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Old 01-17-2004, 03:00 PM   #1
dunny
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Default How do you make the WRX sharper without adding much harshness?

Hi all:

I thought this would be the best place to ask. I like the WRX, but the handling can feel wooly and imprecise, like there's far too much slack in the system. And it seems to "float" at highway speeds, not tracking too precisely either.

How do you get it to be sharper and more feelsome but not rougher? I tried the STi v7 takeoffs, and while it had the feel I was looking for (and it felt the car was pivoting around the driver, not somewhere off in the nose) I didn't like cringing before every pothole.

I'm thinking of adding Whiteline steering rack bushings, and then Group N bushings for the lateral and trailing links, plus maybe strut tops, plus the aluminum A arms I've got but haven't installed.

Although everyone here has kind words for the STi pink lateral and trailing links, the vendors I wrote to (SPD, Rallispec and Gruppe-S) all said they'd increase NVH significantly, which makes sense with pillowball bushings, and isn't my cup of tea.

What do you guys think?
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Old 01-17-2004, 03:21 PM   #2
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steering rack bushings sounds like the best upgrade on your list for cruising. replacing bushings to group N on your existing links can be a female dog since you need some tools. That can lead to a debate of paying for pillow balls, or laboring out to replace your OE bushings. those steering rack bushings also significantly improved on an STi from another users review on this forum.
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Old 01-17-2004, 03:22 PM   #3
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That particular "steering" feel is best solved with steering rack bushings, they do make a significant difference on the WRX. We will find out soon on the STi

I'd suggest you give those bushings a try before doing too much suspension work, it may be just want you wanted

FT
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Old 01-17-2004, 05:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: How do you make the WRX sharper without adding much harshness?

Quote:
Originally posted by dunny
I'm thinking of adding Whiteline steering rack bushings, and then Group N bushings for the lateral and trailing links, plus maybe strut tops, plus the aluminum A arms I've got but haven't installed.

Although everyone here has kind words for the STi pink lateral and trailing links, the vendors I wrote to (SPD, Rallispec and Gruppe-S) all said they'd increase NVH significantly, which makes sense with pillowball bushings, and isn't my cup of tea.

What do you guys think?
The aluminum arms will help, and the steering rack bushings have been well received, as well. Oh, and I have the STi pink set. They do not increase NVH significantly. I drove the car stock, with just the lateral links installed, then with the trailing links installed.

But they do help give the car that "pivoting" sensation. Very nice.

Kevin
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Old 01-17-2004, 05:44 PM   #5
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One relatively easy suggestion that won't increase NVH is to increase the front camber. I thought that the car felt much sharper with more negative camber. Another is Eibach springs which made my car much less floaty at highway speeds with a minimal increase in NVH. Finally, a stiffer rear swaybar will make the car turn in better. Again, this will give almost no increase in NVH.
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Old 01-17-2004, 06:04 PM   #6
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I didn't feel I got a whole lot out of the steering rack bushings. They're cheap so it's not too big a deal, but I really didn't notice anything different after installing them in regards to harshness or steering feedback. They certainly didn't do anything about the "delayed" steering feel the stock car has.

Now I'm running 7kg/mm front springs and pillowball tops and have razor sharp steering response but.. did you mention harshness? :-)

You didn't mention what tires you're running. What tires are you running? A good high performance tire is really the best thing you can do for your car's handling and responsiveness. The RE92s and most other all-seasons are mush and nothing you do to the suspension is going to make the situation fundamentally better until you get the car connected to the road properly.
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Old 01-17-2004, 08:45 PM   #7
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One word...Alignment!!!
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Old 01-18-2004, 02:57 PM   #8
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Cool, thanks for the advice everyone

For tires I'm running Falken Ziex 512. I'm a little underwhelmed, I can't say I notice much of a difference than the RE92s. Both stock size of course. And the snow traction seems equally godawful. I'd prefer Pirelli PZero M+S or whatever they're called, but I can't justify the expense for new 17" tires right now, or wheels too.

Besides, I found with the STi takeoffs installed the car had uncanny precision, even on the RE92s. I could just place it to the millimeter on the road. So precise, so responsive; I loved that feel. If only it wasn't so harsh, and the gentle pogoing was a little much too.

