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.
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.
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.
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 SUSPENSION.
Please call us today on 1800 325 742 and get a free quote for any on or off-road caravan suspension requirements you may have or you can leave an inquiry.