Truck suspension modifications can alter your vehicle’s stance and make it look sportier. Truck Accessories can also improve handling and make your ride more comfortable. Boosting the rear suspension with leaf springs and adjusting the front torsion bar can make room for larger tires. It can help distribute weight evenly to lengthen the life of the suspension components.
Ride-adjusting shocks are a great way to upgrade your truck’s rear suspension. They allow you to adjust the compression and rebound settings on the fly to suit your driving style. This means that your truck can be boosted up to handle a heavy payload or trailer, and then lowered back down for commuting. This is a popular upgrade for trucks that frequently carry large loads in the back or tow a trailer.
Shock valving is adjusted by turning an adjustment knob on the top of the shock body. Most shocks offer different adjustment settings: “low speed” or “high speed” compression adjustments. The low-speed adjustment controls how soft or firm the shock is when compressing over a bump or off-road obstacle. This can increase road feedback and vehicle control when offroading, or reduce body roll and nose dive when commuting on the street.
The high-speed adjustment controls how fast the shock is able to recover from a compression action. This can affect how much the suspension bounces after a jump or hard hit, as well as how quickly your rig bottoms out when towing or running a heavy load. These types of adjustment can be fine tuned on the fly to change performance requirements at a moment’s notice, and returned to a regular commute setting with a single click of the knob.
Strut braces are another great way to boost your truck’s front end suspension, as they help reduce flexing and provide a more stable platform for the front tires. They also prevent chassis twist, which can cause other suspension components to wear out prematurely.
A leaf spring suspension is a traditional system that uses one or more long, curved springs that attach to the axle and frame of your truck. This system is typically found on older vehicles, but many drivers choose to upgrade it for the increased control and stability that it provides over a wide range of driving conditions. Many customers want to use a leaf spring suspension for offroading, racing, or hauling, while others may prefer the added comfort of a smoother ride.
Coilovers are suspension components that combine a coil spring and shock absorber into one unit (the name literally means “coil over shock”). These setups provide a ton of adjustability for performance enthusiasts and daily drivers alike. They offer a much smoother ride than traditional strut and spring setups, which is why they’re so popular with racers. They can also be lowered significantly when the driver wants to take their car to the track.
While coilovers are a great upgrade for performance enthusiasts, they’re not without drawbacks. The biggest is a harsher ride. While they help to reduce excessive body roll, the stiffer spring function makes every bump and expansion strip really stand out. This is a trade-off that can get old for some drivers, especially those who use their vehicles for daily driving.
Fortunately, you can compensate for the harsher ride by adjusting the spring preload on your coilovers. This is done by loosening the lock collar on top of the adjustment nut. Once the bolt is loose, you can rotate the nut counter-clockwise to increase preload and lower your ride height.
In addition to allowing you to fine-tune your ride height, many coilovers have adjustable dampening. This lets you change the compression and rebound strokes for the ultimate in control and handling. Some models have single-adjustable damping, while others allow you to set your compression and rebound independently.
It’s important to note that other modifications you’ve made can have a big impact on how your truck feels. For example, if you replaced your stock bushings with polyurethane ones they’ll be much stiffer and will have a major effect on the ride quality. You may also have lowered your vehicle dramatically, which will cause the suspension geometry to be off from the factory design and will have an affect on how your car handles.
Another thing to keep in mind is that coilovers can eat up a lot of room under your chassis. If they’re not installed properly, they can come into contact with other suspension and steering parts, tangle up wires for systems like antilock brakes, or even end up in contact with your tires, chewing off the sidewall.
If you’re looking to give your truck a more imposing, off-road ready appearance, then a lift kit is the way to go. However, it’s important to remember that lifting a vehicle significantly changes its center of gravity and may negatively impact handling.
To avoid serious and costly consequences, it’s best to start small with your lift modifications. For example, a spacer kit uses heavy-duty rubber washers to raise the height of factory springs and struts without changing their design or functionality. This is a cheaper and more convenient option that allows you to change your ride height in small increments.
On the other hand, a suspension lift is a more significant modification that involves raising the height of the entire suspension. These kits use longer springs and spring spacers to increase the distance between the ground and the frame of your truck, allowing you to clear obstacles more easily. However, suspension lifts also change the geometry of your front suspension and should only be used with high-quality replacement parts to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.
Another common suspension modification is to replace the stock shocks and struts with performance-oriented alternatives. These replacements are designed to handle the additional stress that lifted trucks endure, resulting in a smoother and more controlled driving experience. They’re especially beneficial if you plan to do any off-roading because they’re built to handle increased suspension travel.
Suspension lifts and leveling kits are great options for increasing your ground clearance and allowing you to run larger tires, but be careful not to exceed the maximum recommended ride height for your vehicle’s model year. Overdoing the lift can cause damage to your drivetrain, so it’s important to ease into your new stance and only go as far as your truck is safely capable of going.
Many people make the mistake of immediately spending big bucks on suspension upgrades based upon the opinions of their friends and what they read online. This can be a very expensive mistake, so it’s always best to see how your truck handles with a camper before making any major changes.
Air shocks use a similar technology as coil-overs, replacing traditional steel springs above the wheels with rubber or polyurethane bags. These are inflated by an onboard air compressor or electric pump to a specific pressure to behave like traditional springs. They are then used to support the weight of the truck or trailer, helping it handle rugged terrain, heavy loads and even drive up steep inclines without damage or sway.
One of the more popular uses for air suspension is to keep a truck from squatting when hauling cargo, such as boats or trailers, furniture or large appliances. These kits use air-filled shocks in the rear to inflate when a heavy load is present, preventing slouching and reducing stress on the vehicle’s components.
Another common truck suspension modification is to replace the factory-installed bushings with polyurethane ones. These bushings separate metals that would otherwise rub together, and the smoother contact allows for better ride comfort and reduced wear over time. They also work to reduce noise and vibration that can be heard or felt in the cab and around the undercarriage.
A final truck suspension modification is to add a rear sway bar to control sway from a heavy or rolling load. These are usually installed on the front coil springs or the rear leaf spring packs, and they can be found in aftermarket brands such as Helwig or Roadmaster.
Adding new parts to your truck’s suspension may seem simple, but it’s important to understand how the modifications you choose affect your vehicle. You should always have a professional mechanic check and approve any replacement parts that veer from the specifications of the original equipment manufacturers. This will help ensure that the replacement parts you’re installing meet your needs and won’t cause damage or other issues.
Likewise, you should be cautious about swapping out shock absorbers. Many replacements for the factory shocks have a wide range of settings and features, so it’s important to match them to your driving goals and truck’s application. If you don’t, the result could be a stiff or mushy ride that doesn’t give you the performance or safety you want from your vehicle.