July 14, 2020 By Francis G. Pallarco

Tuner: Aftermarket Off Road Suspension Upgrade

Basic guide regarding quick lifts to custom multi-link suspension systems

Going off road means traversing rough and unpaved terrain with different obstacles like rocks and deep ruts. This is the main reason why most four-wheel drive vehicles immediately upgrade their stock suspension with aftermarket lift kits. The added ground clearance will prevent the major components located underneath from hitting hard objects. Other benefits also include enabling it to be fitted with a larger wheel and tire setup and make the vehicle more capable of traversing steep inclines and uneven terrain. Choose the suspension upgrade that fits your needs and budget.

TYPES OF SUSPENSION LIFT KITS

Quick Lift or Spacer Kits

This utilizes the stock coil springs with machined aluminum spacers and doesn’t alter the vehicle’s ride characteristic drastically. What this mod does is instantly raising the vehicle’s ground clearance by several inches depending on the thickness of the spacer that’s normally 1.5 to 2 inches.

Pros/Cons: Very inexpensive and easy to install, but it only offers a limited amount of lift.

Suspension Lift Kits

This type directly replaces the factory suspension components like springs and shocks. Depending on the type of suspension, this may include reverse leaf spring shackles with lift blocks or longer coil springs and shocks. Most kits offer anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of lift.

Pros/Cons: Ideal for those wanting the best tire clearance to fit larger aftermarket wheel/tire setups for occasional off-road trailing.

 

Drop-Down Bracket IFS Lifts

Upgrade for those seeking more than two inches of lift with vehicles equipped with Independent Front Suspension (IFS). This utilizes more components including a dropped sub frame. Most kits range anywhere from 4 to 6 inches of lift.

Pros/Cons: Costlier than quick lifts, but offers a more substantial amount of lift and suspension articulation.Custom Off-Road

 

Suspension

This allows the largest wheel and tire to be fitted and the highest possible ground clearance with lots of suspension travel. Custom systems employ leaf springs/multi-link system with solid 1-ton differentials and long coil springs.

Pros/Cons: Offers the most ground clearance and suspension articulation.

 

Summary

The choice of suspension lift kits will always come down to a compromise between ride comfort and practicality. As a rule of thumb, go for a lift kit anywhere from 2 inches to 4 inches. Having a taller suspension is definitely a bonus off road. Just remember though higher clearances also raise your vehicle’s center of gravity, which also reduces handling.

4×4 TUNING TECH TIPS

  • One disadvantage of using a lift kit is that it causes “bump steer”. However, this negative effect can be reduced significantly by adding steering stabilizers or dampers.
  • Ground clearance and load carrying capability will be increased, but ‘stiffer’ suspension components will probably result in a firmer ride when travelling unloaded.
  • A longer shock absorber upgrade is recommended for spacer kits larger than 2 inches or more.
  • Choose a suspension upgrade that matches the weight of the vehicle before deciding on any suspension upgrade. Determine if it’s going to get a metal bumper, winch and so on that will add to the vehicle’s overall weight? Get it wrong, and the springs will sag, or have a terrible ride.
  • A lighter vehicle is preferred over a heavier one as it uses less power and has better traction and flotation.

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