How do I get my truck to ride better?
It’s common question with any truck and especially the older trucks we specialize in.
We always start with the basics, the suspension has to move to follow the road so you don’t have to.
- The first step is to make sure there isn’t an existing component limiting wheel travel. Seized up shocks, spring and shackle bushings and even seized driveshaft slip joints can keep the suspension from moving all together.
- Do the shocks have enough travel to let the suspension move? In general you need to have at least 3” of travel in each direction for good street ride and a little more helps. For offroad use, the more the better!
- Do the shocks have some resistance when you try to move them? Any dead spots or places they change as you move them indicate a problem.
- Make sure tires are at a realistic pressure, they help a lot with small bump compliance and don’t have to be aired up to the max all the time.
- Make sure your brakelines, breathers and any add-ons like hydro assist lines have enough room to droop all the way without coming up tight. They probably won’t limit ride quality for very long but either way if they’re too short you’re going to have a problem!
Common problems with leaf springs are corrosion in the leaf pack and worn leaf packs that have steps cut in them. Sometimes you can help things move easier with just some spray lube between the leaves, if it’s really gnarly in there you may need to take them apart and clean the leaves so they can slide by one another. We often notice that our trucks ride better when we get back from an offroad trip and it comes from making the leaves move through their whole range of travel over and over so they polish each other and move more freely.
Find some products to fix your suspension here
Now that everything is at least functional let’s move to the next step, making sure you have the right stuff to have a chance at a good ride. It’s fairly obvious but a heavy rated spring isn’t going to ride nice with no load on it. There just isn’t much you can do with an unloaded K30 short of putting a load in it. Heavy axles with duals or other super heavy wheel and tire packages are tough to deal with since un-sprung weight is harder to control. A lot of off the shelf lift springs are going to be stiff, especially deep arch springs and especially on lighter vehicles.
That does bring up another free tip for ride quality though: get rid of squeaks and rattles. A new 1-ton truck still rides stiff but they don’t feel as bad as an older truck because they’re tight and quiet. This is something we see with all levels of offroad vehicles, a bunch of crap bouncing around in the bed, a bare steel interior and a bench seat that doesn’t hold you in place will feel like it rides terrible where the same truck with a supportive seat and everything tied down and quiet will feel much better.
Now we’re down to looking at changing parts. Let’s visit our first basic rule again, the suspension moves to allow the tires to follow the road so you don’t have to. So the suspension has to move.
This is important because it ties into what we looked at with a 1-ton, stiff springs can’t move when they’re lightly loaded.
It’s also important when we look at a common place that guys look when trying to improve ride: the shocks.
Shocks only work when they move so you can bolt all the fancy shock you like next to a really stiff spring and you’re still going to have a stiff ride. This is not to say that a good shock can’t help a little but the spring is the biggest factor.
Again, (maybe beating a dead horse but it’s a big important point) the suspension has to move and soft springs let it move.
What this boils down to is the reason we came out with our ORD Custom leaf spring system, we need softer springs for better ride. Yes they’re expensive compared to an off-the-shelf lifted spring but they move so you don’t have to, so it’s worth it!
We fully understand that everyone has a budget of some sort and put a lot of thought into how to make any of them go as far as possible.
In this case the specific advice is to spend money first on the springs, and then on the shocks.
You will have a better ride from a set of our custom springs with a set of $50 shocks than you’ll get with a stiffer spring with all the cool shock tech thrown at it.
Yes, $50 shocks have some limits in durability and performance but they can be upgraded later if necessary.
Check out our custom springs Here