Suspension Issues with MPV / SUV’s
While driving your MPV or SUV, have you ever felt like you are on a roller coaster ride, momentarily forgetting that in fact – you’re driving on a flat surface? Or have you experienced your MPV bouncing like a wild horse after hitting a pothole? A bouncy or unstable MPV or SUV may have several issues with the steering and suspension which need to be properly diagnosed.
Here at TiTAN Suspension, we have been approached by several SUV / MPV owners who mostly have 2 things in common; these SUV / MPV are Japanese manufactured / grey import vehicles and / or the replacement cost of their original suspension parts are expensive.
First, let’s touch on the fact that the increasing number of grey import vehicles in Malaysia is a now a norm and these vehicles are sold in almost all second-hand car dealerships nationwide. This roughly translates to the increasing number of people who choose a grey import model over the existing models available in the Malaysian market. Popular MPV’s such as the Toyota Alphard, Toyota Estima or the Nissan Vellfire are considered luxury people-movers that have proven to be very popular amongst families. Why?
The range of models that pour in from countries like Japan & UK provides the Malaysian consumers multiple choices that range from vehicle styling, capacity and superior features that we may never experience from locally sold models. These cars can carry up to 8 people comfortably with all your luxury creature comforts (Reclinable captain seats, individual air conditioning vents, TV screens, charging ports and ample leg space). These kinds of cars are also increasingly being used for daily commute (city driving) apart from long distance journeys and most of them have to endure the infamous and sometimes unruly Malaysian roads.
The usual problems or complaints that we hear from Malaysian MPV / SUV owners are;
- ‘Floaty’ or a ‘boat’ like feeling when driving over uneven roads.
- Rear passengers feeling dizzy or nauseous after some time due to the ‘buoyant’ feeling.
- Passengers thrown up from their seats when the vehicle goes over a hard bump or pothole / sudden jump.
Have you ever been in a van or a bus through KL city roads, seated in the last row of seats? In most cases, people choose not to sit on the last row of seats due the same complaints highlighted above.
WHY? Are Japanese vehicles inferior?
To understand why the suspension or the damper & spring setup on these vehicles are configured the way they are, first we must understand the road conditions in the country of origin and the intended market of these vehicles.
In Japan, the road conditions are one of the best in the world. Upholding the reputation of being perfectionists, one can hardly find any road undulations and unevenness; hence why the suspension of most consumer vehicles in Japan are configured to be comfortable which suits their own road conditions. Having said that, even European cars face the same issues on our roads as the European road conditions are generally better and more predictable as compared to ours.
The problem arises when grey import vehicles come into Malaysia and having to bear a completely different road profile. Our roads are sometimes uneven, undulated, flawed with potholes, bumps, paired with the network of twisty flyovers that can completely throw any vehicles suspension off-balance. The transfer of weight from the front to the rear of the vehicle causes kinetic energy to be transferred across the vehicle; which is notorious in these situations and causes the vehicle to behave erratically.
The spring rate and damper profile of most MPV’s & SUV’s suspension are generally configured to provide a ‘comfortable’ ride quality. While this setup works for most MPV’s & SUV’s, this may not provide the best ride quality for the specific consumer and road condition in the country of usage. Manufacturers instead provide the ‘best compromise’ setup possible that caters to the general masses’ preference or ‘the most popular preference’ according to the latest market research. We must remember that cars are mass produced from a factory and providing multiple suspension options to consumers will only add to the cost and is not a viable option for big car manufacturers.
“One man’s meat is another man’s poison” – This saying can be applied to suspension setups whereby a perfect suspension setup for you, may not be perfect for someone else. Preferences and setup always vary depending on the individual, type of car and the intended usage of the vehicle.
The second issue which is the most common complaint from owners are that the OE / Original suspension replacement parts are expensive. This is even more common amongst European models as some local dealerships would have to import spare parts from an EU country; which can cost quite a bit of money for an owner that is driving a 5-6 year old car who would like to keep their vehicle but quickly get’s turned off by the cost of spare parts and turnaround time.
Moreover, most replacement parts either do not have any warranty or an absurdly short warranty period (1-2 months warranty) which can be quite concerning when you consider the high prices and the amount of money consumers pour into a vehicle they would prefer to maintain which comes with unnecessary risks.
There are various aftermarket brands available for SUV & MPV vehicles that could potentially solve this, but they are mostly sold as a pre-configured setup; spring rate and the shock absorbers profiles are setup to provide a sporty / stiff ride – which means you will have to live with the way the product performs, even if you don’t necessarily like it.
TiTAN Suspension offers custom built suspension; which means we have a say in how everything is built and configured from every aspect. The spring rate & damper profiling of a vehicles suspension can now be configured accordingly to the owner’s preference and type of vehicle. At the end of the day, we strive to offer a suspension setup for our customers that end up in a satisfactory ownership period for owners that brings them prolonged enjoyment of ownership of their vehicle.
With over 20 years in the suspension business, our specialists have resolved numerous suspension issues and helped with all kinds of special requests when it comes to setting up their suspension feel and the way it behaves.
Speaking to our suspension specialists about your expectations and request will give us a better understanding on how we can deliver the best possible suspension setup for your car.
We always go that extra mile to ensure the car handles the way customers want it to or to reach the best possible compromise that the vehicles suspension allows us to without compromising quality and safety. Also, not forgetting that customers drive away with a peace of mind as all our products come with a 2 Year Warranty!
To name a few of the SUV & MPV models that we have worked on:
MPV: Alphard, Vellfire, Estima
SUV: Euro Q7, GLC, R-Class, X5 X6, Toareg, Cayenne, Range Rover Evoque/Sport, CX9, CX5, XC60, XC90, HRV, CRV, RX350, NX200, 200T, Infinity QX70, Subaru XV, Forester, Proton X70
Contact us today for more information!