If you are one of those fortunate 4wd owners that have the opportunity to load up your vehicle with gear and family and head off on an extensive overland tour, here are 3 important tips regarding your vehicle’s suspension.
Prevention is always better than cure. Equipment failure has got to be very high on the list of undesirables for the Over-Lander. Some equipment failure one can possibly live with but suspension failure almost always grinds your tour or convoy to a halt. Unexpected delays, makeshift and often exorbitant repair costs are sure to spoil your touring holiday. Checking your entire vehicle prior to your trip is important. Having the suspension checked even more so.
While there are several reasons why one would consider replacing your 4wd suspension with an up rated aftermarket product, by far the most important consideration should be safety. Extensive over-landing trips often require that we pack everything but the kitchen sink. This invariably leads to our 4wd being loaded close to GVM capacity and in most cases this will render the standard suspension to work at close to its maximum limit all the time. While this may be fine for short trips, it is not a comforting thought at the start of your Serengeti odyssey.
Fitting up rated suspension will ensure that your trusty 4wd can carry that load more comfortable, safely away from the standard suspension limits. A heavily laden 4wd with its rear dragging in the sand will also tend to lighten the steering making your vehicle more difficult to drive safely. Heavily laden vehicles also tend to roll around with steering input making them potentially dangerous.
Don’t overload. The GVM rating of your 4wd is not solely determined by the load that the suspension can carry. The entire drive-train (motor, gearbox, drive shafts, axles, wheels and tyres, brakes, etc) were designed to carry and control a specified load. While you may be able to carry more load by up rating your suspension, exceeding the GVM rating of your vehicle could have dire consequences for the rest of the vehicle components as well as the safety of you and your family. It is of course also illegal.
Prepare well in advance. I regularly see vehicle preparations take place in the last couple of days before the commencement of a trip. It is my experience that many instances of equipment failure on extensive over-landing trips are due to poor fitment and workmanship rather than poor equipment, very often the case with jobs undertaken at the last minute. The timeous preparation of your vehicle is an important part of the planning for your trip. Undertaking a suspension upgrade well in advance of your trip will give you ample opportunity to ensure that all components are performing properly and that the fitment was done correctly. It is even a good idea at this time to load your vehicle with all of the items that you plan to take along to ensure that all is well and that you and your vehicle will be good to go when the big day arrives.
A safe vehicle will ensure that you and your family relax and enjoy your holiday.