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Thread: Suspension advice sought - where to start???

  1. #1
    Forum Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Blue Mountains, NSW

    Suspension advice sought - where to start???

    Righto, here's my problem (yes, I know this might be a how long is a piece of string question), I have a standard SR5 Hilux dual cab. It's my daily driver but also used for touring and occasional harder tracks.

    When touring we carry ALOT of stuff. By that I mean roof top tent, fridge,awnings, you know, all that normal stuff. I wouldn't be surprised that when I get out into the shed and do a weight estimate I reckon I wouldn't be surprised to find that I'd be very close to or maybe even over GVM. (On remote trips it is not unusual for us to carry an extra 60l of fuel and up to 140l of water, not to mention wine and beer! ) When commuting it's almost empty.

    I'm looking to upgrade the suspension and I realise this will be a compromise but I would like the advice of 'seasoned' tourers as to which direction to head down that path from real world experience.

    Bearing in mind the load I occasionally carry I kind of like the idea of airbags, but I also would like something to take the harshness out of outback roads, dips, stock grids and, if possible, corrugations at speed.

    I did recently pop down to an ARB store to get a starting point which was where the airbag option was put up (I hadn't considered them before) but it might probably be best to go to a specialist for what I'm after.

    Any advice that might point me in the direction of a solution would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Forum Master Frank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Sutherland Shire, NSW
    Perhaps, the most important consideration is to remain legal. Any suspension lift over 50cm requires engineer sign off and, as you mention, that dreaded GVM threshold. Unfortunately, many suspension shops are there just to make a sale and their advice is useless and dangerous.

    I notice you are from the Blue Mountains, I would recommend you go and have a chat with The Ultimate Suspension guys at Ingleburn.


    If you haven't grown up by age 60, you don't have to.

  3. #3
    Forum Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Blue Mountains, NSW
    Thanks Frank, lift isn't an issue for me, more comfort and reliability (but I do expect to get some lift with an upgrade. Ultimate is on my list to visit but before I do that was looking for real life user experiences.

  4. #4
    Forum Enthusiast jtb2879's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Western Sydney
    I'm seasoned... does that count?

    One of the blokes at work had his set up done by Dobinsons LINK HERE he was very happy with their work. They're down near Campbelltown.

    These look like just the ticket for the newly childfree couple with moolah to burn! Remote reservoirs, rebuildable... rubbish colours, but nothing a bit of red dirt can't fix!

    Commercial review HERE.

    Funny thing is that while doing my own research both BILSTEIN and DOBINSONS websites look EXACTLY the same...
    Last edited by jtb2879; 31-07-17 at 04:02 PM.
    On days like this I'd rather be west of the Darling!

  5. #5
    Forum Enthusiast Trinity's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Brisbane QLD
    Can't help too much (we have overhauled the suspension completely in the Patrol, but it is a different vehicle entirely). But we did go for airbags - we carry a LOT of weight in the rear, so ended up deciding to do it. We have heavy duty shocks and springs all 'round (Dobbinson springs, Bilstein shocks if I remember correctly - Patrol is hubby's car!) and roughly 2" lift. So we definitely would rate those brands. I'm considering EFS shocks and springs for my Jimny, but again totally different vehicle and that is moreso related to my options (or lack thereof).

    If you're pushing GVM I'd definitely consider an upgrade. We had it done in the Patrol and it definitely makes us sleep easier at night and feel more comfortable behind the wheel - we know what we have done is SAFE and LEGAL, which was very important to us. No idea what the process is in NSW though... I hear it is easier than in QLD, and more generous in the extra weight they will allow you to gain on your GVM (depending on mods/vehicle/etc.).

  6. #6
    Forum Enthusiast mattsglxr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Western Victoria
    I went with Ultimate in my Triton and have been really happy with it and would go with them again. They do heaps of Hilux's and Tritons and other twin cabs. They weigh each wheel so can set it up right for you.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rj_jk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Central Coast NSW
    Can't comment on a specific setup for the Hilux but I did go with airbags on my previous wrangler.

    I had a kit fitted which was great until I loaded it up for trips away. With the combination of drawers in the back, removable 130ah battery, fridge and camping gear there were comments made that it looked lowered, not lifted.

    Had the air bags fitted and as long as you adjust the pressures you will find they will cover a lot of different situations. Soften them up when not carrying a load but then adjust accordingly for when you are carrying a load or tackling corrugations etc. The best bit about them is how easy they can be adjusted if you mount the air fittings somewhere easy. Mine were bedside my trailer plug.

    Another thing to consider might be adjustable shocks, no personal experience but have heard great things, not the cheapest idea around but do it once and do it right will save you in the long run.

  8. #8
    Bitumen! A complete waste of money. mudduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Raymond Terrace NSW
    Shane this is as you said a tough one, I have had ARB, Tough Dog, Ultimate, Lovells, King springs, EFS and TJM all were great (except TJM) so good luck. Ive also had big lifts and 2 inch as well, 2 inch is in my opinion all most people need.
    Cheers Steve. VK2UD

    Mudduck's 4wd Touring
    2010 200 Series twin turbo V8 Diesel 200kw of screaming Toyota Muscle
    2017 Ford Ranger turbo diesel with some stuff

    200 Tourer


  9. #9
    Forum Enthusiast DrewXT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Ringwood, Victoria
    I run Bilsteins with H&R coils in my Amarok, and have ridden in the same trick with Dobinson, EFS, ARB, Outback Armour, and wouldn't contemplate a different brand.

    In the past I've personally run Monroe (ARB), and Pedders, and the Billies kill the others.

    Agree the previous comments about 2 inch lift being the most you need.

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Junior Member Ditch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Nandewar Ranges, NSW
    Air Shocks or Ride Levelers might be an option, used to use them on my HQ Panelvan back in the day. Surprised they still make them. Monroe have a model for your Hilux, might be an option to Airbags. Used to use copper lines instead of plastic to make them more reliable.

    As with all adjustable suspension setups on modern vehicles the Brake Proportioning Valve might be an issue as it needs to be set for the ride height.

    I went with 200 kg constant load springs on the rear of my Patrol as it has the rooftopper, fridge & other gear loaded all the time. Removed everything except the RT for several weeks & it was nearly undrivable, way too stiff without the load. Have to carry that weight to make it comfortable to drive, but use more fuel as a result.

    Lower tyre pressures can help with ride comfort, even 5 psi lower will make a difference.
    "I would rather that my bones had been left to bleach in the desert than yield an inch of ground I had gained at so much expence" - Charles Sturt 1845

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