Contact Us

Category: Latest Blog

3 Key Reasons to Switch to Independent Suspensions on a Caravan

Do you frequently go off-roading or actually live in a caravan? Are you looking to have the best riding experience while exploring all that Australia has to offer? Perhaps you are looking for a durable and easy-to-maintain suspension system for your caravan?

If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you need to switch to an independent suspension. Until early 1930, most cars used live beam axles and leaf spring suspension. As much as they worked at the time, the car industry asked for a more comfortable suspension which led to the invention of Independent Spring Suspensions.

What is Independent Suspension?

As the name suggests, an independent suspension allows each wheel of the vehicle to travel independently on a vertical axis without affecting the other. Such systems usually have a lot of advantages, the most obvious one being exemplary comfort in vehicles. If you’re wondering whether the switch is ideal for a caravan, it is. Here’s why:

Why Are Independent Suspensions Better on a Caravan?

1). Independent Absorption of Shock

With independent suspensions, each wheel moves independently of the others, allowing for substantially better shock absorption. Additionally, they provide longer vertical travel distances, which is beneficial for reducing the caravan’s uphill and downhill rocking. As a result, your caravan will be considerably more sturdy, which helps your goods remain intact off-road.

If you are an adventure enthusiast and enjoy spending extended periods of time camping, you need to carry utensils and other household items with you. In such as situation, you don’t want to show up at your destination with the contents of your caravan strewn all over the place.

2). Good Ground Clearance

The good thing about independent suspensions is that they can easily be adjusted for various road conditions and surfaces. With modern suspension, you can even electronically adjust your suspension. That means you can now have the best ride height for different surfaces, and you can take your caravan much further off-road than you had previously anticipated.

The other good thing about being able to adjust your ride height is that you can prevent damage on your caravan under the surface while simultaneously offering stability on smooth roads by lowering the ride height. That keeps your caravan scratch and dent-free!

Independent Suspensions on Caravan

3). Steering Correction

The fact that you can decrease your ride height on your caravan offers a much more stable vehicle for towing a caravan. Decreasing your ride height means lowering your centre of gravity when towing your caravan. A lower centre of gravity is essential to handling the car, preventing the caravan from tipping over at higher speeds or when you hit bumps with one side of the caravan.

Lowering your ride height also brings the centre of gravity forward. Moving the centre of gravity forward, especially when towing a caravan, provides better handling for the caravan. This change is especially significant when travelling at speeds over 100 kilometres per hour. You will notice the handling of the steering will be much easier also.

Cons of Independent Suspensions

Now that we have seen how advantageous independent springs are, let’s take a look now at a few of the disadvantages. First, they are not as strong and durable as leaf springs, meaning they cannot bear the weight that leaf springs can carry while simultaneously lasting longer. Secondly, they are much more expensive than leaf springs which are much cheaper to buy and maintain.

Final Thoughts

From the points above, you now know the advantages of having independent springs over the usual leaf springs. So, is independent suspension better on a caravan? Well, we could say yes and no. It all depends on the application of your caravan. If you are looking for leisure travel, then the answer would be yes. However, if you want to carry heavy material on the caravan, then no.

To get the best suspensions for your caravan, please call us at Alpha Suspensions today on 03 7009 2660 or you can leave an inquiry.

The Main Role Of Springs In Caravan Suspension Systems 

Is your caravan suspension system playing up? Would you like to optimise your caravan’s suspension keeping in mind how and where you use it? Are you unclear about the main role of springs in the overall caravan suspension system?

Springs are an essential part of any vehicle’s – caravans included – suspension system. Together with shock absorbers, they are considered to be the main parts of any suspension kit. Understanding the main characteristics and role of caravan springs will give you a better idea of what you should be looking for when shopping for or putting together a custom suspension kit, or diagnosing suspension issues.

Read on below to find out more about the main role of springs in caravan suspension systems. 

The Role Of Springs In Caravan Suspension Systems 

The primary role of springs in the suspension system is to hold up the weight of the caravan and the contents therein. Considered to be the foundation of any suspension system, springs also allow for the up and down movement of the wheels, without much impact on the caravan frame and body.  

As you can see, springs play an important role in ensuring that your caravan remains stable even when driving over bumpy or uneven road surfaces. 

Types of Caravan Suspension Springs

Leaf Springs

Originally used on horse carriages, leaf springs were used on the rear suspension of cars widely up until the 1980s. Still found on some caravans and vehicles, leaf springs can be described as a cascading set of flexible metal blades, held together by a u-bolt. The blades have different lengths to allow for better support of the caravan’s weight as well as added flexibility. 

