Need aftermarket suspension for touring to Uluru/Darwin/WA coast?

Outrage

4x4 Earth Contributer
Hi, my boss has just bought himself a GU patrol, the suspension/shocks are factory, they haven't done much work, vehicles done about 140,000k's and the previous owner had aftermarket ones, so the factory ones which are back on are quite new.

1. Question is what are the track conditions like for the main roads out to Uluru/Ayers Rock, up to Darwin, and along the WA coast? He's only touring around with his wife and kid, not going there to tackle tracks/get into remote areas but simply sight see, tourist style thing. Perhaps one or two events out to a camp rather than caravan park.

2. Will factory items be enough? Towing a camper trailer (tent style one so light weight).

He doesn't plan on keeping the vehicle for more than a year so my advice to him was it really depends on what he wants to spend on it, as aftermarket goodies don't give much return for resale. Because of this he's not keen to do anything he doesn't have to.

If he was planning on keeping the vehicle and do more trips after this I would say yes it would be worth fitting aftermarket shocks/suspension.

3. What are other people's thought's?
 

80lover96gxl

Moderator
Prob worth fitting aftermarket suspension even if only keeping the vehicle for a year,even tho he is doing general touring with the camper on the back and gear in the back of the wagon it wont take long for the factory shocks to start fading even after a short period on corrigated roads,once you get shock fade you ride comfort is up to shit not to mention the odd chance of braking a shock completely,just for piece of mind id get after market shocks even for the better quality of ride he will get and when hes ready to get rid of the vehicle you can buy them off him for mates rates and put them on your bus,cheers
 

Qute

New Member
All the roads you mention are bitumen so the stock setup should be fine.

Even if he went out to Palm Valley, he'll still be fine...
 

35Henry

New Member
No matter where he goes out there he will be surrounded by local people driving stock standard cars that have been handling those roads or tracks without any problems since the days of the T model Ford. All he has to do is distribute the weight evenly throughout the car, don't overload it and don't scream along unsealed roads trying to "float" over corrugations. Even if he had some kind of super aftermarket shocks that would survive that kind of treatment, the chassis, spring hangers, wheel studs and heaven only knows what else won't.
 
Even thou hes not doing anything to hard -simply towing a camper and beign fully loaded with fuel - roof top tent etcetc will cause the factory items to sag .
Causing vague steering -unpredictabel braking when stopping and excessive load thru the chassis ( top of spring perches ) etcetc .
For what it is worth an aftermarkert suspenison will give you
extra load carrying
safewr load carrying
more predictable handling ( safer )
safer brakiing in emergencies
better safer towing ability
and even for evry day driving a better ride .
 

Grumpy

Moderator
Reading reports from others who have done these trips it seems regular checks like feeling bearing hubs for heat or movement, suspension sagging, wheel nuts, radiator mounts and hoses are a necessity at every stop or opportunity.
 

LowLux

Moderator
Standard stuff would suffice for the trip being described but would recommend a couple of spares which would add to the appeal of resale if not used when your boss is ready to sell.
 

LowLux

Moderator
Nissan is considered as having one of the toughest, if not the toughest, drive trains out of the box. If your boss just takes some spares for safety, even if not used, it will add to the appeal for resale when he's ready to sell. The trip described should be a walk in the park for the Pootrol.
 

Big Matt

Active Member
Id do the suspension/shocks before going, its cheap enough to do, seems silly not to
Also what Matt (GippslandOffroad) said is right on the money
Get it done, then no need to worry
 

35Henry

New Member
Gippsland Offroad

A 2wd family sedan would easily do the type of trip Matt described as well as carry the intended load. There would be hundreds out there doing it right now. Why replace a near new suspension for that?

I still stand by what I said about local people and their cars. I have lived and worked in the motor industry in the bush and driven in the Outback many times. I have never used a modified suspension. The locals don't buy their new 4wds then rush to the nearest aftermarket shop for a new suspension. That is just for the city slickers. Cars like Patrols and Cruisers have been used in their thousands in those areas since the 1960s. If the suspensions were not suitable, Nissan, Toyota and all the others would have done something about it decades ago.
 

jack48

Active Member
Real good question Matt, what to suggest to him, maybe let him read the posts ;)

We did a trip a few years ago with the GQ, towing 2.2 t of caravan, through outback NSW & Qld, all bitumen except for a few, with standard suspension, did not have a problem, did about 12,000 klms.

