Vehicle suspension is a complicated and often misunderstood subject. To help you cut through the misinformation, we’re busting the biggest suspension myths wide open.
Myth #1: ‘At the end of the day, all shock absorbers are equal.’
Shock absorbers are there to control the movement of your vehicle and springs transform it into heat. The way they do this (and how well they do it) varies widely, depending on their materials, design and construction. Depending on your choice of mono-tube, twin-tube or remote reservoir shock absorber, your suspension system will be equipped for different kinds of performance, on and off-road.
Suspension systems have characteristics that effect your 4x4’s capability and your own driving experience, and those characteristics will overlap in some way when you compare one suspension system to another – but that doesn’t mean they’re the same.
Myth #2: ‘Complete suspension upgrades are never needed on new vehicles.’
In reality, OEM suspension is designed to be comfortable and effective during on-road travel and with minimal added weight inside your vehicle. By loading up your vehicle, fitting 4x4 accessories and travelling off-road, you are actively stepping outside the limited design of your rig’s suspension system – even on a brand-new vehicle. Aftermarket suspension, however, is designed to perform better with the added weight of accessories and do it for longer periods, while you also have more componentry options to customise your suspension system to perfectly suit you and how you want to use your 4x4.
Myth #3: ‘Lifting your vehicle with a suspension upgrade makes the vehicle less safe and susceptible to a roll-over.’
The argument that upgrading your suspension will raise your 4x4’s centre of gravity is true, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to a decrease in safety and an increase in the chance of a roll-over. In fact, because the spring rates and shock absorber damping rates of a quality suspension upgrade are more in tune with the dynamics of the rig (and its 4x4 accessories) that it’s fitted to, a lifted vehicle with the right suspension can be far safer than a lower vehicle fitted with 4x4 accessories with standard OEM suspension.
Myth #4: ‘Suspension is a low-priority aftermarket 4x4 accessory.’
Suspension is largely an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ accessory as far as most fair-weather off-road travellers are concerned, which is why many 4x4 owners opt for a roof top tent before they worry about what’s carrying them and their vehicle every k of the way.
To lay it out, suspension is responsible for quite a few things. Off-road suspension plays an essential part in ground clearance, towing and load-carrying performance, as well as wheel travel. Plus, it also has a big effect on everyday driving occurrences like braking, handling, ride comfort and more. Most 4x4 accessories have niche benefits that are essential in particular conditions or terrain, but with purpose-built aftermarket suspension, it’s possible to reap the benefits every time you get behind the wheel. Plus, if you plan on fitting weighty fitted accessories or carrying plenty of cargo, occupants or both, a suspension system that’s designed for these additions becomes even more important.