I installed Old Man Emu Dakar leaf packs a few years ago. Their initial two-inches of lift slowly settled into an inch. So when I put the OME coilovers up front last year, I added Nisstec shackles to get the inch back and resume the stock rake of one and half inches. And now with the maXTERRA bumper added — I’ve lost a quarter inch again (with the potential for more… those tire swing arms are hell on the rear suspension). But the Dakars are still in good shape overall. So rather than replace the entire leaf pack, I was looking for an alternate solution to beef the carrying capacity back-up without making the X ride like a dump truck.
My first idea was to add the heavy-duty leaf for my Dakar pack into the existing pack. They’re cheap (about $60), but labor intensive to install. The real downsides though are that reviews say they make the X ride terrible and that they too flatten out… leaving you right where you were before the whole mess.
Which led me to the Hellwigs. Reviews everywhere rave about these helper springs, they’re cheap ($60), and go on in about ten minutes. My biggest concern before ordering them was whether they would fit. So I’m happy to report that yes, Hellwig 550 EZ helper springs indeed fit the OME Dakar leaf pack for the second gen Xterra.
I did a quick shot of black spray paint to all the hardware before installing. That shiny zinc coat attracts too much attention. You also need to remove the top bolt of the military wrap on the Dakars to get the Hellwigs to fit. All you need there is a 9/16″ wrench and socket.
The part I really like about the Hellwigs so far is that they’re adjustable. Xterra’s are known to sag on the driver’s side because both the gas tank and driver are on that side adding additional weight. But Sebastian is special and he’s always sat about a half-inch lower on the passenger side. No idea why. But with the Hellwigs I was able to simply adjust the passenger side leafs to a higher tension — so now he sits level on all four corners.