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Best Suspension Kit For Your Overlanding Vehicle
Suspension Kit Review
Let’s talk about suspension; and no I’m not referring to the kind where you get sent home from school. I’m talking about those accessories on your vehicle that help control its stability, keep your wheels on the ground, and give you a smooth ride. All pretty big and important jobs for such small equipment.
Let’s be honest, how much do we really know about suspension kits? Do we fully understand the benefits of suspension kits and in which situations we should use them? From this post you’ll learn what suspension kits are and the differences between the various types.
Plus, we’ll share our picks for the best overlanding suspension brands and why we recommend each. We’ll break down the information in a way to make it easy for everyone to understand and increase confidence when shopping.
What Are Suspension Kits?
Do you love going off-road, enjoy finding new and challenging trails but hate the feeling of those bumps and have a hard time with stability while driving through the tough terrain? This is probably an indication it’s time to start thinking about a new suspension kit.
First, you should note a car suspension is the system responsible for the handling and quality of your driving experience. To keep it simple, it is the equipment on your car which keeps your wheels firmly planted on the ground when driving on bumpy roads and keeps you comfortable with a smooth ride. The suspension is made up of parts including springs, bushings, shock absorbers, tires and linkages which connect the body of the car to the wheel.
Suspension kits are the packages of parts used to modify the suspension system on your vehicle. Suspension kits typically come with all the parts and instructions you’ll need to upgrade your suspension and is specific to the make and model of a vehicle. There are various types of suspension kits and they each have different functions. Let’s take a look at the differences.
Suspension Kit Types
Suspension Lift Kit
The name gives the function away; a lift kit simply increases the height of the body of your vehicle from the ground. Most suspension lift kits can add anywhere from 2”- 8” to the height of your vehicle. Drivers will mainly opt to add a suspension lift kit to enjoy the benefit of increased clearance from the ground.
An off-road lift suspension kit is essential because it helps keep you safe when going over obstacles and makes it easier to drive over tougher trails, without the fear of getting suck or damaging your vehicle. Other benefits include a smoother ride, better visibility, more space for larger tires and easy access the underbody of your vehicle.
Leaf springs focuses on supporting the weight from heavier vehicles like SUVs, trucks and buses. They are usually the simpler and more affordable suspension option but make a significant difference to the feel of your ride by absorbing the shock from various road conditions. It consists of layers of leaves made of spring material and is often installed directly to the frame of the vehicle.
These leaves are made to absorb the pressure when the vehicle’s axle moves so the driver won’t have to experience it. A truck suspension often comes with a leaf suspension in the rear while other vehicles will need to have them installed. Leaf springs can also be attached to your front suspension.
Fine tuning your handling and increasing your vehicle’s stability are what shocks bring to the table. They are hydraulic cylinders which absorb the pressure and vibrations from your tires ensuring a smoother ride while off-road. Shocks manage the feel of your ride when doing tasks such as turning corners, pressing brake, increasing speed, traveling on bumpy roads or dipping into potholes.
If these functions are quite uncomfortable for you, then you probably need to replace your shocks. Unlike some of the other suspension options, shocks play little to no role in managing the effects of weight on your vehicle.
Front Suspension Kits
Front suspension kits are a comprehensive solution for improving the performance of your vehicle's front suspension system. These kits are designed to enhance various aspects of your vehicle's dynamics, including handling, control, and responsiveness. By replacing worn-out components or upgrading the factory suspension, front suspension kits provide a significant improvement in stability, cornering capabilities, and overall driving experience.
Front suspension kits offer a high degree of customization to suit a specific driving style and preferences. Depending on your needs, you can choose from a range of components, such as adjustable coilovers, performance control arms, or sway bars. These options allow you to fine-tune the suspension geometry, adjust ride height, and optimize damping characteristics. By tailoring your front suspension setup, you can achieve improved traction, reduced body roll, and enhanced responsiveness, ensuring a more engaging and comfortable ride.
Best Overlanding Suspension Kit
Suspension kit needs are unique to each off-roader and vehicle, so rather than talking about specific products, let’s take a look at some of the best brands to consider when shopping for your overlanding suspension kits. Perhaps your focus is handling and towing capabilities or maybe you want to modify your jeep suspension or truck suspension; no matter your preference, there should be a brand below to suit you.
