The Ultimate Guide of Do's & Don'ts for 4x4 Suspension Kits
Why Consider a Suspension Kit for Your 4x4 Adventure? If you're aiming for enhanced ground clearance and improved wheel travel, installing a 4x4 lift kit is often among the top recommendations for off-road enthusiasts. These kits empower your vehicle to conquer challenging terrains like rocks, sand, and bush trails with enhanced comfort and safety. Nevertheless, before delving into these modifications, it's vital to take into account a few crucial factors. To help you make informed decisions, we encourage you to explore the essential do's and don'ts when it comes to purchasing, installing, and using a suspension lift kit.
When You're Looking to Buy a Suspension Kit for Your 4x4
Exploring Your Options for Purchasing a 4x4 Suspension Kit With a vast array of suspension components available in the market, the journey to find and acquire a 4WD suspension kit can be quite daunting. A simple Google search reveals an extensive list of brands, each offering a unique set of options. So, where should you start? When you're in the market for a 4x4 lift kit, the crucial advice is to exercise patience and conduct thorough research. Check out the 5 tips below.
1. Explore Your Options and Review Feedback
Given the abundance of choices at your disposal, it's wise to explore all available possibilities. Take the time to examine different price points and conduct brand comparisons. Seek out reviews from fellow 4WD enthusiasts who have already implemented the modifications you're interested in. Additionally, it's crucial to carefully plan the specific components you may require before proceeding with any modifications. For instance, when purchasing tires, ensure you've also acquired the corresponding offset rims to guarantee the tires fit comfortably within the wheel arches. This thoughtful approach can spare you from potential headaches in the future. We recommend the EFS, Outback Armour and Bilstein suspension lift kits.
2. Make an Informed Choice When Selecting Your 4x4 Lift Kit
Before you commit to a suspension kit for your 4x4, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your modification goals. Thoroughly investigate the components included in each kit and choose the one that aligns best with your specific needs. It's important to acknowledge that there will always be trade-offs when selecting a suspension kit since they can't simultaneously excel in terms of affordability, practicality, reliability, and off-road capability. This is why it's essential to establish your priorities and identify your preferred off-roading style before proceeding with any modifications.
For instance, some enthusiasts thrive on challenging terrains, such as hardcore mud and rock driving, where they require substantial tires, a low center of gravity, maximum articulation, and might benefit from aftermarket arms and light-duty springs. On the other hand, if your off-road adventures tend to be more leisurely as you explore the outback, there's typically no need to lift your vehicle by more than 50mm. In this case, investing in high-quality shock absorbers can enhance your experience.
For those who use their 4x4 both for daily errands and off-roading, adaptability is key. Consider a 3-inch lift, along with adjustable upper control arms, lifted struts, entry-level remote reservoir, or even foam cell shocks. Regardless of your specific needs, it's advisable to carefully review the warranty terms before making your final decision.
3. Assess the Ripple Effects of a Suspension Kit on Your Vehicle
4WD lift kits invariably bring about changes in various aspects of your vehicle. While these changes can be beneficial, it's vital to carefully contemplate the potential implications of a suspension lift before proceeding. For instance, opting for a substantial lift will necessitate larger and more costly tires to complete the transformation. It's worth noting that these larger tires can lead to increased fuel consumption. Additionally, the strain on your vehicle will require more frequent checks and changes of fluids to maintain optimal performance. It's also worth anticipating a potentially higher frequency of maintenance for steering components, including ball joints and tie rods.
4. Balance Your Desires with Practical Needs
Many individuals are drawn to the idea of installing a 4WD suspension kit primarily for the visual appeal it can lend to their 4x4 vehicle. It's true that a substantial lift and oversized tires can be visually striking. However, challenges can arise when these exaggerated features begin to negatively affect the vehicle's performance. With such a suspension setup, you may experience compromised handling and significantly increased fuel consumption. To avoid these issues, it's important to assess why you genuinely require a 4x4 lift kit.
If your intention is to become a frequent off-roader, seeking suspension modifications for improved safety and capability on rugged terrains, it's crucial not to sacrifice these needs for the allure of a stylish 4WD appearance. Strive to make a practical decision that aligns with your true requirements. It's worth noting that even a modest lift can enhance the visual appeal of your 4WD while ensuring functionality.
5. Take Legal Requirements into Account
It's essential to be aware that each Australian state has its own set of regulations governing the use of suspension kits for 4x4 vehicles. Prior to making any modifications to your 4WD, it is imperative that you acquaint yourself with these specific laws. A significant portion of 4WDs currently in operation may be in violation of these regulations, posing a potential safety hazard. It's in your best interest to ensure compliance with these legal requirements and avoid any unnecessary risks.
When You’re Installing A 4x4 Suspension Kit
Installing a 4x4 suspension lift kit is a serious project, and not something you can just do on a whim. There are many things to consider throughout every step of this process, so see our 3 tips below.
