So many people fit
the wrong springs to their 4WDs, we see it all too often. Here are some
things you should consider before you buy.
What are you trying to accomplish?
Weight plays a huge part in
choosing the correct springs & shocks. Over springing a vehicle can
cause problems on and off road. Too heavy of a spring will not allow the
spring to compress when needed, thus the wheel(s) will not follow the
road, which means no traction, and a horrible ride. Too soft a spring will cause the suspension
to bottom out early. Either way, your vehicle won't be performing the way it was
In order to figure out which
springs to fit, we will need to know what you're going to do with the
vehicle and how much weight is on each axle. Again, too stiff a spring
might not be the right thing to fit. You don't see NASCAR teams fitting
any old spring, there is a science to all of this.
The same applies to shocks, and
their rates. Under or over shocking a vehicle will change how the wheels
follow the road and how the vehicles handles. So don't just fit any old
shock. When replacing shocks, always replace in complete sets of 4, or you
might find evil handling as a result. For extreme cases, we offer additional shock kits, thus permitting
the addition of two more shocks on the rear or front axles. Note: Fitment
of these to a stock vehicle will result in a harsh ride. Knowing which
shocks (all of them) to fit when adding additional units is also key.
Sway bars (aka: Anti-roll bar;
in Europe) are another concern. In
1991 Rover introduced sway bars (2) on the Range Rover, having none since
1970, and it made a huge difference in its handling and drivability. The
Defender-110 Wagon & HCPU are fitted with a rear sway bar standard since its introduction in
1984, whereas the original NINETY had none. When the NAS V8 Defender-90 arrived
State-side it was fitting with a front & rear bar similar to, but not the
same as, the Range Rover and Discovery. There is a reason these bars were
fitted. Removal, or modification of these bars, will again change how the
vehicle handles and performs. Those with roof racks (loaded) will feel a
drastic difference with a sway-bar verse without a sway-bar, thus another
reason for leaving it on.
There seems to be far too much bad
information on the internet, and one subject it that of sway-bars on Land
Rover vehicles. We do not suggest their removal, in any case. Cars fitted
with sway-bars are normally fitted with softer springs when compared to
those without (meaning from the factory). Thus removing the sway-bar will
greatly effect its handling and comfort. Changing to a stiffer
spring (with the bar removed) still won't replace or replicate the
handling of a car with sway-bars fitted.
Some are under the impression that
removing the sway-bar will increase wheel travel; it will not. Removal
will free off the axle from the chassis, which it is attached to, thus
allowing the axle to move quicker in its travel arch during cornering or
over rough terrain. On road, it will have a negative effect on road holding;
meaning, it will have increased body roll and weight shift, which isn't
something you want while cornering, be it 25 mph or 80+.
Some cars are near diabolical to drive at speed with the bars removed, two
that come to mind; the Denfender-90 and 110. Ever wonder why a D90 does
not have the same wheelbase as its forerunner, the 88"? Answer:
handling was so nasty, that you couldn't drive it, it was plain dangerous! Thus they kept moving
the rear axle backwards until they found the key wheelbase, and it's not
On the same note, other people are
under the impression that they can remove one bar, usually the rear
sway-bar. Again, this isn't a good thing, as it does change the handling
characteristics of the vehicle... a common side effect is making the rear
feel light and producing "over-steer" when cornering ("loose" in NASCAR
terms), even more so on lose or wet surfaces. On a D90, this is nothing
but trouble waiting to happen, and a change in driving styles is a must,
as is a reduction of speed.
Sadly, some owners have found out the hard way by rolling the vehicle on
to its side, or completely over! This is what we call "driver error".
In the case of a Defender-110 (NAS
V8), which is only fitted with a rear sway-bar, hard driving will result
in "under-steer" (or "push"), and this is a direct result of no front
sway-bar. Upon entering a corner the 110 feels as though the nose is
taking a dive, while the rear stays somewhat flat. To cure this problem, we at WCB have fitted front sway-bars (two
diameters are available) to cure this problem, and increase road holding
and drivability on and off road, thus making the 110 a pleasure to drive,
even more so on a winding mountain road.
Not all sway-bars are the same.
Sway-bars come in any number of diameters, the larger the diameter, the
stiffer the bar, which equals less body roll, and firmer road handling.
For example; the Defender-90 has a smaller diameter rear bar than that fitted to a
Discovery, and this is due to the less weight of the D90 verse the
Leave the sway-bars
fitted. If you really think you have a need to remove them while in severe
off-road conditions, we suggest a "quick disconnect" system, thus allowing
the bar to be re-attached for high speed use, on or off road. All of
our vehicles have the bars fitted... and if you need to see proof, stop on
by or view the photos on our other site
Fact is, we will not remove the bars from a customer vehicle.
Here's an example
of vehicle set up: A customer brought us a
1993 Defender-110 V8 Wagon... After finding how much weight it carried
inside and out, including the ARB front bumper and M9000 Warn Winch, plus
4 lights, Southdown skid trays, Roof rack, and a spare tyre on the bonnet;
we determined that we must fit Heavy Duty front road springs and Bilstein
shocks, plus a front sway-bar from a Disco. In the rear we fitted Heavy
Duty straight-wind road springs and Bilstein shocks, plus two additional
shocks mounted behind the rear axle (these were stock LR shocks). The
handling of this 110 was transformed, and driver confidence and comfort
greatly improved as well. Off-Road performance was greatly enhanced
too... as the wheels now follow the road surface better than before. Something to think about.
So, before you buy, drop us an
e-mail, or call us direct.
CLICK HERE (or one
the logo) to get to the Old Man Emu Suspension page.