Several brands compete for the title of the best brand when it comes to suspension systems. This is not a question of which brand is the best, though, as there are a fair number of factors to take into consideration.
Brands like BDS, Superlift, Readylift, and many others continue to innovate with both price and products to take the title and grab market share from their competitors, while other product offerings and developments from smaller brands are making a big impact with 4×4 drivers.
Let’s fuel up and take a ride through the top five best suspension brands that provide the best ride regardless of the terrain you will be taking your truck over.
The Parts of The Suspension System
The suspension system is a critical part of any vehicle. Its role is to provide proper and consistent friction between the tires and the road, allowing drivers to maintain control regardless of the terrain.
Before we get into the who’s who in the 4×4 suspension zoo, let’s examine the components that make up the suspension system. Many brands that now offer full suspension kits started as specialists in a specific component.
The parts of the suspension system are :
- Leaf springs
- Coil springs
- Torsion bar
- Shock absorbers
Then we will also look at the suspension setups that are common on today’s 4×4 vehicles.
1. Leaf Springs
Dating back to medieval times and found on carts of that era, the leaf spring was the original suspension system. It was prized for its ability to handle heavy loads, and because the carts of the day were horse-drawn, the speed aspect of impact under load was minimal.
The other advantage that leaf springs have is that they can handle rough terrain and bumpy roads without too much hassle, but the ride would not be very smooth as the springs are naturally very stiff.
Modern springs have a ‘military’ wrap which ensures that should the main leaf connected to the chassis break, it would stop the corner of the vehicle from losing the spring completely.
Should this happen, the leaf spring pack can be fixed temporarily by ‘splinting’ with a thick piece of wood or metal and tied together with wire.
1. Coil Springs
A softer ride than leaf springs, coil springs are more comfortable but can’t handle heavy loads as the leaf springs can. They also have better handling than the leaf springs but can still break under heavy loads.
Although not common, coil springs can break and leave the body resting on the tire, and this would need to be fixed quickly to avoid wheel and chassis damage. Tying a log to maintain the ride height would be a temporary solution until mechanical repairs or replacements can be done.
2. Torsion Bar
The torsion bar is mounted between the axle assembly and the chassis and absorbs the impact of the ride and the wheel’s energy by twisting on its axis. The torsion bar is usually a long piece of spring steel, and its effective spring rate is based on the material, length, cross-section, and shape.
Torsion bars are susceptible to failure under heavy load or metal fatigue, especially if the terrain is rough and bumpy. If your torsion bar breaks while you’re out in the wild, it would be difficult to find a stick strong enough to splint it.
Torsion bars are common on modern four-wheel-drive independent suspension systems.
3. Shock Absorbers
Shock absorbers directly affect the ride and comfort as they control the spring. This is done by the hydraulic fluid passing through the valves, absorbing and dissipating the energy from the road’s impact.
Shock absorber ‘fade’ is where the hydraulic fluid overheats, resulting in the shock losing effective operational function. Another cause of shock failure is where the hydraulic fluids leak from the shock due to seal failure, and overextension can also lead to shock failure.
To fix a broken shock, you’d need to remove it, but then ensure that the spring doesn’t fall out, so you’d need to secure it using cable ties and rope, and while this will hold, the side of the vehicle without the shock would bounce quite a bit.
4. Suspension Bushes
These components are designed to allow parts of the suspension assembly to move around freely and reduce vibration between components. Bushes are specially made to wear out as it’s cheaper to replace the bushes than the entire suspension system.
Inspecting and checking these before any trip is always a good idea, and worn parts can be replaced if need be.
Now, let’s take a look at the top five suspension systems for 4×4’s.
1. BDS Suspension Systems
Michigan-based BDS Systems are one of the most well-known brands of 4×4 suspension products in the USA today. Because all their products are manufactured in the US, they find great favor with customers looking to keep their trucks all American.
Owned by Fox Shocks, their design and product quality are well known, and they offer a no-questions-asked warranty which backs their confidence in their products and gives the customers that same sense of quality assurance.
BDS has a vast range of products made for all different types of vehicles, from short arms to full Coilover systems, and offers full suspension systems, leveling kits, and a huge selection of accessories.
Aside from the first-class quality, BDS systems are rated as some of the best looking, so if style and performance are a top priority for you, then BDS could be your answer.
Their most popular systems include the 2-inch leveling kit for the 14-20 Ram 2500s, the six-inch lift kits for the 14-18 Chevy 1500s, and the 2.5-inch leveling kit for the 15-20 Ford F150s.
BDS provides great value for all budgets with their leveling kits tarting from between $300-$500, and a full Coilover system would set you back around $6000.
2. Rough Country
Want a lift that won’t break the bank? The Rough Country could well be a great option for suspension systems for your 4X4. With some of their kits at under $200, Rough Country has positioned itself to provide high-quality suspension systems at affordable prices.
One of the oldest companies in this industry has recently looked to actively step their game up as far as quality is concerned, and the 4×4 community is sitting up and taking notice!
Looking great for less with a wide range of products for both new and previous models, Rough Country is expanding its products lines constantly to compete with the bigger brands in the game.
