Beginners Guide for Off-roading Suspension


Off-roaders know the value of a tough, durable suspension. Without it, you won’t get too far away from the pavement before damage is done that’ll stop you cold. This is not to say that stock suspensions are created with weak components; it speaks to the punishing nature of driving off-road vehicles through the backcountry.

If you want 37″ tires, for instance, you’re going to need a high clearance long arm suspension lift kit. A Jeep Wrangler JK that employs 33″ tires can’t really pull that off with a stock suspension. That is to say that they fit with minimum clearance to the front bumper and not enough clearance for full off-road articulation.

Look for OEM Parts

OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, refers to the parts that were installed on your vehicle in the factory. Compare this to aftermarket parts, which are a cheaper option, but not necessarily the best one. Outfitting your vehicle with parts that don’t come from your make and model could prohibit achieving maximum performance. The operating systems and components for a 2020 Dodge Ram are different than those for a 2020 Chrystler. It’s important to use OEM parts to ensure maximum performance for your vehicle.

A Smittybilt winch, on the other hand, can be matched to an array of 4×4 vehicles. Aftermarket parts, though, generally can’t guarantee the same levels of performance, dependability or quality as OEM parts. Manufacturers know that you’re going to want to upgrade your off-road vehicle, which is why they sell OEM suspension lift kits and other parts and accessories.

Tunable Suspension

Tuning a vehicle to one’s particular specifications enhances performance. When you tune your 4×4 for more speed and maneuverability, you should also tune the suspension system to improve how it handles on the road. This can include modifying struts, shock absorbers and springs, which affect how the vehicle accelerates, brakes and corners.

When you’re tuning your suspension system, knowledge of the role of each part is critical. Off-road vehicles are usually tuned to have longer suspension travel and bigger tires, so as to better handle rough terrain. One might also tune with hydraulic suspensions to allow for the height of each tire to be quickly adjusted. This would have obvious advantages if you had to drive awhile on highways to get to the off-roading.

Installing stiff, anti-roll sway bars improves cornering and handling. Strut bars can be added to help maintain proper suspension during cornering and to improve body stiffness. Adjusting the front and back axles independently can also enhance performance. Tuning the shock can help with too much tire spin by softening the compression and tightening the extension.

When putting together your custom off-road suspension system, remember that it serves many more functions than just allowing space for bigger tires. Whether you’re considering investing in a total Pro Comp suspension system or just buying parts piecemeal, visit an online auto parts supply store to check out the latest in suspensions and all the other parts and accessories you’ll need for your off-roading adventures.