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Old 11/05/2007, 07:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
Special_K
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Exclamation 10 Steps to Better Handling / Suspension Options, Opinions and Cost Breakdown

MCMike 37 EDIT :

This is a basic starting thread on suspension work/information. The Suspension Options is further down the page.

Please use this only as a starting point for your entrance into the suspension world. Read this and the rest of the threads stuck at the top of this forum, and more importantly, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH by using the "Search This Forum" option at the top right menu bar of the sub-forum.

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You can have the best car in the world, but its worthless if it's surrounded by mushy shocks, crappy tires, and a wonky alignment. Listed below are 10 steps to achieving better handling out of your 3G and just about any other car for that matter. We will start with a totally bone stock car and increase the handling with 10 different parts.

Now bolting on a set of full blown coilovers and fabricating a roll cage would be ideal, but most of us like to drive our cars everyday and have them still feel comfortable. So keep in mind that this list is for those who want streetability and also something that will outhandle on the track.

All data was taken on a closed autocross style course.

Step 1: Bone Stock
Baseline Run time: 33.949 seconds
Change: 0 seconds
Cost: $$$ of car

Starting off with a stock car will let you know how the car handles from the factory. You can find the strong points of the OEM suspension and tires, and the low points. For the 3G being a FWD car and poses a lot of understeer from the factory.

Step 2: Increased air pressure
Time: 33.193 seconds
Change: 0.756 second improvement
Cost: Free

One of the best and cheapest things to do is to change your tire pressures. All it takes is a pump and a little bit of watching the side wall rub to know where your pressures need to be set at. During autocrossing I have found the best combo for me is 42psi in the front and 28.5 in the rear. Everycar is different and every driver drives different. This is something that everyone should play with to find a happy median. *Note* do not drive on these pressures for everyday driving, your tires will wear out extremely quick.

Step 3: Performed Alignment
Time: 32.789 seconds
Change: 0.404 second improvement
Cost: $74.99

Most cars are built anymore with lasers, robots, and other out of this world machines. One thing that is neglected is the alignment from the factory. Some cars are found out of spec right off the trailer. Its amazing the improvement in a car when you get the tires pointed in the right direction. Standard places charge 75 bucks for an alignment.

Step 4: Upsized the wheels
Time: 32.871 seconds
Change: 0.082 second loss
Cost: $1000 or more

Generally speaking, the advantages of a plus size setup include crisper handling as well as the option of running larger brakes. The down side is an increase in rotational mass and also increased vibration and harshness felt from the road. Lap times did not improve, it took less effort to get the car around the course. A lot of slop was removed with the plus size wheel and tire setup. I found that the 17 inch size is a good size for the 3G and the only upgrade I did was to find a lighter wheel. For reference, the stock 3G GT wheel weights in at 23-25 lbs, depending on who you talk to. Find something around 15-17 lbs if you can. Every pound counts when it comes to rotational mass.

Step 5: Upgraded the tires
Time: 31.882 seconds
Change: 0.989 second improvement
Cost: $105 a tire

Larger tires are good, but sticker tires are better. Increasing the performance of the tire along with the contact path is a great improvement. I prefer the Falken Azenis RT-615, but other tires such as the Potenza RE-01R or the new Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 or the Kuhmo Ecsta MX are at the top of the pack when it comes to an extreme summer street tire. Yes you could buy a Hoosier DOT tire, but you really wants to try and drive on those on the streets. A extreme summer street tire is the best of both worlds. Great grip, great looks, frugal, and it works for the street and the track. One can gain a lot of time with a good set of summer tires, as shown by the improvement in time.

Step 6: Added thicker anti-roll bar
Time: 31.362 seconds
Change: 0.520 second improvement
Cost: $160 for the rear sway bar, $40 for new endlinks

With all the previous mods done, it can be noticed that the 3G still has a lot of body roll. Body roll is noted as a load transfer that allows the tire's contact patch to become inconstant through a turn. A thicker anti-roll bar can improve handling without making the ride any stiffer. Its basically a win win situation. The car is still slow to respond due to the stock shocks/springs, but its much easier to get the car to the correct apex. Suspension Techniques make a great rear sway bar for our cars. As of the time of this test, there are no aftermarket endlinks made for the 3G platform. The OEM ones work fine.

Step 7: Dialed in more camber
Time: 31.300 seconds
Change: 0.062 second improvement
Cost: $74.99-$350

Checking the tire temperatures on the inside, middle, and outside show that our stock camber set points are not ideal. The OEM specs yield a 15 degree temperature difference than on the outside. To correct this situation, we need to add some negative camber. As said before standard places will charge around $75 for an alignment, but most places will not add negative camber to a car. Race shops will perform an alignment to your specs, but good race shops charge a pretty penny. If your just the average driver, then Sears is fine for you, but if your looking for more, go to a nice race shop and get it done professionally. Camber bolts are a must, Ingalls makes a great kit for both the front and rear of the 3G. It is possible to achieve up to -2 degrees with the Ingalls kit. I have found the best alignment for my car to be -2 degrees in the front and -2 degress in the rear. Also the toe is set at 1/4" toe out and caster is a 1/4" in. *Note* again, if you drive a lot, my settings will increase tire wear. Time savings arent great, but the crispness once again was increased.

Step 8: Upgraded springs and shocks
Time: 31.244 seconds
Change: 0.056 second improvement
Cost: $250 for springs, $400 for Struts

By this point, we have gained about 2.5 seconds from our improvements. The car is still feeling to soft as the chasis pitched and dived a bit drastically. At this point, the springs/struts are the weak link. Just to review, the springs support the car's weight, while the struts essentially control the movement of those springs. The stock OEM springs were allowing the body to pitch to much, while the OEM struts were allowing those movements to happen to quickly. A proven setup for the 3G is the Eibach Pro-kit/KYB AGX combo used by many. The Eibach springs lower the center of gravity while increasing the spring rate. The KYB AGX struts are adjustable and provide spring control. It is more realisitc to upgrade both at the same time. Why do a job twice. Times did not improve that much, but it is a lot easier to drive the car at the "limit". With this improvement, it uncovered another issue, our contact patch needed something. Wider wheels and tires will help.

Step 9: Wider Wheels and tires
Time: 30.788 seconds
Change: 0.456 second improvement
Cost: $1000+

Why do we care about a bigger contact patch? Easy, a short, wide contact patch provides better grip through the turns. I have found that a 225/45/17 and even a 235/40/17 tire works great. With such a wide tire, you need to upgrade your wheels also. I have found that a 7.5" wide wheel works great for both the 225 and the 235 series tire. An 8" wide wheel would also work. Dont forget to keep in mind the weight of the wider wheel. Remember ROTATIONAL MASS!!! Bigger wheels/tires made the car feel a little slower in the course, but the lap times don't lie. A drop of 1/2 second is a huge savings on a 30 second course.

Step 10: Added strut bars
Time: 30.832 seconds
Change: 0.044 second loss
Cost: $69

The main function of the strut bars is to tie together the tops of the strut housings. One bar handles the two front struts, while the other takes care of the rears. The theory is "boxing" them in increases chassis rigidity and pays off in a faster car. Road Race Engineering makes a great bar, for a very good price and the install is easy. This by far is the best bang for your buck when it comes to strut bars. The stock OEM GT bar is great for the front end. DO NOT CHANGE A THING. While the theory is great, the lap times did not improve. The cars rigidity did improve none the less.

TAKEAWAYS:
Whether your commuting to work/school or carivng up your favorite race track, we all want our 3G's to handle well-file better handling under both performance and safety, as it's easier to avoid a collision when driving a car that perfectly reacts to the driver's every thought.

The good news is that the aftermarket for the 3G and other cars is great. Sometimes its hard to know where to start however. Having a good plan versus just throwing parts onto the car is key. It will not only save you money, but also make your driving experience better. In this case, a handful of common upgrades-some of which were totally free-helped drop our lap times by more than 10 percent.

These steps help change a 3200 pound 3G into a very fun, competent, consistent, dialed in car thats a joy to autocross/roadrace and also drive everyday.

Remember to have fun when you are modding your car. Also keep the racing on the track, where safety people are in place to make sure you have a safe and fun experience.

Kevin (CLIPSE_GT) is not liable for anything that may happen as a result of these steps unless it puts a smile on face.
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Last edited by Special_K; 11/05/2007 at 07:13 PM.
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