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Dec 6th 2020

How Do I Upgrade My Suspension?

How Do I Upgrade My Suspension?

For trucks, a suspension system has many benefits. The suspension is what keeps the vehicle from slouching at the rear due to heavy loads. This keeps the tires in optimal working condition. It makes the grip levels more accessible, which in turn frees up engine power for the forward momentum of the truck. Moreover, suspension makes the traction of the vehicle efficient and allows for better cornering and braking functions. 

For anyone who wonders how to improve the suspension on a truck, you can do it easily by just following the steps covered in this article:

  • Upgrade the shocks
  • Reinforce the leaf springs
  • Switch to bigger wheels
  • Add a torsion bar
  • Use a lift kit
  • Add strut braces
  • Tune up the suspension

When it comes to upgrading shocks and leaf springs, there are various options available. The types of upgrades that are most suited for your truck could all depend on the roads you tread and the loads you haul.

How to Make Car and Truck Suspension Better

Upgrading car and truck suspension parts in one area or another should make a noticeable improvement to the lift of a vehicle, as long as the upgrade is properly chosen and applied to the truck or car. For example, sport springs and dampers can help you boost the performance of the suspension system. With these upgrades, you get a lower ride height and a stronger suspension, as well as a better overall flow along the road. Upgraded dampers and sport springs also offer weight savings.

Another way to improve the suspension on a truck is to install coil-overs, which allow you to adjust settings for the stiffness, height and damping of the truck. Before you do any heavy hauling, it's a good idea to boost the leaf springs at the rear of the truck, and also adjust the torsion bar up front. For a complete boost to the suspension, you'll also want to have new shocks for each tire. Combined, the upgraded components to your suspension system can create clearance room for larger tires.

When you upgrade the suspension on your truck, be careful about applying replacement parts that veer from the specifications of the original equipment manufacturer. In many cases, the newest or most advanced part on the market could seem tempting, but won't necessarily be right for your truck. With some replacement parts, an upgrade over the original part could result in less pliable shocks and a stiffer overall riding experience.

Upgrade the Shocks

One of the easiest ways to improve suspension on a truck is to replace the shocks. The shocks under a vehicle can be upgraded in two ways. The first and most common way is to simply upgrade the shocks to the next version available for the make and model of your truck, as specified by the original equipment manufacturer. This simple and practical upgrade is also the most financially practical option.

Another way to upgrade your shocks is to replace them outright with a fancier and more expensive option. Granted, this could render other parts of the driving experience awkward, but it could also help give a truck the best possible suspension.

Use Heavy–Duty Shocks

The overall performance of a truck can be unpredictable with standard aftermarket shocks. If you carry heavy loads in your vehicle, it is best to have heavy–duty shocks, which provide more power than their standard counterparts. A truck can generally use the boost of heavy–duty shocks — coil–over shocks or air shocks are other alternatives — to prevent slouching at the rear of your truck when you haul big loads, such as boats and trailers, large appliances, furnishings or household fixtures like sofas and pianos.

Opt for Ride–Adjusting Shocks

Consider installing ride–adjusting shocks onto your truck. These can offer immense support when it comes to heavy loads. With ride–adjusting shocks, you don't have to worry about the truck slouching at the rear during long hauls. Whether you’re hauling a trailer over long distances or moving furniture from one town to the next, these suspension upgrades will keep your truck level throughout each trip.

Ride–adjusting shocks are designed for the rear wheels. That said, the shocks on all four wheels should be upgraded at the same time to ensure consistency. As you place ride–adjusting shocks along the rear wheels, upgrade the front–wheel shocks with those of uniform quality to the new rear shocks. This way, the shocks on all wheels will be fresh and have roughly the same life expectancy.

Consider Air Shocks

If you've long wondered about how to soften the suspension of your truck, this is your answer. One of the more flexible suspension upgrades is the air shock, which can be adjusted based on the needs of a trip. For times when you carry heavy loads in the back of your truck, air shocks can be stiffened to boost the rear up higher and compensate for the added weight. When the truck is empty, you can soften the air shocks and enjoy a smoother ride.

Reinforce the Leaf Springs

One of the most frequently asked questions about truck suspension is whether helper springs will lift a truck, and the answer is yes. If you are wondering how to upgrade leaf spring suspension, this can be done with the addition of new leafs, which can be added to the pre–existing springs under the back of your truck. Alternately, you can have spring helpers added to the leaf springs. In addition to the improved spring tension, these reinforcements can add at least a ton of loading capacity to your truck.