In addition to being more affordable, than some of the newer options, leaf springs are also known for their strength, and can take on heavy loads. This makes them a great option for heavier caravans. 

However, these springs are bulkier, heavier and associated with a harder ride than modern options. 

Torsion Bars  

To mimic the performance of coil springs, torsion bars rely on the twisting properties of a straight steel rod. The rod, which is attached to the vehicle’s control arm, is twisted along its length as the arm moves up and down, in line with the road surface. 

Torsion bars are considered to be affordable and easy to maintain. They also save a lot of space. However, these springs may not be able to handle bumps as well as the other available options. 

Caravan Suspension Systems

Coil Springs

Coil springs are basically a helical spring. They closely resemble a slinky in terms of appearance. In more technical terms, these springs are simply a torsion bar wound around an axis. These springs are commonly found on suspension systems used by modern vehicles and caravans. 

On top of being able to handle heavy loads, just like their leaf counterparts, coil springs tend to function without making too much noise. 

However, these springs are rarely used in smaller vehicles because they can result in a bouncy ride – especially when paired with low-quality shock absorbers. 

Air Springs 

Made up of a cylindrical air chamber, these springs absorb impact by relying on the compression quality of air to absorb impact. 

These springs are known to help vehicles and caravans glide over bumps on the road’s surface. On the flip side, these springs tend to be very expensive. They are also known to fail faster than the other options described above. However, with proper maintenance, these springs can serve you reliably for an extended period. 

Final Thoughts

Springs help keep your caravan’s tyres in contact with the road surface – especially along bumpy stretches – by allowing the tyres to move up and down. 

If you suspect that your caravan’s springs or suspension system are worn out, or would like to upgrade your current set-up to accommodate the demands of Australian roads, contact Alpha Suspensions today.

Please call us today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.

What Is Bouncing In A Suspension System?

Does seeing your caravan sway or bounce on the road make you nervous? Are you wondering what causes a caravan to bounce and how can you stop this phenomenon from occurring?

A caravan bounces mainly because of locating the two hitch too close behind the rear axle. The overhung hitch causes the caravan to sway in the opposite direction after moving in a particular direction. Swaying and bouncing in the car or caravan’s suspension system is quite dangerous, and you should find a way to minimise it or do away with it altogether. Below is an overview of various remedies you can apply to prevent the suspension system of your caravan from swaying.

What Is Bouncing In The Suspension System?

The bouncing of a suspension system is a straightforward phenomenon to recognise every time your car comes into contact with the road. It usually involves the trailer briefly sailing on air before landing on its tyres to cause a bounce.

Your car can occasionally bounce every time you go over a bump or drive down the road, depending on the cargo’s weight. The experience is usually potential damage to suspension parts such as coil springs, shocks, and struts. The leading causes of a bouncing suspension include:

  • Faulty Shock Absorbers

Sometimes, your vehicle bounces if it has faulty shock absorbers. A shock absorber usually absorbs the unwanted energy of the wheels to prevent the vehicle from skidding. If your vehicle bounces due to faulty shock absorbers, you should consider installing new shocks and struts.

  • Damaged Steering Wheel System

A damaged steering system is another major cause of a bouncing vehicle suspension system. This can sometimes happen, and it causes difficulties when driving as the vehicle keeps bouncing up and down. This is further emphasised by the extra weight of towing a caravan. 

  • Damaged Ball Joints

Your car bounces when the ball joints are damaged. Damaged ball joints make the vehicle unable to maintain a smooth and straight ride, which is dangerous to you and other road users. Always have the ball joints checked and replace them when the need arises.

What Is Bouncing In A Suspension System

How To Stop Your Caravan From Bouncing

Caravan bouncing is very regular, and it happens for several reasons. Maybe it depends on the speed you are travelling, or you have the issues we discussed above. Luckily, you can alleviate this problem using several techniques. Below are some of them.

  • Avoid Too Light Weight In The Tow Ball

Every time your caravan hitches up, the tow ball transfers some weight to the tow vehicle. If the tow ball weight or download is too light, your vehicle will sway. The rule of thumb states that the tow download should be 10% of the caravan’s total weight. Your caravan’s compliance plate might tell you more about the tow download of your particular caravan.

  • Ensure That The Tyre Pressure Is Ideal For Your Load

You will undoubtedly have a bouncy ride if you highly inflate the tyres. Besides the tyres wearing out faster, using them when they are highly inflated will cause the vehicle to sway and lose traction. Always ensure that the pressure is ideal for your cargo to avoid this.

