BADASS of New England

An automobile club for the enthusiast who enjoys the last of the big GM cars. The rear wheel drive B and D bodys. Chevrolet Impala SS, Caprice, 9C1, Buick Roadmaster, Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, Cadillac Fleetwood
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 Suspension Downgrade

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Posts : 122
Join date : 2012-02-17
Age : 40
Location : Stuttgart, Germany

PostSubject: Suspension Downgrade   Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:43 pm

Imagine a 1993 TBI car with 25k miles. A new car, pretty much. Only problem: It has the "Soft Ride" suspension setup. Ever tried driving something like that? It's plain ridiciulous. I have seen pillows with better handling

Shouldn't be too hard to fix, though. Springs, shocks, swaybars - ok, the body- and control arm bushings are somewhat softer, but that can't make all that much of a difference?

So I took a set of Hotchkis Impala SS Lowering Springs (because they were there), KYB Gas-A-Just Shocks (Sedan up Front, Wagon Shocks in the rear, same reason as above) and added a rear sway bar from a 91 9C1.

I didn't expect much in terms of finely tuned handling, I just wanted some of that very soft ride to go away, and certainly, Hotchkis Springs, KYB Shocks and a 9C1 sway bar, that's gotta be SOME improvement? I was going to swap out the smaller Soft Ride front bar for a 9C1 bar, too, but first I took the car for a test drive.

Oh boy. Not only did I make most of the soft ride go away, I've also created the worst handling, off-balance Caprice I have ever driven. What was an overly comfortable car is now something evil and unpredictable. On flat ground at moderate speeds, it gives a very false impression of a stable, low and level ride, but as you speed up, the front end bounces over every bump in the road, and takes much too long to stabilize, much like a car with bad shocks, while the rear has the perfect combination of stiffness, level ride and comfort. The setup seems to work incredibly (and I mean incredibly, absolutely neutral handling) well in long, fast turns, but try to take a tight turn, and the car will suddenly shift all its weight to the outside front corner.

Now I'm quite sure adding the 9C1 front bar will take care of the cornering issue, but what's up with the bouncy front end? It can't just be the imbalance between Sedan Front and Wagon Rear Shocks.

Long story, short question: Hotchkis Impala springs, KYB Gas-A-Just shocks - any comments? I noticed neither of the two brands come up a lot in the suspension discussions around here.
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Posts : 512
Join date : 2010-11-16
Age : 61
Location : Wrentham

PostSubject: Re: Suspension Downgrade   Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:41 pm

PM sent.
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Club President

Posts : 6878
Join date : 2009-01-20
Age : 41
Location : East Hampstead, NH USA

PostSubject: Re: Suspension Downgrade   Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:21 pm

That's the first time I've heard complaints on the Hotchkis. I've used them many times and love them. I have never run KYB's but have heard nothing but bad stuff about them. It's the internet and all, but maybe try another set of front shocks. Even my cheap Gabriel HD shocks are pretty decent.

You don't have any broken endlinks? Spring is indexed correctly on both sides in front?

Bill "The Verb" Crovo - Resident Car Slut & Unicorn Hunter

A Toasted Marshmallow, A Long German, A Lame Suburban and expensive dreams...
Missing all my previous B's, D's and V... Sad
American Ricer
"Ooooh! Look! Something shiny!"

LOWER IT!!! Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Suspension Downgrade   Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:45 pm

I would say the bars are fine, as is the springs. I would look at the KYBs and the tires for the issues. Tires may have too much sidewall, and not enough tread for that setup. You might need some 235/70/15s at least. I would also look at dry rotted bushings. A car that age with next to no miles might have bad bushings. You might not notice them with the soft ride, but now that things are firmed up, the issues that may have been there all along will show their ugly head. And Bill mentioned indexing the springs. This might be an issue too. End of front spring needs to sit end between the two little holes in the front lower control arm spring pocket.
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Matt Trakker


Posts : 5086
Join date : 2009-07-30
Age : 36
Location : Reading, MA

PostSubject: Re: Suspension Downgrade   Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:48 pm

Watching this thread to see how you make out. I'm going to be putting in some similar things in my car.
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