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Discussion Starter #1
Hello anyone,
my 1998 RAV4's suspensions are very stiff, I tried to replace dampers and tires, but the problem is still there. Every little bump on the road can be felt directly on my back, and the problem is especially annoying in the rear axle, - probably because being lighter - the car literally "jumps" causing some instability.
I'm thinking about replacing the springs, but I'd like to hear from other owners how they feel about their RAVs before wasting more money..
Any idea would be highly appreciated, thanks to anyone who would care to answer to this.

Sorry for my English, greetings from Italy!
 

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"Dampers" = "shock absorbers" and/or "struts" here, I think.

Can you locate such that are specifically designed to be "soft" rather than "heavy duty", etc.? And also replace the rubber-like spring and shock/strut pads as they have hardened from age.

But the RAV4 is crossover intended for light off-road use. So a firmer suspension is to be expected.

Maybe a foam pad for your seat might help, or driving a luxury car instead. :)
 

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It depends on what dampers and tyres you have. I fitted BF Goodrich ATs, which ruined the ride. I fitted cheap dampers, KYB excel-g which were also horrible and stiff. I replaced them with KYB gas-a-just, much better.

Also what pressure are you running your tyres at? I slowly reduced my rear pressure slightly, but my tyres are very stiff.

We have recently bought a MINI Cooper, with run flat tyres. The ride is terrible, worse than my RAV4 and hops about on bumps.

Changing the springs won't make any difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your kind responses,
LugNut: I bought a new car, and this is actually what made me realize how rough the RAV is, even if it's not a luxury one ;)

SlimJim16v: my new shock absorbers are indeed KYB excel-g, that might explain why replacing the Boge that were fitted didn't help... I tried different pressures and above 2.2 bars it gets ridicolous, so I tend to keep them below 2.0. I also tried three different tyre types: Pirelli Scorpion, Dunlop grandtrek, Federal Couragia and all behave almost the same. It's good to know that replacing the springs won't make a difference, so I'll save the money.
I guess I'll just have to live with it.
 

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That's 2 problems you have then.

It's well worth fitting the KYB gas-a-just to the back, can be found at a good price on ebay and other places.
Your other problem is your tyre pressures. 1.8 bar (26psi) is correct for 215/70 and 1.7 bar (25psi) for 235/60 for a 2 door.
 

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Sorry to hijack this thread, but since I am also on the market for new shocks and struts I have a relevant question:
Aren't the Gas-a-Just shocks supposed to be firmer than the Excel-G's?
Kayaba markets the Excel-G as an OEM replacement and Gas-a-Just (for the back) and Ultra-SR (for the front) as firmer, performance oriented replacements.
 

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Thanks for asking the question. You've reminded me that I'm a forgetful idiot who's talking rubbish :wall

What actually happened is that I ordered the KYB gas-a-just from an online shop, which was cleverly designed to appear located in England. When they arrived, I opened the box to find some nameless black units, so phoned them up straight away and complained. They told me the KYBs were out of stock and that these were a better damper, at near twice the price. So with the receipt telling me they were actually in Germany, I couldn't be bothered to return them, so fitted them.

After some time convinced they were too hard, I took a gamble that KYBs would be better, so found a good deal on ebay, in England this time, ordered and fitted the gas-a-justs. Wow, what a difference. Not only more comfortable, but also less body roll.

So, I don't know the difference between the excel-g and the gas-a-just. Sorry.

I was so impressed I wanted to fit gas-a-just to the front, but they don't make them. So I fitted the Ultra-SR, not impressed, ride OK, but too much roll for what's supposed to be a performance damper :(
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Mick Hatzo, don't be sorry at all, we're here to exchange ideas, aren't we?
Ok, that's sort of a relief, I bought the 4 KYB excel-g's and fitted only the rear ones, I'm glad to hear that they might actually be OK...
Regarding the tires pressure, I'm kind of reluctant to drop it due to fuel economy and the fact that I seldom use the car, so all the "professionals" insist that pressure should be higher so that the tire won't get deformed by sitting there, but I'll give it a go for sure.
 

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Due to a mishap (it was stolen) with my work van in 2003, I had to use the Rav4 to haul heavy things in the back on a daily basis for two years.
That destroyed the damping properties of the original rear shocks and I could feel them hitting the bump stops too often.
So, I decided to replace all four of them and was advised to upgrade to Ultra SR / Gas-a-Just combo as a more robust option.

Benefits:
It has reduced body roll, the car feels somewhat more capable for speedy drives (or maybe I got better at vigorous driving over the years, I don't know).
The rear just doesn't seem to sag, no matter how much crap I load in the cargo area.
They seem very tough, I have hit some serious potholes and rocks at speed and I haven't noticed oil leakage.
I also haven't witnessed suspension fade, but I rarely drive for more than 300 kilometers any given day so, the oil inside them wouldn't have time to heat up.
Drawbacks:
Noticeable harder ride, even at low speeds on tarmac.
Dirt roads, next to unbearable. At moderate speeds, especially if I don't air down, it feels like the whole car is going to fall apart.

As SlimJim suggested, try the Toyota recommended pressures (26 psi front and rear) to somewhat reduce the bumpy ride.

On a side-note, here is an interesting video about the differences between mono-tube (Ultra SR and Gas-a-Just) and twin-tube (Excel-G) shocks:
"On lighter movements, it has a cushioning effect" my ass...
 
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