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Old 07-17-2016, 05:31 PM   #1
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Beat the crap out of me... whining...

Just got back to Wisconsin after driving the beast out to CO and NM for a few weeks, and I have a final plea to make here before I give up and sell this infernal thing...

Driving that SMB rig at 65 mph on our highway system (interstates too) just plain sucks. It beats the crap out of me and constantly feels like it is about to bounce out of control on any given bump (especially overpass bridges in Iowa on I80 - WTF is wrong with you, Iowa???). Between the rocking and ass-end slamming into every bounce, it is a miserable ride, and may even be damaging some of my stuff (e.g. camera gear, the cabinets, etc.) that gets thrown around. (driving slower at 55 mph doesn't seem to matter much, and I can't have a vehicle I have to drive below safe freeway speeds)

It is the original suspension put on the 4x4 rig by SMB West in summer of 2014: Rancho shocks and Betts springs. The tires are BFG All_terrain TA 285/70R17s at ~60psi front / ~70psi rear. Full up weight is somewhere below 9500 lbs, I think (not been weighed, but...)

Is there a fix for such a crappy ride, or is it simply the nature of the beast no matter what other suspension rig I substitute? I've had pickups and a Jeep that rode stiffer than the average family minivan, but those are no comparison to the outright beating this thing gives out. I am almost white-knuckled the whole time driving it, and that's too much.

Any hope, or do I pack it in like a wuss???

P.S. I've noticed this all along, but yesterday's 15 hour beating crawl session across Nebraska and Iowa was so crappy I decided I have to fix it or chuck it...

Rock on,
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Old 07-17-2016, 05:58 PM   #2
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Might wanna talk to Agile Offroad. They have helped dozens of SMB owners with similar issues and with great results. They go by BajaSportsmobile on this forum. Good luck!

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Old 07-17-2016, 05:59 PM   #3
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I had an '06 SMB with stock SMB suspension with the addition of Roadmaster assist springs on the rear. These springs are just to help with stability.

I was able to cruise interstates at 70+mph. Not saying it was necessarily a smooth ride, but a safe, stable ride. IMO, you should be able to do the same.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 07-17-2016, 06:07 PM   #4
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1) Bouncing = not enough dampening from the shocks (Call Agile!)

2) Slamming = Springs too stiff (Agile can probably help with the rear at least.... Might have to call Deaver for the fronts). I modified my rear springs on my own, and added Sulastic Shackles to reduce harshness even more. Plus, they're quite a bit more robust.

3) Harshness = Tires probably overinflated. At 9500 wet, you should probably be closer to 50 front/60 rear, depending on your actual weight bias. Weight the van, and reference an inflation chart. Too much pressure also reduces your contact patch, so road grip and braking can suffer as well.

Fixable? Absolutely. A poor riding and driving van should not be acceptable, and it certainly isn't inherent to to a van.
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Old 07-17-2016, 08:27 PM   #5
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It's really to bad to hear about the lack of ride quality your experiencing. You should never have to deal with that on a new smb, especially for what you pay for a new/used one. It's def not something that is normal or even something you should live with. These rigs are meant to put the miles on and enjoy every mile at the same time. my ujoint rigs are a dream, I have no issue saying they handle and ride better than stock.
I currently have the full Deaver upgrade on its way to see what can be done to my stock smb set up. The guys on the forum that have done it say it's the best upgrade they've done. That was good enough for me to try it.
Bottom line like carringb said, very fixable and very unacceptable.
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Old 07-17-2016, 09:21 PM   #6
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I was in the same boat, but with my Quigley. I hated the ride to the point I was going to sell. I was lucky and got in to see Agile. They made The Yeti a dream to drive and I really enjoy road trips and off-road in it now. Agile can help you out.

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Old 07-17-2016, 09:45 PM   #7
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I have been diagnosing the suspension on my van ever since I got it and am almost there. First thing I did was buy new fox shocks for every corner and ordered the rear 4" springs from UJoint. I felt just swapping those items out made a big difference in how my van felt in terms of stability.

Fox 985-24-009 is what UJoint uses in the rear for 4-6" lifts with stock shock mounting locations on the axle.
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Old 07-17-2016, 11:01 PM   #8
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Don't waste another minute trying to figure this out. Call John at Agile, make an appointment, get your van fixd correctly and enjoy the ride for years to come. It CAN be fixed, and it won't even be that expensive. You'll fall in love with it all over again.
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Old 07-18-2016, 12:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by carringb View Post
3) Harshness = Tires probably overinflated. At 9500 wet, you should probably be closer to 50 front/60 rear, depending on your actual weight bias. Weight the van, and reference an inflation chart. Too much pressure also reduces your contact patch, so road grip and braking can suffer as well.
Absolutely agree with carringb. Adjusting your inflation is the first thing to do before throwing money at it.

I have a Quigley 4WD, and the placard they put in the door frame says inflation should be 55/75 F/R. At that pressure, the van felt like it was driving on ball bearings and would wander all over the road on a straight and level highway above 50 mph. Stopping distances were scary long.

I toyed around with tire pressures for a few trips and found that 50/68 works for me pretty well. The van doesn't dodge left and right over little bumps nearly as much, and I'm comfortable at 75 mph on almost all highways in the dry. Stopping is more predictable and shorter, and I've noticed no difference in gas mileage. Tire wear seems to be very even across the tread after 34K miles.

And it makes it much more relaxing to drive and I can look at the scenery a little bit rather than the road every second.

You'll probably have different PSI settings for your van, but this can be a starting point for you. Once you get your PSI figured out, then go for the suspension alterations.
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Old 07-18-2016, 11:11 AM   #10
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Hi Steve, Great news to hear you made it home. Yup, I've had a few drives just like you describe in my van. Even the wanting to jump off the road at each bridge part. Not enjoyable. For me there hasn't been one fix that was a magic bullet (like springs, shocks, bushings, ball joints, etc) that made it prefect over night. With each improvement I've done it has a been a step closer to the van driving like the Subaru STI (my daily driver). Today it's close and I can drive pretty mindlessly at 70-75 mph. Now my problem is running out of top end gear. Honestly for my own safety, I don't need to go faster at cruse. My recommendation is don't get a divorce just because she is not well, fix it, but it may take a combination of a few things mentioned above to get it the way you wan't it.

I too probably need to talk to Agile Offroad about what's available in Fox Shocks to replace the Bilseins I have that are puking their oil. Deaver installed the Bilseins 6 years ago and were a vast improvement over the worn out Old Man Emus but now they are toast. And, they don't have that many miles on them.

Anyway, glad you made it home and would like to hear more about your Colorado adventure.

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