What alignment would you guys recommend?
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Old 01-18-2004, 07:42 PM   #9
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You're underwhelmed because you replaced your crappy stock tires with crappy aftermarket tires. If you don't want to try good stock size tires I can't make you, but you asked how to make the car sharper without dramatically increasing harshness and that has "good tires" written all over it.

FWIW, an "all season" rating on a tire loosely translates to "this tire sucks all year round." I understand it's a pain switching to cheap steelies with snows in the winter and running 3-seasons in the summer, but you should seriously consider it if you want your car to handle well.

As far as alignment, as much negative camber as you can get up front (same on both sides of course) and neutral toe all around.
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Old 01-19-2004, 11:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Macabre
You're underwhelmed because you replaced your crappy stock tires with crappy aftermarket tires. If you don't want to try good stock size tires I can't make you, but you asked how to make the car sharper without dramatically increasing harshness and that has "good tires" written all over it.

FWIW, an "all season" rating on a tire loosely translates to "this tire sucks all year round." I understand it's a pain switching to cheap steelies with snows in the winter and running 3-seasons in the summer, but you should seriously consider it if you want your car to handle well.
Are you dissing Consumer Reports? It sure sounds that way. Man that makes my blood boil.... Just Kidding, no, I know all seasons equate to mediocre performance all year round, especially in snow, but after running up a $2900 bill cruising over a rock, the added expense of two sets of tires seemed a bit much to justify. But having driven the Falkens in snow for the first time, maybe I should think of two sets as cheap insurance for winter time driving: it's sure better than mangling the car.

And Kevin, I'm leary of taking your advice on the STi links, not because I don't respect what you've got to say, but because we seem to have different taste. You're a big fan of the STi suspension takeoffs, I think you've said they're "smoother than stock," or something like that. Me, I found them too harsh. I've no way of knowing that just as you find the links compliant, I would too, and I'd hate to splash out $700 or so Canadian on a gamble.
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Old 01-19-2004, 12:33 PM   #11
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I have the ZE512 in 17", so I can't compare directly. But I will ask anyway: how long have you been driving on the tires? I found that I needed about 3 weeks to break them in. Especially in the first week, they felt so squeamy that they felt worse than stock (keep in mind that the Ziex is 17" while stock is 16"). But after about 3 weeks, the got much stiffer.

Also, I sympathize with your no-snow-tire stance. The way I see it, living in northern USA or Canada, you will be on snow tires for 5-6 months a year. When it snows, your traction is awesome. However, when the ground is merely wet or dry (more than 60% of the winter), your traction is so unbelievably bad compared to all-seasons. My roads are cleared so well with snow trucks and salt that the roads usually qualify as merely wet even during a heavy downpour of snow.
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Old 01-19-2004, 02:35 PM   #12
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This goes against most of the conventional "wisdom", but a stiffer front sway bar does increase turn-in sharpness. Check out the motorsports forum for some interesting info.

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hreadid=482510

If you're concerned about increasing NVH, why are you considering Group N Bushings? They're significantly less compliant than stock busings.
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Old 01-19-2004, 03:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by zoomfactor
This goes against most of the conventional "wisdom", but a stiffer front sway bar does increase turn-in sharpness. Check out the motorsports forum for some interesting info.

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hreadid=482510

If you're concerned about increasing NVH, why are you considering Group N Bushings? They're significantly less compliant than stock busings.
We just did a test to show some imprical data on adding a front A/R bar to our vehicle. The report can be found at http://www.selgp.com/sti_modifications.htm

FT
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Old 01-19-2004, 03:16 PM   #14
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Cheap and easy way to stiffen up the handling and keep close to stock ride, get some metal front and rear sway bar endlinks and get rid of those stock plastic ones. I did that on mine with the crappy stock tires and it makes a world of difference with the stock suspension.
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Old 01-19-2004, 04:21 PM   #15
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Definitely job one suspensionwise is rear swaybar links. Start there and see what you think.
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Old 01-19-2004, 05:51 PM   #16
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whiteline end-links?
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:54 AM   #17
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Wow, more replies than I could have expected. In order:

Orson: I've had the Ziex 512s on for about 5 weeks now, maybe 3 weeks of real driving in there. I'll let you know if there's any big change in the way they handle, but for now my impression is of a straight down the middle all-season tire. I can see why CR liked it, smooth, quiet, etc., but a little lacking in crispness and bite. Still debating trading them in for some store credit against snow tires on the stockers. But here in the Pacific Northwest we rarely see snow in the cities. Mostly cool and an even mix of dry and wet weather. I only need snow traction for when I head out of town for skiing. How much traction would people estimate you give up going from, say, the Falkens to the Dunlop Wintersport M3? I had snow tires on my Civic for the winter months and don't remember them being appreciably worse around town, but it wasn't quite the same car.

