Are you in the market for an off-road caravan? Are you planning to explore the great Australian outdoors in your brand-new off-road caravan? If so, it’s critical that you have the right suspension system for your journey.
The suspension system your caravan uses will determine the quality you experience while using your caravan off-road. It functions by absorbing road shocks your caravan is exposed to while driving. As you can imagine, the shock can be extremely high in an off-road environment, where your caravan is routinely exposed to rugged terrain.
With that said, by absorbing the shocks and bumps your caravan is exposed to, the suspension system provides a more comfortable ride. Importantly, efficient and effective suspension negates the transmission of unwanted forces to the tow vehicle, enhancing your safety as you tow your caravan.
Given all that, which suspension options are available for off-road use, and which one is best for your needs? If you want to learn more about what suspension systems are available for off-road caravans, feel free to continue reading today’s blog article.
First, we need to talk about leaf springs. Leaf springs are a common type of suspension used in most on-road caravans. However, they are simply not suitable for off-road conditions due to a number of limitations.
The load range of leaf springs is fairly limited when compared to the weight loading of an off-road caravan. Additionally, they don’t necessarily have the best shock absorption capacity and capability. If you drive with them on rugged dirt roads, you will bounce around quite a bit and increase the risk of damaging the leaf springs or worse still, snapping your axles.
As such, you’re very limited as to where you can take a caravan with leaf springs. If you are looking to take your caravan off-road, or are in the market for an off-road caravan, it is essential to make sure it doesn’t have leaf spring suspension.
With this in mind, following are the most suitable types of suspensions for off-road caravans:
Off-Road Caravans require a special type of suspension that is built for rough terrain, and products like Alpha Suspensions Extreme, provide just that. By allowing each wheel to move independently of the others, this form of suspension enhances the caravan’s stability and handling on rough roads or terrain.
Each wheel’s coil in an independent suspension system is mounted separately from the others, and shocks are also used to absorb bumps. These suspensions are great for off-roading and do a great job of improving the caravan’s handling and stability in general.
Trailing arm suspension systems are well adapted to the semi-off-road environment. With this setup, the wheels are attached to a trailing mechanical link and mounted on the chassis. The arm pivots above the hanger of the trailing mechanism, allowing the wheel to move up and down when exposed to bumps and potholes.
Additionally, this suspension system has a spring between the chassis and the arm for absorbing shocks. While these systems are not inherently stable and resistant to rolling, the addition of an anti-sway bar enhances the roll stability of the caravan.
It’s essential to fit your caravan with springs rated for your caravan’s weight range. Using a set of springs rated for heavier caravans will result in a harsh ride. On the other hand, using springs rated for lower-weight caravans results in drooping, especially while exposed to off-road driving.
The airbag suspension system is the newest system that off-road caravans use. Additionally, it’s also the most complex as it replaces the metal coil spring system with a shock-absorbing airbag. A notable capability of an airbag suspension system is the ability to adjust the system to match the load of the caravan to reach a specific ride height.
For instance, you can lift the caravan when you encounter obstacles (to avoid bottoming out) and lower the ride height for faster off-road speeds. For highway driving, you can lower the ride height for better aerodynamics, which improves fuel economy.
While airbag suspension has many advantages, it does have some downsides as well. For instance, it’s not as reliable as the other suspension system on this list. It inherently has less roll stability. However, adding an anti-sway bar can help negate the inherent instability.
The suspension system you use in your off-road caravan will influence your off-road speed, safety, fuel economy, and much more. Choose a suspension system that’s not only fit for purpose but also meets your needs regarding cost, durability, ease of maintenance, and other considerations.
If you are looking for the best off-road caravans for sale in Australia for your next big adventure, you can’t go past Retreat Caravans. Please check our full range of caravans below, all carefully designed with you in mind: