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As a driver of a large SUV have you noticed that your passengers get car sick? Do you have to pull over to allow even your front-seat passenger to barf? Or perhaps even you start to feel nausea behind the wheel? You aren’t alone. There are a few things associated with larger SUVs, such as Chevy Tahoes and Suburbans, that cause motion sickness. 

1. SUVs make you sick due to vibrating

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia with a trailer
2023 Toyota Sequoia | Toyota

Some people have experienced blinding migraines and feeling sick in SUVs due to the vehicle vibrating. The vibration may stem from the rigid base built to support the chassis. With a rigid base, the bottom of the frame has grooves that may increase the amount that the vehicle vibrates, especially at highway speeds. 

To reduce the amount that vehicles shake or vibrate, some manufacturers, like Chevy, for example, are implementing shear-style body mounts to help stabilize the frame. The mounts are bolted into the frame to reduce compression and rebound.

Similar to a shock absorber, the tension created during compression is released in a controlled manner to provide a smoother ride. 

2. Poor suspension

SUVs are heavier than other vehicles, so they need a responsive suspension to stabilize the body. Some manufacturers believe that more steel to stabilize the body will help reduce vibration and noise in the cab, but they will need strong axle mounts to carry the extra weight. 

A rear-mounted suspension can help absorb impact so you aren’t left bouncing along. Stronger axle mounts and diagonal braces to tie the body to the frame can also help reduce vibration and shaking. 

3. Their high center of gravity 

Ford Expedition | Ford

When you’re in an SUV you tend to sit up higher than other vehicles. This can lead to feeling sick as you feel yourself turning and swaying with the vehicle. A thicker drive shaft column can help reduce vibration for the driver. 

To reduce the amount of vibration your passengers feel and to improve mobility, consider switching to a wider tire. This will improve cornering and performance. It will also hopefully reduce the amount of sway felt by passengers as you turn. 

4. Limited Visibility 

Some SUVs don’t have the best amount of visibility out of the back seat or back windshield. Limited visibility can increase motion sickness because the ability to see that you’re moving helps your body adjust. 

So, with this theory, the bigger the windows are, the better. Consider an SUV with a sunroof and large windows that everyone can see out of. Larger windows and increased visibility may also help you back up more easily and reduce blind spots. 

How to fight SUV motion sickness 

If you have a brand new SUV that has been updated with advanced features for support and stability to reduce vibration but still get car sick, you aren’t out of options. Refer to the following ways to prevent feeling sick.

  1. Be nice to your stomach before traveling. Avoid food and drinks that disagree with your system. Take it easy on alcohol, coffee, sugary beverages, fried food, grease, and spicy items that could upset your tummy. Avoid food with strong odors that may linger in your SUV as well. 
  2. Take an over-the-counter medicine such as Dramamine to settle your stomach. However, as the driver, remember to take the nondrowsy version. 
  3. Have a source of fresh air to cool your body down. Open a window or crank the AC. Even if your fellow passengers get cold, at least your chances of throwing up will be reduced. 
  4. Put down stimulating items such as phones, handheld gaming devices, and books to focus on something outside of the vehicle. Picking an item on the horizon to fixate on can help.