Suzukiii Jimny Wheels Offroad

Our 4x4 suspension specialists tend to get these questions quite often when it comes down to the 4x4 suspension, so we’re here to answer all of those questions and hopefully shed some light on everything you guys wanted to know when it comes down to 4x4 suspension and lift kits. 

             Now, to kick things off is probably the most common question that customers always like to ask. How do I get the right four-wheel drive suspension set up for my rig? And this is obviously a pretty hard one to answer over this blog because it is so individual. Every person's needs and vehicle set-up are different, but we’re going to have a go at answering it.

             I think step one is that we've got all the technology we need here at AutoCraze to try and help you guys as much as we can. 

We can help filter down the suspension components that are only going to fit your vehicle so you do get the right parts.

             The second way AutoCraze can help is with our online store, we have our online product finder that automatically links the right suspension and accessories to suit your vehicle make and model, and that's going to help us narrow down the spring rates and that kind of thing that you guys need. Whether you're towing, whether you're not. That sort of thing.

             If you want to do away with the website altogether, obviously we've got our Aussie-based tech support team where you can give us a call on 1800 099 634. And they're going to help talk you through exactly what you need. And if you do want to go completely solo, well, then there are a couple of different things you need to consider.


             Similarly, it's important to remember that the spring rate is going to be dictated by the accessories fitted. And if you do want to put a lift in your car when it's standard and then go and put all your accessories on after, there's a high chance that you're going to have to swap out those springs for a heavier-duty one because they're going to sag.

The beauty about AutoCraze is we've got a whole bunch of different options, and a whole bunch of different spring rates from a whole bunch of different brands to make sure that you guys get the right springs and the right four-wheel drive suspension set-up. As well as all the accessories, airbags, adjustable upper control arms, swaybar, swaybar relocation kits, tail shaft extensions, and all that kind of stuff to make sure that we nail it the first time, every time. And we cater to everything from standard height, right up to two and even three-inch lifts coming in the near future. So hopefully that answers that question and onto the next one.


             This next question is another very topical one and it is, do I need a lift kit? And if you're asking us, I'm a little bit biased. Yes, everything in Australia needs a lift kit. But, realistically, do you? Well, it's very individual and subjective. Do you? Do you not? It's up to you and what you're wanting out of your four-wheel drive.

But for example, if you had an old 80 series, 60 series, GQ, wanted to get off the beaten track a little bit more, 100%. A suspension lift kit is one of the only ways you can help lift the chassis and drive on components up higher, away from the road, other than larger tires.

             Obviously, a lift kit's also going to allow you to fit bigger tires and bigger wheels, going to give you more articulation. It's going to improve your approach and departure angles by lifting the body, the chassis of that vehicle, and getting it up higher and away from the ground. The more ground clearance you have, the further you're going to get off-road, to be quite honest. Plus, who doesn't love the look of a lifted four-wheel drive?


             Now, the next very common question we get asked is, what do you need to tow with? Now, it's pretty common knowledge that just about any vehicle these days can come with a tow bar and has the ability to tow, but it's how you do it safely, and legally, and how you prevent any premature wear happening to your vehicle's components. That's the important bit. Obviously, you need to know what the GVM and GCM of your vehicle is. You also need to know exactly what the vehicle can tow legally, whether it's a 2.5 or 3.5 ton towing capacity. As well as knowing the ball weight limits of what you're towing. It might be a 200 kilo ball weight limit, or a 350 kilo ball weight limit. You can't exceed that. That's going to help keep you legal and safe.

[Picture source: Mars Campers]

             The next thing to consider is the suspension set up. Obviously, if your towing with standard suspension in your vehicle that's not properly set up for it, you're going to be sagging that suspension prematurely, wearing things out. Tail shaft angles are going to be impacted. The shocks aren't going to work properly. It's just not going to be a good time. First thing we recommend is obviously a set of upgraded rear springs. These are a 300 to 500 kilo constant load spring. Obviously coil springs are available in super heavy duty options as well. And what this is going to help do is prevent that rear suspension from sagging way down, getting near the bump stops. It's going to help keep that load up, keep the car level when you are fully loaded.

[Source: Tough Dog]

             But what's important to remember is that these, when there is no weight on the vehicle, are going to ride really stiff. Potentially going to be even more uncomfortable. And there's only one real way around it. It would be going with a lighter-duty spring. So instead of going a 500 kilo heavy duty spring, you might drop down to a 300 kilo heavy duty spring, and running something like this, a helper airbag set up from either Airbag Man or Polyair. And what that's going to do is help keep that vehicle nice and level. You pump them up. You put up to around 60 PSI in them and help level that suspension when it is fully loaded, which is going to mean that all your drive shaft angles are all nice and flat and where they should be in the standard position. And you're not putting additional stress on your shock springs and other suspension components. And the beauty of that is when you're not towing, you're unloading everything, you can let the area out of these and the car is going to drive just like a standard one would, but you're still going to have the upgraded springs in the back anyway.

             So there are two easy ways to get around towing and how to do it safely, and what you might want to consider. And also just a quick one from me, stay out of the right lane, you cheeky towing bastards.

             Anyway, on to the next question.