  • Install An Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

An Electronic Stability Control is an automatic electric braking system for caravans. Typically, if your caravan starts swaying and bouncing on the highway, you must apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve stability and keep the car on the road. 

An ESC is committed to ensuring effective and relevant accessibility standards through monitoring and responding to dangerous moves. The effective communication and digital accessibility system is an excellent tool for improving the user experience in encountering a bouncing suspension system.

Final Thoughts

There are different reasons why your caravan keeps bouncing up and down every time you are on the road. You can quickly notice this phenomenon by closely paying attention to the behaviours of the vehicle. If you notice any irregularities in the suspension system, consider taking your car to an auto repair shop. A properly working caravan suspension will give you peace of mind when taking the wheel and improve your driving experience.

Tough & Durable Caravan Suspensions

Are you concerned about the suspension system of your caravan? Perhaps you are using low-quality suspensions? Alpha Suspensions is your number one choice when it comes to caravan suspensions and we can help you.

We deal in different types of suspensions, such as ultra-duty and hollow beam axles. Get tough & durable caravan suspensions today!

Please call us today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.

How To Diagnose Common Caravan Suspension Problems?

Do you like enjoying relaxed and comfortable off-road trips in your caravan? If so, you can thank your caravan suspension system! Your suspension system tirelessly works to absorb the shocks experienced on the road when driving over bumps, accelerating, and braking. Unfortunately, some components wear out over time, making the ride more strenuous and challenging.

It is pretty straightforward to notice a simple spring breakage, but sometimes diagnosing your caravan for suspension problems can be exhausting. Below, we will outline the various caravan suspension problems and the steps for diagnosing your caravan for problems. We will start by defining what caravan suspension is.

What Is A Caravan Suspension?

Caravan suspension includes an outer central axle attached to the chassis either through welding or bolting. Each hub is then connected to an inner tube. The inner tubes rotate within the outer central axle as the wheels roll over bumps. 

The prominent role of having a suspension is cushioning the ride to make it more comfortable. The suspension absorbs road shocks to prevent certain impacts from damaging the vehicle.

Common Caravan Suspensions Problems

Typically, a caravan suspension system experiences complications if there is a problem with the coil springs, beam axle, tandem axle, and various other components. If they eventually wear out, the suspension will develop problems that may affect the wheel alignment and axle suspension, among other complications. Below are the various signs to look out for when diagnosing caravan suspension problems.

  • Oily Shock Absorbers

Caravan manufacturer recommendations include regular visual check-ups on your suspension to identify any potential threat before it becomes a significant concern. If you notice that the shock absorbers are greasy, they may leak fluid, affecting the whole system.

  • Steering Difficulty

If you find it hard to steer your caravan, especially at low speeds, you might be having trouble with your leaf springs. In such a case, consider hiring a professional mechanic to check your caravan before there’s an accident.

Diagnose Common Caravan Suspension Problems

How To Diagnose Common Caravan Suspension Problems

Diagnosing your caravan for suspension problems is complex, especially when there are no visible signs like greasy shock absorbers. Below are some steps you can carry out to determine if you have a problem with your suspension system:

  • Take the caravan for a test drive. If there are noise distractions in the car, like a radio, consider switching it off when taking the test drive. When driving, listen for any unusual noises such as squeaking. Listen extra carefully when turning, accelerating, and braking.
  • Inspect the vehicle’s exterior after gathering some information from the test drive. Unhitch the caravan and let it cool for about half an hour before starting the inspection. During the inspection, wear gloves and use a torch when inspecting hidden parts.
  • Bounce the caravan by placing your hands firmly on the drawbar. Push it down forcefully, then allow it to raise back without touching it. 

If the strut is fine, it should rise to the original position and stop. If it continues to bounce or move up and down before stopping, this could be an indication that the strut is broken. You can also try pushing the rear corners of the caravan from the side to determine the condition of each independent trailing arm suspension. 

Final Thoughts

The suspension system is an essential element of your caravan that keeps your rides comfortable. Typically, caravans with damaged suspension systems have very rough rides. Hopefully, the above information will help you to diagnose some of the problems associated with the suspension system of your caravan. In addition, we have included the various steps you can follow to diagnose caravan suspension problems.

