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Old 06-17-2015, 08:14 AM   #1
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Suspension Restoration, How Much Improvement

My car currently has 140k miles, and as far as I know, the suspension is stock. I checked the suspension, all the bushings still seem fine, only the infamous clunking from the rear, so I'll replace those trailing arms soon.

Overall, the car drives fine. But I only know how it drives when it's already old, I don't know how it's supposed to drive when new. I've only had the car for the last 2 years and 20k miles.

So I'm looking to restore it back to original ride quality. My question is, how much improvement will I get if I install four new shocks? Like I said, it drives fine to me, no diving or rolling or dipping, no leaks. Is there another way to test the shocks without removing them? I see the bounce test wouldn't work with these heavy springs. But at that mileage, it's hard to believe those shocks are still good. Those shocks are expensive, so I want to be sure about this.

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Old 06-17-2015, 08:20 AM   #2
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They're probably shot. At 72K I replaced everything, as one shock was leaking profusely (and I found another starting to when pulled). Of course it was a perfect excuse to upgrade to M030 ROW

YMMV as my Box has been heavily autocrossed.

The shock oil loses viscosity from heat and wear. Many 'experts' say shocks are gone by 50K and certainly 100. BUT, if it feels good to you, and you see no leaks, why worry?
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Old 06-17-2015, 09:14 AM   #3
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Another aspect of a properly performing shock/strut is that it helps to protect the rest of your suspension. If the shock/strut is not doing it's job, every other part of the suspension is subject to more wear. The below is directly from the KYB website:

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There are two major disadvantages that begin to occur as your shocks (or struts) wear. First, as the shock’s ability to resist wheel & body movement diminishes, it becomes more difficult to control your vehicle. That becomes evident as quick-stopping distances increase and the driver has to compensate for conditions like body roll and nose-diving. The second is increased wear of every other related vehicle component. Since more suspension movement is allowed as the shocks wear, every attached part is subject to additional impacts and wear to those components occurs more quickly. The suspension springs, support arms, bushings, joints and wheel alignment all suffer. That translates to a shorter vehicle life, less vehicle satisfaction and additional repair expenses.
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:28 AM   #4
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Is it worth to replace the rear suspension parts #9 and #17 if you don't replace the shocks? I am currently trying to change the control arms #8 and was wondering about the added value of replacing #9 and #17?
Thanks.

EDIT: Sorry, I don't know how to display a pdf...
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File Type: pdf rear suspension.pdf (252.3 KB, 115 views)
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Old 06-17-2015, 11:15 AM   #5
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EJ- if you take off #9 and #17 from one side and the ball joints are all floppy and are really easy to move around with one finger, they're gonna give out on you sooner than later. The bushings in the other parts of these arms is important to inspect too for gaps and cracks.
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Old 06-17-2015, 12:21 PM   #6
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OK, thanks.
I will check on the ball joints as I swap the control arms.
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Old 06-17-2015, 12:51 PM   #7
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I had 90k on my '97 and I had the clunking. Then some bastard at a garage broke something when attempting an alignment causing my brand new rear tires to go bald in a couple thousand miles. I wasn't sure exactly what was broke, but I heard that at 100k it was time to replace the whole ball of wax...

So we dipped into the 401k and bought the upper and lower arms and the trailing arms. New bushings all around and shocks. I also bought new bearings, but the shop was going to charge me $500 per wheel and I didn't want to dip that deep into my reserves so I passed on that for now.

The difference is night and day. It still drove, what I thought was well, before I did all of this, but it is amazing now. It's been about 500 miles since I did it and I'm still getting used to how tight everything is. And no more clunking!

If you have the financial means, I vote yes.
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Old 06-17-2015, 02:16 PM   #8
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You have to do it eventually & it saves alot of labor to do it all at the same time. Maybe just do the rear 1st.
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Old 06-17-2015, 02:25 PM   #9
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You have to do it eventually & it saves alot of labor to do it all at the same time. Maybe just do the rear 1st.
Agree. When I did the clutch there was no way I was reinstalling old drop links and sway bar bushings or a clunking trailing arm. Didn't do control arms, no clunk.
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:35 PM   #10
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I replaced my OEM suspension at 85K with the ROW M030 Sport suspension and it was like driving a different car. Bumps and ruts that wore my back out from not being absorbed by the suspension were no more. The car became a pleasure to drive again and handled much better.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:34 PM   #11
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You have to do it eventually & it saves alot of labor to do it all at the same time. Maybe just do the rear 1st.
Focusing on a single axle is a great idea and split your cost in two however, you will have to pay two alignments (unless they charge you 1/2 for a single axle)...
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Old 06-17-2015, 05:05 PM   #12
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The difference is night and day. It still drove, what I thought was well, before I did all of this, but it is amazing now. It's been about 500 miles since I did it and I'm still getting used to how tight everything is. And no more clunking!

