Choosing the suspension, shock absorber and booster for your 4×4

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Hello! We’re Olivia & Victor, authors of the OunTravela guides.

Over the years, our passion for adventure has led us to create original travel guides sold in over 70 countries worldwide. Our mission is to spread a travel philosophy based on adventure, freedom, improvisation and exploration. Our guides inspire travellers to explore the world’s forgotten paths, encountering wilderness and civilization.

We hope you find this article, based on our own experience, useful.

Enjoy your reading!

Installing a lift on your 4×4


It’s advisable toinstall a 4 or 5 cm lift kit, especially if you want to fit 33-inch tires. In some countries, lift kits larger than 5 cm are prohibited. Always check before making any changes to ensure that they are legal and compliant. In the event of an accident, your insurance could come back to haunt you. In any case, kit lifts larger than 4 or 5 cm will require a great deal of modification. These lift kits are often illegal and dangerous. Your center of gravity is completely different. Under no circumstances are these lift kits recommended.

Once again, we put on larger tires so that we can deflate them and drive in soft terrain with very low pressure. Then we fit a lift kit to mount the tires. Forget extreme modifications.


Choosing 4×4 suspension systems


When it comes to suspension, weight is your enemy. But before modifying your suspension, it’s a good idea to know your vehicle’s weight. As a general rule, you’ll be asked about the model and motorization of your car, and whether you want to fit a bull bar and winch. This will determine which springs you put to the front. For the rear, we’ll have to wait to find out the total weight.

There’s a very good suspension selection simulator on the website, which is a subsidiary of ARB. If you can’t find your vehicle in this configuration simulator, it’s not a very good sign.

You’ll understand that your rear blades must also be chosen with weight in mind. We advise you to contact a preparer to ensure compliance. In some countries, you’ll have to go through the mines to change the gross vehicle weight. For an overlander, changing blades is not a problem, since the weight will always be more or less the same. But if you change blades for a constant load, be prepared to be very disappointed that your vehicle will be running empty.

Parabolic blades are only suitable for vehicles with a fairly low constant load, and therefore rarely for overlanding vehicles.

Choosing shock absorbers for your 4×4


When it comes to dampers, you have three choices: monotube, bitube and bypass dampers with separate cylinders.

Let’s be clear: for the heavy riders that we are, the bypass damper with separate reservoir is the recommended suspension. The separate cylinder provides a larger volume of liquid (oil) and therefore faster cooling, both because of the volume and because of the separation of the cylinder. Bypass technology offers alternative passage from one chamber to another. They are generally built with four compression channels and two rebound channels, allowing the fluid to bypass the valve piston in a given zone. Since damping is position-sensitive, the damping force varies according to piston position. This design allows the shock absorber to smoothly absorb small bumps. As the shock absorber compresses, resistance increases, enabling it to withstand more violent shocks.

Twin-tube” shock absorbers are generally what you’ll get from the factory. They’re comfortable, but not really made for intensive off-road use.

So, if you can’t afford separate bypass dampers, the monotube is your best choice. They will heat up less than bitubes. Oil and gas don’t “circulate” like in a bitube, so there’s less performance degradation in off-road use.

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“If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this article or join our facebook discussion group dedicated to road-trip and overland travel. Here you can share your experiences and discover the adventures of other travelers.

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