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Old 08-20-2014, 03:36 AM   #1
PDX_STI
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Default Best "Bang for Buck" Suspension Upgrade?

Hello,

Ive gained an interest in doing some autocrossing on the weekends.

Bone stock suspensionwise 05 STI.

What should be the first upgrade that would be the 'best bang for buck'? the one that I would probably feel the most 'change' with in daily and track driving?

I've read swaybars were the 'best' upgrade?

I like the fact that I can adjust the height and stiffness of coils compared to a spring and strut combo as well

I also have the option of getting a Perrin Master Cylinder brace OR a set of SS lines all around. Which would would be the best choice? Or I cant go wrong with either?

Thanks all!
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Last edited by PDX_STI; 08-20-2014 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 08-20-2014, 05:17 AM   #2
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You should mention how much your looking to spend. Quality tires go along way but then you realize that swaybars are a must on stock springs with your new found grip. I also noticed nice benefits from fender braces on my 06 (paranoid fab)*cheap, easy. I also recently put on a GS MCB and was a big difference. Ideally do the lines and MCB but if I had to choose one first it would be the MC brace.
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Old 08-20-2014, 07:03 AM   #3
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The thing that will make the biggest difference is a quality set of coilovers but if you aren't going to spend at least $1500 and more like $2000 on them then likely you'll benefit from other options.

Any upgrade by itself generally reveals weakness in other areas. Sway bars are a good 1st option as long as you don't go too big. Bushing upgrades should be considered a must as they will make the largest difference in how the car feels, that is feedback from the car as to how it is responding to your inputs. If your stuts aren't in need of rebuilding I'd start with bushing and mount upgrades.

Personally, I'd choose the SS lines over a MCB.
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Old 08-20-2014, 07:14 AM   #4
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Tires, hands down. Look at that first.

I am going to buck the trend here and advise you not to do swaybars. Despite what everyone here is peddling, swaybars can be detrimental to your car's performance and will affect your daily driving comfort. Think about it, swaybars bind the corners together thus limiting the independent nature of your suspension. Put a large bar on and then go for a ride on a bumpy road and witness how poorly your car will handle that surface. The reason why everyone jumps on sways is because they are relatively cheap, they are easy to install and they significantly alter your perception of how the car is behaving by reducing body roll. The assumption is less body roll = better handling which is not true. Some body roll is OK.

After tires, since you have an STI, look at a set of good springs, assuming your struts are still in decent shape. They will do a better job of controlling your roll and will not limit your suspension the way sways do. Little to no drop would be the best way to go. RCE makes very good springs.

Alignment after that. Possibly add camber bolts to dial in more static negative camber, especially in the front.

I am not saying coilovers since a good set is around $2k and up and you can get proportionally better results with less money, which is what this thread is about: improvement / $$$ ratio.
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Old 08-20-2014, 09:43 AM   #5
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^^^No one is "peddling" sway bars. A mild sway upgrade with stock springs will in fact improve handling with a marginal degradation in ride quality mostly due to the positive effect on dynamic camber. If he has 4 season tires then yes, a good set of summer tires does make the most difference but he has an STI and should be on them anyway.
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Old 08-20-2014, 10:29 AM   #6
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Ideally upgrading with mild sway bars (22mm frt/rr) in combination with mild spring upgrade RCE blacks plus alignment is the most economical way to improve suspension. If you can only do one, a mild swaybar increase is the best ROI.

Tires are a big factor in handling, feel, and ride.

MCB brace and various driveline bushings will tighten up the chassis/feel wo/much NVH increases and are relatively cheap and easy to install, IMO.

Just remember, as of others have stated, one mod tends to elevate other weaknesses so once you start the "optimization" process it can be a domino effect. Enjoy!
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A-man07 View Post
^^^No one is "peddling" sway bars. A mild sway upgrade with stock springs will in fact improve handling with a marginal degradation in ride quality mostly due to the positive effect on dynamic camber. If he has 4 season tires then yes, a good set of summer tires does make the most difference but he has an STI and should be on them anyway.
Here's where I am coming from.

Swaybars can help eventually to fine tune the setup. In fact, I run a set myself set to softest on both ends. Since this thread is really about how to get started, I did not recommend sways as they are not the best way to improve your handling. $ for $, springs are a much better way to control your body roll. Heck, if you compare a cost of RCEs vs. a swaybar set, they're more or less the same. The problem is, overwhelming majority of people on this forum push swaybars as the primary means of roll control and that is just a flawed approach. Look at the threads where people ask questions about how to improve the stock setup. Sways are usually in top 3 posts. I am not saying to not to sways, I am saying, do sways later on, if you think you need them.