Add Coil Springs

Another way to upgrade spring suspension under your vehicle is to add in heavy duty coil springs. Coil springs are typically applied to the front wheels on a truck. Reinforcements can easily be applied to these coils. Polyurethane braces, for example, can be slipped over the coils. This helps to cut down on the amount of spring friction. Thankfully, this can be done with no impact on the height of the truck.

Consider Air Springs

To reduce the possibility of sag or bounce in your truck, install airbag inserts on the coil spring suspension. When you drive along bumpy roads with heavy loads, this can make things more even and reduce the amount of bounciness that a truck is otherwise liable to endure on such terrain. With air springs, you can soften the truck's suspension and lower the impact of vibrations and intensity of jitters.

Use Bigger Wheels

While the upgrades to your springs and shocks can do plenty to improve the overall performance of your suspension system, you can gain additional benefits by using bigger wheels. In fact, the upgrades can give your truck the needed clearance for a larger size of wheels. The added lift of larger wheels can create a cushioning effect that makes rides feel smoother and more secure.

Granted, there are other factors to consider apart from suspension when you add larger wheels to your truck. Oversized tires, for example, can boost the cushioning of your vehicle and allow you to get more mileage per gallon, but they also require more torque to spin. Consequently, the benefits you gain in certain areas could be offset in other ways with larger tires.

There's also the option of low–profile tires, where a thin tire wraps around a wheel of larger–than–average circumference. Low–profile tires are popular today because of their ability to handle rough driving conditions. However, low–profile tires can also make the driving experience less comfortable.

In most cases, a truck will have a slight amount of slack in relation to the tire and wheel sizes specified for the make or model. Therefore, if you do intend to get larger wheels, you'll need to test how they work with your truck. Make sure that the front wheels don't rub against the wheel wells, as this will wear the rubber down and give you no allowance when you ride over bumps. If there's not enough space, your truck will need a small lift to accommodate the new tire size.

Add a Torsion Bar

Some trucks are equipped with torsion bars, which make it possible to adjust the height of the front wheels. With a boosted suspension system, this torsion bar keeps the front of the vehicle even with the rear when the back of the truck is empty. On rides where the back is full, the torsion bar can be lowered to keep things even. This way, a rear suspension system can never be too much or too little for the front of your vehicle to handle.

If your truck doesn't have a torsion bar, you could get one added to have this option for your riding experience, though you'll need to ensure that the measurements are compatible with your vehicle. If your truck is already equipped with a torsion bar, check the owner's manual for information on the procedure to adjust the ride height.

With adjusted torsion height in the front, enhanced leaf spring support at the rear, and upgraded shocks along all four tires, you could make your truck ride higher all around. While this won't boost the travel range of your truck, it will create more clearance between the tires and the wheel wells.

Choose the Right Lift Kit

When it comes to lift kits, you need to consider the ideal height for your truck. A lift kit could raise your truck by anywhere from one to three inches. The height could depend on how many suspension parts you ultimately decide to replace under your vehicle. With all the suspension upgrades thus far mentioned, you should have the necessary support along your back and front wheels for a brand new riding experience.

However, some truck owners do go too far and lift their vehicles too high from the ground. After all, just two inches could make a world of difference in the performance of your vehicle. Anything higher could seriously change the overall feeling of the driving experience. It could even end giving you a sense of driver's vertigo.

In any case, each time you boost the height of your truck, the shocks need to be upgraded to match the new height. A lift kit could bring new life to that slouching Chevy that struggles to haul a trailer along turbulent driving terrain. As such, a lift kit is one of the most effective towing suspension upgrades for vehicles of all makes and models.

If your truck still slumps in the back despite the addition of spring helpers and upgraded shocks, consider a lift kit in the 1.5 to 2 inch range. With coil springs, a lift of this height would mean an additional insert of polyurethane.

A thorough kit will generally consist of leaf springs, shocks of sufficient length and hardware tools for installation. As soon as you finish applying the parts that bring the truck to its new height, inspect the alignments to make sure that everything is level along all fours. If you drive for any significant length of time with lopsided weight distribution, it can put undue pressure along the axles and wear down the tires that bear the burden.

