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Old 06-06-2009, 05:32 AM   #1
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Upgrading your sway bar drop links

I upgraded to the ROW M030 suspension (shocks, springs, and sways) a few months ago and was not completely happy with the ride/handling. Ride was choppy and turn in and weight transfer wasn't as crisp as I expected. I've figured out why, now: stock drop links on Boxsters and 996s are pieces of crap. They are flimsy and the plastic and rubber parts in them wear quickly leading to much more free play than desired.

In the US about the only adjustable drop links available are overpriced (but very good) items from Tarrett Engineering. I didn't want to drop $500+ for a set for my car, so I searched the Interwebz for a reasonably priced alternative. I found that Design911 in the UK had what looks to be good alternative at a very attractive price -- $62 for the front pair and $81 for the rear plus about $30 in shipping for a total of $173.

Below is a picture which clearly shows the difference between stock and aftermarket drop links. The Design911 links are very strong and fully adjustable.



And here is what they look like installed on the back of a 986S.



I've put about 300 miles on the car with the upgraded drop links and have found an incredible change in feel with perfectly flat cornering as weight instantly transfers to the outside tires. There is no play at all in the new links and more importantly I was able to remove pre-load from the sway bars. My RoW M030 rear bar is rather twisted and I had to set the left side drop link about 1/4" shorter than the right to remove pre-load.

Surprising the ride is vastly improved. The car is much better planted to the road and has far less side-to-side wobble over bumps -- the side-to-side motion was what bothered me about the ride before this upgrade. I'm very surprised that better drop links made such a huge difference.

Design911 sells the drop links by length (in mm), so you need to measure before you order. For a 986 / 986 S the proper ones to order are the two shortest models available -- Front uses the 155 - 205mm size (set to about 195mm; Rear uses the 205 - 255mm units (set to about 210mm).

Hopefully these will prove to be durable and trouble-free as the miles go up, but so far, so good. Well worth a try if you are looking for good quality drop links at a bargain price.

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Last edited by Lucky; 06-08-2009 at 02:15 AM.
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Old 06-06-2009, 10:19 PM   #2
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Can you repost those pics?
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkdefino
Can you repost those pics?
I think I fixed the pics... are they loading now?
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Old 06-08-2009, 12:40 PM   #4
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They look very similar to Tarrett's - so that's a good price. How do you like them?
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Old 06-09-2009, 03:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mylamb
They look very similar to Tarrett's - so that's a good price. How do you like them?
Love 'em. They've transformed my car. I think my 101K mile originals where completely shot (lot's of free play) and made the car feel unstable. It's now solidly planted to the road and very flat through the corners.

The DesignTech links do seem to be very good quality, but only time and miles will reveal their durability. If the heim joint ends do wear, I can always source replacements for just those parts.

At the price, these things are one of the few really good values in the Porsche parts world...
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Old 06-09-2009, 10:40 AM   #6
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Ordered a set today...

...and will let you know how they work out. I was going to do this after I put the larger sway bars on but found them a bit pricey. These are reasonable. I have heard of some failures of the drop links and if you have a look at the stock ones you will see what is tantamount to a large "wire" tying the sway bar in. Looks flimsy as hell and I suppose it is from some reports. I also am experiencing the same 'sloppiness' in cornering and hope this clears it up.

AKL
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Old 06-09-2009, 10:42 AM   #7
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They are NOT like the Tarret's.. and you will soon find out the difference. TRG tried to sell drop links with the same size heim you see in the pics above.. and it doesn't work. Your heims will break. It is just a matter of time. In the front of our cars (and 996's) you have to have X amount of movement in the heim. The heim's you have do not have enough for full lock to lock steering with a shock in full bump. It will snap off at the threads leading into the alum.

It requires a larger heim.. and.. you will learn that there is a HUGE difference in heim manufacturing. The cheap ones rattle and make noise after 100 miles. The expensive ones will never make noise.

Not sure where you got your Tarett pricing.. but.. Rears = $200 Fronts = $275 and with minor effort, he gives out *some* discounts.

Do not cheap out on your suspension. It ranks second behind safety equipment. Break a heim going into turn 9 at Willow Springs and you will be going off at 125mph across the dirt heading for the green monster. BTDT.


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Old 06-13-2009, 12:32 PM   #8
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Thanks for the heads up Brad.

AKL
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Old 06-14-2009, 10:43 AM   #9
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This is what I keep saying to myself when I see cheap *solutions* to problems a lot of us solved 10+ years ago: "there is no free lunch"

I had someone call me the other day asking if I would buy his drop links with heims made in Mexico. I said sure, the machining of the alum is not the expensive part of the equation, it is the good heims and the two spacers on each side of the heim that allow the heim full range of motion. There is a lot of torque on the two spacers (64lbt-ft?) and most snap off the small lip needed to allow the heim full motion when torqued properly. By the time he went through all the numbers and material costs.. he was $20 cheaper than the Tarret's. Not worth it. Why saturate the market space when it is such a small space to begin with?


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Old 06-14-2009, 11:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Roberts
This is what I keep saying to myself when I see cheap *solutions* to problems a lot of us solved 10+ years ago: "there is no free lunch"

I had someone call me the other day asking if I would buy his drop links with heims made in Mexico. I said sure, the machining of the alum is not the expensive part of the equation, it is the good heims and the two spacers on each side of the heim that allow the heim full range of motion. There is a lot of torque on the two spacers (64lbt-ft?) and most snap off the small lip needed to allow the heim full motion when torqued properly. By the time he went through all the numbers and material costs.. he was $20 cheaper than the Tarret's. Not worth it. Why saturate the market space when it is such a small space to begin with?


B

Brad, I wonder why anybody would want to peddle an inferior product that may lead to injury and the following lawsuits? Seems like these links are quite a liability.

