In Search of the Perfect Bump Stop
As an experienced off-roader, you’re probably aware of the need to have quality bump stops installed on your vehicle. The trail can be challenging. Distressing. It can turn your fun trip down to a crawl. Proper bump stops will add the last cushion to prevent your suspension from completely bottoming out.
On the other hand, if you’re new to off-roading, you might be asking “What’s a bump stop?”
Okay, let’s start there.
What is a bump stop? Well, some are made of rubber, but most are made of urethane that’s infused with air that forms thousands of microscopic air cells. Usually located on the frame above the axle, they protect the axle and the frame by preventing metal from hitting metal when the suspension bottoms out. All cars and trucks have bump stops installed at the factory.
If it’s your first time going off-road, you’ll find that your vehicle is bottoming out more often than you’re used to. And it won’t take long for you to realize that the rough ride is stressful, not only for you but also for your vehicle.
In order to fix this problem, you will soon be shopping for better bump stops. Depending on the size and weight of your vehicle, you have a few options to choose from. Let’s take a look…
There are basically three different kinds of bump stops on the market: Factory bump stops, Nitrogen Bump Stops and Active Off-Road Bumpstops.
Factory bump stops As we have already pointed out, every vehicle comes with bump stops installed at the factory. Bump stops should always be incorporated in a suspension design to stop metal-to-metal contact of components, prevent leaf springs from flexing too far, and protect shocks from damage.
But factory bump stops are inadequate for off-roaders. Factory stops deliver a harsh jounce when the vehicle bottoms out. That’s because it only takes about 1500 lb. of force for them to quickly bottom out. Of course, this creates poor ride quality and loss of control.
In order to improve the ride and increase control, a different type of bump stop is required.
Advantage: They’re free!
Disadvantage: Poor ride quality and loss of control
Cost: Replacement bump stops run somewhere between $17.50 – $30.00
Nitrogen Bump Stops One type of bump stop that’s become more popular in recent years is the gas-pressurized nitrogen bump stop (often called air bumps).
These cylindrical units consist of a short-stroke shock mechanism that is velocity sensitive. Oil is used inside much like a standard shock. This allows the bump stop to effectively dampen, or slow, the suspension movement through its final inches of travel.
A suspension using air bumps can often run a softer spring rate so the ride is smoother under normal driving conditions. The air bumps provide the progressive end of travel function to supplement the spring rate of the suspension.
Cons: Needs to be maintained
Cost: $400.00 – $700.00
Active Off-Road Bump Stops Timbren’s Aeon® hollow rubber springs can be used as bump stops for off-road vehicles. Much like the Timbren SES helper springs, they install in the same location as the factory bump stops.
But do not confuse the Timbren SES with Active Off-Road Bumpstops. Timbren SES products are meant to help with additional loads. Active Off-Road Bumpstops, on the other hand, are meant to assist when the suspension bottoms out.
Because they’re made of soft rubber with a hollow core, they’re able to soften the harsh ‘jolt’ when the suspension bottoms out.
This increased dampening response helps the driver maintain better control of the vehicle while off-roading.
Pros: No maintenance, easy to install
Cons: No tune-ability
Cost: $250.00 – $375.00
- Factory bump stops prevent metal from hitting metal, but are inadequate for off-roading. They do nothing to soften the harsh jounce when the vehicle bottoms out. As a result, this creates poor ride quality and loss of control.
- Nitrogen Bump Stops progressively increase damping resistance for increased impact control while they also supplement the main spring rate.
- Active Off-Road Bumpstops do everything that its competitors can do, but at a fraction of the price and come with a lifetime warranty.
Which bump stop is right for you? Are you looking for best performance? Or best price? Best warranty? Only you can decide. And as you compare, don’t be fooled into thinking that the best product is the most expensive.
May we suggest Active Off-Road Bumpstops? Even though it’s an alternative product – the new kid on the block – it meets all the criteria you’re looking for in a quality bump stop. Check out their performance, their price and their warranty.
Click below for more information on Active Off-Road Bumpstops.