“Most people are shocked to find that worn-out bushings can mean a gradual loss of braking and cornering performance, poor steering control under acceleration, and a loss of some shock absorbing action,” Snyder says. “And they fail to appreciate how fast stock bushings can wear out. That’s because original equipment bushings are made of rubber, which is highly susceptible to oil degradation, chemicals, UV rays, salt, and dry rot.
“The ideal replacement bushing is one made from polyurethane. Bushings made from this material will last longer and perform better, and that means your truck will ride and handle better longer.”
The bumpstop controls or limits upward suspension travel before it encounters the frame. Bumpstops can be found on control arms, leaf springs, and traction bars. Again, replacing the stock rubber bumpstop with a polyurethane bumpstop will deliver an improvement in longevity and performance.
Logging In: Once the truck has been returned to “spec” (meaning it now should ride and handle just as it did when it was new), you can evaluate the overall performance of the suspension in regard to accessories or modifications.
“Let’s say you want to replace the wheels and tires, which is one of the most common upgrades on 4x4s,” Snyder says. “Manufacturers have a broad range of tires--offroad, mud and snow, slick-rock situations, you name it. For best results, you need to match the tires and wheels as closely as possible to the way the truck is used.
“The same holds true for shock absorbers. Shocks really are the personality of the suspension, and like the tires and wheels, should match the way the vehicle is used.”
How do you ensure the proper match?
“Many hunters who are serious about their sport maintain a logbook of all their time in the field,” Snyder says. “Well, you can do the same thing to document the function of your vehicle. If you record the hours you spend behind the wheel, you’ll get a better idea of how the vehicle is really used. You also can make brief notes about the pluses and minuses of the suspension you’re currently riding on--things like when it works best and when it doesn’t.”
The logbook will be an accurate record of the vehicle’s real use. It will tell you where, when, and how the truck is used.(See appendix for a sample logbook.)
With logbook in hand, you can talk knowledgeably about the specific use of the vehicle, which helps suspension experts select the correct accessories. In towing applications, for example, the biggest consideration is stability and load-carrying capacity. The components that Trailmaster would recommend for a truck used in this manner are different from what the company would suggest for a slick-rock offroad application. Likewise, a purpose-built hunting and fishing vehicle that will spend most of the time offroad requires a different setup from a pickup or sport utility that is used by multiple family members for work and sport.
Keep the log in the glove compartment or console where it’s handy. And clip a pen to the front cover, so you’ll use it.