Rough Country Suspension Leveling Kit
As one of the founders in the off-road industry, Rough Country is considered to be a trusted and reliable suspension kit brand in addition to off-road accessory needs. When shopping for a jeep suspension or truck suspension kit, Rough Country is a good option to consider. Their inventory covers a wide range of products which can be used to modify about 90% of jeep and truck models on the market. Rough Country is a popular brand because they offer some of the more budget-friendly products, versatile options and dynamic designs. Plus, they have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau Accredited Business.
From Rough Country you can purchase different suspension kit types to modify your overlanding vehicle, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll only take a look at their suspension leveling kits. Earlier we spoke about suspension lift kits but suspension leveling kits are slightly different. The leveling suspension kit only adds lift to the front of the vehicle which usually makes it a better choice when modifying your truck suspension.
Reason being, most trucks already come with raised rear suspension and leaf springs to manage the extra weight added from load being carried in the back of the truck. Since the front would be lower to begin with, you’d want to get a suspension leveling kit to increase the height in the front without spending the extra dollars on a full suspension lift kit.
Of course, it depends on what you consider to be the most important factors when shopping but we recommend Rough Country suspension leveling kits for their:
- Affordable prices
- Durable quality
- Wide range of products
- Most vehicle brands available
- Stylish product designs
- Easy to install
- A+ rating from BBB Accredited Business
ICON Vehicle Dynamics Suspension
Since its inception in 2008, ICON Vehicle Dynamics has taken a unique approach to innovating their products; they start by thinking of how they want their vehicle to perform on each specific make and model vehicle and then test and retest to design products which achieve those end results. They engineer with a holistic view, aiming to produce the same quality for every component of their products.
The company is led by Dylan Evans, head engineer and SCORE champion driver, along with a team of dedicated engineers and is consider one of the more top-rated brands among overlanding enthusiasts and professionals alike. It’s no wonder ICON Vehicle Dynamics Suspension have some of the most sought out suspension kits the market today.
We recommend going with ICON Vehicle Dynamics when you want to be beyond confident about the quality of the overlanding suspension kit you’re buying. ICON uses the latest technology and handles all of the manufacturing in house, ensuring the highest level of quality control.
Their suspension systems are made to withstand just about anything you may experience while driving off-road from bumpy trails to extremely tough terrain. ICON suspension kits are available in stages from 1-10 for each model, with each stage being an upgrade to the previous one. This allows you to buy only the components you need for your off-road vehicle. Some great reasons to shop ICON Vehicle Dynamics are:
- High quality products
- Products specific to each make and model
- Products available in stages 1-10
- In-house manufacturing
- Long lasting suspension systems
Of course, with this level of quality you have to prepare to spend a pretty penny but your investment will last you a long time. Also keep in mind your options will be somewhat limited as ICON usually caters to newer models and their products have a longer installation time.
Ready Lift Suspension Kit
Ready Lift Suspensions is a popular suspension kit brand and noted for being where innovation and affordability meet. They were founded in 2006 and focus on providing lift for consumers who want just enough ground clearance to add plus size wheels and tires. The company was later acquired in 2018 by Wheel Pros, a leading designer for wheels, performance tires and accessories. With the backing of Wheel Pros, Ready Lift Suspensions hopes to further expand its network globally.
If your off-road suspension needs are geared towards getting a bit of lift to add on those big boy tires or having a slightly taller vehicle, we recommend making Ready Lift a top choice. Ready Lift suspension adds up to 5” to your vehicle, adding lots of room for your favorite plus size tire.
This extra clearance makes it easier to travel over rocks and debris while off-road without breaking the bank on a more expensive brand. Another plus is how easy these suspension kits are to install and the factory-quality ride you maintain once you’ve completed the easy installation. One thing to note; Ready Lift focuses on function over style so while the suspension kits definitely look good, don’t expect anything too flashy from this brand. However, Ready Lift is the way to go if your focus is:
- Good quality suspension kits
- Economical prices
- Customer-friendly installation; already assembled
- Wide variety
- Durable and long lasting
- Popular and reputable brand
Lastly but quite importantly, the Ready Lift allows for the easy reversal of installation. Making it the best option when you don’t want to make any permanent modification to your vehicle.