If you have the financial means, I vote yes.
Makes sense. I recently did the front engine mount, and the difference was night and day too. I was fine with/used to that little vibration in my back, but now I know it's not supposed to be there at all, and the car feels so much nicer.
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Old 06-17-2015, 08:55 PM   #13
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I did it tonight!
Finally got to swap the trailing arms. Didn't take a drive yet, but I am sure it will be nothing but better. The old bushings were totally toasted, and I could hear a small clunk when moving it by hand (I think they were stock with 125K miles...).
Will now look into swapping the wishbones and the other control arms, and then get an alignment.
Thanks to everybody for their advice
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Old 06-17-2015, 08:56 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by hancock1701 View Post
Makes sense. I recently did the front engine mount, and the difference was night and day too. I was fine with/used to that little vibration in my back, but now I know it's not supposed to be there at all, and the car feels so much nicer.
I changed the engine mount too, and I now miss that kick in the butt at every gear shift
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Old 06-18-2015, 03:44 AM   #15
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With every replacement I have never felt that night and day difference
I'm suspecting that I'm doing it early enough before parts are completely worn
65k miles front engine mount - Old was cracked so it was going but notice no difference after

Front suspension 75k (Lower control arms, tie rods inners & outers, Drop links and Sway bar bushings)
Only really feel difference is at hard braking. I don't have that shutter that vibrates up to the steering wheel

My thoughts, waiting past 80-100k on these parts is past their prime

Ahh - sports cars and their sensitive nature
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Old 06-18-2015, 10:42 AM   #16
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120K miles and you're on the same suspension.. you will be stunned at how much better the car will ride with a overhauled suspension. I've always driven cars with modified suspensions so I like to ask passengers who generally drive passenger cars what they think of the plushness over the seams on the highway, broken up concrete on the side roads, etc. When my suspension was new all my friends remarked on the excellent ride quality (while I thought it was a bit mushy). By 70K miles the shocks were toast, when they came off the car and I saw the condition I was embarrassed to have waited that long. They looked like shocks coming off a 30 year old car that was driven through Bosnia. The low center of gravity can fool you over time into thinking that the shocks "aren't that bad" even though they are well past the sell by date. But man is this a costly suspension to overhaul.
Also, do the engine mounts. Makes all the difference. And avoid wheels that weight more than 25lbs. or underinflated tires. The rattles will only increase.
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Old 06-18-2015, 11:29 AM   #17
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"But man is this a costly suspension to overhaul" <--- you can say that again!

I went with used parts on mine for this reason and did the work myself. If I had bought new struts and control arms (all of them) and drop links and paid an indy shop to do the labor I think I'd be well over $4,000.

The car's only worth $7500. It's stupid money to spend if you're not handy and you can't find used parts that aren't worn out.
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:28 PM   #18
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Also, do the engine mounts. Makes all the difference. And avoid wheels that weight more than 25lbs. or underinflated tires. The rattles will only increase.
What mounts are you talking about? The front engine mount and the two on the transmission?
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Old 06-18-2015, 03:28 PM   #19
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"But man is this a costly suspension to overhaul" <--- you can say that again!

I went with used parts on mine for this reason and did the work myself. If I had bought new struts and control arms (all of them) and drop links and paid an indy shop to do the labor I think I'd be well over $4,000.

The car's only worth $7500. It's stupid money to spend if you're not handy and you can't find used parts that aren't worn out.
Agree!
I am not going to spend $800+ on shocks and struts + labor for a 12-year old car...
I might get some used ones if I find a good opportunity but new ones are out of the question.
Looking at wishbones and lower arms now. Doesn't seem too difficult to change, just expect an alignment afterwards.

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