Have started doing mods to the GQ (Jo's) in the last few weeks in preparation for the Birdsville trip, about 2500 klm on dirt, approx 4000 klm round trip.

Replaced springs and shocks today, with a lift kit, removed sway bar release system and fitted extended, adjustable rear sway bar mounts. The rig drove great and suspension felt good so I was hesitant to put the lift kit in, my thoughts "if it ain't broke, don't fix/replace it, leave it alone".

Well bugger me, when the shocks came out and we primed them up, being oil, I reckon it was floating on the springs, they had little resistance to a dowwnward push.

Apart from looking better it drives better even without a load, maybe a bit harsher than before but no load in or on it yet, so am very pleased I did it, just hope the shocks hold up, It is not as harsh as Tonkadore, thank goodness as Jo would be pissed off :D:D but as she is in Qld at the moment, I won't tell her what I have done until she drives it, except tell her that the new shocks have lifted it up ;);):D:D
 

Qute

New Member
^^^What 35Henry said^^^

I've done the exact opposite of this trip in a VY SS Commodore Ute towing a 14' Pop-top van (heavier than a camper trailer) and the stock suspension in the Commodore did it without breaking a sweat (except when doing 260 on the Stuart H'way without the van on the back but that's another story and was legal at the time).

If the standard suspension in a Patrol won't do this trip, sell the damn thing and buy a Commodore...

40 years ago, 4WD's were not common and bitumen was rare in the outback, in fact almost unheard of outside the towns (and even inside some of them). Stock Falcons, Holdens and Valiants went all over the outback but, these days, we NEED a 4WD to go down a dirt road! Sheesh, what's the world coming to?
 

Big Matt

Active Member
The locals don't buy their new 4wds then rush to the nearest aftermarket shop for a new suspension. That is just for the city slickers. Cars like Patrols and Cruisers have been used in their thousands in those areas since the 1960s. If the suspensions were not suitable, Nissan, Toyota and all the others would have done something about it decades ago.

Sorry but that's probably one of the more ridiculous statements ive read for a long time
1> ALL oem suspension is nothing more than a compromise trying to cover all the possible uses which simply isn't possible
2> ALL oem parts are supplied by the lowest bidder, at as little cost as possible to save the manufacturer money or building and releasing a vehicle
3> If after market suspension is "just for the city slickers" why is it so many companies use after market gear to increase the life of their vehicles in the western states ?

I could go on and on, but i wont waste my time

I will add, im an engineer by trade and we work with most of the major oem producers here, and most of the after market guys as well. Ive seen the difference in oem and after market components, and knowing what i know id never leave oem shocks in my vehicle if i was doing any decent length trip. Springs are a little different, but again they are a major compromise and are not designed for decent towing.
Those are the facts, do as you like with them.
 

Big Matt

Active Member
40 years ago, 4WD's were not common and bitumen was rare in the outback, in fact almost unheard of outside the towns (and even inside some of them). Stock Falcons, Holdens and Valiants went all over the outback but, these days, we NEED a 4WD to go down a dirt road! Sheesh, what's the world coming to?

Hardly the point, no one has said it that the vehicle wouldnt do the trip, an opinion was asked for and given.
If i was touring with my wife to be and had a kid the first thing id do is replace the suspension. Its not like its expensive to do, will make the vehicle drive a lot better, tow better, handle rough road better it goes on. If he wants to go down the path of leaving it standard thats fine, but when people start making stupid comments like "The locals don't buy their new 4wds then rush to the nearest aftermarket shop for a new suspension. That is just for the city slickers" then something needs to be said. I have family in QLD who do just that. They drive the dirt roads around cooktown etc, and after market suspension goes in ALL the vehicles as soon as they get them.
 

Qute

New Member
I'm not arguing that aftermarket suspension is better than the stock suspension. Plainly, it is.

However, the stock suspension will be more than adequate for the trip his boss is planning. Granted, after 140,000 the shocks could do with replacing but that is a maintenance issue rather than a modification one.

The question was "Does he NEED aftermarket suspension to do that trip" and the answer is no.
 

