Will the stock SUSPENSION on a NEW BT50 handle towing & rough tracks?

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Will the stock SUSPENSION on a NEW BT50 handle towing & rough tracks?

Unread post by axlcorro » February 7th, 2019, 9:51 am

Hi, I've picked up the new 2018 BT50 and would like to know if the factory suspension is ok to tow a 1.5 ton camper trailer and approx 300kgs in the tub on tracks like the GIBB RIVER ROAD, OODNADATTA TRACK, KALUMBURU, and possibly some bumpy side tracks along the way. The BT50 is rated 3500kgs. Cheers and thanks in advance.

Peter Aawen
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Re: Will the stock SUSPENSION on a NEW BT50 handle towing & rough tracks?

Unread post by Peter Aawen » February 7th, 2019, 12:45 pm

While the stock suspension will generally handle anything within it's stated load limits, and is probably 'OK' for what you have in mind, it's almost certainly a compromise set-up that is designed to be 'adequate' across a range of scenarios and is not intended to do any of it all the time or for a long time &/or with a heavy load in the tub AND towing a load as well. There should be some info available from Mazda re how much you need to reduce the towing load limit for 'off roading' and how much more to reduce it to allow for the load you are carrying in the tub! Generally, off roading (& tracks like those you mention) cuts the tow capacity significantly, sometimes by as much as 1/2; while carrying anything in the tub AND Adding in the HITCH/TOW BALL LOAD will further reduce that! So check carefully - 3500kgs towing rating could be cut to a max 1750kgs towing limit off road (or maybe even less!) and that WILL be reduced further by whatever load you have in the tub plus the load on the hitch/towball!!

Furthermore, if you are doing a say, 10,000 km trip loaded & towing like this, you will almost certainly be stressing the factory suspension to & maybe beyond its capability, altho it might be well within its max load limits! That sort of trip means millions of operational cycles on your springs & shocks, and when you add to that the loads you mentioned, it's almost a sure thing that you'll get shock fade & spring sagging if not a failure in one or more of the working suspension components under your vehicle. While outright failure is probably on the extreme end of possibilities, the rest is pretty much the previously mentioned sure thing!! Do you really want to put up with any of that happening somewhere out there while you've got half or more of your trip to go? And then there's that potential for failure too! Don't be complacent, it has happened to some! :ooh:

So I'd suggest looking into upgrading your suspension to cater for those sorts of loads & conditions, bearing in mind that a suspension upgrade WILL NOT NECESSARILY INCREASE YOUR VEHICLES MAX LOAD CAPACITY!! It usually just means that your vehicle can handle loads closer to its max limits under those cvonditions for longer..... and it will mean that your ride will be somewhat firmer/harsher when the vehicle is empty & running around on the good roads once you get back home! Oh, and NO, add on helper style airbags are NOT an excuse to avoid upgrading the suspension, altho they can be very useful & safe to use in a short term situation (ie, a couple of weeks max maybe a few times a year...) But helper style airbags & utes like the BT50 plus towing &/or off-road work of any sort are NOT a highly recommended combination, even with upgraded suspension! Well, not unless you are trying to break the chassis &/or destroy the vehicle!! :eek:

So yeah, the stock suspension should/might be 'OK' for your proposed trip, but it probably won't be comfortable or nice to ride on for the whole trip & you will very likely need to replace some or all of it by the time you get home; unless of course you had to fork out mega $$ to get replacement parts flown out to you so you could do a trackside repair somewhere waaay out there, in the heat & dust, using only the hand tools you have available.... :petrified:

Play smart, upgrade the suspension before you go and find out/stay well below the max load limits for off-roading & towing with a load in the tub! You'll enjoy the trip so much more! ;)
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Les - PK Ranger
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Re: Will the stock SUSPENSION on a NEW BT50 handle towing & rough tracks?

Unread post by Les - PK Ranger » February 7th, 2019, 6:47 pm

What Peter said :D
Mostly wanted to add, besides the upgraded leafs and front suspension, spend as much as you can afford for good quality HD shock absorbers, they get a hammering on most remote WA tracks.
They make a huge difference to your comfort, and reducing the strain on your camper (don't forget to upgrade camper suspension with good shocks too).

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Re: Will the stock SUSPENSION on a NEW BT50 handle towing & rough tracks?

Unread post by hoyks » February 9th, 2019, 12:03 pm

In short, No, the stock springs are only really good for a couple of bales of hay.

I have a '14 BT-50 with an alloy tray (I'm told its around 100kg lighter than the tub) and a slide on camper that all comes in at around 500kg fully loaded up.

I found that loaded up the springs were squashed dead flat and hitting dips in reasonably good roads would have the chassis hitting the bump stops quite regularly, which didn't bode well for an unexpected dip in a crappy road and chassis longevity. Those bent utes you see are generally from hitting a dip, the vehicle suspension compressing, hitting the stops and then the trailer coming into the dip and pushing it down further. Something has to give.

Because I run unloaded a lot and the tray is lighter than the stock tub, I went with Tough Dog Comfort Springs with a 50mm lift. I also continued to run the stock shock adsorbers because they had only done 1500km and I was poor from buying a new ute and budgeting for a trip. For what you are describing the 0-300kg constant load springs might be worth a look.

Now the springs have a much larger range of motion when loaded up and very rarely hit the stops and then only at low speed when crossed up at full articulation.

I put the springs in the back end, the camper on the tray and drove Brisbane-Cape York and all the questionable roads that entails and it did is with no issues.
Shock adsorbers are still doing the job at 120000km, but probably due for replacement. While is probably best practice to fit new ones when you change the springs, I've found these to have done OK and I'm not made of $$.

I put a bull bar on a couple of years later and the front springs required upgrading so the front didn't wallow around, but before that it all worked well with the stock springs and no extra weight on the front. Coil springs are cheap, fitting them is a bit of a pain though.

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Re: Will the stock SUSPENSION on a NEW BT50 handle towing & rough tracks?

Unread post by axlcorro » April 16th, 2019, 8:33 am

a belated thanks for the awsome detailed replies. 89 y/o mum hasnt been well.

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