Offroad Mods

Raising a 4x4's suspension is a popular modification, but not one for the faint-hearted. A lot of off-road activity consists of traversing terrain better suited to a rhinoceros than a standard road-going 4x4: tree trunks, large rocks, jagged surfaces, ditches, ruts, uneven gravel inclines and more. And while keeping your vehicle on the ground is of paramount importance, giving it the sheer height to clear such obstacles is also vital for serious off-loading.

Removing the risk of damaging the underside of your 4x4 - or simply avoiding getting stranded due to a lack of ground clearance - can mean investing in a suspension lift of some kind. And, not unexpectedly, there are as many variations on suspension kits as there are makes and types of suspension. Which means were not able to cover here the various options for every model of 4x4 out there.

The simplest lifts, however, involve swapping one set of coil springs for another - and although you might be expecting a difference in length of three inches to guarantee that three-inch lift you're hoping for, the new springs may not actually look much longer in their uncompressed state. It's important to remember too, that thicker springs can increase resistance poundage, and therefore provide the same result. Meanwhile, in addition to replacing the springs themselves, thought should he given to the replacement of nuts, bolts, bushes or races used in the original construction, and insertion of appropriate-length shock absorbers and new shock absorber protective boots that will substitute the original components.

Good kits will supply all the parts you need, together with full instructions to make the job that bit easier. Extended hoses, such as braided brake hoses, aren't always included in the kits, however, so it s important to check how many additional parts will be needed.

Meanwhile, a popular alternative to swapping out shocks and springs is simply to fit spacers, which sit at the bottom of the shocks and spring seats for a similar result. This can be particularly cost-effective, and prove very effective to boot...

If your aim isn't necessarily to increase your 4x4's ground clearance but simply to uprate its suspension (perhaps to improve its handling or to enhance its behaviour when towing a heavy trailer), most of the 4x4 parts specialists will be able to supply upgrade kits for the popular makes and models that are around.

What you've read here is merely a taster, giving just a general guide to the kind of modifications you might consider if you're intent on heading off-road. And while we haven't touched on the subject of off-road tyres (a big subject that we'll be returning to at a later date), the information has hopefully proved useful as a starting point.

So what next? Well, there are some superbly useful and helpful companies out there specialising in parts, accessories and off-road modifications for all types of 4x4s - and some of the best ones advertise here in 4x4 Mart. So check out their various websites, get on the phone or even pay them a visit; they're the guys to talk to about your own particular requirements, and they'll know exactly what to recommend for your own 4x4. It's over to you...

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

Have you carried out any of the modifications we're suggesting here? Were they a success - or do you have alternative suggestions of your own? Whatever your off-road needs or experiences, we want to hear about them. Drop us an email right now, via: editor(รด)4x4mart.co.uk.

i How far you go with your off-road s mods depends on your particular needs and your available budget

Even a competent off-road machine like the original Discovery can benefit from some well-chosen upgrades

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