Thanks again,

AKL
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Old 06-14-2009, 11:43 AM   #11
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The key is: they will work for people who never track their car or autoX it... or drive 10 seconds off the pace of class leaders in TT's or races.

I instruct people at track events. One of the things I teach is: what the car feels like when a link is broken. I purposely remove a link from the front and have them do a session, then remove a link from the back. Most drivers don't like surprises.

The stock ones break. These will break. Nobody sues Porsche when their plastic ones break (that I'm aware of) and doubt anyone will sue if one of these break.

I highly suggest ANYONE tracking their cars to "test" with and without a link attached. Get used to the feeling so it does not surprise you when one does fail.


B
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Old 06-15-2009, 01:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Roberts
The key is: they will work for people who never track their car or autoX it.
Yup... I just use the Boxster as a street car, so I'm not worrying about breaking these. Up to about 500 miles... no rattles, yet.

The one weak area, in my opinion, with the Design911 links is the spacers. They have very thin walls, so the clamping load that is transferred between the spacer and the hub carrier (at the upper end) or sway bar (at the lower end) is concentrated in a small area. My concern is that this concentrated load will cause wear or deformation to the mild steel sway bar or soft aluminum hub carrier. Having said that, I have experienced no issues yet.

BTW, I started this thread to share this experiment with y'all. If it turns out well and these are durable links... then great. If, after a few hundred more miles, the parts go sour then that is an acceptable outcome as well. We all get a chance to learn from my (poor) choice, then. I'll report back as the miles grow.
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Old 06-15-2009, 01:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Roberts
The key is: they will work for people who never track their car or autoX it... or drive 10 seconds off the pace of class leaders in TT's or races.

I instruct people at track events. One of the things I teach is: what the car feels like when a link is broken. I purposely remove a link from the front and have them do a session, then remove a link from the back. Most drivers don't like surprises.

The stock ones break. These will break. Nobody sues Porsche when their plastic ones break (that I'm aware of) and doubt anyone will sue if one of these break.

I highly suggest ANYONE tracking their cars to "test" with and without a link attached. Get used to the feeling so it does not surprise you when one does fail.


B
Brad -

That sounds like a good experience for a novice driver. Which one feels more severe/uncatchable on a mid-engined car like a Boxster? A missing link at the front or one at the rear?
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Old 07-08-2009, 05:51 PM   #14
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1000 mile update

1000 miles on the cheapo drop links now... still no rattles or unexpected noises of any kind. So far, so good.
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Old 07-08-2009, 06:29 PM   #15
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Awesome... keep us updated. I am following.

Thanks!
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Old 07-26-2009, 09:19 AM   #16
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I'm thinking about trying a set of these drop links. I do not track my car. The question I have is how are they holding up? My biggest concern is the noise factor. I got the cheap so called "OEM" ones off ebay a year and a half ago and they are all bad now and rattling like crazy. But they were the same size front and rear. So do I need different lengths like you said or can I just go with the shorter ones?
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:14 AM   #17
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Question for Brad in the bang for buck dept. I have been thinking that a quaffe LSD, the more expensive drop links and the friction brake kits might be a better upgrade than simply seeking HP & torque, just wondering what mods you would do on a street only unit.
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Old 07-29-2009, 06:00 PM   #18
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205-255 not in stock?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky
I upgraded to the ROW M030 suspension (shocks, springs, and sways) a few months ago and was not completely happy with the ride/handling. Ride was choppy and turn in and weight transfer wasn't as crisp as I expected. I've figured out why, now: stock drop links on Boxsters and 996s are pieces of crap. They are flimsy and the plastic and rubber parts in them wear quickly leading to much more free play than desired.

In the US about the only adjustable drop links available are overpriced (but very good) items from Tarrett Engineering. I didn't want to drop $500+ for a set for my car, so I searched the Interwebz for a reasonably priced alternative. I found that Design911 in the UK had what looks to be good alternative at a very attractive price -- $62 for the front pair and $81 for the rear plus about $30 in shipping for a total of $173.

Below is a picture which clearly shows the difference between stock and aftermarket drop links. The Design911 links are very strong and fully adjustable.



And here is what they look like installed on the back of a 986S.



I've put about 300 miles on the car with the upgraded drop links and have found an incredible change in feel with perfectly flat cornering as weight instantly transfers to the outside tires. There is no play at all in the new links and more importantly I was able to remove pre-load from the sway bars. My RoW M030 rear bar is rather twisted and I had to set the left side drop link about 1/4" shorter than the right to remove pre-load.

Surprising the ride is vastly improved. The car is much better planted to the road and has far less side-to-side wobble over bumps -- the side-to-side motion was what bothered me about the ride before this upgrade. I'm very surprised that better drop links made such a huge difference.

Design911 sells the drop links by length (in mm), so you need to measure before you order. For a 986 / 986 S the proper ones to order are the two shortest models available -- Front uses the 155 - 205mm size (set to about 195mm; Rear uses the 205 - 255mm units (set to about 210mm).

Hopefully these will prove to be durable and trouble-free as the miles go up, but so far, so good. Well worth a try if you are looking for good quality drop links at a bargain price.
Lucky,
I just confirmed with the company they don't have the 205-255.
Could you confirm that's the size you used for the rears?
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Old 08-20-2009, 06:55 PM   #19
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I'm looking at the possiblity of replacing the drop links. my 01 is nearing 100K miles.
in looking at the 986 parts catalogue, the factory drop links are the same for the front and the back. (left/right is different).
what is the difference that requires two different length?
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Old 08-20-2009, 07:32 PM   #20
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Not sure I follow your question? but.. When you go to the GT3 bar up front? it requires shorter length links or the GT3 style "collar" lengths.


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