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Old 12-04-2020, 02:49 PM   #1
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Towing limits and Rough roads

I know people want to look up the towing limits of a vehicle and tow an RV to match. But that is limited depending on the type of traveling you do. My 2016 f150, (60k miles) good for about 7000 lbs, towing a Scamp 16’ weighing about half that, towing on an epic road trip through the west, blew a seal in a rear shock. It is always good to have a safety factor built in. Time for some Bilstein shocks, They are easy to change, and cost half of what the dealer wants for stock shock change out.
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Old 12-04-2020, 03:21 PM   #2
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Keep us updated! I've been thinking of some Bilsteins for my F150 as well. I'll be interested to know if they improve your towing experience. The rears will be easy but I'd have to get a shop to do the fronts.
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Old 12-04-2020, 03:29 PM   #3
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F150 fronts

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Originally Posted by ShelbyM View Post
Keep us updated! I've been thinking of some Bilsteins for my F150 as well. I'll be interested to know if they improve your towing experience. The rears will be easy but I'd have to get a shop to do the fronts.
The front are a strut night mare, I will gladly pay some one else to do them when the time comes. The rears can wait until next summer, I drive very little in the winter, and always need to clean the Wisconsin winter off in the spring. The thing to remember about the Bilstein shocks is that they mount "upside down".
https://www.amazon.com/Bilstein-5100...7117257&sr=8-2
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Old 12-04-2020, 04:40 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
I know people want to look up the towing limits of a vehicle and tow an RV to match. But that is limited depending on the type of traveling you do. My 2016 f150, (60k miles) good for about 7000 lbs, towing a Scamp 16’ weighing about half that, towing on an epic road trip through the west, blew a seal in a rear shock. It is always good to have a safety factor built in. Time for some Bilstein shocks, They are easy to change, and cost half of what the dealer wants for stock shock change out.
Do you think the blown shock had something to do with towing your 16?
Prolly not.
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Old 12-04-2020, 06:00 PM   #5
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Well, that's when it happened.

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Do you think the blown shock had something to do with towing your 16?
Prolly not.
I was running about 70 MPH on the interstates and got bounced around a lot. Bridge approaches on corners are especially bad. Drive slower and you will get rear ended with everyone else driving 80+. NOTE THAT STOCK SCAMP TIREs ARE ONLY GOOD FOR 60 MPH!
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Old 12-04-2020, 07:51 PM   #6
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Of course towing cap is different than cargo cap.
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Old 12-04-2020, 07:59 PM   #7
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I like Rancho 9000s myself; I installed a pair on our 4Runner and they are great. They're a bit more than Bilstein 4600s. Rancho is now offering complete front assemblies for not much more than the shock itself, if you don't have a MacPherson strut spring compressor. Our 2016 Silverado has the Z71 package, so OEM (cheap) Ranchos - when those go, I'll probably go with the RS9000. Otherwise, for mixed off/on road, I read that Bilstein 4600 are better than 5100 (which are too stiff). The fronts aren't too bad - you can get a spring compressor pair pretty cheap, and some shops loan them. It's a simple matter to crank down the compressor to pinch a couple of spring coils together, then disasssemble/reassemble the components.
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Old 12-04-2020, 10:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
I know people want to look up the towing limits of a vehicle and tow an RV to match. But that is limited depending on the type of traveling you do. My 2016 f150, (60k miles) good for about 7000 lbs, towing a Scamp 16’ weighing about half that, towing on an epic road trip through the west, blew a seal in a rear shock. It is always good to have a safety factor built in. Time for some Bilstein shocks, They are easy to change, and cost half of what the dealer wants for stock shock change out.
Hard to see how towing could be responsible for seal failure. Unless of course you had some dire towing episode that might be responsible. (I have had a couple in the back country myself in 2020) Sounds like it was probably due to some manufacturing defect, IMO. Or else real cold weather. Not that it really matters. 60K is too soon, I agree on that.

Now for this Bilstein thing. I know that the brand has such cred that it seems they do no wrong. I'll be a lone voice in the forest and say that I think Bilstein is overblown.

I can't speak for trucks, but I had Bilstein shocks all around on my Mazda MX-5 (Miata) for a couple of years. Now, I have high expectations on shock absorber performance for this vehicle and Bilsteins let me down. To get this ride where it should be, I had two alignments done in those two years, and bought a couple of sets of performance tires. (A good four wheel alignment- double wishbones all around- costs a healthy chunk of change here in Alaska.)

The mechanic I work with most (he did the second alignment) said that the shocks were "inconsistent" and "harder than hell to align". He put on some off-brand (Tokico?) shocks on, saying he runs them on most of his Miatas.

Difference was dramatic improvement. I thought the Bilsteins were a good buy, given their name, but I don't think that anymore. Maybe I just got a bad set. But they came in a distant second.

FYI My new (2020) Toyota Tacoma tow came with double wishbones in the front. I did a lift on the truck when new so I could get a bigger selection of tires. Not only is the truck itself a gas to drive, as a tow it corners incredibly well on descent, especially given its mud tires. On ascent, yer not going very fast...
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Old 12-05-2020, 01:18 AM   #9
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Bilsteins are not all they are cracked up to be. Good? Yes. The best for tow vehicles? Absolutely not.

One example of a better shock is the Rancho RS9000 adjustable shocks. These last longer (based on actual personal use) and are adjustable. You can set them up with the twist of a knob to match the situation. And they are velocity sensitive, like the Bilsteins.

One of the reasons shocks don't work as well as we might expect on tow vehicles, beyond the obvious added weight they are controlling, is that the extension and compression velocities are reduced with more mass. Slower to extend, and slower to compress over uneven surfaces. It's harder to control the heavier load. This looks like porpoising, which is a slow extension and compression, which means a softer damping action when we need a stiffer damping action. Good shocks are velocity sensitive, meaning they are softer if they move slower, and stiffer over sharper bumps. This is one of the reasons that adjustable shocks are so good. They can be turned up to very stiff initially, or reduced as needed for lighter trailers. And when set up right, stop porpoising and keep the wheels planted over stutter bumps.

If you don't want adjustable, another very good shock is KYB. These are like Bilsteins, but better for trucks with higher initial damping. Less bottoming, firmer control.

If you insist on Bilsteins, save your receipt so you can get a replacement when they wear out. I put them on my previous truck and they were shot a couple years later. So I bought another set, but sold the truck before I installed them. My new truck was so brutally stiff that I installed the Bilsteins just to soften it up, and sure enough, it did. That's right, i put Bilsteins on to soften the ride, not control it better, and it did soften the ride. Then I put Ranchos on the front and it stopped bottoming so much, but rides very well. My Jeep porpoised terribly over big rolling bumps, and it's a Rubicon that came with Bilsteins. Ranchos fixed that too.
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