Any thoughts on the best method of beefing up my new vans suspension. I've looked at helper springs, adding a spring, and air shocks. I don't need much but am riding low in the rear and don't know what will happen if I attach a trailer.
I had a 98 Chevy Express 2500 I used for servicework... Loaded to the gills with full rolls of #6 and smaller, MC cable, conduit, boxes, tools, etc... I had 1 ton springs added and a set of Monroe's re-flex shocks and it handled the weight a lot better. I had some pretty stout "E" rated Kelly Safari's on there too.
I managed to pull a trailer with a Bobcat and all the trimmings from Glendale to San Diego and back... The tail end sagged theatrically, but it never felt loose. Passing took a weeks notice at anytime though.
Do you know how much weight you got in the van right now ?? because the way you describing i am little condering that you may be over the limit of the vechile weight limit. if you don't mind telling us what kind of van maybe we can guide ya some idea.
Pas de problme,il marche n'est-ce pas?"(No problem, it works doesn't it?)
Perhaps taking the vehicle to a spring shop and see what they say may be the way to go? FWIW, I have had similar issues like that in the past with personal vehicles and extra weight from natural gas cylinders added when my parents converted 2 of their vehicles. A trip to the spring shop, an extra leaf spring added and the problem was solved.
Like said before go to a spring shop. Go out of your way to find one that specializes in truck springs. Mine was not overweight but the springs were worn out. They customized the springs for my truck. It has 2 more leafs on one side in the rear. I thought the load is balanced between sides but I guess not. I also changed the coil springs in the front to heavy duty. I wished I went with extra heavy duty.
I have weighed my truck a few times to make sure I'm not overloading it. The last time I was about 10K and the GVWR is 12K. So I know I'm still good to put extra equipment, material, and a generator from time to time.
I also put a good set of Monroe truck shocks around. It rides like a Cadillac. Stay away from air shocks. Shocks are not ment to support the weight of a vehicle (not to be confused with struts on cars). They are only to dappen bouncing. With coilover or air shocks you are tring to hold the vehicle up by the shock mounts. That's how you break parts.
Have someone make sure everything is tight on the steering, suspension, & bearings.
I try to get tires with the highest weight rating but am limited to whats available and cost. Make sure you comepare weight rating when tire shopping. The 1st one the tire guy offers may not be the best choice. Ask if they have heavier tires. More plies and heavier weight rating means the sidewalls stay straight not bowed way out under a load. More plys in a tire means it can handle small cuts and punctures without blowing out.
Get an alignment. Have the alignment done with any new parts you need installed. Changing most anything can throw off the alignment. Have the truck loaded like normal with a 1/2 tank of fuel. Weight in the truck affects ride height. Ride height affects alignment. A low ride height will pull the camber in (top of the tires).
Keep in mind trucks have weight ratings for a reason. It is not just how much the spring can hold. Heavier trucks have stronger breaks, rear ends, bearings, sway bar, frame, more lug nuts, rims that hold heavier tires, better engines, stronger tranies, more cooling, etc. An overloaded truck is unsafe.
3/4 Ton (GM 20, 2500, or ford 250) should be the minimum for a loaded electrical truck. I never seen a 1/2 tom truck work out well. I would recomend a 1 Ton unless you don't plan on hauling much.
springs are the way to go, shocks are not meant to hold the vehicle up. Helpers are alright, but if you can afford it have 1 or 2 leaves added to the springs on the truck it is a much better answer. if you havent already bought the van look for one with heavy duty suspension, chevy HD, ford super duty etc. Most of the time these trucks have bigger brakes, auto trans coolers, engine oil coolers, power steering oil coolers, and trailering packages already on them. I have a Chevy 2500HD with 6.0L gas engine, it will pass every thing but a filling station, gets about 10 mpg with an 18 foot trailer carrying a 6000lb generator, but has no trouble going up hill, down hill, or anywhere else. I guess its like a mule if you want it to work you got to feed it. I will buy another one like it when the time comes.
Life is tough, Life is tougher when you are stupid