Old Man Emu Suspension Kit
Old Man Emu, based in Australia, was founded back in 1976. The company was later purchased and is now distributed by ARB. ARB has been in this industry since 1975 and is already known for providing quality off-road accessories. The Old Man Emu arm of the company focuses on 4X4 suspension kit products from coil springs and leaf springs to shock absorbers. Today, the company strives to create a comfortable ride and precise handling when off-road by testing their products in the extreme conditions in Australia.
Old Man Emu Suspensions make a great selection for upgrading the handling and weight management of your off-road vehicle. They take into consideration the effects of the additional weight such as roof racks and bumpers while driving on various types of terrains to develop their wide range of products.
The company also invests heavily in the testing of their products to ensure they work well with the ever changing safety features in your vehicle. Old Man Emu is a favorite for consumers when purchasing shock absorbers and springs and they offer configurations for light, medium and heavy loads. Some great selling points for their suspension kits are:
- Top load carrying abilities
- Good quality
- Durable products
- Smooth handling
- Increased stability
- Tested in extreme conditions
While Old Man Emu is a good overall brand, we recommend these suspension options for off-roaders who want to have the best driving quality while filling up their vehicle with the max weight capacity.
Rancho Suspension Kit
Rancho, originally founded in California in the 1950s, is a leading brand for suspension and shocks. The brand is considered to be such a selling point that some companies include their suspension system when building their vehicle models.
By 1985, the company was a hit with its best-selling product, the RS5000™ shock absorber; which is still the top seller today. Since then, the company has been purchased by Tenneco, Inc. and has continued to create innovative products such as a five-way adjustable shock absorber and the first “intelligent” shock; the RSX shock absorber.
Rancho really shines when you’re looking for some top quality shocks. Rancho shocks are best suited for our off-roaders who do a lot of towing. When we say towing, we mean the big stuff such as boats, campers, trailers and other vehicles. Rancho shocks are heavy-duty and made with anti-rust material to handle extreme towing pressure where other brands simply fall short. The adjustable shocks are universally made to fit a variety of make and models. Rancho is definitely one to consider for its:
- High quality
- Top towing capability
- Competitive pricing
- Adjustable products
- Trusted brand
Rancho offers their adjustable shocks at different price points, with some great quality options for $100. Making it even more attractive for its functionality. Always a great selling point when it comes to suspension options.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Choosing your suspension kit may seem overwhelming and you may even have difficulty remembering what type of kits are best in which situations. To keep it simple, remember:
- Lift Kits – Best for increased height and ground clearance
- Leaf Springs – Best for weight control
- Shocks – Best for stability and handling
While all of these overlanding suspension brands and kits will definitely improve your overall off-road experience, remember to take time to consider your specific needs. There are differences such as quality, cost and style which are important to consider, along with what exactly you hope to achieve by modifying your vehicle.
If your goal is to just add some extra lift to your front suspension, then you’d go for a leveling suspension kit rather than a complete lift kit. If your main focus is being able to have a smooth ride while managing a lot of weight or doing some heavy towing, then you’ll start looking up the best leaf springs. You’d also want to take your budget into consideration.
Let’s say you’re interested in upgrading your suspension but you don’t want to spend too much, then you’d consider a brand like Rough Country or Ready Lift Suspension, while the big spenders would head over to ICON Vehicle Dynamics. If you can remember these points, you will always be on the right track.
Be sure to contact us if you need any further clarification on your overlanding options. We’re always happy to help.
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Best Suspension Kit FAQs
What is a suspension kit used for?
A suspension kit is used to upgrade or modify a vehicle's suspension system. It is used to improve handling, stability, and performance. It can also enhance comfort and ride quality. Suspension kits are commonly used in performance upgrades and off-road applications. They can help achieve better traction, reduced body roll, and increased ground clearance.
Why is a suspension kit important in a car?
A suspension kit is important in a car as it plays a crucial role in providing stability, safety, and a comfortable ride. It helps distribute the weight of the vehicle evenly, ensuring all four wheels maintain proper contact with the road surface. This improves traction, enhances steering response, and reduces the risk of skidding or loss of control during maneuvers.
When should suspension be replaced?
In short, suspension should be replaced when there is excessive wear, reduced performance, or leaks/fluid loss.