Peterpan

New Member
Hi , I have a GU and it went to the Cape in 05 and last year On Burke and Wills 150 trip to Gulf on standard suspension ,I put in polyair rears 5 years ago , as I carry my 1 min tent and camping gear in the patrol at the same time as towing the 20 foot van with the bicycles on , all up it has done 175 kms and no probs . From what he said re the GU suspension it would handle the gravel roads ok . If the boss doubts it , the cheapest idea is fit polyair rear helpers . 5 years ago I rode my m/bike Melb , Charleville , Barkly Homestead , Borroloola , Darwin , The Alice out to Uluru , Pt Augusta , Broken Hill , all asphalt no worries . I usually ride about 800 kms per day sightseeing and camping .
 

35Henry

New Member
The message coming out of this discussion seems to be OME suspensions are not suitable for the Outback. That is rediculous. How many buyers would be prepared to replace the suspension in new cars at their own expence if that was true? If it was necessary, and the manufacturers were not prepared to do anything about it, then everyone from the The Dept of Fair Trading, the Motor Traders Association, the NRMA and heaven only know who else would be involved in action against the manufacturers.

My own car, a s/c ute, can be taken up to GVM without saging in the rear. That has a lot to do with me being able to distribute the weight evenly from the cabin, including under and behind the seats, to the rear of the tray. It has no trouble handling long Outback trips easily on its stock suspension. Two people owning a station wagon though may not find it so easy. With two in the front, a four and a five year old in the rear, the tank full and the rest of the weight in the back, there is a good chance it will be too low in the rear. That would not be the fault of the suspension because the rear seat is designed to carry two or three people with a combined weight of over 200 kgs and they have next to nothing in it. A car must be loaded exactly to the manufacturer's specifications before you can start to criticise the suspension and when you start approaching GVM, the corerct distribution is critical.

I would like to see the evidence supporting claims that aftermarket suspensions make the car handle better. A good way to back up those claims would be to modify the car, load it correctly, then have professsional drivers like the staff from Wheels magazine for example run it around Bathurst at the indicated legal speeds in the company of a stocker loaded the same way. You could ask why Bathurst? The track is a sealed rural public road with a wide variety of hills, curves and straights and that is the type of roads the vast majority of 4wds will spend about 90% of their time on. If the modified car has any faults then on the street is where they will be most prominent. It is also where any handling related accidents could easily involve other people.

It has always seemed odd to me that lifting a 4wd with springs that may also play a dual role of supporting an excessive amount of weight at the rear can make the car handle better when everyone since the year dot has lowered their cars to improve on road handling. Can someone explain that?
 

Big Matt

Active Member
I could explain a lot of that, and go into it all in detail as its what i do for a living, but im A> not going to drag the topic that far off line and B> not going to waste my time as clearly you have made up your mind with out all the information
 

35Henry

New Member
but im A> not going to drag the topic that far off line

What a pity, I would have thought this is very relevant in this case and definitely not off topic. The trip description suggests this car will cover well over 10,000 ks and over 95% of it will be on sealed roads. The remaining 5% will be on easy dirt roads. If you are advising the owner to fit an off road suspension then information on what it will do to the car's high and low speed performance in all weather conditions on sealed roads would be essential.

While on the subject, perhaps you could explain the modifications, or lack of them, to the Landrovers used by Beadell Tours. While discussing a tour booking with the company, I was told they have no option but to fit slightly heavier rear coil springs due to the huge amount of gear they must carry in order to lead the tours. This is equipment that other cars in the convoy don't carry. These springs and the weight make it necessary to weld a brace to the rear of the chassis to stop it cracking. They do change the shocks because the same cars are out there for six months of the year, not a short annual holiday. The shocks are Koni Raid 90s that were selling for around $600 each the last time I checked. There is no requirement for cars in the convoy to fit aftermarket shocks. Apart from those three things, the cars are stock standard. Even the tyres are 7.50 x 16 in highway tread patten.

These cars hardly fit the description of the "tough" highly modified Outback tourers that the magazines and aftermarket companies tell us are so essential yet they operate exclusively on the Canning, all of Len Beadel's tracks and up to 800 or so ks of cross country driving in the central deserts where there are no roads. Can Outback trips get any rougher than that? Even the local people rarely drive in those areas.

Can you tell me why these cars don't have jacked up suspensions, huge Cooper or Mickey T tyres, the cheaper brands of aftermarket shocks and all the other bells and whistles?
 
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