Ever try disconnecting your sways altogether? You'd be surprised what kind of results you will get

Word on tires, I sure hope OP is on summers already. But not all summers are created equally. The stock Dunlops on my STI were actually pretty capable as far as grip. They got noisy towards the end and lost a lot wet traction but overall weren't bad. Now, step into Michelin Pilot SS and marvel at just how much more grip you'll get out that tire and then be blown away at how good they are in rain You can do an event on them, then drive home and not experience permanent hearing loss. Just being on summers isn't enough.
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:26 AM   #8
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I am going to say around $1500, I think that is a fair amount.

SO MANY people recommend BC coils, I am assuming because they are affordable and adjustable? I am definitely staying away from Racelands and Lower end Teins...

Well my rears have a bit of 'bounce' to them, its still stiff, but if I go fast enough and there is a dip (not a pothole) in the road I can hear the rear 'squeek' and probably bottom out..I have STI pinks, not sure if USDM or JDM, they were already on the car, and I cant see far enough up to see the 'blue or grey' notch. I like the coilovers since I can adjust them, cant do that with spring/strut combo. Watch I get coils and never adjust the height lol.

I have a set of Potenzas TE70s that I can use...about 80% life

Thanks for the input, lot of information here.
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:34 AM   #9
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The fact that you have aftrmkt springs on older oem struts would suggest that you're damping (or lack of it) is a factor. I would NOT go with BC or any other coil-over for a pure DD. Upgrade your strut, spring with a GTworx or swapout cartridge plus RCE blacks would give you trouble free and balanced setup for under $1500

RE070 are fine (as long as they are "fresh" tires. Terriffic grip but poor ride quality. MPSS is a much better DD only tire.

Last edited by jaboyd; 08-20-2014 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDX_STI View Post
SO MANY people recommend BC coils, I am assuming because they are affordable and adjustable? I am definitely staying away from Racelands and Lower end Teins...
Keep looking past BCs. They're not a respectable coilover. You will not find anyone that actually knows what they're talking about recommend BC coilovers. Look at KW, Eibach or Bilstein. I would mention other brands but they are way out of your price range. I'd say if you can raise your limit slightly, you may be able to get into Bilstein PSS9 which is a VERY good coilover for the money. For that money though, you could get Konis or Bilstein shocks, match them with springs and that would be a very worthy setup.
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:42 AM   #11
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good info

Last edited by Rob_STI_PNW; 08-22-2014 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:44 AM   #12
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stock strut rebuild by feal
group n front strut tops/camber-caster front tops
hd cowl stays
ALK
rear camber blots
GOOD endlinks/bar bushings
good tires

REAL alignment


go from there
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Old 08-20-2014, 03:32 PM   #13
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Gr.N bushings, 24mm sway bars (22mm is fine, but they are getting tough to find), and a good alignment (w/SPC rear camber bolts) should keep you under $1k and are probably the best things to upgrade for the money.

If you have a budget of $2k+ for struts, get some good coil-overs, but if it's less, go the Feal/RCE rebuild route and spend the remaining money elsewhere.

I see you're local - PM me if you wanna meet up sometime and chat further about suspension upgrades. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now in terms of setup. Additionally, your first order of business should be to check for bent suspension components, subframes, knuckles, etc. based on some of the more common used STi dealers in this area...

Until Whiteline fixes the front strut top bearing issue, stick with the Gr.N tops. Sway bar bushings should be included with the bar, and you only need to upgrade the links if yours are worn out (torn boot, play in the bushing, etc.); if you replace them, RalliTEK is local and very good quality for the front, while the rears are basically OEM quality replacements.

Neither SS lines nor the GrimmSpeed MCB made a huge difference to me. I would buy the lines again, but I'll probably remove the MCB. I recorded a video and it still flexes just as much as it did prior to install (it just flexes the brace now, as well).

Last edited by mrsaturn7085; 08-20-2014 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 08-20-2014, 05:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsaturn7085 View Post
Gr.N bushings, 24mm sway bars (22mm is fine, but they are getting tough to find), and a good alignment (w/SPC rear camber bolts) should keep you under $1k and are probably the best things to upgrade for the money.

If you have a budget of $2k+ for struts, get some good coil-overs, but if it's less, go the Feal/RCE rebuild route and spend the remaining money elsewhere.

I see you're local - PM me if you wanna meet up sometime and chat further about suspension upgrades. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now in terms of setup. Additionally, your first order of business should be to check for bent suspension components, subframes, knuckles, etc. based on some of the more common used STi dealers in this area...

Until Whiteline fixes the front strut top bearing issue, stick with the Gr.N tops. Sway bar bushings should be included with the bar, and you only need to upgrade the links if yours are worn out (torn boot, play in the bushing, etc.); if you replace them, RalliTEK is local and very good quality for the front, while the rears are basically OEM quality replacements.

Neither SS lines nor the GrimmSpeed MCB made a huge difference to me. I would buy the lines again, but I'll probably remove the MCB. I recorded a video and it still flexes just as much as it did prior to install (it just flexes the brace now, as well).
thanks for the info, pmed you too.
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Old 08-20-2014, 09:26 PM   #15
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Step 1) Tires
Step 2) better alignment
Step 3) THEN start looking for parts to put on it.