Tough & Durable Caravan Suspensions

Repairing and changing your suspension system can be an expensive task. If you ever have any problems with your caravan suspension, Alpha Suspensions is your go-to company if you want some high-quality and durable suspensions for your caravan. At Alpha Suspensions, we deal in hollow beam axles, ultra duty, and extreme airbag, among other types of suspensions. Enjoy infinite caravanning with our tough and durable caravan suspensions.

Please call us today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.

7 Important Caravan Suspension System Parts & Their Functions

A caravan is an excellent option for you and your loved ones to explore some of the most beautiful places in Australia. Caravans are fitted with suspensions to ensure flawless motion and keep the vehicle safe from road shocks. However, this task does not rely on the entire caravan suspension system but on its different components, which work independently but also in unison. 

This article will discuss the most critical parts of a caravan suspension system. However, let us look at what is referred to by the term caravan suspension system.

What Is A Caravan Suspension System?

The caravan suspension system enhances comfort while travelling by keeping a safe distance between the road and the caravan. Its primary purpose is absorbing road shocks and excessive noise. A sound caravan suspension system should be sturdy enough to keep the caravan firmly attached to the car.

There are three different types of caravan suspension systems. These include:

1). Rigid Axle Caravan Suspension: This is the most basic and oldest suspension design, and it is used in heavy-duty trucks, vans, SUVs, and buses. A rigid axle is a choice for most on-road caravans as it is easy to manufacture and install. However, due to its tough nature, the motion of the wheels depends on each other.

2). Semi-Rigid Axle Caravan Suspension: A semi-rigid axle allows some independence between all the wheels as they move. The suspension system is suitable for medium corrugations and mild off-road use, depending on the travelling speed. This system has galvanised versions that are suitable for marine use. Because of this, the semi-rigid axle caravan suspension is not recommended for high-speed motions, over corrugation, and heavy off-road use.

3). Independent Caravan Suspension: An independent suspension is the only type of car suspension that allows all the wheels to move independently. Despite being slightly higher in cost, it has gained popularity as the consumer demand for off-road caravans grows. The independent caravan suspension is the best suspension system for Aussie caravans as it can easily handle the unforgiving terrain in Australia. The best independent caravan suspension for off-road uses has adjustable air springs and coil springs.

Caravan Suspension System Parts (And Their Functions)

The integral parts of the suspension system of a caravan include:

  • Wheels
  • Coil springs
  • Shock absorbers
  • Linkages
  • Bearings
  • Leaf spring
  • Steering system

Important Caravan Suspension System Parts

1). Wheels are the first part of a caravan suspension system. They are the only suspension components that touch the ground. After all, tyres experience extreme pressure when driving over a bump, braking, accelerating, and cornering. 

2). The second most important part of a caravan suspension is the coil springs. They absorb the excessive impact when driving over bumps or potholes. However, metal rods are sometimes used instead of coil springs. 

3). Shock absorbers are another essential part of a suspension of a caravan. They work alongside the coil springs to channel away impact from potholes, bumps, or off-road driving. Technically, the spring absorbs the impact, but the shock absorber supports the spring and reduces its motion.

4). Linkages are the fourth most important part of a caravan suspension system. Linkages refer to rods that hold together the various components of the suspension system. They are usually made of highly durable metals that last as long as the caravan lasts. The only time the linkage fails is when the caravan is involved in a tragic accident. 

5). Bearings use the linkages referred to above to connect more prominent components together. The bearings enable specific suspension system components and do not need a lubricant. 

6). Leaf springs are also an integral part of a caravan suspension system. A leaf spring is installed to support the caravan’s weight and maintain the wheels’ grip on the road. It also helps to regulate the wheelbase length when the vehicle is accelerating or decelerating. 

7). Another vital part of a caravan suspension is the steering system. Although it might be an indirect component, it works alongside the suspension system to turn the wheels. The steering system controls most caravan suspension components, such as the linkages, wheels, and stub axle.

Final Thoughts

The suspension system is an integral part of any caravan, especially a caravan that usually carries a lot of weight. A sound suspension system should efficiently absorb the road shocks as the caravan rolls over a bump, negotiates a corner, accelerates or even braking. The suspension system keeps the vehicle on the road without bouncing from one point to another.

Tough and Durable Caravan Suspensions

Are you looking for challenging and durable suspensions for your caravan? Look no further as Alpha Suspensions has got you covered. At Alpha Suspensions, we deal with different suspension systems, such as rigid, torsional, and independent suspensions. 

Please call us today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.

How to Calculate Forces in an Off-Road Caravan Suspension System?

Whether you’re planning a trip across Australia or a little offroading, your caravan suspension needs to be in tip-top condition to allow you to have a pleasant time out in the bush. A high-quality suspension means you don’t really need to worry about anything and won’t feel the dips and the havoc they can bring when using a poor quality suspension. A less than average suspension, especially with offroading, will leave you worrying more about the next bump rather than soaking in the natural beauty and enjoying your trip.

While there are several dedicated off-road caravan suspension brands, it does not mean that labelling their products “off-road” magically gives them the expertise to design and manufacture truly world-class products. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to suspension design and a lot depends on the path you will drive and the weight of your caravan.

What Is an Off-Road Caravan Suspension System

Any type of chassis on tyres has a suspension system. Different types of suspension systems are meant to handle different kinds of loads. The requirements for a trailer that is only used to carry goods are never going to be as demanding as a full camper trailer or a caravan that carries a much greater weight and sensitive appliances. The goal of a good suspension system for a caravan is to generate proper friction between the road and the tyres and make sure it remains stable.

Among suspension systems, there is a further category of systems specifically designed for off-road use. The suspension requirements for offroading are completely different from caravans that spend the majority of their time on bitumen. 

Off-road suspension systems are often independent systems that use the highest quality springs or airbags to keep things comfortable. Leaf spring systems are also used in some cases but only when a limited amount of time is going to be spent on dirt tracks and most of the time is going to be on the bitumen.

Steps to Calculate Forces in an Off-Road Caravan Suspension System

There are 2 parts to a suspension system including springs and dampers. Springs are there to sustain the weight of the vehicle and dampers are there to keep things smooth by opposing the movement of the spring. Essentially, dampers dissipate the heat energy generated by spring movement and keep the vehicle stable.

A variety of forces act on a suspension system including:

  • Compression
  • Tension
  • Shock/impact loads
  • Fatigue

Calculate Forces Off-Road Caravan Suspension System

Designing an off-road caravan suspension system right from the scratch takes into account a huge range of parameters such as:

  • Motion ratio
  • Sprung mass
  • Unsprung mass
  • Spring stiffness
  • Roll centre camber
  • Compression ratio
  • Contact depth
  • Maximum speed
  • Contact speed
  • Roll Centre
  • Centre of gravity

In short, a lot goes into designing an ideal suspension system. While major work is done in theory, the real learnings and design changes happen in the field when the suspension system is tested against various established parameters. The most important factor in the design is the contact depth. 

While there are many off-the-shelf systems for off-road caravans, the best suspension system is always going to be the one that’s designed specifically for a particular caravan with a particular maximum load limit and the terrain that it is expected to tackle.

Alpha Suspensions is the premier suspension design and manufacturing company in Australia. We offer a whole range of suspension systems for semi off-road and off-road applications. All of our products are designed in Australia and tested in the Australian outback to ensure the best for our customers. Our products are reliable and cost-effective and carry a ton of unique features to enhance the reliability of the suspension system and to keep providing that comfort for years to come.

Final Thoughts

Overall, designing an off-road suspension system is a complex job that requires expertise, experience, and the willingness to walk the extra mile to ensure the ultimate comfort for buyers. There are hundreds of off-the-shelf suspension systems available for purchase but not all of those systems have been tested in the real world. In many cases, these systems are designed for on-road use and only a little bit on dirt tracks but if you take them out and give them some punishment on some of Australia’s toughest roads, those systems won’t last long. 

Make sure you go through the warranty terms and conditions of these manufacturers. They clearly state the expected usage there to protect them but you won’t find it in big, bold, shiny letters in their sales material, anywhere. This is why it’s always better to choose a company specialising in off-road and semi-off-road applications.

Contact Alpha Suspensions Australia

Alpha Suspensions is the preferred choice of caravan owners for tough conditions. We specialise in designing and building a range of independent suspensions that allow you to experience the whole of Australia without worrying about your caravan suspension. All of our products are cost-effective and reliable.

What makes us different is the testing we carry out before introducing a product to the market. We make sure every single product we sell has been fully tested and stands up to our own tough standards before it ends up in the hands of our customers.

Please call us today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.

Best Solid Axle Suspension for an Off-road Caravan

Which off-road caravan suspension design will deliver the best performance for your caravan? Leaf spring, torsion, trailing –  what’s the best for a stable tow? With so many options in the market, which glossy brochure should you believe?

Well, if you want your trailer to articulate to keep it from flopping, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a quick Alpha Suspensions guide to help you:

First Things First: How Do Caravan Suspension Systems Work? 

