The way you use your vehicle when off-roading is very different than your average commute to work. For this reason, the parts used in your off-roading vehicle, including its suspension system, will be quite different than those in your average car. Learn which suspension system and parts are best for off-roading in this article.
Important Components of Off-Roading Suspension
Before we get into the different types of off-roading suspension, let’s take a look at a few key elements of off-roading suspension.
- Caster – The angle of the steering axis in comparison to the vertical axis of a wheel. This angle determines how stable steering is.
- Camber – The angle of the tire to the road. Camber can be positive (leaning outward from the vehicle) or negative (leaning inward toward the vehicle).
- Springs – These support your vehicle’s weight and help control the motion of the vehicle’s wheels.
- Shock Absorbers – These dampen the shock of bumps by reducing the movement of your vehicle's springs.
Types of Suspension Systems
There are several popular suspension designs for off-roading vehicles. One choice is not necessarily better than the other, but rather, the system you choose should depend on the intended use of your vehicle and your needs from a suspension system. Here are a few of the most popular types of suspension systems.
A solid axle suspension system is made of a beam that runs from one side of the vehicle to the other, connecting two tires. Because they are connected, these sets of tires move as a single unit. Solid axle suspension designs are supported by leaf springs—long, heavy springs made of sheets of metal that run parallel to the vehicle’s frame and attach to its axles. Solid axle suspension is very durable and cheap to manufacture. However, because of the single axle, solid axle suspension may also lower a vehicle’s ground clearance and will have a bumpier ride than other types of suspension.
An independent suspension system (IFS) features an independent axle for each wheel. In contrast to wheel movement with a solid axle, the wheels of a vehicle with an independent suspension system will each move independent of one another—if one of the front wheels moves, the other front wheel will not. This type of suspension is lighter than a solid axle suspension, and it offers the driver improved maneuverability of the vehicle over rougher terrains.
There’s not exactly a right answer to the question of which suspension system and parts are best for off-roading, but there is often a clear choice for drivers who will be doing a specific type of off-roading with their vehicle. If your car already comes with off-road-capable suspension and all you need is a bit of added height, stability, or the ability to add larger tires, one of our truck suspension leveling kits might be right for you. If you are looking for wider base for stability and handling, then our selection of wheel spacer kits can help as well. Check out our selection of truck accessories today.