Tough Dog suspension problems Explained(+3 Top Issues with Pro Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss problems with the Tough Dog aftermarket suspension products, what the root causes are and Pro-tips on how to deal with the problems.

Top 3 Suspension Problems in the Tough Dog suspension

The 3 most common Tough Dog Suspension Problems are:

  • Bush Failure in Tough Dog 52mm foam cell shock
  • The front Tough Dog shock leaking oil in Nissan Patrol
  • Knocking noise in Nissan Navara 2 inch Lift kit

What is the Tough Dog suspension?

Tough Dog is an Australian aftermarket Suspension supplier that primarily sells Off-Road type of replacement suspension for several SUV manufacturers including Land Rover, Toyota and Nissan among many others.

Tough Dog’s product line consists of Shock Absorbers, Steering, Dampers, Springs, Alignment, Accessories, Upper Control Arms and GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) Upgrade Kits.

What are the most common problems with the Tough Dog Suspension?

The most common problems with the Tough Dog suspension are:

Bush Failure in Tough Dog 52mm foam cell shock

This is on a 1996 Defender 110 with 52mm foam cell shock in the rear suspension. The failure generally happens independent of the loading condition. 

Root Causes for Tough Dog Shock Absorber Bush Failure

  • If you have increased the Rear Leafspring rates, then this might be one of the probable causes. The Tough Dog shock that you chose might have been tuned to the OE specified spring rate.
  • The Land Rover Defender’s Rear Shock Bottom mounting bush is of the compressive fitment type

This type of bushing design accommodates only a limited range of Shock Absorber movement angle, as the rear axles move between Jounce and Rebound. The shock absorber bottom bracket would be designed so that there is equal angle of movement in Jounce and Rebound around the suspension standing position.

  • If you have installed a lift-kit Spring, then the Shock Absorber’s range of ovemement angle would now be different to the original set-up. Therefore, it is now likely that the bushes get excessively worn on only one side and therefore fail early.

PRO-TIPS for Tough Dog Shock Absorber Bush

  • Get advice from a Tough Dog technical rep on how to match the shock tuning to an upgraded spring
  • Try to get more durable material bushings like Polyurethane that can replace the standard ones
  • The mounting uses a combination of two donut shaped bushings. You could try a combination of rubber on the compression side, polyurethane on rebound
  • Modify the Shock mounting bracket to change the mounting angle according to the new installation angle because of the lift-kit

The front Tough Dog shock leaking oil in Nissan Patrol

The Nissan Patrol’s front Tough Dog shock started leaking oil at 10K kms

Root-Causes for Tough Dog shock leak

  • Check the load rating for the springs in the front suspension
  • If the Springs rates are too high compared to the Weight at the tire, the natural frequency of the suspension goes up
  • The shocks tuning would have been set by Tough Dog to match a lower suspension frequency. So using the shocks in this way could lead to Shocks getting over-worked and overheated

PRO-TIPS for Tough Dog shock leak

  • Consult with the Tough Dog technical person and ask for a shock that is suitable to your particular Spring Rate.
  • If possible, within your recommended settings, try the ‘Adjustable’ Shocks available from Tough Dog, where you get 9 different settings adjustable to around 100% of the lowest damping value.

Knocking noise in Nissan Navara Lift kit

The Shock Absorbers are of foam cell type preassembled in the front struts of this lift kit.

Knocking noise in the front end in Rebound especially going over Speed Bumps.

Root Causes for Knocking noise in Nissan Navara Lift kit

  • The Upper Control Arm (UCA) gets really close to the spring in rebound
  • With a lift-kit, the suspension travel would have increased, thereby allowing the UCA to drop further and also get closer to the spring.
  • In the new extreme rebound position, the spring contacting the UCA is the most probable cause for the knocking noise

PRO-TIPS for Knocking noise in Nissan Navara Lift kit

  • Try different shaped UCA that is thinner at the position where it gets near to the spring
  • The spring top mounting bracket will need to move further inwards towards the frame in order to clear the UCA

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed problems with the Tough Dog aftermarket suspension products, what the root causes are and Pro-tips on how to deal with the problems.

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