08 Sep 2023

These kits typically include upgraded springs and shocks, and allow for the fitment of larger tyres. The benefits for the HiLux include better clearance, improved approach and departure angles, and increased off-road capability. Quality suspension should also improve on-road handling.
A low quality or inappropriately rated suspension lift kit can adversely affect the vehicle’s handling and ride quality, so it’s important to choose the right kit for your needs and have it installed by a qualified professional.
Here are four products we recommend. They’re intended as a starting point, to give you an idea of what’s available.
A range of front springs with matching shocks were developed to cater for various vehicle set-ups, and front ride height increases of approximately 40mm were achieved without the need for costly modifications. A front trim packer was developed to further fine-tune front ride heights.
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With various options depending on your load requirements and the only manufacturer to offer parabolic springs, Terrain Tamer suspension is sure to get you down those bumpy roads safer and more comfortably.
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Featuring three-way adjustable shocks, the Dobinsons suspension lift kit will provide maximum adjustability to provide the perfect ride quality for your HiLux, no matter the conditions.
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With a plethora of load options for both springs and shocks, there’s sure to be a Tough Dog combination out there to suit the individual set-up of your HiLux.
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A suspension lift kit replaces your shock absorbers and springs to lift the vehicle slightly, and to better cope with heavy loads.
The shocks and springs work together as a matched set. If the manufacturer has done its job properly, you’ll end up with a better ride, both on- and off-road.
The springs give you the lift and bear all the weight of the vehicle. Heavier loads mean heavier springs (normally). OEM springs are more rated for a lightly loaded vehicle – they try to be all things to all people. That’s why OEM suspension tends to sag when you load it up, and why you need an upgrade kit.
The shocks are there to control or ‘dampen’ the spring rebound, hence the name ‘dampeners’. Without these, the springs would bounce around like a pogo stick every time you go over a bump.
Any reputable accessories supplier will provide a shock/spring combination which has been designed to work as a unit. They’ll often have multiple kits depending on what load you typically carry and the type of 4WDing you do.
The stock suspension isn’t designed for the additional weight of accessories and typically aren’t designed for tough off-road conditions like endless corrugations.
Once you start loading up your fourbie, it’ll struggle. The ride will be horrible; it’ll roll in corners, bottom out on the bump stops, and the shocks will fade quickly.
Standard shocks subjected to rough dirt roads and corrugations will quickly fade and eventually fail. Shock fade is typically caused by overheating where gas bubbles get in the oil making the shock less effective. A failure typically involves the oil seals leaking with the same result as fade – only permanent. Upgraded suspension will go a long way towards solving these issues.
Another benefit includes improved ground clearance, approach, ramp and departure angles. Even a small lift makes a huge difference to the drivability of a 4×4 in off-road conditions.
Work out how much all of your accessories weigh – bullbars, canopies, drawer systems, dual-battery systems, tow bar, and so on. Then add the weight of passengers plus personal gear. Then add some more for all of the extra bits and pieces you normally pack.
Add your final figure to the tare weight, also known as unladen weight. This will give the suspension supplier a rough idea of what suspension best suits your needs.
Talk to reputable suppliers and they should ask you a few questions about how you use the vehicle. If they understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve (a lift for off-road clearance, better handling, better towing ability, and so on) they’ll be able to choose the best damper/spring combo for you.
Shock absorbers generally fall into three different styles:
Here’s a very quick and basic overview of each one.
The oil and gas inside the shock are separated by a floating piston. This gives less foaming, meaning the shock will take longer to fade or ‘go off’, as it’s often termed. The downside? Monotube shocks can give a harsher ride than the other two styles.
They have a tube within a tube. The inner tube has the piston, valving, rod and oil. The outer tube holds the gas in the gap between the two tubes.
There’s no piston between the oil and gas. So they can potentially mix and cause fade. The biggest advantage of twin-tube shocks is their compact size.
Generally speaking, these shocks are monotube shocks with one major modification. Instead of the floating piston (the one separating the oil and gas) being inside the monotube shock, it lives in a second cylinder.
This second cylinder is called a remote reservoir and sits adjacent to the main monotube body. The two are connected by a hydraulic hose.
The biggest advantage is a greater surface area and volume. There’s more oil inside the shock, plus a larger overall cooling surface, which means less heat build-up. And by taking the floating piston out of the main tube, the monotube can be more compact or offer increased wheel travel for the same overall length.
Remote reservoir shocks are the ultimate set-up for serious off-roaders. If you’ve ever had a set of shocks go off along a corrugated road, you’ll understand exactly why remote reservoir shocks are worth the money.
The HiLux includes a combination of coil and leaf springs. The front are coils wrapped around a shock absorber, otherwise known as a strut. The rear are old-fashioned leaf springs with their ability to carry load.
Leaf springs have been around since the horse and cart and, whilst they may be ‘old tech’, a proper set of leaf springs will perform nearly as well as coils.
Premium leaf springs will include things like additional wraps around the end eyes, and recent advancements such as parabolic leaves (recent to 4x4s, but have been used in trucks for years) have increased the comfort over old-style leaf springs.
A massively lifted 4WD might look great to some. Even on a stock vehicle, it’s tempting to push your suspension lift to the max. But there are both practical and legal limits on how high you can lift a vehicle. Legalities vary from state to state, so you’ll need to check these.
Just remember, the higher you lift a vehicle the less stable it’ll be. Start adding loads up high (like a rooftop tent), and chances are your pride and joy will handle like an old boat.
Then there’s the issue of suspension and drivetrain. Lifting a vehicle adds stress to universal joints, CV joints, tailshaft splines, and so on. Worst case, you’ll start snapping drivetrain components.
Look for reputable suppliers with proven track records in providing quality suspension kits. Companies like TJM, ARB, Bilstein and Dobinsons can advise you on the best damper/spring combination. And they’ll give you honest information on issues like the maximum recommended lift for your 4×4
Springs are more difficult to choose. Springs have what’s called a ‘spring rate’, which in basic terms means the spring becomes firmer as the spring rate increases.
A lot of things affect spring rate including material, thickness and number of coils/leaves. Parabolic springs will provide better comfort and also a lower unsprung weight (the weight of your axles, wheels and basically anything below where the spring mounts to the chassis.
Variable rate coils will allow better absorption of small bumps while also providing decent load bearing capability. All you can do is trust the experts to provide you with the right springs – you’re paying for their expertise after all.
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4X4 Australia has been reviewing four-wheel drive vehicles and aftermarket products for more than 40 years.
When looking for the best accessories for your make and model of 4WD, there are some things essential to making sure you have the best off-roading experience.
When we compare products, here are some of the things we consider:
We also consider user reviews and our own experience with these products to make sure our recommendations are for the best on the market.
Disclosure: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. We also include products that we do not earn a commission from.
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