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We plan to drive from London to Mongolia via Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, etc (Mongol Rally event) in a Suzuki Wagon 1999. We expect to be both on asphalted roads and off-roads.

Suzuki Wagon is a pretty-much "low" car. Thus we are thinking of increasing the clearance. As far as we understand this is typically done using additional "ressorts" or rubber elements. In any case, we hear mixed opinions that this can be both beneficial and harmful.

Are there any general guidelines when it is ok to increase the clearance? And what potential consequences it may have?

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    The usual concerns about rider comfort, longevity, steering feel, tire wear, etc. are probably not a concern during the event you are entering. – cory Mar 27 '17 at 18:40
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    How much do you plan to raise the suspension? Any more than 1" (25mm) I'd be worried that the spring could shift off its seat if the suspension became unloaded while driving. You may also need to get longer shocks to accommodate the additional length between the spring perch and control arm. – MooseLucifer Mar 27 '17 at 18:43
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    My answer below points you to the issues concerned with centre of gravity and roll centre - you need to understand the consequences of changing these. – Solar Mike Mar 27 '17 at 19:16
  • I am sorry for my Russian English guys. What I meant is "increased clearance". – Maksim Sorokin Mar 27 '17 at 20:23
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    What you are doing sounds like a blast! Much like the Baja 1000 done here in North America, with a lot more miles and all kinds of countries to run through. I hope you are safe and have fun :o) – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 27 '17 at 20:37
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What, exactly do you mean by "raising the suspension" : if you add rubber spacers then you change the ride height ie ground clearance, but not the travel - in fact you limit the travel as the thickness of the rubber absorbs part of the travel. If you move the complete suspension unit to increase the hight of the body from the ground, but this will not change the suspension travel. When you change the distance between the body and the ground this will affect the centre of gravity for one and the roll centre for another - changing these will affect the handling characteristics and not in a good way..

  • My interpretation was that OP wanted to place a rubber spacer above or below the spring, not between the coils, thus the spring will be unchanged and will retain its original stoke length. The shock is usually the limiting factor in suspension travel anyways. – MooseLucifer Mar 27 '17 at 18:47
  • If you place a spacer above or below the spring - how does the total length allowed change : simple it doesn't as the shock max length is still the same - assuming a mcpherson strut as an example. – Solar Mike Mar 27 '17 at 18:56
  • @MooseLucifer How and why did you assume I was suggesting placing the rubber spacer "between the coils" ? I was suggesting adding the spacers to change the ride height not limit spring travel... – Solar Mike Mar 27 '17 at 18:57
  • I assumed you were placing the rubber between the coils because that is the only thing that would reduce the total available travel as you stated in your answer. Placing the rubber above or below would retain the same shock length as you mentioned, and would reduce the stroke required to cause the spring to coil bind, but I assume the shock would prevent that before the spring went solid. – MooseLucifer Mar 27 '17 at 19:01
  • If you place a rubber spacer above then the shock can't use that thickness as it can't compress... – Solar Mike Mar 27 '17 at 19:02
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Easiest way would be to get some higher profile tires, if available for your wheel size and if they fit. An inch taller tire gives you 1/2" more clearance, without modifying the suspension.

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This vehicle has coil over struts (in the front at least). There isn't much you can do to the suspension without changing those to a taller setup with completely different springs.

Adding rubber to the existing struts will only cause the strut to be extended more than normal ride height, but this does not facilitate any additional shock/suspension travel. In fact, it will cause it to top out more easily.

In the case you were able to find struts to fit, raising the car changes the other suspension geometry, like steering and brake lines, etc.

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