             Now, choosing the right spring rate is so, so important, and it's no surprise we got asked this question a whole lot. And that's how to choose the right spring stiffness or the right spring weight for your vehicle. And to be honest, it changes from person to person, from modification to modification. You do need to know exactly what your vehicle has on the front and back of it, what your future plans are with that four-wheel drive, so that you can pick the right spring.

             One of the good things though about having varying spring rates is that you can change them through the life of the vehicle and keep the same strap. For example, if we had a Colorado here, and we decided to change it back to standard and didn't want these super heavy duty coils, we can just pull that strut out, chuck on a standard duty spring, and it's going to ride a whole lot nicer.

             The best way to understand spring rates is by getting a measure of the vehicle's weight on all four corners before you do any modifications, putting your modifications on the vehicle, and getting another weight rating. That's going to tell you exactly how much load is over each axle so you can pick the right springs. Now, obviously not everybody has the luxury access to scales or really wants to go into that much effort, so it's a pretty easy thing to guesstimate.

 Obviously AutoCraze’s tech team are there to help you guys online and over the phone. But a general rule of thumb is going to be, I would always go a little bit softer than a little bit too stiff. If you go too stiff, chances are it's going to ride horribly. It's going to be super stiff, super bouncy, super uncomfortable on day-to-day driving, which is where our four-wheel drives spend 95% of their lives. If you go a little bit softer it's not the end of the world. You're going to have a much nicer ride and it's still going to help carry that weight.

                         But as always, if you're not sure, give us a call on 1800 099 634. The guys can chat through your options with you and help pick the exact right spring rate for your four-wheel drive.

What are upper control arms?

             I reckon now we talk about another very important component in the front of this vehicle. These guys right here. The upper control arms. And why they're important and why you need them.

And when you guys out there are lifting IFS four-wheel drives, something that seems everybody forgets about is upper control arms. This was a question we got asked heaps. What are they? Do I need them? And what do they do? And to put it simply, yes, you need them. They're fantastic. And it's going to make your car drive a heap better and save you thousands in tires. And let me tell you why.

             When a manufacturer makes upper control arms, they barely put much adjustment in them to start with, let alone when we lift them two inches. If you lift an IFS vehicle two inches, the entire geometry of the front of that vehicle changes. And generally, there isn't enough adjustment in the standard components to get it back to a decent alignment. That's where these come in. The super pro adjustable and fixed upper control arms.

             Now, basically what happens when you lift a vehicle is you lose the caster and camber settings that are in there and you can't get them back to where they need to be. And the workaround is with these.           

And I mentioned saving thousands in tyres because if you don't do this, chances are you're going to be scrubbing out front tires quicker than I can say upper control arm, which is pretty damn quick.

             Now, if you want to splurge, and spend a little bit more, this is the other option. This is a completely adjustable, super upper control arm, which is caster and camber adjustable and lets you get away with even stock height, two inches of lift, or even slightly higher. Now, this is super strong. You get a little bit more clearance in this negative space here around the strut as well, so that those big coils and stuff, you're never going to have any issues of fouling. Plus are going to help get that perfect alignment every time, even with a lifted IFS vehicle, so that the car drives fantastically, you're not scrubbing through tires, and well, you're generally going to have a way better experience off-road, on-road with a set of these fitted compared to someone that doesn't. It's so important, in fact, that some manufacturers have made their cars so that even if you lift them one or two inches, you basically need to put these in or the struts going to fail on the arms and you're going to have a whole bad time.

             So yes, you do need upper control arms. That's what they do. And that's why they're so important.

             Now there's a whole lot of hype over adjustable shocks, and it was another question we got asked and have been getting asked an awful lot at the 4X4 shows, at the recent aftermarket automotive expo, and online. So what are adjustable shocks and do you need them? Well, look, it depends on what you're going to be using your vehicle for and how deep your pockets are, I guess.

             There are simple height adjustable shock set ups or strut setups like this buildstone here where the height is adjusted simply by changing this circlet, and then the adjustable spring seat here can move up or down depending on where you set it. Although, we do have some pretty exciting products. 

Which is a height adjustable, coil-over type shock, which is also compression and rebound adjustable, which means you have the ability to completely individualize and tune your shocks to exactly what you're after. If you want a slightly harder ride. If you want a slightly softer ride. If you want it to handle better on-road, softer off-road. You want one inch, two inch, or three inches of lift.

 The answer to the question isn't as simple as what you might think though, because it really does depend on how deep your pockets are and whether you are going to be the sort of person that's going to play around with the shock settings. Most people are a set-and-forget kind of person, in which case the standard AutoCraze two-inch lift shocks or these adjustable bilsteins will be perfect for you. If you like gadgets and gizmos, you like dialing in your suspension and playing around with settings, then maybe the adjustable compression rebound, height adjustable F4R's are for you. So it does really depend on what you're after, how deep your pockets are, and what bling you want in your four-wheel drive. Do you need them? No. Do most people want them? Yes. Hopefully that answers your question.

