As our crew vehicle, the 2008 HiLux in the shed has seen some of Australia’s most well-known back country tracks. And, because of this, it was recently in need of some love and attention.
One shock was blown, two required new bushes and the fourth had outer casing damage. We thought we had done a bit of hurt when we struck a washout in the Flinders on its last outing – we were right.
So we started doing some research for a set of Aussie-made replacements that we could trust to get our rig and Echo 4x4 camper trailer safely through their next major outing. 5500km from the ACT through Murray Sunset country, Kangaroo Island, the Limestone Coast, Otways and back through the Victorian and NSW Alps on every back road we could find was on the agenda.
We asked around a few trusted sources and discussed our plans. We settled on the new Outback Series from OzTec Suspension – OzTec is a trading name under GSA Wholesale Suspension. GSA is owned and operated by George Shepheard, a former engineer and team manager to Peter Brock and Jim Richards. Over a number of years, George was team manager for the Holden Dealer Rally Team, Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia and Volvo Racing, so his pedigree is self-evident.
Capital Steering & Suspension is Canberra’s suspension specialist.
Supporting OzTec’s 4WD and light commercial suspension program, Jamie MacFarlane is the research and development manager. Jamie has more than 30 years of suspension industry experience and is a rally driver himself. So he knows both the technical and delivery side of suspension.
With this team, OzTec is able to research, develop, engineer and test its range of shock absorbers entirely in Australia. Testing involves more than just computer stress evaluations. OzTec physically road-tests each model across a range of road conditions prior to launch, which differentiates OzTec from many foreign imports.
The product itself is made from a mixture of Australian-made and quality imported components. The imported elements come from reputed companies like Cofap (Brazil) and ZF Sachs (Germany). Closer to home, OzTec Outback bushes are Australian-made, owned and designed. They are made from polyurethane for longer life and positive location.
Key features of the Outback shocks include a 64mm diameter body, 40mm piston and 20mm piston rod, and because the HiLux has a set of aftermarket slave springs, installing shock absorbers of this size was a bit of a squeeze.
A few years of bush use can leave your shocks looking worse for wear.
The U-bolt and flange of the slave spring interfered with installation until it was moved 10mm (still within tolerances). This process added only 10 minutes to the installation time and wouldn’t be an issue for vehicles with factory or full-spring upgrades.
ON AND OFF THE ROAD
Since fitting the OzTecs, the ride has clearly improved – it’s firm but not at all uncomfortable. With a full load, the vehicle sits firmly on the road and handles well on both sealed and unsealed surfaces, including corrugations, sand and back tracks.
Notably, every time we have stopped the vehicle to check, we have been able to hold the Outback shocks with bare hands. This is important, as the prime thing a shock absorber does is transfer kinetic energy to heat energy and disperse it. With a robust construction and large oil volume, the Outback Series stays cool, which promises better damping control over a longer life span.
OzTec has marketed shock absorbers in Queensland since 2004 and went nationwide with stockists in 2014. Until release of its Outback Series in March, 2015, OzTec was known as a general purpose 4x4 and light commercial shock absorber manufacturer. However, with the introduction of the Outback model, OzTec has found itself a broader position within the recreational and professional four-wheel drive sector.
Aftermarket helper springs caused a hiccup during installation, but just needed the U-bolts moved.
The model of OzTec shocks fitted to the 2008 HiLux is good-to-go for factory spec vehicles, as well as those with up to a 2in lift. Other models are available, so it’s best to check your local stockist for fitting options for your specific rig.
OzTec also offer complete suspension kits for many vehicles, and pre-assembled front shock and coil units for HiLux, Challenger, Colorado, BT-50, D-Max, MU-X, Navara, Pajero, Triton and Ranger. OzTec shock absorbers come with a limited life-time warranty (fair wear and tear).
We like the Outback shockies and reckon the camper trailer will also get a set before too long. As for those factory-fitted springs on the HiLux, well they might be replaced with some OzTec upgrades in the near future, too.
Available from: www.oztecsuspension.com.au
RRP: $600 (front and rear shocks)
We say: Good value; Aussie-made; effective.
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