Truck Suspension: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide (2021)
Off-road enthusiasts care about their 4x4s, and they seek continual investments in their upgrades and performance. One of the most common upgrades involves custom truck suspension – a great move that enhances your fun and adrenaline during off-road adventures. Suspensions for trucks have two significant functions – support the truck’s weight and absorb the road and trail bumps. The goal of suspension is to keep the truck level and stable while enhancing the overall ride quality. However, when the upgrade is not done properly, you might experience an array of issues that prevent you from enjoying off-road activities to the fullest. This guide will lead you through truck suspension upgrades and help you make important decisions regarding enhancing your truck’s performance on trails and rocky roads.
Let Alpha Off-Road 4x4 Shop in Valencia, CA Be Your Truck Suspension AllyWith Alpha Off-Road truck suspension shop, you can take your off-road experience to new heights. We address a broad range of off-road vehicles, delivering an unmatched experience to off-road enthusiasts seeking the utmost performance, excellent ride quality, and the truck’s aesthetic appeal. Call us at (818) 599-9143 to make an appointment for pickup truck suspension, suspension kit installation, or similar performance improvements to get your truck ready for trails.
How to Choose the Best Suspension for Trucks?The best way to find the aftermarket truck suspension kit for your needs is to determine how you will use the vehicle. For instance, you won’t be satisfied with a high-end suspension lift kit if your truck never leaves the pavement, while a budget-friendly leveling kit is not the best choice for a dedicated off-road enthusiast. Let’s see how to choose the best solution for your needs and purposes:
Stock Truck SuspensionMost stock truck suspension systems are designed to deliver optimal performance in everyday driving conditions. These are suitable for vehicles that won’t go off-road and drivers satisfied with the truck’s factory wheels and tires. While not ideal for off-road adventures, stock suspension systems require no modifications to your vehicle.
Towing Truck SuspensionTowing suspension includes the accessories that make your vehicle more convenient for hauling. It often involves overload bump stops, adjustable air springs, add-a-leaf springs, and other improvements to reduce difficulties while towing heavy loads. However, towing suspension won’t improve off-road handling or increase ride height.
Leveling Suspension KitBy installing a leveling kit, you will raise the front end of your truck to match the rear. This is quite a simple modification that allows your vehicle to equip larger tires than it could with stock suspension. It is excellent for drivers seeking an improved stance and the ability to install a bigger set of tires. However, it won’t improve off-road handling.
Body Lift KitA body lift kit is an outstanding choice for those who want to increase the ride height without compromising the truck’s stock suspension characteristics. It uses various spacers between the truck’s frame and body, raising the body up to 3” above the stock height. Although it brings a considerable increase in ride height, a body lift kit doesn’t improve off-road handling.
Suspension Lift KitTruck suspension lift kits help you achieve the tallest ride height possible, whether you seek enhanced off-road handling or the truck’s appealing look. A truck lift kit creates better ground clearance and makes more room for larger tires, enhancing the truck’s off-road capability. With properly installed lift kits, vehicles can clear larger rocks and other obstacles when going off-road. The greater suspension provided by truck lift kits smooths out bumps in a rocky road, especially when driving at higher speeds. When considering a lift kit installation, you should think about additional modifications to your vehicle, the tire size you’d like, and the overall installation process.
When to Consider Truck Suspension Tune-Up?Once your off-road rides become uncomfortable, it’s time for truck suspension tune-up. Even if you’ve had your truck recently serviced, its suspension might need another boost. Only mechanics who understand your needs can perform a truck performance suspension based on your unique purposes and the off-road activities you practice. If your truck suspension cannot carry your vehicle’s weight and fails to absorb the road and trail inconsistencies, a truck suspension upgrade is worth considering.
1. Think about Where You’ll DriveFirst, it is vital to decide where you’ll drive the vehicle. If you plan on driving on trails in extreme conditions, truck suspension modifications will be made accordingly. On the other hand, if you want to drive on the street, you’ll have to consider the truck’s ability to brake, corner, and maneuver on asphalt to ensure your and other drivers’ safety.
2. Choose Your Truck TiresThe best practice is to pick your tires before choosing an adequate truck suspension. It is vital to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the height of the tires and don’t go for more than what’s recommended.
3. Choose Between Premium and Economy KitsHigher lifts are pricier than lower ones because they often require more adjustments to the truck. Although these adjustments aren’t always associated with the lift, you may face costs of new truck tires, wheels, driveshafts, and other truck parts. It is recommended to go for a lower lift kit, which is a more cost-effective solution. Besides, if you decide to stay below the limit, you can save money and prevent any trouble on the road.
4. Consider Leaf Spring Suspension UpgradeThe best way to lift leaf springs is by installing new ones. Lifted leaf springs have a steeper arch, delivering outstanding performance. In addition, you can reinforce your springs by adding another leaf or using so-called spring helpers that bolt on to your existing springs, providing them with extra strength and tension.
5. Keep Coil Spring Lifts in MindCoil springs are more common on the truck’s front end, and you can enhance them at a reasonable price without adding extra ride height. Coil springs prevent the suspension from squatting, increasing ride height and providing your truck with a slightly lifted appearance. There are many ways to lift coil springs, including a long arm kit. Long arm kit installation is more expensive, but it delivers height without compromising the truck’s performance. It is one of the best solutions for those who seek extreme lift without affecting the off-road experience.
6. Don’t Underestimate Driveshaft AnglesYour lift suspensions may alter the driveshaft angle. If you ignore it, you will experience vibrations and other issues that shorten your truck’s lifespan, resulting in sudden failure. Also, if the driveshaft angle is bigger than 10 degrees, the universal joint may start to wear faster. Ideally, driveshaft-operating angles should be 1 to 3 degrees. If it is higher than 3 degrees, you must ensure not to exceed max driveshaft RPM.
7. Pick the Right Shock AbsorberIt is essential to pick the right shock absorber because the aftermarket options are not universally made for every application. Go for the shocks recommended for your truck suspension kit or select an adjustable shock absorber. That way, you can get the ride quality you desire. If you have huge truck tires or drive fast in hot conditions, a single shock absorber might not enough. However, if you get the right size shock absorber, it can be as powerful as two shocks.
8. Consider Sway Bar DisconnectsA sway bar connects your vehicle’s suspension components and is mounted to the suspension control arms. It improves your vehicle’s on-road, at-speed performance by enhancing grip and control. Since four-wheel drivers want to drive at low speeds off-road, they decide to disconnect sway bars for their activities. A lift kit usually contains sway bar link extensions, also known as sway bar disconnects. A sway bar will make your street driving safe, especially if you already have a coil spring lift. But when you’re off-road, hitting a rough terrain, you will want your 4x4’s wheels to travel as far as possible and maintain contact with the ground – and that’s how sway bar disconnects can help.
9. Go for Steering ImprovementsWhen you lift your truck, you will probably need to make certain steering upgrades. These improvements may involve dropped pitman arms, which you might find in your kit, but there is also something for oversized wheels and truck tires – an aftermarket steering damper. Big wheels and tires may put a lot of strain on your steering system, which is why you might need the following upgrades, as well:
- Stronger tie rods and drag links
- Improved steering box, pump, and a hydraulic assist
- A power steering cooler
- Bracing and frame enhancements.