TIP # 106 from Owners Forum by Request: Sug. Landcruiser Suspension Upgrades..

Submitted: Monday, Jun 19, 2006 at 21:56
ThreadID: 122734 Views:2673 Replies:2 FollowUps:1
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Most people upgrade their vehicle suspensions for the Outback. When the vehicles first arrive, they have to ride nice and soft even though they have no gear and equipment added on yet. Spring increase in the tow vehicle is all about performance in high-speed evasive action, because the stock vehicle springs are hopelessly inadequate. Most serious travellers increase the springs whether they are towing or not. We normally put as much as 500-700 kg of gear and equipment on vehicles once we buy them, but they have to sell them with a soft ride with nothing on them and nothing in them. The stock ones are always weak and mushy and 90% of Outback equipped travellers upgrade them early on.

The problem is really that the vehicles have too light of a suspension when new. That is OK for the city use, and necessary as Ladies (sounds sexist, but true,) would not like the ride with a heavier suspension when not loaded with gear, so they would not sell in their unloaded empty new version just off the ship. Those who travel much immediately put on gear such as tow bars, bull bars, long range tanks, dual battery systems, snorkels, roof racks, or more; and then the stock original suspension is woefully inadequate let alone putting a van on the back as well. What we are really talking about is the high speed traffic hazard avoidance ability on the highway….. You want that firm upright control, not the wallow like a pig with a backpack on…. You can accomplish that best with the proper suspension.

Normal gear and layout should put a 20' van up around the 2500kg mark. You will take Delivery with the ball weight at around the 150kg mark, but with a front cargo hold that can easily add up to about the 250-300 kg on the ball when fully loaded. Landcruiser, Nissan Patrol, Land Rovers, Fords, and most larger tow vehicles are rated to 350 kg on the ball.... And Ford now goes to 450 and 4500 kg towing capacity.

Now on the suspension upgrades, we hear the results from all the brands. ARB has proven to be the best over the years. All Brands work for a while but the ARB ones have the best guarantee and track record, so I would go see them.. From ARB they are 400 and 600 kg coil spring upgrades for instance and the 50mm lift is nice as well for longer spring travel and comfort. Also the Nitrocharger gas shocks are a key issue... None of the others have held up as well, and with our own Cruisers (6 for me, 5 for Tracy since the 80’s) and the 1000 or so Customers, we have tried just about all of them and the ARB Suspensions and Nitrochargers have been the best value for the money. In our opinion you do not need the LTR fancy high speed Rally Car ones with the external gas canister... Overkill... In summary results: You really want the Tow vehicle like a Toyota to handle firmly like a sports car, more than wallow around with a weak suspension; for that control in an emergency on the Highway to avoid an accident at high speed.

Now, in case you have a 100 Series like mine, or the IFS Cruiser, you can always take the middle ground and get the "Medium" 400 kg coils; and add the poly-air bags to stiffen it up more... This makes it a bit adjustable.. I did this to mine because my Wife has a bone spur in her neck, and I was afraid the 600 kg increase spring might be too much when it was not fully loaded and running around town... Poly air bags on their own with just original weak springs would be totally unacceptable, but with the 400kg upgraded springs or better, they are a good option for a variable ride... A stock original suspension with just the air bags, relies too much on the air and still wallows as the air compresses without the springs taking the load; it just does not work well… But with the 400kg spring upgrade, the air bags inside will stiffen it a little more if you need it when fully loaded. Understand? I try and say things a few different ways, so none get left behind; but if you need any further clarifications please just ask. I do this full time, like 24/7, like 50 years, like all over the world. Even flown into remote Africa on Game Patrol, dropped into a clearing by a Bush Pilot in the most extreme rough and remote conditions, what was waiting for me? Yup, a Landcruiser two weeks 4x4 travel ahead of me to save time… I do the research, and the right decisions can be your safety margin in an emergency.! Now on the new IFS Cruiser: You do not have the 600kg option with some of the 100 Series IFS models, as there are some limitations with that “Independent Front Suspension”. In fact ARB have some upgrades for it as well to strengthen the lower control arm and some other bits, you will need to seek their advice…