Before we get into suspension systems, let’s take a step back and think about the fundamentals. What does a suspension system do? – It absorbs undulations. 

In simple words, it absorbs the energy from the tyres, allowing the frame of the caravan to remain stable. This means that when a wheel hits a bump or sinks into a depression, its movement is not transferred to the rest of the caravan, reducing bouncing and rocking. 

Why Is Your Caravan’s Suspension So Important?

A good suspension system increases the friction between the tyres and the road. This offers steering stability and good handling. It is vital for braking, cornering, and even fuel efficiency since it ensures that the tyres are in touch with the ground.

The better the suspension, the smoother and safer the tow becomes because minimal force is transferred to the frame of the vehicle. There’s less strain on the trailer and its contents as well.

The suspension system, therefore, promotes passenger comfort by reducing the influence of different road conditions on not just the caravan, but also the passengers within. This is particularly important for off-road driving. 

Choosing the Best Off-road Caravan Suspension in Australia 

A premium off-road caravan should have a high-quality suspension design for the passengers and the vehicle’s safety. Here are different suspension design methods for an off-road caravan.

  • Rigid Axle Suspension 

This is considered the grandfather of all suspension systems and has withstood the test of time. It was first employed in the motor industry’s early stages and some brands of off-road caravans still use it. 

The system is a dependent suspension type where a set of wheels is connected laterally by a single shaft or beam. It’s strong and can carry a large load capacity. It’s pretty simple to install and maintain than more complex systems. 

  • Semi-Rigid Axle Suspension

The system includes an outer primary axle that is welded to the caravan’s chassis. Each of the wheel hubs has an inner tube linked to it. The inner tube will revolve within the outer axle when the wheels move up and down over bumps in the road.

Because the inner tubes connecting the right and left wheels are not attached, this type of suspension is known as independent suspension. It allows for a form of independence between the left and right wheels of a caravan. 

Axle Suspension off-road Caravan

  • Leaf Spring Tandem Suspension

This is the most common type on caravans. Leaf springs are made up of multiple layers of flat, rolled leaves that are placed on top of each other and fitted below the axle for the suspension system.

Leaf springs are great at cushioning the jolts from potholes and other rough patches on the road. This suspension system has a proven track record of reliability in a variety of heavy-duty vehicles.

  • Trailing Arm Suspension

This one has proven ideal for the Australian terrain. The tyre of the caravan is usually mounted to the chassis of the caravan through a trailing mechanical link, hence the term “trailing.”

As such, the arm pivots over the hanger and moves up and down as the vehicle travels over bumps. There is a spring located between the chassis and arm, which absorbs the impact.

Which Is the Best for Off-Road Stability? Consider These Factors

Because an off-road caravan travels on dirt roads, there’s a higher risk of component damage from things like potholes and rocks, thus you need a sturdy system. The trailer’s suspension must also give adequate ground clearance. 

Heat dissipation is also another important factor to consider in an off-road suspension setup. Remember that as wheels move up and down relative to the caravan, energy is released in the form of heat.

That said, the answer to the best suspension system is to look for good build quality, proper weight distribution, heat dissipation, and solid tuning. Since trailers are different, there’s no singular clear-cut type suitable for all caravans, but we are here to help. 

Contact Alpha Suspensions Australia 

Alpha Suspensions is the best bet for people who want to get the most out of their time in the great outdoors. We provide fully independent suspension systems and components. These are self-contained, multi-terrain suspensions that are both dependable and affordable. Reach out and let’s get you the best!

Please call us today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.

Do Caravan Suspensions Use a Trailing Arm?

Most caravan owners don’t really want to get into the nitty-gritty of caravan suspension systems. They just want the thing to work and make their travels safe and comfortable. And there’s nothing wrong with that. However, you still need to know a little bit about different types of caravan suspensions and which is the right type for your particular needs.

The thing is that there are different types of suspension systems and not every suspension system is right for every surface. If you plan to keep your trailer primarily on paved roads, a leaf spring suspension should be enough. On the other hand, an independent suspension is the best choice for off-road caravans but these do cost a bit more than the leaf spring systems. 

In this blog post, we will explore whether caravan suspensions use a trailing arm and its various advantages.

What Is the Role of a Suspension System?

A suspension system is needed to keep everything stable and comfortable by absorbing the bumps and noise while travelling. If the suspension system isn’t good enough, your caravan might not remain attached to the towing vehicle or could become seriously damaged. 

