There’s one thing I don’t like about this newer generation Isuzu D-Max. And that is the way it rides in factory trim. Especially the performance of the rear leaf springs.
Unladen they have a jarring ride quality, noticeable on speed bumps and on corrugations. While it’s not unexpected for an unladed ute to ride firm around town without a load, by design the factory leaf spring used by Isuzu is a bit of a letdown in my opinion.
You see, Isuzu switched to a leaf pack with fewer leaf springs to save weight back in 2020. Which is all well and good. The problem is, the vehicle has a habit of riding around on the secondary load leaf. Even without much weight in the back. We needed a better option for our Project D-Max. And I believe we’ve found a brilliant solution to this issue.
We also are adding a bit of weight to the project. So need to look at installing a correctly matched spring rate, and also wanted more lift for off-road adventures. The decision to install an aftermarket lift kit was a no-brainer for our needs. So what did we decide to fit to the D-Max?
What’s the story?
The vehicle already has a set of slightly larger-than-stock mud terrain tyres and after-market rims. So we’re ahead of the game there. Based on the amount of weight we’d be carrying we decided a good quality aftermarket suspension lift is going to fit our brief nicely.
So, what suspension kit did we install?
We asked Perry and the team at Pez’s 4×4 Fitouts in Brookvale, who are doing the hard work on this build, to install a full Terrain Tamer lift kit. Complete with parabolic leaf springs. Namely because of the glowing review Unsealed 4×4 contributor Mark Allen gave on the product when fitted to his LandCruiser. Mark has been in the off-road game since I was a kid, so trust his word. Also, I personally haven’t tried them yet, and was keen to experience the parabolic difference – there’s is no better way to learn about a product than to use it.
Why install parabolic springs?
There are loads of reasons, firstly they are lighter than a traditional leaf spring. They are also said to be quieter in operation compared to a traditional leaf pack. What really sold me, was the promise of a more comfortable ride, as well as more wheel articulation when off-road. Now, I love the D-Max, but those are two areas it definitely needed improvement in.
Even though Terrain Tamer’s parabolic leaf springs are lighter, they tell us they are actually stronger too. And will offer less shock load on the vehicle’s components when pushing hard on corrugations. These are all good things, and we look forward to putting them to the test.
How about the front end?
I like to match suspension components from the same manufacturer, as they have been engineered to work as a package. So it was an easy call to install Terrain Tamer suspension in the front of our D-Max as well.
These struts have the option of being shipped out fully assembled, saving time and money in the workshop. However, as Perry and the crew had a spring compressor and a willingness to use it, we had the kit sent out unassembled. The choice is yours, for home DIY installs I’d definitely recommend ordering the pre-assembled struts.
We went with Terrain Tamer’s TGS shock absorber and Smart Coil setup. These are a much beefier component compared to stock, but will perform well for our needs and are not overly complicated – simple is good in a work and play four–wheel drive setup after all.
How hard was the installation?
Perry tells us everything went smoothly with the installation, but he would say that being a mechanical guru with a first-class team. The kit from Terrain Tamer arrived complete, with everything required to do the job. From hardware to bushes to shock absorbers – which doesn’t surprise me, considering Terrain Tamer’s reputation when it comes to offering complete hard part kits.
Essentially the stock rear shock absorbers and leaf springs were thrown in the bin, and the upgraded Terrain Tamer shock absorbers and parabolic leaf springs were slotted straight in.
On the front, being a coil-over strut design, a few more parts had to be unbolted to make installation a breeze. Things like upper control arms and swaybars had to be unbolted. We laughed at the size of the OEM gear coming out before binning these too, then stood back in awe after the new Terrain Tamer parts had been buttoned up. It’s such a great feeling seeing new tough parts being bolted into a four-wheel drive.
How much did the Terrain Tamer suspension cost?
For the complete suspension kit from Terrain Tamer, the cost for components including the parabolic leaf springs, you’re looking at $2838.41. Installation costs will vary from shop to shop, but you can budget between $550 and $750 for labor. Don’t forget to ensure a wheel alignment is performed as well, which usually runs between $80-$100 depending on where you take your vehicle.
For more information on the Terrain Tamer suspension kit fitted to our 2022 Isuzu D-Max, contact: