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Old 06-30-2012, 08:13   #1 (permalink)
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2001 Windstar rear suspension questions

We have a 2001 Windstar with a rear entry wheelchair conversion, 225,XXX miles. A year ago, the van was bottoming out too much, so we ordered heavier, progressive springs from the wheelchair conversion company and installed them. I don't know if the shocks were replaced at that time.

Now, customers are complaining that the ride is too harsh. (After a year, and they are just now complaining? Odd, but that's what the driver reports)

The W/C company said that this is the only other spring available from them, so I'm trying to figure out what would make Goldilocks happy here. I have talked to the parts department at our local Ford Dealer and they didn't have anything available other than a phone number of a custom spring place. Calling them was more frustrating than helpful.

So I'm trying to see if anyone here has any ideas. Do different trims levels of the van have different springs? Maybe a combination of softer (or stock) springs and heavier shocks would get us there?

Airbags may be an option, but we will only have this rig for a few more years and the expense (if they can be found) is probably more than the pay-off for short term use. Does anyone have some suggestion on helping find Goldilocks?

Thanks
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Old 07-16-2012, 20:07   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 2001 Windstar rear suspension questions

I'd go with a softer shock if the heavier springs keep the vehicle from bottoming out. Air suspension won't help much, as that can bring with it extra problems on vehicles that were originally designed for it. I have a Sprinter one ton van with air suspension on the back, on top of the stock suspension already in place and anywhere above 20psi unloaded really stiffens the ride considerably. A good compressor that is able to maintain pressure (and at least a 2gal air tank) will have to reside in the vehicle as under hood space is minimal. This will create noise, no matter where it is placed. I tried a frame mount, but after one winter, I found myself replacing cracked air lines (mostly from the salt that doesn't agree with the reinforced rubber lines). Placing the compressor and tank in the rear would be the best option, and people will complain - even the driver. Big rigs and the like have a belt driven compressor attached to the engine, which in itself is loud so the driver is used to it.

If it ain't broke now, don't fix it. The expense won't pay for itself in 2-3 years. Adding 1000lb constantly to the back of any van is a content of strain. Changing suspension components won't do any good other than using things you are now to keep proper ground clearance levels.
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Old 07-16-2012, 20:24   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 2001 Windstar rear suspension questions

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Originally Posted by 360ci View Post
I'd go with a softer shock if the heavier springs keep the vehicle from bottoming out. Air suspension won't help much, as that can bring with it extra problems on vehicles that were originally designed for it. I have a Sprinter one ton van with air suspension on the back, on top of the stock suspension already in place and anywhere above 20psi unloaded really stiffens the ride considerably. A good compressor that is able to maintain pressure (and at least a 2gal air tank) will have to reside in the vehicle as under hood space is minimal. This will create noise, no matter where it is placed. I tried a frame mount, but after one winter, I found myself replacing cracked air lines (mostly from the salt that doesn't agree with the reinforced rubber lines). Placing the compressor and tank in the rear would be the best option, and people will complain - even the driver. Big rigs and the like have a belt driven compressor attached to the engine, which in itself is loud so the driver is used to it.

If it ain't broke now, don't fix it. The expense won't pay for itself in 2-3 years. Adding 1000lb constantly to the back of any van is a content of strain. Changing suspension components won't do any good other than using things you are now to keep proper ground clearance levels.
Well, that will give me and the boss something to think about. Here's something else: What if we were able to cut the spring down some? The back end is already jacked up from the longer springs, so I'm not worried about dropping the height too much. the problem of course is that once cut, we would be SOL if we go too far or it just doesn't work. And what about shock height? Would that cause troubles? Hmmm I'm probably over-thinking this as usual.
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Old 07-16-2012, 20:37   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 2001 Windstar rear suspension questions

Just an idea. You could always retry the original coil springs with some coil-over helper shocks. Cutting down a spring will not work. They are tapered at the ends.

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Old 07-16-2012, 20:48   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 2001 Windstar rear suspension questions

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Just an idea. You could always retry the original coil springs with some coil-over helper shocks. Cutting down a spring will not work. They are tapered at the ends.

That's a good idea. Do you have any stock springs around? The ones on it originally must have been longer to give it it's height. I'll talk tot he boss again with this idea and see what his thoughts are.

My concern would be figuring out what exactly is needed.
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Old 07-16-2012, 20:56   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 2001 Windstar rear suspension questions

I was just thinking if you still had the stock springs. If you're going to have to buy new springs just to try the coil over shock idea, it could end up being a waste of $$. You might consider 360's post above and buy some softer shocks and see if it cushions the ride. Softer shocks are usually the cheap ones.
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