The Ultimate Guide of Do's & Don'ts for 4x4 Suspension Kits
Author: PX Wholesales Date Posted: 10 October 2022
Why should you have a suspension kit for your 4x4? If you’re after increased ground clearance and wheel travel, a 4x4 lift kit installation will be one of the first modifications that offroaders will recommend. 4WD lift kits allow you to tackle rocks, sand, bush trails and other hazardous landscapes with far more ease, comfort and safety. However, there are factors that should be considered before making these modifications. To prepare yourself, we recommend reading up on the most important do’s and don’ts of buying, installing and utilising a suspension lift kit.
When You’re Looking to Buy a Suspension Kit for Your 4x4
Given the range and amount of suspension components on the market, the process of finding and purchasing a 4WD suspension kit can be overwhelming. Just a quick Google will show you a seemingly endless list of brands to choose from, each with their own assortment of options. So where do you begin? When buying a 4x4 lift kit, the key is to take your time and do your research.
Shop Around & Check Reviews
With so many options available, it is a good idea to consider all the possibilities. Look at the different prices available and make brand comparisons. See if you can find reviews by 4WD owners who already have the modification you desire. You should also stop to think about the specific parts you might need before you make certain modifications. For example, before you buy your tyres, make sure you’ve also bought the appropriate offset rims to ensure that the tyres will stick within the guards. Taking the time to consider things like this will save you a lot of trouble down the track.
Don’t Choose Your 4x4 Lift Kit at Random
It is important that you have a good idea of what you want from your modifications before you choose a suspension kit for your 4x4. Investigate what comes with each kit, and choose according to the best option for your particular needs. There will always be a compromise of some kind made when you buy a suspension kit, as they cannot be entirely and equally economical, practical, reliable and capable off-road at the same time. This is why it is necessary to decide what your priorities are, as well as what type of off-roading you enjoy, before making modifications. Some drivers, for example, love the hardcore mud and rock driving, while others yearn for an easy cruise along their local beach. These preferences will affect the type of modifications you need.
If you are a hardcore weekender who enjoys taking on the harshest conditions, you’ll need big tyres, a low centre of gravity and maximum articulation. We also recommend aftermarket arms and light duty springs. If you appreciate an off-road experience, but tend to tour the outback in a more leisurely style, you shouldn’t have any reason to lift your vehicle higher than 50mm. Instead, spend more on fantastic shock absorbers. Finally, if your vehicle is frequently used for work errands and school pickups as well as off-roading, you need something adaptable. Complete a lift of 3 inches and choose adjustable upper control arms, lifted struts, entry-level remote reservoir or even foam cell shocks. Whatever your vehicle needs though, you should look at the warranty before making a final decision.
Consider How a Suspension Kit Might Impact Other Aspects of Your Vehicle
4WD lift kits will inevitably change other aspects of your vehicle. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is important to consider the potential effects of a suspension lift before you go ahead and get one. For example, if you choose to get a significant lift, you’ll need much larger and pricier tyres to complete the package. Note that having heavier tyres will also lead to an increase in fuel consumption. Your fluids will also have to be checked and changed more often to cater for the extra strain. You might also find that you need to replace steering components more regularly, including ball joints and tie rods.
Don’t Let Your Wants Outweigh Your Needs
For a lot of people, the main motivation behind installing a 4WD suspension kit is that they want their 4x4 vehicle to look good. And it’s true — a massive lift and huge tyres can be very aesthetically pleasing. The trouble comes when these exaggerated features take a toll on the vehicle itself. With this kind of suspension, you’ll likely have worse handling and will burn through fuel like never before. To avoid this issue, consider the reasons why you need a 4x4 lift kit. You might be becoming a frequent off-roader, and require suspension to ensure safety and capability on rough terrain. You don’t want to sacrifice this need for the desire to have a cool-looking 4WD, so try to make the most practical decision you can. Besides, even a small lift looks great on a 4WD!
Consider the Legalities
Each state within Australia has its own laws surrounding suspension kit for 4x4, and it is crucial that you familiarise yourself with these laws before you make adjustments to your 4WD. A large percentage of 4WDs currently on the road are illegal, and this is a hazard that you should try your best to avoid.
When You’re Installing A 4x4 Suspension Kit
Installing a 4x4 suspension 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.
