For most 4x4s, the idea of upgrading their suspension seems like a good idea, but when it comes to it, the majority of them aren’t sure what needs to be done and what it entails. Suspension parts aren’t just there to prevent you from feeling the bumps on the road, they’re essential for your safety as well. For that reason, it’s recommended you get the services of a professional should you ever decide to tweak your suspension.
I learned that the hard way when I tried upgrading my Nissan Patrol Y60 suspension, but that’s a story for a different time. Here are a few questions I wish I asked myself when upgrading my Nissan Patrol Y6 suspension.
What Does Upgrading the Suspension Involve?
No matter what type of vehicle you own, it will have some tnissan patrol y60 suspensionype of spring front and at the rear, plus a device to control the springs. The springs can be air bags, steel coil or steel leaf, while the device that controls them is a damper or shock. Besides these two basic parts, there are also other parts that are shared by most suspension kits, such as bushings (which prevent metal-to-metal friction and improve ride quality) and anti-roll bars that control the vehicle’s side-to-side movement. It’s important to make sure the aftermarket suspension parts are well-balanced, which is why experts recommend you change the entire suspension at once.
Quality and Materials: What to Look For?
As is the case with most things in life, you get what you pay for. So, if you have a stock dual cab 4×4 with struts at the front and leaf springs at the back, you’ll need to pay about $500 for quality aftermarket parts, or more, if your budget can handle it. Most quality entry-level parts, including springs and dampers, are now made in Taiwan or China. Regardless, quality brands will test their products rigorously. What this means is that the spring should have a decent spring rate, which is the amount of pressure it can take to extend or compress over a specific distance. Most 4×4 suspension applications are measured in pounds per square inch.
That being said, the ideal spring for you will depend on what you want to do. If you want to go over rocky terrain or climb steep hills, you’ll need springs that are softer and longer, whereas if you want to improve road driveability, you’ll want stiffer and shorter springs. Whichever type of spring you choose, you must make sure the damper matches the spring rate.
This is important for proper suspension tuning. The shocks must be capable of controlling the springs when they’re at full compression and extension. If the damping is too little, your 4×4 will pogo and pack down, meaning it won’t extend properly to handle the bumps. For this reason, it’s crucial that you upgrade your shocks when you upgrade your springs.
The same goes for the bushings, which are typically made of rubber or polyurethane. OEM bushings are soft, providing a more comfortable ride. Aftermarket stiffer bushings, however, can provide more control and feel which will be noticed when cornering. So, if you’re upgrading your dampers and springs, consider upgrading your bushings as well.
Advantages vs Disadvantages
The advantages of upgrading your suspension are easily noticeable. When done right, you’ll get more on- or off-road ability, and a more comfortable and more controllable ride, allowing you to you push your vehicle further than the manufacturer intended. When car manufacturers design their vehicles, they’re built to deal with a wide range of terrain and for as many applications as possible.
So, if you use your 4×4 to go over steep terrain or rocks, you’ll notice that the factory set-up will only work up to a certain point. The same goes if you’re travelling long-distance with a boat trailer at the back.
You should talk to a suspension expert to give you an idea of what you should do for the type of driving you do, because there’s no point in adding 3-4 inches to a truck that spends most of its time on the paved road towing a two-tonne trailer at the back. On the other hand, car modifications are about balance, and if you upgrade your suspension and get too cocky, you might find that other systems of your vehicle, like the transmission or braking system, won’t be up to the task the same way your suspension is.
Moreover, your warranty can be voided. Most manufacturers have rules around how much you can modify before the warranty is completely voided, and it fails to cover the fried rear differential or damaged gearbox. Additionally, don’t expect to get more money for your rig in case you want to re-sell it. Most people are afraid to buy modified vehicles, no matter how well they’ve been modified, even if only you drove them on the road.