Mexican FIX

Greetings to all. I have a 99 2DR 4WD Tahoe LT Sport. The Mexican cobblestones and general road conditions create a tank like ride. I’d like to find out how I can create a luxury grade suspension for the MX road/cobblestone conditions.

I’ve used this Hoe as my primary tow vehicle with 80lb tires. I’m switching them out to the standard LT tire that runs at 42lb. So I’m back to a stock set-up of factory springs and leafs, bilstein shocks and tires. Any advice?

Thanks, Ed

You have two problems. One is that these roads will make any vehicle feel like a tank, not just yours, unless you buy an actual $80,000 luxury vehicle. The other problem is that vehicles as large as your Tahoe don’t usually have independent suspension. They have a single steel beam that controls the suspension of two wheels on each end. I don’t believe that can’t be overcome.

Yes and No. I’ve got the luxury vehicle,a Touareg V10TDI w/4 corner air suspension which worked perfect, but I’m not taking it back to MX.
The Hoe has front independent dual arm wishbone suspension coupled to the front shocks on each side as far as I can see and the solid axel in the back w/ leafs.
I was hoping that someone can offer the right combination of shocks, tires and springs(leafs) as a solution

Unfortunately, there’s not much to do, now that you’re back to normal tire pressures. A Tahoe is not going to handle well if you put a super-soft suspension on it. Some tire might be slightly smoother-riding, but not much.

I will go out on a limb and lable the type of suspension your Tahoe uses in the front as a “SLA” meaning “short long arm (unequal lenght control arms”. I don’t find a suspension that uses two control arms described as “wishbone” just one with the upper described as a wishbone, and not on a truck. This discussion is purely academic with the goal being to correctly state the type of front suspension your truck uses.

If your truck uses coil springs I would suggest air springs to replace the coil springs but I really suspect your truck uses torsion bars.

The important issue to clear up is the spring type (I could dig my book out but I am bed ridden waiting on my time for a spinal fusion, thats why my typing is sometimes off) and if you care too check on what technical name is given too your trucks front suspension. We like technical issues here on CarTalk.

OK, technically the front suspension consists of a UPPER and LOWER CONTROL ARM,separated by a shock absorber, no torsion bar, however there is technically, a STABLIZER BAR, which I think is a front sway bar. This is the 4wd model and there are no springs in the front, just the shock absorbers between the control arms, which are V shaped and that looked like wishbones to me.

If no coil springs, then torsion springs (also called ‘torsion bars’), which are harder to replace.

The Tahoe has a torsion bar front suspension. Wishbone setup will have a coil spring and a shock absorber that are mounted between the upper and lower wishbones

I have a Crown Vic which sees many miles on washboarded Mexican dirt roads. Recommended tire pressure is 35psi. I drop it to 25 when most of my driving will be on these roads. It makes a WORLD of difference. Short drives on paved roads at 50 mph at this pressure is tolerated without any problems…You need to let the tires become part of the suspension if at all possible…Reduced tread wear is not a concern in Mexico. Tires seldom wear out, they blow out long before the tread is gone…

80PSI or even 40PSI is not necessary unless you are carrying a load that demands these high pressures…

Your Tahoe does have torsion bar front suspension. There is no such thing on a modern car or truck with an unsprung suspension. Torsion bars act as springs, but rather than compressing, they twist. They run lengthwise (front to back) on the truck and connect to the frame via a crossmember underneath the front seats, or somewhere thereabouts. It’s hard to do better than a torsion bar suspension for a good ride. You could try air bags in the back to try smoothing things out, but it may not do much for you. Alternatively, you could trade the vehicle in for something more luxury oriented, like a Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade. Those may ride better than your Tahoe.

Forget about the suspension.

Torsion bars simply twist a lot more at any given point per inch of suspension travel than coils, so they “wrap up” quicker. They ride firm, period. And your vehicle simply is not designed to accomodate springs to replace the torsion bars.

Leaf springs designed to carry loads also firm up a lot more quickly per inch of suspension travel. They have to to accomodate the cargo loads without bottoming. The simply ride firm.

However, you might be able to add some softness with aftermarket wheels with larger, lower pressure tires. Perhaps an offroad enthusiast forum or even an offroading shop can make some recommendations. You might have to accept some bounciness in lieu of firmness.