Now back to using Landcruiser as the example, since they are still the most common Tow Vehicle in front of a Bushtracker: In summary, if you are going to really load up your van full time living, and tend to want a lot of toys on board, then you may need to get the 600 kg springs…. If you are loading your Landcruiser up, fridge, tools, long range tanks, and such, maybe a boat on top, motor in the back, long range tanks, or twin spare tyre holders, and more, then the 600 kg increased spring is it... If not then do the middle ground like I did. If you are loading your van up, boat motor on the a-frame, jerry can holders, larger van with everything on board, more than four water tanks and big on gear, and you are going to live it in and travel extensively, then get the larger springs for the better control. If you are in the middle ground like me, not too loaded, more like part time travel, not too much equipment on the van and Toyota, the middle range spring increase of the 400kg will do.. And if you need more you can add the Poly-air bags in side the coils, like I did... Just incase you want to load it up more… I have chosen that middle ground for my 100 Series which has: Steel running boards, Long Range Fuel tanks of 240 litres total, spare mounted on the rear with High Lift Jack and back up Flood light, Winch/B Bar on the front, ARB Air Compressor, ARB Diff Locks front and rear, and the rest. Mine is pretty well loaded, but gets away with the 400 kg spring upgrade as I am not taking a boat on the roof like some. I run around with only about 5-10 lbs in the air bags just to keep them in place, and would pump it up to 20-25 lbs if really loading up the Cruiser, but doubt I will ever tow my 22’ van as that is really beyond its capability in an emergency. I recommend only experienced truck drivers like myself with my Medium Rigid license or better, attempt to tow over a 21’ with Landcruiser, for wheelbase control and safety reasons in high speed accident avoidance emergencies..

And Ground Clearance? Get the 50mm lift for sure, it is not just about looks, but the looks will add to resale more than the cost of the suspension.. The real reason is the longer spring travel that allow a harder hit in a rut without bottoming out and “bucking” as the suspension bottoms out on the bump stops hitting the chassis. That is the real function reason for the lift in the springs… Since I do most of my towing with the Mack Dual Cab Horse Truck, or my F-250, the 100 Series has been semi retired as the “Little Missus’s twuck”. And my old Sahara, also equipped with ARB gear, Nitrochargers, and OME suspension, has been given to my Son. I still do the research, with two Landcruisers in my stables…

I hope this has been a help for the LC Owners.
Happy Trails from the Lone Ranger…
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Reply By: Deleted User - Wednesday, Jun 21, 2006 at 09:11

Wednesday, Jun 21, 2006 at 09:11

Thanks for the article. Just a couple of points to clarify.
Firstly the 400 Kg with the Polyair bags sounds just right for my LC100 with solid front axle.

You mention the 50mm of lift. Does this lift come automatically with the spring upgrade or is that a further modification?

You further mention some of the benefits of the 50mm lift, but I’m wondering about any disadvantages. One downside I can immediately see is that it will be harder for my 5ft-nothing wife to get into the cabin, but on a more technical note; how is the handling of the vehicle affected? Obviously the centre of gravity is higher, and is this detrimental in a practical sense or do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I’m talking here about the effect of the extra lift only, not the suspension modification as a whole.

Thanks for your help.


AnswerID: 568725

Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Wednesday, Jun 21, 2006 at 19:50

Wednesday, Jun 21, 2006 at 19:50
Hello Col,
I am having a blond morning I am afraid... I know the name, but cannot place you... So it this answer is a bit broad spectrum, please forgive me, I cannot recall your particulars...

The reason I have given this preface, is that the answer will vary, per the situation. Horses for courses, that sort of thing... First of all, I prefer the Monobeam front axle, to the IFS, and you have a much larger lattitude of suspension mods that you can do with that. As I said, from having sold myself a half dozen Cruisers, and hearing from the 1000 Customers, I think the lift does improve resale more than the cost of the suspension upgrade as it just "Looks the part" so to speak... And also I have had both, and the longer spring travel before hitting the bump stops is definitely a comfort advantage. Now it is up to you, and really the input from your Missus.

