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In the world of 4X4, vehicle suspension is everything. Our suspension is what determines everything – from the tyres you can fit, to the quality of your ride, and the amount of that all-important ‘lift’ you get from your vehicle. But for the uninitiated, modern suspension systems can come across as overly complicated and impenetrable.

Thankfully, if you can look past the jargon, the principles and the fundamentals remain very much the same today as they did back in the early days of automotive development.

Here, we get to grips with the basics of suspension, answering some of the most common questions regarding suspension upgrades in a general guide that should form a solid foundation for the rest of your suspension queries.

It's all about the lift

When it comes to lift, you must understand that adding lift to your 4X4 will raise its centre of gravity. If you use poor quality suspension or suspension that is not compatible with your specific vehicle, this can make it less stable and less comfortable to drive.

Premium suspension is designed to offset this, particularly the suspension from specialist brands like Terrain Tamer and Old Man Emu. It’s all about finding a balance between the amount of lift, the stability of the vehicle, it’s off-road durability, and the quality of the ride overall.

What about the tyres?

Your tyres and rims will need to fit without making contact with the vehicle body or any other components. Always buy your wheels last, as once you’ve added more weight, you might find the clearance is less than you’d hoped for.

Factory suspension or premium suspension

Whether you leave your stock suspension in-place or opt for an upgrade will depend very much on how you intend on using your 4X4. If you are using it to do the daily school run then the factory suspension should be suitable but even then, be aware that just because it’s fitted as standard, that doesn’t mean it’s the best suspension for the vehicle.

All vehicles are built to a price-point and components are developed not only for performance but to meet that price point.

For those that want to take their vehicles off-road and do some serious over landing and green laning, look towards premium upgrades that can offer different options that manufacturers might never have considered.

Are my shock absorbers long enough?

Fitting an integrated suspension kit will generally ensure that the shock absorbers are the right length for the supplied coil or leaf springs. That being said, fitting lift springs with existing factory shock absorbers means the shocks can fall short in certain cases.

Suspension replacement

A new set of springs on an older vehicle will very rarely give you the results you want. Indeed, if they are paired with old shock absorbers, the replacement springs are only going to have to work harder and will fail again sooner.

The same is true of pairing new shock absorbers with old, worn-out springs. If your suspension needs replacing then you’ll want to swap it out entirely with a brand new suspension kit. It’s all or nothing.