Review (Updated): Roadmaster Active Suspension (RAS) - Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+)
 
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Review (Updated): Roadmaster Active Suspension (RAS)

I'm coming back to update one of my 1st reviews on a suspension product for the Xterra. The RoadMaster Active Rear Suspension (or RAS). This review 1st appeared on ClubXterra, back when I 1st bought the X I did not immediately stumble across this (better) Xterra site.

Link to old review: 2nd Gen - Roadmaster Active Suspension (RAS) - Nissan Xterra Forum

Old Review also quoted below.


Updated Review:

Sadly my love affair with the Roadmaster has come to an end. I can no longer recommend this with rave reviews. I do have some mixed thoughts about the roadmaster and perhaps anyone with a 2nd generation RoadMaster can chime in.

I installed the 1st GEN Roadmaster several months after buying the Xterra new in 2010. I had it on the truck for 6 years and a little over 90,000 miles. In that regard I suppose it doesn't owe me too much.

Recently I have been experiencing a rougher ride and poor handling. Especially from the passenger side rear. I initially thought I was experiencing bottoming out and purchased replacement leaf packs. Upon further investigation I noticed my rear passenger shock (a only 3 year old Bilstein 4600 was covered in oil). Though the shock wasn't entirely bad, I replaced it and when compressing both off the truck there was noticeably more resistance in the new one. Either way, I had new leaf packs so I decided to put those on the truck as well.

As I removed the old packs, I began to see how well (or not so well) the RAS has held up over several Connecticut winters.

The adjustment bolts for tension were rusted and no longer able to be adjusted. The center bolts supplied with the RAS were also sub-par. They rusted into the axle (you'll note in a comparison photo the stock leaf center bolt head vs. the RAS center bolt head is substantially different). These bolts also sheered in half (on both sides) when replacing the old leaf. The RAS itself also snapped at the leaf mount on the passenger side, and become cracked at the driver side.

Overall it was a great product new and helped the Xterra handle some decent loads, it also improved the on-road handling. While I still think its a great design, I do not believe the materials used are up to the task, at least not for New England winters. Perhaps the GEN2 version, which mounts over the leaf rather than in the leaf pack will be more up to the task. On the flip side, its very possible the RAS did extend the life of my leaf pack. At almost 100k, aside from surface rust my originals weren't too bad - where as most users report bottoming out much earlier.

In the end I called up Greg over at PRG (who was great by the way). I was ready to spend much more with him on an OME Dakar pack. He talked me out of it and instead sold me a lightly used stock pack he had from a customer that upgraded and he added a single leaf AAL to it. I thought about adding the RAS to the new leafs, but that decision was made when they broke upon removal.

And (I'll be swallowing some medicine on this one) but I'm going to go with airbags eventually for handling towing.

So in summary:
PROS:
  • Great Design, really improved the handling of the truck and its ability to handle loads
  • GEN2 design may be better than my GEN1
  • The coil spring itself is still in great condition
  • I would recommend this product wholeheartedly for anyone NOT in the salt belt

CONS:
  • Longevity, sub-par center bolts and leaf pack mount
  • Poor grade metals used and the bolts all rusted at the adjustment points. (In fairness I never had to adjust the tension while it was on. And perhaps I could have done some maintenance to it, to ensure the bolts didn't rust. But the product is sold as "set it and forget it".)


Old Review:
Quote:
2nd Gen - Roadmaster Active Suspension (RAS)
First time caller Ė long time reader here.

Anyway I figured Iíd post up some specific information on the RoadMaster Active Suspension kit as it relates to the Nissan Xterra.

This is on a 2010 Nissan Xterra X.

Background:
I wanted something to improve the handling of my Xterra. The Xterra is pretty quick Ė but take that speed into a turn and itís a whole different story. I realize itís a true body on frame SUV and a tall one at that. Itís not meant, nor will it ever handle like a sports car. However, the amount that I needed to slow the vehicle in order to properly navigate turns without body roll was down right annoying / unsafe at times. Especially on my hectic at times commute.

I started looking for something to improve the handling. I looked at beefier shocks, adding a leaf, sway bars, air bags, etc. I then came across the RoadMaster Active Suspension Ė which appeared to be one part (reasonably priced about $300) that did the job of many more components.

Mostly truck guys run these. I was able to find a lot of reviews on the product over at the Titan forums and the Ford / Chevy truck forums.

The Product:
The main site: Roadmaster Active Suspension Kits | Helper Springs | Overload Springs
Stutmasters also has a good video about it: http://www.strutmasters.com/roadmast...el=%22nofollow

I bought from JC Whitney using one of their Summer PROMOs. (If youíre on their email distribution list they have tons of promotions / sales.) Manufacturer model: 1350

JC Whitney didnít have the 2010 Xterra listed Ė I selected a 2009 Xterra.

Installation:
I wonít go into huge detail since instructions are online and itís covered by other forums. It took me and my father a little over 3 hours, but we are pretty meticulous with these types of things. Someone whoís handy could do it in less. The first one took us 2 hours and the second 45 min, so you get the idea. If anyone has any questions Iíd be happy to answer then.

Itís not as easy as, say changing oil or your air filter, but its not as hard as doing a transmission or something drastic. If you can do shocks you can do this.

Review:
Itís seriously a whole new Xterra!

PROS: MUCH MUCH better handling capabilities. It handles more like a normal car. Thereís more confidence in the chassis and greatly reduced body roll. Nose dive in heavy braking is also reduced.

This product will also improve towing capabilities and handling with a load. I have yet to tow anything with it yet.

CONS:
It raises the rear a little over an inch. Not something I was looking for. With my roof rack on parking garage clearances are kinda iffy in certain places.

This product is not for the serious off roader. It will reduce articulation and flex. I use my X for light trail usage, hauling, and as a daily drive so I was fine with this.

Hope this helps anyone interested in the product. This and the superschip has gotten my X exactly where I want it in terms of driving dynamics.

Next up is the friggin stereoÖ
Pictures:
RoadMaster, Center Pins, and Old Leaf Packs


Cracked RAS in-leaf pack mount


Close up of cracks / break


Broked Replacement, longer center pins that came with RAS


Comparison w/stock center pins - not the different head. (Stock on left)


Examples (GEN 1 vs. GEN2). I don't have any original install photos, so these are taken off the internet. I wanted to add these for fairness as I still want to like the RAS, I think its a good idea, hopefully they improved it.

GEN 1 Example. Goes under the axle


Updated GEN2 goes over the leaf U-Bolts

2010 X, Uprev, IMS, Volant w/o powercore, DT Cat Back w/Dynomax VT, JVC KW-NT3HDT, Focal Components, Custom JL Box, JL Amp, Michelin LTX M/S2s on Pathfinder 5 spokes, Road Master Rear Active Suspension
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  Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+) > Xterra Tech Topics > Suspension & Steering

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