1. Avoid DIY Installation
The installation of a lift kit is a complex and intricate undertaking. While many individuals excel at performing routine car maintenance and replacing original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, 4x4 suspension kits require extensive adjustments to the vehicle, ranging from minor to major alterations. Installing suspension components may involve cutting, grinding, welding, tapping, or drilling certain sections of your 4WD. This process is both time-consuming and necessitates the use of specialized equipment that most do-it-yourself enthusiasts do not possess.
This is why we strongly recommend enlisting the services of a trained technician to carry out the installation of your 4x4 lift kit. Expert technicians handle these types of modifications on a daily basis, ensuring a significantly faster transformation of your vehicle compared to any DIY endeavor. They also possess the expertise to perform essential safety checks, which are crucial when operating a modified vehicle.
If you remain committed to undertaking this task independently, remember that your vehicle must be elevated to relieve the weight from all four wheels. Investing in suitable jack stands is essential to raise the chassis to an adequate height for the disassembly process and to accommodate the added height you're aiming for. Furthermore, when installing a suspension kit for your 4x4, it's crucial to acknowledge that you'll require an additional pair of hands and professional assistance to perform essential safety checks at a minimum.
2. Conduct a Test Drive
After the 4WD suspension kit is successfully installed, the eagerness to embark on an outdoor adventure might be hard to resist. However, we strongly advise taking a cautious approach and conducting a thorough test drive before venturing into challenging terrain. Start by running your vehicle to ensure it is functioning correctly, and then take it for a gentle drive in an area with minimal traffic. If you find that the suspension kit isn't delivering the desired results for your 4x4, don't hesitate to consider reinstallation or exploring alternative solutions.
3. Avoid Haphazard Component Mixing
If you're in the process of arranging a lift kit for your 4x4 vehicle, you might contemplate the possibility of combining various components. Perhaps you're considering swapping one set of shocks for another or opting for taller springs to achieve your desired suspension lift height. Regrettably, this approach is likely to result in complications. The design of a well-functioning suspension lift involves a substantial amount of engineering and careful consideration of compatibility between components.
When You’re Driving
There are ongoing considerations that need to be made in your day-to-day use of a modified vehicle. Even after a 4x4 lift kit has been installed, you should still be thinking about its functioning and the effect it has on other systems.
1. Exercise Caution with Suspension Lifts
It's important to acknowledge that suspension lifts will significantly alter the driving dynamics of your vehicle. With a taller vehicle, you may encounter challenges when navigating corners, increasing the risk of rollovers. Even on relatively smooth roads, you can anticipate a less comfortable ride due to the vehicle's modification for rugged use.
Taking the time to acclimate to your modified vehicle is crucial before embarking on any demanding endeavors. Even after becoming familiar with the new setup, proceed cautiously when traversing challenging terrains and prioritize safety at all times.
2. Stay Alert to Signs of Suspension Wear & Tear
Ensuring your preparedness and safety at all times, it's essential to be well-versed in recognizing indications of a compromised suspension system. For instance, if your driving experience becomes noticeably bumpy or erratic, it could be a sign of deteriorating shocks or struts. When driving in a straight line, be attentive to any tendency for your vehicle to drift or pull in one direction, often caused by uneven tire wear or improper tire pressure. Similarly, if your steering wheel feels unresponsive, or you encounter difficulties in steering, it may be due to low fluid levels or a more serious issue that warrants immediate professional attention.
Worn-out shocks can result in the front end of your 4WD 'nose-diving' each time you apply the brakes firmly. Since this symptom can have a detrimental impact on stopping distances, it's imperative to seek professional assistance promptly.
Keep a watchful eye for uneven tire wear and bald spots on the tread, as these indicate an uneven load-bearing by the suspension. Greasy shocks or struts could signify a fluid leak, indicating an impaired suspension system.
Continuing to drive your vehicle with any of these symptoms poses safety risks, and it is advisable to contact a professional if you suspect an issue. This way, the problem can be properly diagnosed, and the suspension system can be replaced as recommended.
Regarding the frequency of suspension replacement, it primarily depends on your driving habits, payload, and the type of suspension you use. As a general guideline, you can anticipate a minimum lifespan of 80,000 kilometers for your suspension.
3. Consider Removing It When Not Off-Roading
4WD lift kits serve their purpose best when you're navigating country roads or conquering rugged terrains. If you're not planning to embark on off-road adventures for an extended period, it may not be necessary to retain these components. In fact, driving a vehicle equipped with a suspension lift on regular busy roads can introduce safety hazards. While your vehicle's occupants remain well-protected, a lifted vehicle poses a significant risk to other road users and pedestrians. In the unfortunate event of a collision, the consequences could be more severe with a modified 4WD. Therefore, it is a responsible choice to consider removing your suspension kit if you do not anticipate off-roading in the near future.
At Brixton 4x4 Adventure, an Australian-owned and operated retailer dedicated to all things off-road, you can rely on us for your suspension system needs. Our team comprises experts in off-road vehicles, boasting unparalleled knowledge of 4x4 suspension intricacies. We're here to address your enquiries, provide valuable advice on 4x4 maintenance, and present an impressive range of products from trusted brands. To kickstart your 4x4 suspension journey, explore our website today!