Once it gets to parts then we can talk about the ins and outs of the various bits, but for the sake of throwing my hat into the ring do not overlook brakes.

yeah, they won't help you mid turn, but they will help drive deeper into the turn and then using them.

In other words - they won't help outright handling, but they will help outright performance through the twisties.
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Old 08-21-2014, 02:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turn in Concepts View Post
Step 1) Tires
Step 2) better alignment
Step 3) THEN start looking for parts to put on it.

Once it gets to parts then we can talk about the ins and outs of the various bits, but for the sake of throwing my hat into the ring do not overlook brakes.

yeah, they won't help you mid turn, but they will help drive deeper into the turn and then using them.

In other words - they won't help outright handling, but they will help outright performance through the twisties.
agreed on the brakes, SS lines are awesome too.
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Old 08-21-2014, 12:00 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turn in Concepts View Post
Step 1) Tires
Step 2) better alignment
Step 3) THEN start looking for parts to put on it.

Once it gets to parts then we can talk about the ins and outs of the various bits, but for the sake of throwing my hat into the ring do not overlook brakes.

yeah, they won't help you mid turn, but they will help drive deeper into the turn and then using them.

In other words - they won't help outright handling, but they will help outright performance through the twisties.
looks like ill have to wait until firestone has their 'alignments for life' sale lol
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Old 08-21-2014, 01:12 PM   #18
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Assuming you have decent tires to start with, alignment is my #1 bang for the buck mod.

On an almost 10 year old car though, shocks would be my next thing. If you don't have the money OR the need for quality coilovers, then the Feal OEM shock rebuild is a good way to go. Add some springs (did someone mention RCE? ) if you like. Replacing some key bushings and switching to Group N front strut top mounts on is a good idea too on an older car. Turn In Concepts usually have great bushing packages that I would highly recommend.

Swaybars can be beneficial for sure, but you have to look at the total package. My priorities would be elsewhere to start.

- Andy
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Old 08-21-2014, 02:12 PM   #19
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I would just upgrade and fix whats worn and broken before you even start buying parts.

tires. fender braces, shocks, various bushings and swaybars.
shouldnt even spend more than 500 on these parts.. (excluding tires)
somewhere had a firesale on toyor888 a couple weeks ago
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Old 08-22-2014, 01:18 PM   #20
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1) Tires - better handling ones. Keep in mind that if you go for summer tires that are close to the racing slicks on the tire spectrum, you might want to consider a winter set of wheels and tires.
2) On a 10 year old car (probably 120K miles?), I would get a good spring/strut combo. All of the mentioned strut options are worth looking into. No coilovers in your budget.
3) alignment - if this is your daily driver, then keep the stock bolts and get as much camber you can with the stock hardware and components; meaning don't use camber bolts in back.

I have a set of unused camber bolts if you do decide to go that route. PM me if you want.

That should hit your budget right there. If you have some money left, I would go for the fender braces (TiC has great ones) first and then look to upgrade your drivetrain and suspension bushings. TiC made a great thread on refreshing the GD chassis a year or two back. Search for it and it will help ID all the bushings.
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Old 08-22-2014, 07:03 PM   #21
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The only camber bolts I'd use in the rear are the grey SPC bolts stamped 12.9. They've got a significantly higher torque rating than most on the market.
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Old 08-23-2014, 10:01 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by my name is joe View Post
I would just upgrade and fix whats worn and broken before you even start buying parts.

tires. fender braces, shocks, various bushings and swaybars.
shouldnt even spend more than 500 on these parts.. (excluding tires)
somewhere had a firesale on toyor888 a couple weeks ago

every bushing and the struts are just about all done, here

and the 888's are meh at best, really
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Old 08-29-2014, 02:56 AM   #23
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i landed a good deal on some Fortune 5 auto coils, will be at my door in a week or 2...I did not want to go the koni insert route (i am sure they are amazing though)

I can also snag BNIB whiteline front OR rear (looking on their site it says I can use for either) adjustable endlinks from a user at a great price, but I am afraid of just 'slapping on random parts' not sure if I will notice a difference with these?
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Old 08-29-2014, 11:04 AM   #24
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you're asking for best bang for your buck suspension mod at the start of this thread and we provided you with great options. None of them involved endlinks.

The front and rear endlinks for your vehicle are not interchangeable.
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Old 08-29-2014, 12:08 PM   #25
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Hello and Sorry in advance(I'm new) But I'm looking for some help and I have a suspension question.. I have my 2.5i 09 5door that I've had for a couple months now, bought it used with 70k miles and everything should be stock.. The wheels look like they're angled out a lot and it's all four of them.. I haven't done any modifications! Cansomeone tell me why my wheels are angled so hard??
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