If any slight variance shows between the heights of the four tires, make adjustments until the truck sits evenly. If necessary, take your truck to a nearby service shop to have the alignment professionally checked. Sometimes the naked eye can be slightly off when it comes to determining the evenness of a vehicle. The equipment used by service pros, however, can determine the evenness between all four tires with complete accuracy.

Upgrade the Suspension Bushes

One part of the suspension system that rarely gets attention is the suspension bushes, which help to block out some of the noise that occurs under the truck during travel. Over the span of service life, the bushes can become run down from the day–to–day effects of rubber tension and vehicle temperatures. Various settings of the truck can be damaged by the wear–down of suspension bushes, which makes it important to check them periodically and replace them when necessary.

Suspension bushes divide metals under the truck and therefore allow movement to occur within the components. When a truck goes over a speed bump, the bushes help to lower the amount of vibration that the truck endures along the undercarriage. This makes for an overall smoother and quieter riding experience, whether you ride along gravelly back roads and hillsides with sharp inclines, or simply stick to main roads and highways.

In some cases, the bushes that come factory–fitted to a truck are average at best, which makes it necessary to get upgrades made of stronger material, such as polyurethane. Upgraded bushes are stronger and more durable in their contents and allow for firmer suspension. A new set of bushes can also help you get more life out of the tires, as the material of the upgraded bushes makes for a stronger platform on which to mount the components of the suspension system.

Add Strut Braces

A strut brace is a stainless steel, clip–on suspension device that’s used to boost the stability and rigidity of certain vehicles. Steel braces are placed on the front and rear suspension mounts, where they help maintain neighboring suspension components by preventing chassis flex. In addition to the boosted suspension, the enhanced rigidity of strut braces can improve a vehicle's ability to brake and turn corners.

With strut braces in place, a suspension system is more capable of functioning at maximum capacity without the threat of structural twist. The problems often associated with chassis flex, such as reduced steering ability and challenged cornering, are mostly eliminated with strut braces. Furthermore, the overall riding benefits of struts braces result in less wear and longer life for other parts of a truck's suspension system.

Tune Up the Suspension

Before you consider adding new parts to the suspension system, consider getting a tune up. Even if your truck was recently serviced, chances are the mechanic simply gave the suspension a modest tuning. Keep in mind that tune ups are generally done to ready a vehicle for conventional challenges unless special requests are made. If you put your truck through constant tests, you might need something more dynamic from your suspension.

If you constantly haul heavy loads or drive along rugged terrain, take your car to a mechanic who understands these needs and can tune your suspension in a way that will make the performance more befitting to your uses of the truck.

Choose High-Quality Tires

As the point of contact between the vehicle and the underlying terrain, the tires are central to the truck's motion and braking capabilities. Therefore, regardless of whether you opt for larger tires, you should only use the best quality tires for your truck. For all the demands that a truck endures along bumpy and gravely terrains, the rubber needs to be thick and durable enough to take months of such conditions without the slightest amount of stripping or rubber wear.

For example, if you go off–roading each weekend, the tires must have the strength to endure such abuse and still last the maximum lifespan for a set of tires. Throughout each challenge, the tires under your truck must offer maximum lift and air–tightness. Even if you only take the rougher routes on occasion, your tires must have the capacity to move from paved roads to off–roads without a hitch.

Buy Leaf Springs from General Spring

A truck is built to carry heavy loads along rough terrains. But for this to be possible, the rear of the vehicle must have the optimal suspension to bear the excess weight. When the back of the truck is loaded with a ton of equipment, the suspension allows the vehicle to hold the weight without slouching at the back and weighing down on the rear tires. Of all the pieces in a suspension system, none is more important than the leaf springs, which give the truck its back lift.

For more than 50 years, General Spring has been America's leading provider of leaf springs. Whether you drive a truck for work or recreation, the leaf springs in our inventory can help you get the optimal suspension for any challenge that you might face along the open terrain. If you need to replace old leaf springs with a matching pair or if you want to upgrade to a whole new set, our leaf springs can make your vehicle operate like never before.

Before you take your truck out on your next big adventure, check the suspension system to ensure that you’re getting the optimal lift from the vehicle, regardless of the load weight. To get replacement leaf springs, contact General Springs today.