             Now, the next thing you guys wanted answered was a pretty simple one. What are airbags and do you need them? And the simple answer is, yes, you do if you are constantly towing or constantly carrying heavy loads. Now these are the perfect addition to a set of heavy duty springs. Not a replacement for. Addition to. And that's important to note, because you cannot rely on just airbags alone to constantly carry heavy loads full-time. It's just not safe and you're going to wear things out.

             An airbag is moreso to help level that vehicle out when you are fully loaded. Say you're running a 300 kilo constant load spring, you're putting on a trailer, you've got a canopy full of accessories, you've got the kids in the car. An airbag is going to help bring that ass back to a level spot where the drive line is nice and neutral and flat, and it's going to help prevent any premature wear on suspension components and going to help your suspension components perform at their peak.

             Now, the Airbag Man range. We also have the Polyair range. There's a couple of different styles. This one here is for coil springs, and as you can probably guess, literally squeezes inside the coil springs in the back of your vehicle. Say it's a Navarra MP300, a 200 series or something like that. The airline's going to come out the top, run to the back to either a valve or an onboard compressor. And what it's wrapped in is the Airbag Man high pressure sleeve. A bit more protection. And also, so you can run those higher pressures and not have to worry about that bag becoming really tightly compacted out the sides of the springs.

             The other option is for leaf-sprung vehicles. This is a double bellow or a bellow style helper bag. This is going to bolt to the top of your leaf springs and is going to, again, do exactly the same as the other thing. Help level that rear-ends out when it is under extreme loads. A very cost-effective way of helping prevent premature suspension wear.

             So put simply, yes, you do need them if you're going to be towing lots with a heavy load. And are they important? Well, I'll let you be the judge of that.

             Now one of the most contentious topics in Australian four-wheel driving at the moment is GVM's. Gross vehicle mass. It's what the car can weigh, how many accessories you can fit to it while still remaining legal, insured, and safe to drive on gazetted roads. Now, if you exceed your GVM, insurance companies, the police, and generally gray nomads everywhere will call you a bad person. That's not necessarily the case though, because sometimes you're just ill-informed. Not a lot of people are actually aware that GVMs vary from vehicle to vehicle, manufacturer to manufacturer. Even some gear models of the same vehicle can have different GVMs. It's important that you know exactly what yours is.

             The GVM can be found generally on the VIN plate of your vehicle or in the door jamb of the car, and it'll give you something like 2,800 kilos, for example. But what happens if you put your car on the scales, you've still got to put a whole lot of accessories on your car and you are at that weight or above it? Well, then you're probably going to need a GVM upgrade. Of course, we've got our formula GVM upgrades, as well as our level GVM upgrades available through Fulcrum. And they're going to help increase that load carrying capacity of the rigid vehicle by a set amount through a certification process. They're available to do pre- or post-rego and can be a whole different bunch of kilograms, depending on the vehicle. Obviously, generally the bigger the vehicle, if it's a 200 or 300 series, you're going to be able to stretch a slightly bigger GVM than what you would with a Colorado or a little Hilux.

             It's important to know with GCMs, however, that no matter what you do regarding a GVM or GVM upgrade, you cannot increase the gross combined mass. That is how heavy a vehicle and its trailer can be together. And again, just like GVMs, every vehicle is different. But again, it isn't able to be increased, and that's nationwide. So whatever the vehicle GCM is, you're stuck with. Although you can generally alter the GVM.

             This is important because vehicles are designed specifically to only carry up to a certain load. It's axle strengths. It's chassis strengths. It's suspension components. So by doing a GVM upgrade, you're going to get greater payload to play around with. You're going to stay safe, insured, and completely legal nationwide. So if you want to take all the bells and whistles camping, you probably need a GVM upgrade.

             Obviously, with the solid axle four-wheel drive, it's as the name suggests. It's a solid axle. The axles and the constant velocity joints are inside that housing and the swivel hubs, so it's almost impossible to break a CV. It's not impossible because I've done it a couple of times. It's fun. It's much harder.

             Obviously the benefit of an IFS vehicle is that both wheels can move up and down independently of each other. Whereas, with the solid axle like this, the camber is basically fixed and both wheels must move together in that fixed beam. You've obviously got radius arms. Generally, they'd be mounted underneath the diff. On this vehicle they're on top of the diff. Obviously pan hard, drag link, and tire rod, as well as a steering dampener. So in terms of adjustability in the front of a solid axle vehicle like this, there is basically none. So when it comes to aligning them, you don't have a lot of options. But what you do have is a little bit stronger off-road set up. You can generally run a bit bigger of a lift, higher lift and longer shocks because you don't need to worry about CV angles, upper arms, binding on the shocks and that kind of thing. But IFS vehicles do drive a hell of a lot better on the road and a much tighter turning circle.

             So when it comes to IFS versus solid axle, look, it really is up to you guys. Whether you want something that's a little bit more reliable, more modern, nice drive every day. Or whether you want something old, reliable, and a little bit prehistoric. It's up to you. If you're going to be tackling rock gardens, bog holes, doing that really tough stuff, sure. I reckon the solid axle. But if you're just looking to tour, tow a van, have a family car, I think IFS. But again, it's up to you.

             CALLL 1800 099 634 TO ORDER YOUR LIFT KIT TODAY!