By David Wilson
It’s one of the perks of my day job that I get to share 4WD journeys with neat people and Harry and Kathleen are no exception. I first met them back in August of 2022 at an Isuzu I-Venture Club event I was running in the Lancelin sand dunes in Western Australia where they got their first taste of driving their new X-Terrain in the wild.
They followed that up with another IVC in the Avon Valley at Moondyne in August of 2023 and in the space of that year they got some spending done.
Now, going on a splurge of accessories for that shiny new truck can be a conflicted journey because there’s so much “advice” out there. Advice mostly driven by profit rather than fact.
Yes, I’m one of those advisors, but luckily one who’s in possession of some facts. After thirty years of professionally observing what makes a 4WD tick on and off-road, I know the two biggest improvements you can make to a bog-standard 4WD are suspension and tyres.
Because these things are dumbed-down for the ninety-percenters who don’t go bush.
In the classroom I talk about these things, because in my classroom are the ten percenters who do go bush.
There are folk out there I call the isolationists, those who’ll go into bat and defend their stock-standard 4WD, because they’ve never experienced the difference that a couple of simple changes can make. Ignorance is bliss.
To get the full value of a 4WD, spend the money.
Harry and Kathleen aren’t isolationists and can attest to that real 4WD value because their D-MAX is now properly ready to go on tour.
The evolution of their D-MAXs new-found competence commenced in a roundabout way with a visit to ARB for some frontal protection and a pair of driving lights.
I’ll say right now that I’ve had a lot of time for ARB’s engineering over the years and plenty of my vehicles have sported their bar-work, suspension, canopies and lights.
They make good kit and the bulbar that Harry and Kathleen opted for offers animal strike protection that is likely the best. It also makes a great place to plonk a pair of ARB’s Solis driving lights, something that I personally run on my D-MAX and know makes a world of difference on the inevitable night-time journeys you’ll make when you’re out and about.
After the bar was installed, the couple decided a trip to South Australia for a holiday was in order and whilst they were there, organise to get the suspension changed out to a Loaded 4X4 kit with our Dynamic Tune valving.
Now, we could have organised an installation in their hometown of Perth, but a road trip across the Bight to see the Bunda Cliffs en-route makes much more sense and they landed at one of our Adelaide installation sites, Tyrepower Blackwood.
With a loan car at their disposal, Harry and Kathleen had an afternoon of exploring Adelaide up their sleeve, and among it all an important phone call received.
Much is made of new D-MAXs suffering an inordinate rash of wheel alignment issues and premature tyre wear. Hasn’t been my experience, but the forums are awash with plenty of complaint.
Receiving a phone call from Tyrepower telling Harry that his front tyres were toast wasn’t what he was expecting but add a bunch of weight to the front of the vehicle in the form of a new bulbar and the geometry will have been changed. Travelling Perth to Adelaide on a 2,700-kilometre journey with the front-end crook, will get you the result the forums are talking about.
Seeing canvas in a tyre’s shoulders isn’t a good look. New tyres needed.
Luckily Tyrepower Blackwood know my customers love making the change to Toyo’s Open Country range of light-truck tyres and with that great advice, Harry and Kathleen opted for Toyo’s new All-Terrain 3 and fitted to the original rims with LT265/60R18 119S versions of the AT3s with a healthy bump in the load index.
Load index is the measurement of carrying capacity and this number matters, the more the merrier, as it’s a good barometer for tyre strength and therefore puncture-resistance and durability.
But back to the suspension.
My Loaded4X4 business partner, Steane, who’ll you hear mentioned in the accompanying video, is a pedant (and I know he’s not going to hate me saying that) when it comes to suspension tune. He’s the brains behind getting our Dynamic Tune valving just right, the result of many hours of R&D to achieve a state of tune that is the sweet spot between too bloody hard and too bloody soft. There’s no remote reservoirs, they simply aren’t needed in road going cars, and there’s no adjusters to lock solid with corrosion and/or mud and dust, not that they really adjust all that much anyway. The suspension world is full of ever more complicated products, some of it designed to perform better in the brochure, than in real life.
I run the Loaded 4X4 40mm lift kit with Dynamic Tune valving in my 2021 D-MAX and I can tell you that it’s the best ride by a country mile. I know that because I’m constantly jumping in and out of D-MAXs and MU-Xs fitted with all sorts of aftermarket kits and the Loaded 4X4 setup offers a ride quality the others don’t seem to be able to match.
Here’s a few links to Loaded4X4 products for the Isuzu D-MAX and MU-X and an article about the first 70k kms of driving in my current D-MAX. Harry and Kathleen's short interview video is below, and below that is a short interview with Gillian and Tom, about their D-MAX and its Loaded 4X4 lift kit.
Harry and Kathleen: 2021 Isuzu D-MAX 40mm lift kit review
Gillian & Tom: 2022 Isuzu D-MAX 40mm lift kit review