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Thread: TC Kline D/A coilover refresh - or - fixing suspension noises

  1. #1
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    TC Kline D/A coilover refresh - or - fixing suspension noises

    So this thread is all about my TC Kline D/A coilovers and associated suspension bits. It covers removal, refreshing/replacing parts, and addressing noises.
    With this thread, I’ll explain the issues I wanted to address, summarize the remediation measures, indicate the parts/tools required, and walk through the procedures (with pictures). If I have any energy left, I will detail the hiccups I had (there were a few).

    ___________
    Section 1: Car Details First…
    Car: 2000 M Coupe, 69,990 miles

    Suspension: TCKline Smart Design D/A Coilovers, with 400# springs front and rear, TCK camber plates and Rogue RSMs - Struts, shocks, and camber plates were on the car when I bought it in 2007 (with ~37000 miles). The actual mileage and age on/of those parts is unknown. Springs and rear RSMs were swapped out in 2008 (thread link).

    ___________
    Section 2: The things that had been bugging me recently, and needed to be addressed

    1. My car (off and on) suffered from the lovely spring bind noise (a friction-type scratching, catching, metallic twang) when turning the steering wheel. (thread link)
    2. A few months ago, the bearings on my TCK camber plates started to signal their demise with a nice loud clicking sound over bumps and when turning. (thread link)
    3. Around the same time that the camber plate bearings started to go, I developed a front end ‘clunk’ that I suspected was originating from my sway bar links - aka drop links.
    4. I’ve never been happy with the ‘chattering’ sound that I have had for years with my Rogue Engineering RSMs (thread link)

    ___________
    Section 3: The short-and-sweet of the remedies

    1. Spring bind: The noise comes from the ‘ends’ (the flat top and bottom) of the spring coils catching and releasing from the surfaces of the upper and lower spring perches. My understanding is that some of the other camber plates (like Vorshlag) don’t suffer from this phenomenon (Vorshlag uses a pair of bearings – one for the top pivot, and one radial (axially-aligned) bearing to aid in rotation). TCK sells a ‘thrust kit’ to remedy the bind issue; the kit comprises a set of metal and nylon shims that go between the springs and the perches. Perch -> metal shim -> nylon shim -> spring. The kit is reasonably cheap, at about $25.
    2. Camber plate bearing tick: TC Kline sells new spherical bearings ($30/ea) and their bearing housings ($80/ea). Since I don’t have a proper press to get the old bearings out/new bearings in, I had TC mate the parts for me – which he did at no charge.
    3. Front end ‘clunk’ is a common sign/symptom of wear/failure of various bits of ‘consumable’ bushings or bearings in the front end – Sway bar end links (aka drop links), Lower control arm bushings (LCAB), LCA ball joints, or tie-rod ends. Check all of these. Fortunately the sway bar links are the easiest of these to check and replace. I opted for Meyle HB sway bar links, at $39.99 each from ECS… who also ship via USPS Priority Mail – just a touch more expensive than UPS Ground, but arriving in 50% of the transit time.
    4. Rear RSM chattering: This was unbelievable. So unbelievable that I’ll leave you hanging here – you’ll just have to look at the end of the walk-through to see the remedy.

    ___________
    Section 4a: The parts

    1. TC Kline camber plate bearings - $30ea (x2) (Link)
    2. TC Kline camber plate bearing housings - $80ea (x2) (Link)
    3. TC Kline Spring Thrust kit - $25ea (Link)
    4. Meyle HD sway bar links - $40ea (Link)
    5. Lower spindle bolts (transverse) - $1.17ea x4 (P/N 31311136465)
    6. Sway bar nuts (M10 prevailing torque type) – $0.36ea x4 (P/N 07129964672)
    7. Upper spindle nut (M12 prevailing torque type) - $1.64ea x2 (P/N 07119905753)

    Section 4b: The tools

    1. Ratcheting wrenches – ” and ”
    2. Sockets – 16mm, 17mm, 18mm, 19mm
    3. Crescent/box wrenches – 18mm
    4. Low-profile crescent wrench – 16mm
    5. Torque wrenches – you’ll need to cover the range from 10 ft-lbs to 100 ft-lbs