A suspension system is made up of a variety of components but the two main components are the shock absorbers and the springs. There are different types of suspension systems in use today but two of the most common types are live axle suspension and independent suspension systems.

A live axle suspension system is known by various names including a solid axle or beam suspension system. This type of suspension system has a single axle which means the wheels on the other side are connected to the same axle. Leaf springs are often prefered in this type of suspension system. It is a great choice for caravans that are likely to spend the majority of their time on paved roads.

The other type is the independent suspension system. The major difference between an independent system and a live-axle system is that in an independent system, the wheels are not connected through a live axle and each wheel acts independently. This is why independent suspension systems are preferred for off-road caravanning as these provide better ground clearance and better stability.

Do Caravan Suspensions Use a Trailing Arm?

Yes, caravan suspensions do use a trailing arm. However, trailing arm suspension makes more sense for off-road caravanning. This type of suspension allows each wheel to act independently which results in better ground clearance and stability compared to other suspension systems.

Do Caravan Suspensions Use Trailing Arm

Choosing the Right Suspension System for Your Caravan

The choice of a suspension system for a caravan is dictated by its intended usage. If you are going to use your caravan for on-road travelling, a rigid axle suspension system would be the most cost-effective solution. On the other hand, a trailing arm suspension, airbag suspension or a semi-rigid axle suspension system makes sense for caravans that are likely to be taken off-road.

Pay attention to these things when choosing a suspension system for your caravan:

  • Safety
  • Comfort levels
  • Stability
  • Proper control

The most important thing that matters is safety. You shouldn’t have any doubts about the capability of your caravan suspension system to handle the kind of terrain where you are driving. It should provide you with complete control and keeps things stable. You also need to ensure that the things inside the caravan remain stable regardless of the terrain.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a variety of suspension systems are available for caravans. The choice of a suspension system should depend on the terrain as well as your budget. If you are primarily going to drive on paved surfaces, a leaf spring system or a rigid axle suspension system should be enough. On the other hand, off-road caravanning will be much smoother with a specifically designed suspension system for off-road surfaces such as a trailing arm suspension or an airbag suspension system.

Alpha Suspensions is the premier provider of fully independent suspension systems designed for off-road and semi off-road applications. We design, manufacture and test these suspension systems in Australia to provide the very best to our customers. 

Please call us today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.

What Is The Difference Between Off-road And On-road Caravan Suspension?

Are you planning to buy a new caravan? Are you aware of the importance of suspension in a caravan? Are you aware of the major differences between on-road and off-road caravan suspension

A caravan that is designed to be driven primarily on bitumen usually doesn’t have adequate suspension for off-roading. If you take this type of caravan on dirt roads where you’re likely to encounter bumps and potholes, you’re going to have a tough time out there.

That is why it is recommended to invest in a good quality off-road suspension system when you are going to spend a majority of your caravanning time off-road. Let’s take a look below at the various types of caravan suspension systems:

Different Types of Suspension Systems

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of different types of caravan suspension systems, it is important for you to understand exactly what these systems are and why they are necessary for your caravan. 

As you might be aware, the goal of a suspension system is to absorb the bumps and potholes on the road. The suspension system needs to be strong enough to keep everything inside the caravan stable and safe. 

A suspension system primarily consists of a spring and the shock absorber. The spring is elastic and comes into play during compression as well as extension. The compression happens when the vehicle hits a bump and the extension happens when the vehicle hits a pothole in the ground. The springs absorb this energy and transfer it to the shock absorber or damper. 

The goal of a damper is to convert this energy into heat or thermal energy in order to dissipate that energy. This is why dampers or shock absorbers need to be capable of handling a large amount of heat.

Basic Types

The two basic types of suspension systems include a live-axle suspension system and an independent suspension system. The live axle is also known as a solid axle where there is one single rod with a wheel on either end. These live axle suspension systems are typically supported by leaf springs.

Another type of suspension system is the independent suspension system where there are 2 shorter axles that are not interconnected. In short, every wheel is independent and the movement of one wheel does not get transferred to the other wheel. Typically, an independent suspension system offers better ground clearance and better wheel alignment.

Difference Between Off-road On-road Caravan Suspension

Here are the major differences between off-road and on-road caravan suspension:

On-Road Caravan Suspension

On-road caravans are essentially semi-off-road caravans which means they are designed to be taken off the road at times but you can’t go fully off-road with these. This is due to the reason that these are not designed to handle extremely rough trails or conditions. 

