Caravan Chassis and Suspensions Explained

When people are shopping for caravans, the parts that get the most attention are usually the engine and the interior.

People care about the layout, the amenities, and whether or not the caravan is going to be strong enough to handle the punishment you hand out to it.

However, the chassis and suspension are often overlooked, despite being the most important parts of the vehicle.

Why does the Chassis Matter?

Historically, chassis were made from timber frames with aluminium cladding. Later, we saw a move to composite fibreglass and lighter chassis.

Today, there are more options than ever before, but what is best for your needs?

Even if you have an opinion on the composite vs timber debate, should you be looking at British/European chassis or the more familiar Australian design?

To help you decide, you should, first of all, think about where your caravan will be used.

Australian caravans tend to have a galvanized chassis, because they are exposed to much tougher conditions, in general, than caravans intended for use in a temperate campsite.

Galvanized steel is durable and strong, but it’s also heavy and can add 50kg or more to the weight of the chassis.

Aluminium is corrosion resistant and much lighter than galvanized steel.

This makes it a good choice for people who are looking to get a lightweight, durable and reliable chassis that is also relatively secure.

The choice becomes a balance between price, maintenance, damp-proofing, corrosion resistance, ease of modification (e.g. installing wiring), and security.

Timber is cheap, easy to work with, and comparatively easy to maintain, but it is less strong and requires more maintenance.

Composite and moulded fibreglass is lightweight and waterproof, but since the technology is less mature, at least in terms of building caravans out of it, many early models have problems.

Aluminium is a comparatively mature option, and it is strong, secure and less susceptible to water damage. However, the trade-off is that it is heavier than fibreglass.

Suspension Explained

The suspension is important for both caravans and trailers.

The suspension connects the wheels and brakes to the body of the vehicle and helps to absorb any impact caused by uneven road surfaces.

It helps to keep the handling of the vehicle smooth and makes the vehicle easier to control.

The most common kinds of suspension are:

  • Leaf Spring
  • Independent trailing arm
  • Air Ride
  • Rubber

Leaf spring suspension is one of the older varieties, but it is quite reliable, and it is also cheap and easy to fit.

It’s good for lighter, smaller vehicles and for light-duty cases, but might struggle on rough terrain or with difficult loads.

Leaf springs can offer softer rides but may require more careful maintenance than other types of suspension.

Trailing arm suspension is newer, and has some advantages in that it can help with ground clearance.

It’s expensive compared to leaf spring, however, and there is no transfer of impact from one side of the vehicle to the other.

Air ride suspension gives users control of ride height and even the stiffness of the suspension.

It is expensive, however, and if you want to modify the ride height you need an air compressor to do so.

Independent rubber suspension uses three rubber elements in a tube. This self-dampening suspension is durable and good for lightweight caravans as it is simple and low maintenance.

The right choice of chassis and suspension can make your caravanning experience much more pleasant, from driving and maintenance right through to fuel economy and day to day ease of use.

If you are looking for a reliable, high-quality caravan chassis, then look no further than ARV Chassis & Trailers.

Please call us today on (03) 9111 5367 or message us through our contact page if you want the best caravan chassis in the market.