then it could be that the van is being packed/stacked with too much weight towards the front. If you can move a substantial amount of the weight to a position behind the axle, you should see a better balanced and better handling van.

Also, I'd be investigating those load-leveling bars etc......

As you can tell, I'm not a caravan owner, just some thoughts that might assist.

Good luck


AnswerID: 171328

Reply By: TroopyTracker - Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 17:47

Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 17:47
What you need is a weight distribution hitch, but these are exy for a 20 k trip but the only way to sort this properly. You could go the airbag option for such short trips, hell there are guys towing thousands of k's with no WDH and bags etc who think they're fine. The bags will be usefull whenever you load the car up also, whereas the hitch will be a heavy expensive ornament most of the time in your situation. Agree with Roachie, check ball weight but I hope it is more than 60kgs!! It should be 10% of the weight of your van. CHeck out the Haymen Reece site for ways to check with regular scales(unless you have two and split the load). Also info on WDH's there to.

AnswerID: 171331

Reply By: Member - Royce- Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 20:40

Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 20:40
It sounds like a weight distribution problem in the caravan. When you stand side-on the whole rig should be level.

Move all weighty stuff back to the axles of the van and see what happens. If you need to jack up the car ... then something is wrong. After all a standard non 4WD can tow a cvan.
AnswerID: 171386

Reply By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 21:28

Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 21:28
Befor spending any money on suspension or weight distribution hitches for god's sake check out the balance of your van. I am pretty familiar with Honeymoon Bay and the access in (parents live at Currarong), so I would have to say that your van is not the biggest in the world. I am sure you will find that your caravan balance is out of wack and that you have too much load on the front.

I believe from memory that you should have about twenty percent of the total van weight on the drawbar up to, of course, the total allowable for the particular drawbar/hitch fitted to your vehicle.

I would suggest you whip it in to Bomaderry to the weighbridge and find out what your set up is. Drive your vehicle over the weighbridge so that just the jockey wheel hangs over, drop the wheel and get the guys to record the weight of the jockey wheel only, then back up, rehitch and pull the van on and weight the van itself. If you tell the operator on the weighbridge what it is you are trying to achieve he will give you the "goods" on what to do as they do this sort of stuff all the time.
Watch this thread as there will be many members who will I'm sure post in to tell you what the correct percentage of hitch to van weight is together with the max. drawbar and tow weight for your Nissan.

I have in the past seen a situation where an unscrupulous salesperson sold someone a load levelling device when all the had to do was move some of the unnecessary crap out of the front storage compartment in the van and stick it on the floor in the back of the van.

AnswerID: 171416

Reply By: ch00k555 - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 07:16

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 07:16
Many thanks for all your help. I will definately get down to Bomaderry and weigh the van fully loaded as per my normal loadout for our trip, pain in the ass when I won't be going but it's better than forking out a couple of hundred dollars for something that I may not need. Just from some of your suggestions I will have to convince the wife that we don't need to take the kitchen sink with us every time we travel.
Once again thanks for all your help.
AnswerID: 171461

Reply By: Wizard1 - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 14:42

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 14:42
If you are towing a van without a WDH one would have to ask why not....

I thought my rear suspension was ok until it was measured to find I had lost 50mm in ride height from standard. I did not get a lift just heavier rated springs and a set of Polyairs. I already had a 550 LB WDH. When we go on long trips we carry a lot of gear in the van, in the 4WD and on the roofrack so the suspension has a job ahead of it.

I'm one of those types that ensure I have the best and safest setup I can...Its not about wasting money on things such as WDH.

Is the caravan its standard height? That could be part of your height problem as well...
AnswerID: 171517

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 17:04

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 17:04

By all means check the ball weight of the Van and redistribute internal load if necessary. This is the cheaper option and may fix your problem.

But there is one other thing you may consider. Does the GQ still have its original suspension? It may be worth having the springs and shockers checked out. They don't last for ever mate.


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AnswerID: 171538

Reply By: Mikee5 - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 18:07

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 18:07
I have a booklet called The National Caravan and Recreational Vehicle Towing Guide published by the Caravan and Camping Industry.
It advises that "the ball mass (the mass towards the front of the trailer carried by the towball of the towing vehicle) should be about 10 to 15 percent of the total laden caravan weight. If this ball mass is causing the back end of the towing vehicle to sag then a weight distributing hitch can be used to return the vehicle to its normal height."
This is what the other responses have also recommended. A lift kit will not solve your problem, the van will still bring the rear of the car down. Neither will heavy duty rear springs - these will make the ride without the van really harsh.
AnswerID: 171550

Reply By: ch00k555 - Tuesday, May 09, 2006 at 08:02

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 at 08:02
To all: Many thanks for the continued responses to my question. I am currently working up in the highlands of PNG so I cannot put all your advise into action just yet.

Ian - I will definately go to Bomo weigh bridge as you suggested. After the rebuild I had to take it to this weigh bridge so I could register it but it was not fully loaded up for a trip to HB.

Wizard1 - When I rebuit the C'van I did not alter the height of said van. But I did relocate the Sink and Oven to the front of the van.

Sandman - I am the second owner of the GQ which is my first 4X4 and to be honest with you I don't know if the springs are original. I check when I get home.

Mikee5 - I had a look at the link you provided, thanks, and I will talk to the minister of war and finances about the possible purchase of WDH.
AnswerID: 171650

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