The caravan suspension essentially works like your car suspension. In the case of caravans designed for semi-off-road conditions, the spring is usually the typical leaf spring. In the case of smaller trailers, the suspension consists of only the springs and no shock absorbers or dampers are there as the leaf spring also doubles as a damper.

Off-Road Caravan Suspension

Off-road caravan suspension is typically an independent suspension system where each wheel works independently and does not transfer movement to the other wheel. These are perfect for rough terrains as each wheel moves independently. 

As far as the choice of springs in an independent suspension is concerned, most independent suspension systems make use of coil suspensions or airbag suspension. The airbag suspension system allows a lot of flexibility and is capable of handling any kind of terrain. The airbag suspension systems tend to be more expensive compared to coil spring systems.

Things That Really Matter

Now that you are aware of the major differences between on-road and off-road caravan suspension systems, you are probably thinking that all you need to do is get the right suspension system and everything will be fine regardless of the terrain. 

The fact is that regardless of the suspension system you choose, you need to ensure proper weight distribution and solid tuning as, without these, no suspension system will succeed. If you have a heavy trailer where weight isn’t properly distributed, the suspension system won’t be able to do much.

Summary

Overall, an independent suspension system is typically better than a live-axle suspension system but also costs a bit more. It is recommended to get an independent system if you plan to spend a lot of time off-roading.

However, if you plan to stay primarily on the bitumen, the extra expense isn’t really worth it as the live axle leaf spring system usually works fine on the road.

If you are looking for the most reliable caravan suspension in Australia, look no further than ALPHA SUSPENSIONS. 

Please call us today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.

How to Tell if Your Caravan’s Suspension Is Worn Out?

Your caravan suspension takes a beating so that your driving experience can be smooth and enjoyable despite the terrain. Your suspension also provides traction by keeping the wheels on the ground as much as possible. But, how do you tell if your caravan’s suspension is worn out or damaged? Here are some common signs of suspension problems you should be on the lookout for:

1). Oily Shock Absorbers

Experts advise doing a visual inspection of your suspension at regular intervals. This helps you to identify potential issues before they become serious. For instance, if you notice your struts or shock absorbers look oily or greasy, there is a high likelihood they are leaking fluid. This means that they won’t work as well as they should when you need them, so it’s advisable to have them looked at by a professional mechanic.

2). Difficulty When Steering

When your steering becomes hard, especially when driving at low speeds, this could mean that there may be an issue with your suspension systems. Because of the danger of driving when your steering is not functioning properly, it’s best to have your caravan checked by a mechanic as soon as possible.

3). Squatting and/or Rolling, Diving

Does your caravan:

  • Squat backwards (i.e. leans backwards) when you accelerate?
  • Rolls to the side (i.e. leans from side-to-side) when you corner?
  • Nosedive forward (i.e. leans forward) when you brake?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may have a problem with your suspension. You can easily determine whether you have an issue by taking your caravan to a professional mechanic, who will perform a variety of tests to get to the root cause of the issue.

How Tell if  Caravan Suspension Worn Out

4). One Corner Sits Low

If you notice that one corner of your caravan seems to be slightly or significantly lower than the others, there’s a high likelihood that you may have a damaged or worn out spring. You may hear a clunking noise as you drive over potholes or bumps.

To really know for sure, first ensure your tyres are properly inflated. If one corner seems lower than the others, push your entire weight down one side of the caravan and observe how the suspension reacts. A squeaking or creaking noise will confirm that you need to have your suspension checked by a mechanic.

5). Feeling Every Bump

One of the main responsibilities of your suspension is to ensure that you don’t feel any bumps on the road. If you begin to feel every bump you find on the road, this may be a sign that your suspension is worn out and needs to be checked by a mechanic.

To know if your caravan’s suspension is worn out, simply push your weight down your caravan’s rear end and release it. Count the number of times the caravan bounces. If it bounces more than three times, then your suspension system may be worn out or damaged.

6). Pulling to One Side When Driving

If you notice your caravan is pulling to one side when driving, the problem may be your caravan’s suspension or tyres. Tyres need to be properly aligned to ensure a smooth and comfortable ride. Check that your caravan’s tyres as properly inflated. Also, check your tyre treads to see if they are wearing evenly. If everything checks out, the issue may be your suspension system.

Do you see any signs of damage or wear on your control arms, ball joints or shock absorbers? If you’re not sure what you to look for, it’s best to seek the help of a professional mechanic.

If you have any questions about caravan suspensions, please call us at Alpha Suspensions today on 03 7009 2660 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.