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FAQ - Suspension
When building a suspention kit you are going to have to think of many things. First of all you are going to need to make a desition, looks, or performance. You may never acheave both, and if you do, you are luckey. If you are looking at making your car handel the corners better, read on. If you are looking at making your car look cool, go cut your springs, and have a ball.

There are many things that go into building a good suspention package. Some of these parts are, Springs, shock/struts, sway bars, camber plates, hubs, sub frame connectors, heim joints, mustache bars, half shafts, jounce bumpers, bump stops, panhard arms, controll arms, A-arms, bushings, and this list goes on and on depending on what type of suspention you have. All cars can be made to handel the corners well, some better then others. Depending on what you want to spend, I have seen a '68 Camaro beat the hell out of a '98 Viper on Laguna Seca.

Springs are the most common form of suspention mod today. Most people lower their car before they make any other mods to it. With that, the aftermarket companies supply the demand with a miriad of lowering spring kits. The two types of kits are liniar and progressive. They both have their places in our world. A progressive spring is great if you want to lower your car, and retain a plushy ride. They do this by changing the spring rate from the top to bottom of the spring travel. You will have a soft section at the top where your car rides, as you progress to the bottom of your suspention travel your springs will stiffen up, keeping you from bottoming your suspention. These springs tend to cause dangerous sessions of under/oversteer by constantly changing the spring rates as you corner. This change is unpredictable, wich makes the car handel worse then when it was stock. Liniar rate springs are built for those of us that will take a harsh ride over poor cornering abilitys. The liniar rate springs are of a constant rate from top to bottom, making them very predictable in corners. Because the springs are of a constant rate, it makes the manafacturing of them easier, and cheaper, making them cheaper for the consumer. You may not get a super low look with a set of liniar springs, but you will benifit more from them, then you would from a super low set of progressives.

When replaceing your springs to lower your ride height, it is always a good idea to slap in some stiffer struts/shocks with them. Because you are shortning the distance from ride height to bottom, it will take less of a hit to bottom out your suspention. I also reccomend when replaceing your struts/shocks get an adjustable set (Tokico, KYB, Koni, Carrea, etc.) This will allow you to fine tune your suspention for racing, or soften up your ride for round the town drives. The adjustable strut/shocks are alittle more pricy, but well worth the envestment if you are wanting to drive hard and fast.

Jounce bumpers:
aka, "them little rubber things on your struts" They are there for a really important porpose. To keep you from bottoming out your struts completly, wich tends to bend and brake them. If you are going to lower your car, you might also want to modify the Jounce bumpers. Most cars will have them tapered, for the same reasons you have progressive springs. To become harder and harder when you are bottoming out. You are going to want to cut out the smaller/softer section, this will make the bottom outs more harsh, but still keep you from slaming suspention parts.

Bump stops:
aka, "them little rubber things on your frame" These keep your controll arms/A-arms from smacking the frame/chassis of your car. if you lower, get some smaller ones, but MAKE SURE THEY ARE THERE. Metal on metal when you hit a harsh bump is really bad.

Sway bars:
Another simple, and common mod to the suspention. The sway bar is a rod of steel, alu, etc. that connects one side of your suspention, to the other. In the middle it is attached the the chassis, or frame of the car. Fallowing Newton's first law. The weight of your car wants to keep going in a straight line as you corner. This lifts the side of the car closest to the apex of the turn. If you rotate hard enough you will lift the inside tires, and possabily roll over. As your chassis rolls, the swabar fights the motion and pushes up on the outside of the car. Keeping the car flat in the corner, and making it possable to keep all 4 tires on the pavement. The thicker the bar, the more enegery it will withstand, and the flatter the car will remain. When choosing a bar, be sure to choose a good set, front and rear. If your f/r bars are not ballanced, you will cause under/oversteer. A little body roll is good, this keeps the weight on the outside tires, wich will pull you through the corner faster.

Strut tower braces:
aka "strut bars, strut braces, usless cool things, etc." Depending on your chassis, these bars are great mods, or useless. 99% of the bars on the open market are not very effective at what they are entended for. They are ment to connect your strut towers and keep them an equal distance apart while cornering. If you think of your chassis as a U shape. Where the legs of the U are the strut towers, and base the chassis. The strut brace will connect the top, making a square shaped figure. Thid DOES keep the strut towers the same distance apart, but it still changes, remember from HS geometry, a square is a very unstable shape. To make the strut bars more effective, you can place a leg between the bar, and the chassis, before, and below the mounting point. This will help eleminate the tendency to turn that cool square into a diamond in a corner. Even better then that is to connect the strut bar to the fire wall of the engine bay. This will keep the legs of the U from moving side to side, aswell and front to rear. THIS WILL CAUSE MORE UNDERSTEER. It's something you are going to have to tune around. The easies way to counteract that front bar is to install a rear bar. The rear suspention is alittle different then the front. You have changed the U to a H, yet another unstable shape. Best way to stiffent this up is to connect the tops of the H with a strut bar, and a cross bar from one top, to the center of the H. This will make the square formed by the strut bar into two triangles, the most stable of shapes. Then adding a subframe connector to the bottom of the H and the same type of cross bar, will do the same thing. All in all, the strut bars should be one of the last mods you make to a suspention kit. They will only enhance other suspention mods, and will not be a stand alone item.

I could go on all day about building a race ready suspention, but I can't give all my secrets away. If I did, I wouldn't have a job when I get out of the Army If you are wanting to build a completly race ready suspention package, feel free to e-mail me privatly at Hoped I helped someone.

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