Their Vertex kits are phenomenal and priced at just $2500, and they are well worth the money for both look and ride performance. Their most popular kits are the 4-inch Dodge Suspension Lift Kit for RAM 1500 2WD priced at $600, GM Forged Upper Control Arms, and the 6-inch lift for 99-06 1500 PU4WD.
3. Zone Offroad Products
If you want BDS quality at better pricing, then Zone could be the answer! They are a BDS subsidiary with almost the same production quality as BDS but at a lower price point. This middle road option gives customers great suspension and looks without having to apply for a second mortgage.
With the stunning show-quality looks and backed by BDS’s iron-clad warranty, Zone brings their 20-year experience to the fore with easy installation high-quality suspension kits.
With body and lift kits starting between $300 and $500 and their bigger lift and Coilover kits at the $1500-$1900 mark, their most popular products are the 4-inch lift for the 19-10 RAM 2500, the 6-inch lift for the 01-10 Chevy/GMC 4WD and the 6.5-inch lift for the 14-18 Ram 2500.
With over 30 years of experience in the industry, these guys are seriously passionate about 4X4 suspension. They have developed and produced their suspension kits for all makes and models of vehicles for the last three decades!
Pro-Comp is a one-stop shop producing everything from starter kits that includes all the hardware, coil springs, and shock absorbers right the way up to their high-performance long-arm kits.
Their pricing varies depending on what you are looking for, with leveling kits from as little as $300-$400, and the larger, more advanced lift kits can come in from $2000 upwards.
Some of their most popular products are a 6-inch lift for Ford 03-04 Excursion, 2-inch lifts for the 83-94 Ford F150s, and a 7-inch lift for 99-06 GM 1500s.
5. Superlift Suspension Systems
Created in the 1970s by a group of Jeep and off-road enthusiasts, Superlift has been in the game producing top-notch systems for the last 50 odd years, and this passion continues to drive them today!
This company is driven to provide high-quality systems and components at great prices delivering quality and value for their customers. With a huge variety of upgrades available, Superlift resembles Zone in their offerings; their most popular kit is the 2.5-inch Level 1 Lift kit for 1999-2006 Silverado/Sierra 1500 4WD at $250.
6. ReadyLift Suspension Systems
ReadyLift started by specializing in truck lift kits exclusively back in 2006. Over the past few years, they have realized that diversification of products will make them more competitive in the market, and they have surely come to that party with an amazing array of products.
From 2010, ReadyLift started producing its range of lift kits focusing on key areas like handling, ride comfort, handling, bump steer, durability, and reliability. With these focus areas clearly defined, ReadyLift began to produce top-class moderate lift kits with great ground and tire clearance coupled with great pavement aesthetics!
ReadyLift’s best-selling product is their 4-inch lift with 2-inch Rear SST Lift Kit For Dodge/Ram 1500 2009-2018 and priced at $800.
Other Suspension Brands For Consideration
The brands listed above are rated as the top suspension systems available now. Still, a few more also deserve mention in this discussion as they bring some excellent value and quality to the 4X4 market.
Rock Krawler Suspension
Offering an Abuse-Proof lifetime warranty, Rock Krawler takes their quality very seriously indeed. It’s great to know that you don’t have to worry about any warranty issues if you manage to break or damage their products!
Offering lifts from 2-5.5 inches, their most popular product is Jeep JK 2.5-inch Series 3 Lift Kit.
ProRyde wanted to create a range of fully adjustable lift and leveling kits. In 2007 they changed the way 4×4 suspension is viewed in the market as their patented technology finally began to achieve traction.
They offer kits from 1.75-3.5 inches, with their most popular product being the Chevrolet GMC 1500 Truck and SUV Adjustable Front Lift Leveling Kit.
Kryptonite Steering And Suspension
When you can use the Nevada foothills to test your trucks and suspension systems, you know you will get something seriously robust and hardy! Providing upgrades and suspension kits, Kryptonite’s Stage 1 Leveling Kit for 8-lug Trucks 2001-2010 starts at just $100.
Icon Vehicle Dynamics
A premier suspension product company, Icon specializes in aftermarket systems and components for SUVs, trucks, and off-road vehicles. Icon is heavily influenced by technology and utilizes engineering to deliver world-class manufacturing processes and techniques.
SCORE Champion driver Dylan Evans is the head engineer at Icon, and they test their high-quality systems under racing and actual-world conditions. They offer kits from 0.75 to 7 inches, and their best seller is the .75-2.5 inch Stage 1 Suspension Kit for the 2009-2018 Dodge Ram 1500 4 WD, priced at $1620.
How To Decide What Brand To Use
As with any choice, whether it’s a lift kit, Coilover, or full suspension system, always do some research and look for other 4X4’ers that have done what you are considering doing.
That first-hand feedback would be an invaluable resource, and they are countless blogs and groups online that can offer you first-hand feedback on the results they have seen with suspension systems they have used.
Look for brands recommended by your 4×4 manufacturer and specialize in your model or brand of the truck, so you know you are dealing with experts for peace of mind.
While the top listed brands here certainly have the products, warranties, and range of pricing to match your budget and deliver the performance and style for your 4×4, other brands provide a competitive option.
Whether you want All-American-made parts and systems for your truck, eye-catching good looks, and rugged designs that can take a beating without batting an eye, you now have a great idea of where to look and what to look for.