Zoomfactor: I'm considering the Group N bushings because I assume they offer some of the precision and feel of full spherical bushings without the attendant harshness. The consensus on this forum seems that the STi links are smoother and quieter, but that makes no logical sense to me. Maybe if I take a ride in a car so equipped I'll change my mind, but till then I have to assume the hardened rubber bushings are the middle ground both in performance and harshness.

Fselekler: Interesting data on the swaybar. I'll consider it pretty strongly. My only concern is that, with both bars on, which is the way I'd do it, the car might get a little snappy. I'd hate on rough roads or poor conditions for the car to lose that wonderful inborn stability.
What's the take of people who've got them, does the car become a little more tricky to handle, especially in snow or the wet?
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Old 01-20-2004, 11:27 AM   #18
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FYI, swaybars DO increase ride harshness. When you link the suspension together with a less flexible bar, you now increase the resistance to each wheel reacting independantly.
When my car was brand new, I did front and rear sway bars, only 22mm, and it made the car MUCH harsher over bumps. Not as much as my coilovers did, but it ws noticeable.

If I were you this is what I would do

Better rear end links.(plastic stockers flex too much)
Real alignment
Better tires (I think you said you ahve already done tires, so this may not apply, but if you are on all seasons, ditch them for real summer tires. Bridgestone S03's are KILLER and deal with rain quite well, and handling with them is second only to Falken Azenis.)
Koni Adjustable inserts. Everyone I have spoken to says these actually ride BETTER than stock dampers. You can adjust them harder or softer. Nice plus.
Steering rack bushings (cheap, and apparently work well)
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Old 01-20-2004, 11:54 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by dunny
Fselekler: Interesting data on the swaybar. I'll consider it pretty strongly. My only concern is that, with both bars on, which is the way I'd do it, the car might get a little snappy. I'd hate on rough roads or poor conditions for the car to lose that wonderful inborn stability.
What's the take of people who've got them, does the car become a little more tricky to handle, especially in snow or the wet?
The A/R bar(s) will not make the vehicle more "nervous" as some like to call it. On the contrary, it will feel more stable and sure-footed. Things start getting interesting if you go with a very stiff, high-sprung suspension setup. But most people are some ways to get to that point, so you should not worry about it.

If you have stock suspension, you might want to consider the Cobb tubular A/R bar kit (f and r). They are 25 mm and lesser weight than stock. Those bars match the suspension setups with low spring rates quite well in my opinion.

FT
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Old 01-20-2004, 02:10 PM   #20
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Hmm, thanks for the advice all.

How does this sound:

Cusco, Hotchkis or Cobb front and rear anti-sway bars
+
Front and rear endlinks: Whiteline or Hotchkis
+
Group N strut top mounts
+
Whiteline steering rack bushings

Two questions: how will the car feel with this setup, and, more importantly, will it be less firm (particularly around town) than an STi v.7 setup?

For some reason, after combing through a few threads, the idea of hollow bars is appealing. If I went that route I'd prefer to go Hotchkis as they make matching bars and endlinks.
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Old 01-20-2004, 02:31 PM   #21
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Cobb and Hotchkis are practically the same to may best knowledge
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Old 01-20-2004, 02:57 PM   #22
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Koni adjustable inserts.

Soft when you go on road trips, tighten em up when you want to play. I never would have bought these myself, but since they were already on my car when I bought it, I am fuly sold on the idea of an adjustable suspension. If you have disparate needs for your car (crisp handling in the summer, control and stability on snow), then you really need to allow for that when planning your suspension. For me, when combined with SPT springs they are good enough for autocrossing but can be adjusted soft enough to keep my wife and kids happy for a 12 hour drive.
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Old 01-21-2004, 11:43 PM   #23
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but keep in mind these SPT springs rates the same as the JDM STi v.7 spec C/RA which is way harder than the USDM 2004 STi (The GC8 2.5RS and USDM 2002 WRX's spring rate is not that much softer)
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