If She is really that Petite at 5 foot nothing let Her have a feel for getting in and out, maybe with running boards for instance. The lift in my opionion helps a tiny bit off road for ground clearance, looks good, and may be a bit more comfortable on the high speed bottoming out ruts... Will running boards help Her get in and out? Do you need them anyway? The running boards give you about a 100mm lower step to get in, maybe go to the 4x4 shop and see if that adds to the equation. I will not venture a guess of what suits you, except to say that the 50mm lift... IS NOT NECESSARY AT ALL, only a personal choice for me. Go try it with Her at a shop, and talk to ARB about any reservations they might have with STABILITY on the 100 Series, or any other considerations; but particularly Her getting in and out... ok? That will sway the decision.

As to the spring increase, the 400 kg was my choice, but it depends a lot on how heavy you are going to travel, how big of a van, boat on roof, folding boat trailer on a-frame, jerry can holders and how much you are really going to load things up per my Posting.. Medium ground, yes I think it is the right choice.. Extreme end of towing capacity for a Cruiser at 21' plus, or extremely heavily loaded/ overloaded with a boat on top and the rest? That is a different question... Let me know if I can help more..

Kind Regards, Lone Ranger, out on the trail...

Semper Fidelis
FollowupID: 845962

Reply By: Bushtracker - Wednesday, Jun 21, 2006 at 23:35

Wednesday, Jun 21, 2006 at 23:35
This has come by Private Message, the answer might help others:

Steve I have taken your advice and contacted ARB re springs for the rear of 100Series turbo IFS they are talking about progressive springs around the 400kg range with a load support hitch .What is the proven brand of hitch suggested Please direct me to comments around the feed back of this load sharing device fitment . The van is an 18ft 2003 June with 3000kg weight on plate. On the scales at the local tip prior to heading off into the sunset weight 2900 kg.The intention is to add a winch and steel bar in the future which will require changes to the front end. Do you think the 12000lb winch is the one to fit or the 15000 lb unit? I would love to do it all at once but the dollars are not available and as the trips are all local 2000 k round I can wait.

Lots of questions and I thank you for your input to the BOG site.

Regards XXXXXX

By "load support hitch" I am assuming you mean the WDH Weight Distribution Hitch.
You should read TIP # 46 on that, there is a copy in the recent Thread on the TIP # 102 "The Killer of Caravans....Watch Out For It, and a new TIP" That thread is down about eight or so below this Posting on Landcruiser Suspension upgrades... Or find it in the search machine above..

And there really is only One WDH that is most popular and common in use, you get it from Hayman Reece. A Guy named Eric Hayman brought in the Reece Hitch from the U.S.A. and did various developments on it here. They (HR) are still bringing in the original Reece Brand Hitch, I just bought an American one for my Ford.. Anyways, they are the Mob to go see. Look in the phone book under towbars or Hayman Reece to find your local outlet.. And you are on the intermediate ground as to whether to get the medium or heavy version, I would probably err on the side of getting the heavy one, you don't have to crank it all the way up.. Tell them what size of van and such, and take their advice. It would help if you put it back over the scale and get a weight difference hooked up and unhooked, that is your towball weight. You really want to be up in the 250-300 kg range. Personally I would take the 750lb (bigger one) Hayman Reece "Load Leveler" Weight Distribution Hitch..

On the winch, even the 12,000 lb is probably overkill. To my knowledge, at least the way it used to be, the 15,000 was the same, just geared lower and a little slower. Keep in mind that if you use a "Snatch Block" (properly) you can double your pulling power with any winch. I have the 15,000 on my Ford, if they are nearly the same money, get the bigger one if you like. "Bogged to the Running Boards", there is no such thing as too much winch.. In a pinch.... With a Bushtracker on the back... Ha! See if this answers all your questions, if not please ask again, we are here to help..

Regards, from the Ranger...
AnswerID: 568726

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