Don’t compromise on your rise – Part 1

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Quality aftermarket suspension lifts are not cheap. Depending on your vehicle’s suspension type, you’ll need taller coil springs or leaf springs to give you the desired lift. Director of Ironman 4×4 Africa, Mic van Zyl explains what it is that you need to look for in a suspension upgrade for your vehicle.

The higher you lift your 4wd, the more it’s going to roll in corners or lean when the vehicle is tilted over on your favourite trail. Quality lift springs have therefore been designed with a higher spring rate (stiffer) to help counter body roll induced by the raised ride height and subsequent raised centre of gravity.

Fitting a lifted, stiffer spring is going to over-work your standard shocks very quickly. You will need to fit up-rated shocks to properly control these new springs. In some cases, to take advantage of your new lift, you will need to fit shocks with a longer open or extended length to allow for more downward wheel travel or droop, usually only on solid axle suspension types.

It is very important to note however that you cannot merely fit the longest shock that you can find to your lifted vehicle. In most suspension setups, the open or extended length of the shock determines how far your wheels can droop down under full articulation. On solid axle suspension type, shocks that are too long will allow the axle to droop down too far and may allow the coil spring to become unseated and fall out. Dropping the axle too far can also over extend brake lines, diff breather pipes and electronic wiring for the ABS system, diff locks and head light levelling.

This is especially important on independent suspension designs. Fitting a longer shock here will allow the wheels to droop down further than the original design of the vehicle. This can cause damage to your CV Joints and drive shafts and most critically, over extend the angle of operation on the upper ball joints causing them to fail.

The longer the open length is of a shock, the longer the closed length is going to be. Under full suspension compression, there are bump stop rubbers that contact either the axle or control arm to stop the upward travel of your axles and wheels. A shock that is too long when fully closed may bottom out before the bump stop rubbers come into play. This will certainly damage the shocks or even the shock mounts.

If you cannot stretch your budget towards a complete matched suspension lift kit, there are many popular “Short-Cuts” available. Some are a good compromise between cost and result but there are some to avoid. My advice on this topic is that one should only deal with reputable companies when modifying your suspension. The safety of your vehicle and your family is far more important than any financial considerations. Matched, properly engineered lift kits should be your first choice.

In our next article we will look at some of these options and give you some sound advice.

On road or off the beaten track, South Africa’s best choice for 4×4 Suspension and Accessories is Ironman 4×4. Whether you use your 4×4 as a family vehicle or as an off-road explorer, Ironman 4×4 Africa is Flagship store is situated in Alberton, Voortrekker road Off-ramp.

Call us today for a fitment quote on +27 011 634 7770

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