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7 Camper Van Suspension Upgrades: Which Is Best?

In this post, we discuss several of the most popular camper van suspension upgrades owners can make to improve the quality of their vehicle’s drive handling and ride comfort.

Did you know that Sprinters, Transits, and Promasters alike aren’t manufactured with the intention of being converted into heavy camper vans and taken for heavy-duty off-road adventures? And if you’re like us, you might realize that the original van’s suspension system can’t quite keep up with your adventurous spirit.

Luckily, you can make several suspension upgrades to improve your van’s off-road capabilities substantially.

Whether you’re looking for a low-cost solution that you can easily install yourself or if you have the budget to make more considerable improvements, this post outlines some of the most popular upgrades camper van travelers can make to their vehicle’s suspension system.

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1. SumoSprings

Hands down, SumoSprings provides possibly the best ‘bang for your buck’ if you’re looking to improve the camper’s suspension system. We’ve driven thousands of miles before and after our SumoSprings installation and can tell you that the difference is dramatic.

Comparing a SumoSpring to a factory bump stop in a camper van
SumoSprings compared to factory bump stops, which they replace

SumoSprings replaces your vehicle’s factory bump stops and works to reduce the severity of the jolts and sways your camper van experiences when it travels on rough terrain. Not only that, but we experienced a significant improvement in drivability when traversing across speed bumps and uneven paved roads.

Best of all, you can install SumoSprings yourself, which saves you money by not having to visit an auto shop.

#1 Suspension Pick
SumoSprings (Rear)
$299.00

SumoSprings are our #1 value pick for upgrading a camper van's suspension. They stabilize sway, decrease vibration, and reduce rear-end sag. Best of all, they are easy to install yourself. Click for Ford Transit models.

RAM Promaster (Amazon) Mercedes Sprinter 2500 (Amazon)
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04/07/2024 08:36 am GMT

Learn more: Check out our full SumoSprings review for more details.

  • Cost: $250-450
  • Installation: Self-Install
  • Recommendation: 9.5/10

2. Rear Shocks Upgrade

Replacing the rear shocks is among the most popular camper van suspension upgrades, especially among hardcore off-road enthusiasts. The factory shocks included with the vehicle weren’t made to handle the weight and abuse camper vans incur. But upgrading to higher quality rear shocks helps to reduce side-to-side sway and smooth out the harshness when driving on washboard roads.

Falcon rear shocks for camper van suspension upgrade
Falcon rear shocks

We upgraded to a pair of Fox 2.0 rear shocks, but we’ve read great reviews about the Falcon 2.1 shocks. Best of all, if you purchase these shocks through Van Compass, these shocks can be precisely tuned to the weight of your van for maximum effectiveness.

Lastly, you must visit an auto shop to install these shocks and pay for the installation. Which increases the cost.

  • How To Buy: Van Compass
  • Cost: $375
  • Installation: Mechanic Required
  • Recommendation: 7/10

3. Front Strut Replacement

Upgrading the front struts is another popular camper van suspension upgrade. Just like with the rear shocks, upgraded front struts do a better job supporting heavier camper van weights for the front half of the vehicle and will improve your overall ride and handling.

Bilstein B6 front strut suspension upgrade
Bilstein B6 front strut

However, they’re not as critical as the rear shocks since most of a camper van’s weight is supported by the back half of the vehicle.

In our case, we are still using the factory front struts and have been getting along fine.

But we did install the front SumoSprings (aka CoilSprings), which support our factory front struts. These front SumoSprings: We do recommend them.

  • Manufacturer: Agile / Van Compass
  • Cost: $245
  • Installation: Mechanic Required
  • Recommendation: 5/10

4. Leaf Spring Upgrade

Reinforcing the factory leaf springs is another popular option for those looking to perfect their camper’s suspension system.

SuperSpring Leaf Spring to improve camper van suspension
SuperSpring leaf spring

Several camper van outfitters sell additional leaf springs installed either above or below the original factory leaf springs and provide extra load support. This means your van will experience reduced body rolls and increased vehicle stability.

If your van lost some height due to its heavy load, adding additional leaf springs can help it regain some of that lost clearance.

However, we’re not entirely convinced this is an essential suspension upgrade. It’s nice to have, but these additional leaf springs cost at least $500, and you will need to pay an auto shop to install them.

5. Lift Kit

Retrofitting your camper van with a lift kit is ideal for anyone dreaming of the ultimate off-road adventure.

As the name implies, a lift kit will lift the entire van body about ~1-2”, giving you greater clearance driving across rocky and uneven terrain.

However, it’s essential to know that a lift kit by itself will not raise your entire vehicle. The clearance of the rear differential and shock mounts will remain the same.

Our Opinion: We’re not super big on lift packages since we don’t plan to take our vehicle that far off-road. Lifting the van also adds bulk, decreases fuel economy, and makes getting into and out of the van more difficult.

  • How To Buy: Agile / Van Compass
  • Cost: $900-1500
  • Installation: Mechanic Required
  • Recommendation: 3/10

6. Rear Shock Mounts

We mentioned above that even if you install a lift kit on your vehicle, the clearance of the shock mounts will remain the same. And on our Ford Transit, our rear shock mounts are a pitiful 5” from the ground.

If you want to add ground clearance under your shocks, VanCompass offers an affordable solution to raise your shock mounts by 2” to protect them from harm.

The catch is that to utilize these improved shock mounts, you must also have the 2″ lift kit installed. So, although these shock mounts are relatively affordable, you’ll also have to pay for the life kit.

  • How To Buy: Van Compass
  • Cost: $135 + lift kit
  • Installation: Mechanic Required
  • Recommendation: 7/10

7. All-Terrain Tires

Most people don’t think of the tires as part of the suspension. But replacing your van’s factory tires with quality all-terrain tires helps to support your camper’s heavy load and improve drive performance.

BFGoodrich KO2 Tires Reduce Need For 4x4 For Van Life
Good tires reduce need for a 4×4 for van life

Additionally, purchasing larger tires for your van can help add additional ground clearance under the vehicle.

However, you’ll have to research to know which size tires your vehicle can support. Tires too large may not fit and end up rubbing against your van’s wheel well.

We upgraded our tires to the BFGoodrich KO2 255/70R16 All-Terrain Tire for our Ford Transit. These tires have raised our ground clearance ~0.5”, including raising the clearance under the rear differential and shock mounts.

  • How To Buy: Local Tire Shop
  • Cost: $150-200 per tire
  • Installation: Mechanic Required
  • Recommendation: 8/10

Conclusion

Even if you have modest dreams of taking your vehicle off-road, making even minor suspension upgrades to your camper van can help you experience a markedly improved driving experience.

We’re not sure spending the money on a 2″ lift kit is worth the money for us. We enjoy going off-road but don’t go so far into nature that a lift kit becomes critical.

But we are huge fans of the SumoSpring upgrade. They are relatively low-cost and easy to install yourself. And we saw a noticeable improvement when we began driving with the Sumos installed.

Best of all? They have a lifetime warranty and don’t need to be replaced. Just set it and forget it.

Still not convinced? Check out our SumoSprings review for more.

Please let us know in the comments section below if you have any camper van suspension-related questions.

Happy Traveling!

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