Coil Spring Lift for 2WD: Ball Joint Spacers to Improve Suspension Geometry

When you add the GoWesty 2WD lifting springs to your Vanagon, you get 1.5" of suspension lift, and a fully progressive system guaranteed never to sag or change. In the front, this creates a challenge with regard to suspension camber. Camber is the angle at which the tire sits in relation to the ground.

A camber angle of 0° means that the tire sits exactly perpendicular to the ground under any loading or steering condition. The Vanagon design is not perfect in this regard, and any suspension lift makes it less perfect. This is due to an increase to the angle on the upper control arm (see photo at right).

Front tires on Vanagons wear out faster on the inside and outside edges, and this is normal to some degree. Increasing the angle of the upper control arm exaggerates camber changes with suspension movement, which can lead to accelerated tire wear. Additionally, optimum front end camber angle adjustment can be very difficult—and, in some cases, impossible. Our new upper ball joint spacer reduces the angle of the upper control arm, thereby alleviating both the tire wear and alignment issues.

Almost all 2WD Vanagons with lifting springs can be aligned properly with the right approach (click here to read more). However, lighter models or lightly loaded vehicles that sit slightly higher can be more challenging. We designed our ball joint spacers to remedy this situation (see photo at left). Every 2WD vehicle with lifting springs will benefit from these spacers. If you have purchased our 2WD lifting springs, we'll send you these spacers on the house (all you have to do is pick up the tab on the postage). It is now standard procedure to include these spacers with every GoWesty 2WD 1.5" lifting spring set at no extra charge.

GoWesty would like to extend our most sincere thanks to Mark Garnick, Riley Hanson-Smith, and Dustin Osterhaus. This team of mechanical engineering students from the University of Washington studied the kinematics of the Vanagon suspension in order to better understand the effects of lifting on suspension geometry. Their in-depth analysis and design suggestions led directly to the development of the GoWesty ball joint spacer—and to their engineering degrees. Excellent work, gentlemen.