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Let’s be honest, as soon as you buy a 4×4 the first thing you want to do is put it on some stupendously big tires and lift it until cornering at any speed over 5MPH becomes uncomfortable.
Jokes aside, many people and sometimes experienced off-roaders suggest that the first modification one should do is suspension. However, I believe this is wrong.
Why is it wrong to do a suspension upgrade right off the bat? In today’s article, we find out.
Suspension Spring Rates
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To understand why this suggestion is wrong, we first need to talk about spring rates.
Suspension spring rates are simply how hard or soft the springs are. Softer springs will be able to carry less weight and harder ones more.
If you overload a low spring rate suspension you will run out of travel and hit the bump stops all the time. This will lead to an unstable vehicle, reduced ground clearance, bad ride quality, and even breakages.
An over-sprung vehicle or a vehicle with too high of a spring rate will not absorb bumps effectively as there isn’t enough weight on the suspension for it to function correctly.
This can lead to worn-out bushings, bad ride quality, and bad off-road abilities as the suspension cannot utilize all its travel.
What Do Suspension Spring Rates Have to Do With a Suspension Upgrade?
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Well, it is important to get this right otherwise you will be buying new springs to correct the issues.
If you are building an overland rig, chances are that you will be adding many more modifications other than suspension.
Those modifications add weight which you need to consider in order to choose the correct spring rate.
Therefore, if you upgrade the suspension first you might end up going for too soft or stiff of a setup in relation to the weight you have added.
Is Leaving the Suspension for Last the Only Solution?
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No, it isn’t. You can sit down and make a list of all the mods you will be doing; consider the weight they will be adding and from there on choose the correct spring rate. After that, you can install all mods at once, including the suspension upgrade.
When figuring out the additional weight you will have, do not forget to factor in all the fuel, water, clothes, equipment, and people you will be carrying while traveling. Do not just add the weight of modifications.
You must be careful with this method though. If you end up removing something from the list or adding something else after you have purchased everything you might end up with the wrong spring rate again.
A Suspension Upgrade Doesn’t Just Provide a Lift
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Many times we have the false idea that an upgrade to the suspension is only there to lift the vehicle and that is not the case.
A suspension upgrade will improve ride quality (on certain vehicles), can drastically increase payload capacity, quality upgrades are far more resistant to heat and therefore last longer, and can even provide more wheel travel for improved off-road abilities.
The suspension is a 4WDs most important tool and it is crucial to always pick good quality products that suit your setup and travel plans.
With good suspension, you will be sure that your truck will take you to your destination without any issues.
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