Light, Medium or Heavy Duty Suspension?

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Are you looking at a suspension upgrade for your vehicle? Not too sure what you need? Soft to medium or heavy duty suspension? Mic van Zyl, Director of Ironman 4×4 Africa gives us a few pointers regarding suspension for your vehicle and what to consider when contemplating a suspension upgrade to your 4wd.

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Over the years I have come across many disappointed 4wd owners who have spent large sums of money on expensive suspension upgrades and are left unhappy afterwards. Their disappointment most often stems from the fact that they have ended up with a vehicle that does not have that “better ride” as promised. The problem almost always lies with the person selling the suspension upgrade and what they promise at the time of doing the sale. The excitement of a suspension upgrade gets to everybody – the salesman doing the deal as well as the 4wd owner, who anticipates a magical transformation of their vehicle.

As a long time salesman I am very aware of the temptation to try and sell the full Monty. Experience has taught me however that an unhappy customer, especially one who has parted with a considerably large sum of money, will never trust me again and will be lost to me as a customer for good. It is therefore essential that everybody is on the same page when discussing a possible suspension upgrade. Herewith are some points regarding suspension to consider when contemplating a suspension upgrade to your 4wd:

  1. There is a definite difference between a softer ride and a smooth, more comfortable ride. Comfort does not come from softness. There are very few aftermarket 4wd suspension kits on the market that truly offer a “softer” ride. A softer ride comes from softer springs and shocks. A vehicle fitted with softer suspension will carry less load and in most cases exhibit more body roll. Pop onto YouTube and type in “Stadium Super Trucks”. Nice soft suspension – good for racing and jumping – no good for 4×4 over-landing.
  2. A vehicle fitted with Heavy Duty suspension will have a firmer ride, especially with little or no load. Your vehicle will most likely be rather unpleasant to drive. You may even have issues with ride height and shock absorber travel due to the extreme lift that some Heavy Duty suspension systems induce on an unladen vehicle. You may also experience more difficulty in articulating the axles when off-roading due to the much firmer springs. Heavy duty suspension should really only be considered for vehicles that are going to be carrying some type of constant load – load that is not taken off the vehicle with any regularity. This excludes towed items such as boats and caravans.
  3. Medium duty suspension is a good all-rounder and is used in most cases. This type of suspension upgrade has a bit of lift, carries loads better than the standard suspension and the ride is very acceptable even when your vehicle is empty. Medium duty suspension upgrades are perfect for vehicles that carry occasional loads and spend most of their time carrying little or no load.

Regarding ride quality, a medium duty suspension upgrade may give you a slightly firmer ride however, provided you use a quality product with matched springs and shocks, you will end up with a smoother, more controlled ride. This will instill much confidence and reassurance in your ability to control your vehicle which goes a long way towards the safety of your vehicle and your family.

Ironman 4×4 offer a complete integrated range of suspension kits, designs which have evolved over 50 years of suspension experience. We recognise that there is no single solution practical for the varying needs of 4×4 owners and different driving conditions, therefore Ironman 4×4 offer a wide selection of matched components, once fitted will transform the vehicle around the drivers needs: