Suspension Stuff

gusgus Member Posts: 254
A topic to discuss car/truck/van suspension stuff.


  • rdwcdw1rdwcdw1 Member Posts: 7
    today it seems the stiffer the ride the better the suspension. doesnt anybody out their have crappy roads? most of my driving is not hard cornering or to see if i can beat all the other type A personailitys to the mall.I have heard many people talk about the floaty ride on their dad ols or cadiliac did they ever stop to think if their dad changed shocks at least once may they would not float as much.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Good suspension is really a lot more complex than stiffness can actually improve the stiffness of your car/van suspension and completely foul up other interactions of the suspension, concerning spring rates for instance. Lowering a car often screws things up, too. Best thing is to do your science homework and build a complete spring, shock, bushing, sway bar package. It's expensive, but it'll work.

    For those floaty types of cars, a set of Bilstein shocks would give a remarkable improvement for under $500 in overall handling, but it may feel a bit harsh over hard bumps for some drivers. It'll cure carsickness in many cases, too!
  • aljeealjee Member Posts: 6

    I have a 91 Subaru LS legacy Wgn with the air suspension shocks.

    They are now on the *blink*, it appears the front pair are bottomming and the rear appears to be OK.

    When I attempted to get it repair and a local mechanic shop, they could not find any 3rd party replacements...?

    Not gonna to keep the car that much longer, has 102K. Are there non air supension shocks that will fit....?

    thanks in advance for any advise...

  • weslwesl Member Posts: 53
    Talk to your mechanic and find out if you can replace the air shocks with regular gas shocks from a base model Legacy wagon. I know that it works for the rear suspension on a Lincoln Town Car so it may work for you. Good luck, Wes.
  • arazaraz Member Posts: 27
    Let's stir this one up. We have installed
    Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks and Velvet Ride "rubberized" rear shackles on our 96 Dodge pick-up. When not towing a fifth-wheel the "3" setting on the front, and "1" on the rear makes the ride a little more gentle. Biggest gain seemed to be from the shackles, though. The ride height with a load didn't change, and setting the rears to 3-4 feels better.
  • mrimri Member Posts: 7
    What's a general rule-of-thumb for how long
    shocks should last, on say a minivan driven on decent city roads most of the time? Would it
    be similar for a sedan, etc driven under similar conditions?
  • jeffreyjeffrey Member Posts: 17
    Well, mri, no one else has responded, so I'll try. Decades ago, I always felt that front shock absorbers (NOT struts) were worth changing at 20K-miles and rears at 30. I prefer a controlled ride and want the damping that shocks in good condition provide. On an '87 Mustang driven hard, I wore out a set of adjustable Konis and ended up with adjustable Tokicos. I preferred the Ts as they adjust both the compression and rebound whereas the Ks adjust only rebound (or at least they did in '88). Minivans should give the same life as sedans, but the biggest difference is McPherson struts v. tubular shocks. I've found that struts will last perhaps twice as long as shocks, so I'd guess 40K-miles for struts and still 30K-miles for rear shocks. My favorite solution for different driving situations and desires of stiffness is adjustable shocks. I had a set of Rancho 9000s on a Cherokee for about 50K-miles and still had them set on only '3' (of 5 settings). I'm looking now for a set for my new '99 Jeep GC.

    Rule of thumb for worn out shocks/struts--you and someone get one end of your van bouncing lots and then stop pushing. The bounces (oscillations) should stop after 1 complete cycle (= 1 up and then it settles at the nuetral point). If it oscillates beyound 2 half-cycles, the struts/shocks are worthy of replacing (FOR ME).

    Let us know what you did.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    That's a fairly good rule of thumb. A lot of times, strut/shock wear is subjective. Some people don't realize that their shocks and struts are gone until they come to a stop one day and their car makes them seasick with all the up/down/back/forth that it does. Some people can't stand the feel of a car's factory struts/shocks, and want entirely different struts/shocks. A lot of it is in how you perceive the ride, as well as what a mechanic will tell you about your shocks/struts.
  • jeffreyjeffrey Member Posts: 17
    Absolutely right. What's unacceptable for me may be 'nice and smooth' for the next person. I laugh at vehicles that bounce about due to worn dampers--I see some tires literally flutter after getting jolted. Don't they know they're trashing their tires with those wornout dampers? CHOICE (= flexibility) is why I choose adjustable dampers. Not only do they last longer because one can 'twist them up' as they wear, but one can change the settings for different duty, eg trailering (good choice, araz! [post #5]), 4-wheeling, driving on racetracks, etc. On my '95 Cherokee, I set the Rancho 9000s on 2 (front) and 1 (rear) when new, and still had them on only 4 and 3 after 50K-miles! Now if only they'd make them for my '99 JGC!
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    This topic is the closest one to my subject so I'll try it.

    I recently was listening for a noise / vibration in my '95 Civic and at one point turned off the ignition on a slight downhill in a parking lot to listen. I found that I could steer just about as easily as with the engine running and power steering working.

    The question is: Can you disconnect power steering just by removing the belt or the pump or something that simple? Can you adjust the amount of boost up and down?

    The problem with mine is not that it's overboosted, obviously, but it sure inserts a buffer between me and the steering. I'd love to get a more direct-feeling steering, especially if the power assist isn't really helping anything. Maybe it's made to help very weak people parallel park.

    I always thought it seemed like a goofy device for such a tiny car.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    Two thoughts--

    One, make sure your power steering fluid is at the correct level, and that you have no leaks. It seems odd that you should have the same sensation with assist as without.

    Two, if you're really, really serious about trying this, try coasting down a hill from a stop, with the engine off, rather than shutting the engine off midway down the hill (maybe you already did this). I wonder if the assist isn't active for a brief time after the motor is shut off, the same way a brake power booster still has enough vacuum to operate the power brakes once or twice, even when the motor is off.

    I'd also try to find out as much as you can about the system before you try this. Find out how the steering rack and other relevant components will wear without the oil being pumped through them.
  • guitarzanguitarzan Member Posts: 868
    Why am I picturing a guy traversing a steep Sanfranciso-like hill with no power to brakes or steering, and a very frightened look on his face?
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Because you're doing what we in the field of psychology call 'projecting'.

    My little test involved what we in the aeronautic field call a 'shallow dive'. The decline in elevation was barely noticeable; just enough to keep the car rolling.

    I'm not really in either of those fields on a professional level. Mostly I'm just out in left field.
  • funkeponyfunkepony Member Posts: 1
    Just need to know if anyone can direct me in the right direction. I own a mint 86' mercedes 190 E-16v. The rear shocks went out on me the other day. The shocks are hydro self leveling and are very expensive to replace. I need to know if i can replace them with some aftermarket adjustible shock. If not does anyone know where to get cheap benz parts over the net, don't feel like spending over 700. for just 2 shocks!
  • tbritttbritt Member Posts: 1
    Does anyone know of after market struts for a 1997 pathfinder? The factory ones didn't last very long and are $300 each to replace? I would appreciate any advice.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Tbritt, I have found Monroe's premium shocks and struts to be very good. Prices can vary quite a bit from store to store. In my area, Western Auto often has the best price. Suggest you check to see specs and get their toll-free number to verify the part number(s) for your Pathfinder; then shop the stores in your area for the best price. (The part number from Monroe's Corp. Sales Dept. will be valid; the retailers have been known to make mistakes.)

    I agree that $300/ea. for OEM units is excessive. Good luck.
  • pomanpoman Member Posts: 46
    I have a few questions about the bump stops in the struts. Does bump stop required in strut installation at all? How do you adjust the firmness of the strut? Thanks in advance.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Poman, the bump stop is the rubber or polymer piece built into the top of the strut assembly. Leave it out, and you would have a terrific metal-to metal "bang" when your suspension fully compressed .. as well as too much suspension travel which could cause interference, damage to the strut and other parts, and/or loss of control of the car. The firmness is not adjustable on most struts although some of the high-performance (and high cost) aftermarket struts do have a choice of settings. Some of the luxury cars also now have sport suspensions which include shock/strut valving that is remotely selectable by the driver or the suspension-control computer.
  • pomanpoman Member Posts: 46
    Hmm...the dealer didn't installed that on my new struts. I guess the strut is tight and the lowering spring is tight too. I can hardly rock the car up and down. That might be the reason why they didn't add that on there. Thanks for the advice!!
  • shebasheba Member Posts: 3
    I have a 1999 Silverado 4WD SB with firm ride suspension. The truck is like an exercise machine it vibrates so bad. All four tires were replaced, front is aligned properly, new shocks replaced. The truck only has 2000 miles. Any advice,anyone else have the same problems? GM has a problem, but is there a fix?? Thanks.
  • sugardogsugardog Member Posts: 41
    I like to do my own maint if I can. I never replaced struts, but the spring on one broke, so I have to replace at least two, the front two.
    I have a spring compressor. The strut was very easy to remove from the car. I am concerned about the top piece, the manual says a special tool is needed to hold the top piece while the nut is removed. Can this be done with some other tool, or do I need to buy a special tool to do it.
    Also, what is the name of the top piece, is this the 'bearing plate'??
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    The "top piece" is the bearing plate. Be careful to mark it's position before disassembly so you can reassemble it the same way. Also please don't let any spacers or other parts fall out when you lift off the bearing plate.

    It's very important to use the spring compressor per manufacturer's instructions. Improper attachment can result in a very dangerous decompression of the spring. When the spring is properly compressed with the compressor, you can remove the top nut. For most applications you will need another tool to hold the strut's shaft from turning as you loosen the nut. The necessary tool depends on the application but a common arrangement requires the use of a hex (allen) wrench inserted in the end of the shaft.

    If one spring is broken, you can better learn how to do the job by first replacing the spring on the "good" unit. When this spring is compressed sufficiently to permit disassembly, note the dimensions of the compressor because this is the amount you will need to compress the new spring before reassembly.

    By the way, if you may be in need of new struts soon, now is the time to replace them at no additional labor.
  • sugardogsugardog Member Posts: 41
    Thanks a lot for you response. Who says free advise is worthless?

  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Many years ago my friend bought a used 1970 BMW 2002. He liked the handling, but when he went to replace the tires, he decided to change the shocks too. I forget whether he got Konis or Bilsteins, but in either case, he found them a great improvement.

    I tried the same strategy years later on a 1980 Corolla. I got premium tires (actually the same 165/80 Mich XAS's), KYB shocks and slightly shorter springs. Handling was hardly affected at all. The ride was slightly stiffer.

    So the question is, what kind of suspension geometry is worth modifying (that is, what kind is CAPABLE of being improved) and what kind is there no point in bothering with? How can you tell beforehand if a given car will benefit from firmer shocks, firmer and/or lower springs, etc?

    I now have a '95 Civic EX. As we know, lots of kids like to lower them and install expensive parts thatthey make great claims about, but I wonder if any real improvement could come from a mild upgrade of the replaceable components (shocks, tires, springs, etc), or is it a pointless exercise?

    Actually my first resort would be bracing: strut tower braces, front and rear, and the lower rear brace (whose value I don't quite understand yet, but they make one, so maybe it's got a purpose).

    Then I'd consider stiffer anti-roll bars, then shocks, tires, bushings, in pretty much that order. I'd look into springs (VERY slight height decrease, like less than an inch) only after replacing all that other stuff first.

    Another question is about the steering rack. The power-assisted one, like on my car, has a quick-ish ratio, but a dead feel. The unpowered one might have a better feel but it has a much slower ratio. Can I get the best of both worlds by de-powering my present rack? The car is so smal and light that it's easy to steer even when coasting with the ignition off at very low speed.
  • cadillac1cadillac1 Member Posts: 51
    I am probably going to purchase 4 edelbrock shocks
    but I cant seem to be able to see the top bolt for the front shocks in my 1996 Blazer. The back shocks are easy. The front shock are inside of a spring. The top of the shock is covered by the wall that surrounds the tire. I was just wondering if i can Install them my self or will I have to go to a mechanic.I thought I could install them myself because the edelbrock add says if you can change a tire you can change shocks and that if the vehicle is high enough you won't have to jack it up at all.
  • vr6crazyvr6crazy Member Posts: 1
    They really work. You need do your homework. He is what I found out for my car. I have a 98 Jetta GLX VR6. Eibach, springs for my car will in some cases make it look uneven. But my friend who has civic they work great. And most aftermarket tuners recommend these for his car. Jamex same deal. Neuspeed is what i went with. All heard and read was good things about Neuspeed springs, for my car. All I have heard about eibach springs for civics are good things. Basically, just because they make for you car does not mean it is for you car. There are even spring manufacture that make spring to just lower the car. Yeah sure you are going get some better handling, because you are lower to ground. They need to have a higher progressive rate too. So if you go to a higher progressive rate spring, you need a higher progressive shock or strut. If you don't have both the ride can be very bouncey(sp?) All I can say is call sport tuners in your area and around the country. They usually love to talk, because it is of course about cars.
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Thanks, VR6.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    (C13), #26 sounds like pretty sound advice!!

    Suspension nuances, especially when it comes to performance suspension stuff, are not really something I'm familiar with, but I do know that you can open a can of worms with this stuff!! The kids who spend money on this suspension stuff aren't just spending money to say they spend X amount--they want a certain feel (maybe I'm giving them more credit than they're due)!!
  • ddelmarddelmar Member Posts: 1
    I have a 91 Q45 with active suspension. I purchased the extended warranty (100K)from the factory. Over the life of the car the ride became stiffer and stiffer until it rode like a tank. I returned to the dealer several times re: hard ride and was told that this is how the suspension "aged". Naturally, at 103K my suspension system gave out and the repair was >$4,000. The manufacturer has given me no support when it has been documented that the suspension problems began at 70K. Has anyone else had a similar experience and, if so, was there a happy ending? Thanks
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    I cannot cite a parallel experience with Infiniti, but you surely deserve some compensation if the problem is documented from from a time 70% through the warranty. I would list the pertinent details, and request some compensation, in a letter to the zone office. Since the $4000 repair possibly included some normal-wear items such as shock absorbers, I believe you should expect to bear a part of the repair cost.
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