Don’t Do It Yourself
Installing a lift kit is a complicated and delicate process. While many people are great at doing their own car maintenance and replacing OEM parts, 4x4 suspension kits involve making both minor and major adjustments to the vehicle itself. In order to install the suspension parts, you may have to cut, grind, weld, tap or drill certain parts of your 4WD. This task can be time consuming and will demand the use of precision equipment that most DIYers don’t have. This is why we recommend seeking the assistance of a trained technician to install your 4x4 lift kit. Expert technicians complete these kinds of modifications on a daily basis and will be able to transform your vehicle at a much faster rate than any DIY-er. They are also well-versed in the kinds of safety checks that are necessary before using a modified vehicle.
If you are still determined to complete this task yourself, keep in mind that the car needs to be lifted so that the weight is off all four wheels. You’ll need to invest in jack stands that will keep your chassis high enough off the ground for the disassembling process and for the increased height you’re adding. Finally, if you are installing a suspension kit for your 4x4, you should know that you will need a second pair of hands, as well as a professional, to at least complete the safety checks.
Take It for a Test Drive
Once the 4WD suspension kit is installed, you might feel tempted to hit the road right away and dive head-first into an outdoor adventure. While we understand that desire better than anyone, we encourage you to test out your vehicle first. Run your car to see if it still functions correctly, then take it for an easy drive in an area where there will be very few other vehicles on the road. If the suspension kit isn’t working for your 4x4, don’t be afraid to reinstall or try something else.
Don’t Piece Together Random Components
If you’re currently organising a lift kit for your 4x4 vehicle, you might be wondering if it is possible to mix-and-match components. Maybe you want to exchange a set of shocks for another, or grab a taller set of springs to achieve the exact suspension lift you seek. Unfortunately, this technique will likely lead to problems. There is a significant amount of engineering that goes into designing a properly operating suspension lift.
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.
Do Practice Caution
Suspension lifts will change how your vehicle drives. When you have a taller vehicle, you might find it trickier to go around corners and will run a higher risk of rolling over. When the road itself isn’t too rough, you can also expect a less comfortable ride, since the vehicle is now modified to withstand harsher use. It is crucial that you spend some time getting used to your modified vehicle before you take on any serious challenges. Even once you become accustomed to the new system, take your time with difficult terrain and always be careful.
Don’t Ignore Signs of Wear & Tear
In order to be prepared and safe at all times, it is vital that you learn about the symptoms of a damaged suspension system. If the drive feels bumpy or bouncy, for instance, it could mean that the shocks or struts are wearing out. When you’re driving straight, take note if your vehicle starts to drift or pull to one direction — this is usually caused by uneven tyre wear or tyre pressure. Similarly, if your steering wheel feels unresponsive and you’re having trouble steering, your fluid levels could be low. This issue could also be caused by something more serious, and requires immediate attention from a professional.
If the shocks are worn out, you may find that the front end of your 4WD ‘nose dives’ every time you firmly apply the brakes. Since this symptom can impact negatively on stop times, it should also prompt a visit from a professional.
You should also keep an eye out for uneven wear, or bald spots on the tread, as this implies that the suspension isn’t holding the car up evenly. Greasy shocks or struts can be indicative of a fluid leak, which means once again that your suspension isn’t working properly.
Continuing to drive your vehicle with any of these symptoms can be dangerous, so please contact a professional if you suspect that something is wrong. You can then investigate the issue and replace the suspension system as instructed.
Speaking of replacing, how often should suspension be replaced? Well, this largely depends upon your driving habits, the weight you’re packing and the type of suspension you have. As a general rule, however, you can expect your suspension to last a minimum of 80,000km.
Switch It Out If You’re Not Going to Be Offroading for a While
4WD lift kits aren’t really useful if you’re not trekking along a country road or tackling rough terrain. In this case, it’s not really necessary to keep the components on if you won’t be adventuring for a while. In fact, driving on regular busy roads with a suspension lift can actually be quite dangerous. While you and your passengers remain protected, a lifted vehicle poses a significant threat to other cars on the road, and especially to pedestrians. In the incident of a collision, the results would be far worse with a modified 4WD. For this reason, it is only responsible that you switch out your suspension kit if you do not plan on offroading for a while.
Shop Suspension Kits at PX Wholesales
As an Australian-owned and operated retailer that specialises in suspension systems, you can trust that PX Wholesales has what you need for your off-road adventure. What’s more, our staff are experts in off-road vehicles, and understand the complexities of 4x4 suspension better than anyone. We’re here to answer any questions, advise you on 4x4 maintenance and offer you incredible products from reputable brands. To jump-start your journey with 4x4 suspension, visit our website today!