Write up on the replacement of the rear suspension on our 2014 Forester 3051S
Like many we love our 3051 - Just the right size for the two of us, full wall slide gives us plenty of room, etc.
Also like many, the ride performance on trips left a lot to be desired.
- Expansion joints rough
- Frost heaves horrendous
- Wind and cornering sometimes difficult from a handling perspective
The “banging” from the rear suspension does get old after a long day of traveling depending on the roads.
Well, we researched all of the other solutions some have done for quite a while. We initially wanted to keep the cost for improvements low since we were looking to upgrade to a larger coach for retirement. That took a turn when we decided to keep the current coach for retirement.
Based on the change in keeping the coach it opened up another possibility for “fixing” the overall ride.
Did quite a bit of reading on the Liquid Springs suspension upgrade. Out of all the reviews, blogs, etc. that I could find I did not find one that was negative overall.
Based on that reading we expected to see about a 40 to 50 % improvement in the overall ride of the coach with the Liquid Springs installed. Not bad really for just changing the rear suspension.
We reached out and got a quote on the cost to do the install. Their sales rep, Wayne Wells, took the time to go over everything on a few phone calls and was more than happy to answer any questions we had. Not an inexpensive proposition but was worth it to us based on looking to do a lot more traveling when we retire.
So, we pulled the trigger and scheduled the installation at the factory in Lafayette Indiana in March.
For us this was about a 240 mile trip to the factory. We took the scenic route to the factory to drop off the coach. Some decent roads, some two lanes that were less than stellar and a portion of one that about caused motion sickness from the up and down as well as back and forth rocking due to the road.
They had someone meet us there on a Saturday when we dropped off the coach. Along with that one of the employees stopped by later to move the coach into the secured area even though they were technically “closed” for the weekend.
Installation took about four days total. They have a kit for the front on the E450 as well but the we opted for just the rear at this time. Overall the front does not ride too bad just some road vibration in the seats.
Since we had the Firestone Rite Ride air bags they would also be replacing the “jounce bumpers” (I had never heard the term either) - the large rubber items that keep the axle from hitting the frame should the worst happen. When they install the Firestone Rite Rides these are normally removed.
- As it turns out the ones on ours had been relocated onto new plates that were welded in place. One of these was actually cracked so may not have done any good anyhow.
- These were fixed and new pieces installed as part of the overall installation.
So, now everything has been completed and we go to pick up the coach.
They do a walkthrough and a test drive to show you the controls of the system.
- Can raise or lower the coach about 4 inches either way from “normal” ride height. Nice for our sloped drive since we now have quite a bit of clearance between the drive and the levelers with the rear raised up before pulling in. The ride height change is only good below 10 mph and will return to normal at that point. Have been in a few gas stations this would have come in handy as well.
- There are three modes the system can be set for: Sport, Normal, and Comfort. These basically control how quickly the system responds to changing conditions. We have been keeping this in Comfort mode for the best ride overall.
So, how did it all turn out?
Well, I must say that we have been more than impressed to say the least overall with the ride. It is an absolute pleasure to drive now. Just our personal “feeling” but we got more than the 40 - 50 % improvement overall that we read about.
All computer controlled with a small control panel on the dash. The system reacts almost instantly to move the fluid as needed.
Vibration in the front seats was apparently coming from the rear of the coach since it is gone now. That is nice since we were not expecting that.
The road that about caused motion sickness on the way to the factory just felt like a normal road on the way back after the installation. Could tell it was an interesting road but no where near the impact overall with the new suspension in place.
Semis going by either passing of going the other direction on a two lane road - don’t even notice now. Used to be the brace and hang on since you knew you were going to have to compensate for the wind coming off them hitting the coach - that is gone.
Expansion joints now feel about the same as in our toad with a sport suspension.
Round-abouts and sharp curves in the road - the lean is gone since the system keeps everything level while you are making those turns.
The DW just keeps saying “This is outstanding, best thing we could have done”. So not only am I impressed, she is too which is even better
Frost heaves, etc. you can still tell they are there but, the loud bangs we had before are a thing of the past. Honestly feels like hitting those in a car.
Railroad crossings - much nicer going over now with no rocking back and forth, etc. while crossing them.
Even coming out of the driveway the rocking due to having to come out on an angle is also gone, the system just handles cancelling out the motion.
Nowhere near as tired after a long trip now since it is less work to drive.
Took it out camping this past week and it was really nice lowering the rear before leveling - didn’t need nearly as many legos under the jacks before using the auto level. They also didn’t have to lift the coach as far based on the starting point. Lowering the rear puts the mud flaps just about 1/2 inch from ground level for reference.
So, bottom line, we are thoroughly impressed and has been the best upgrade / modification we have done to date.
Again, not an inexpensive proposition but very glad we decided to make the change.