    ___________
    Section 5: The walk-through (front suspension)

    1. Lift the front of the car, support
    2. Remove wheels
    3. Remove brake caliper from pad carrier, support (I often use a tall box to rest them on, but they can be suspended with a stiff wire)
    4. Remove pad carrier from steering arm (spindle)
    5. Remove brake disc from steering arm

    +++NOTE: Technically, the strut removal can be done without steps 3-5 (I'll post a picture from my previous suspension service that shows this). It is possible to keep the caliper connected to the pad carrier, connected to the spindle, connected to the brake disc... however, removing everything offers much more clearance.



    6. Disconnect brake sensor wire, wheel speed sensor wire, and brake line from clip on strut housing
    7. Disconnect sway bar link from mounting tab on strut. With a very slim 16mm crescent wrench, hold the link on the back side of the mounting tab to prevent rotation, and remove the outboard nut (factory part is an M10 prevailing torque-style nut – 16mm)



    8. Loosen the locking collar on the threaded strut body and lower the lower spring perch to the bottom of the strut’s threaded section (to remove pressure from the spring)
    9. Remove three bolts connecting the strut housing to the steering arm. There are two bolts at the bottom of the strut housing, inboard, and one bolt with washer and nut that runs longitudinally at the top of the steering arm (spindle). Support the steering arm.



    10. Remove three nuts on strut tower, lower strut assembly and remove.



    11. Remove the bolts connecting the camber plates to the bearing/housing, separate the three main plate components



    12. Heat up the strut top nut to degrade the Loctite, then grab the impact driver to remove it (front strut pin threading is M14 x 1.5 – the TCK nut is 19mm across the flats. Most other M14 nylock nuts are 22mm across the flats)
    13. Remove bearing/housing from strut pin, remove upper spring perch and spring



    +++NOTE: At this point, because I didn’t know the age of the units, I sent the front struts to Performance Strut, an authorized Koni service center, at Sonoma Raceway to be put on their shock dyno. They’d told me on the phone that these particular Koni units exhibit a very long service life, and sure as daylight, they tested ‘sat’ on the dyno.

    14. Place the nylon and metal shims (in that order) on the lower spring perch, replace the spring



    15. Place the other pair of shims up top, cap with the upper spring perch/cap
    16. Remove the adapter sleeve from the old bearing (painful evolution – lots of heat, a little ‘encouragement’ with a hammer and screwdriver)



    17. Place the sleeve on the strut pin, atop the upper spring perch/cap, and place the new bearing/housing on top, ensuring the bearing seats fully on the sleeve
    18. Apply red Loctite to the exposed threads of the strut pin, replace the strut nut, and torque down tightly (BMW spec is 48 ft-lbs.)



    19. Place the three upper camber plate components atop the bearing housing, and insert the caster adjustment bolts through the plate, into to the bearing housing (apply some blue Loctite, and torque to 22 ft-lbs – per TC Kline)
    20. Remove the nut connecting the sway bar link to the sway bar (same procedure as step 7)



    21. Reverse all the other steps, torqueing everything to spec… obviously replacing the old sway bar links with the new ones



    ___________

    Section 6: The rear suspension noise remedy

    I wanted to eliminate the chatter I’ve previously posted about (thread link here), and thanks to Google, I found the most ridiculously simple remedy. This is one of those things that you read about and say, “No effing way would that work,” but it did. It seriously did. It cost me $2.77 at Home depot for a pack of #236 O-rings. These O-rings are 5/16" O.D. x 3/16" I.D x 1/16". They need to be placed underneath the rebound adjuster plate at the top of the rear shock pin. I used two picks to stretch the rings, then sort of ‘press’ them into the gap. NOISE ELIMINATED!!!

    Keep in mind, these pics are obviously of the front struts - much easier to photograph than the rears - but the procedure is identical.









    I also decided to inspect, clean, and refresh my caliper guide pins and brass bushings when I had the brake calipers off the car. When re-installed, they were given a light coating of copper anti-seize.

    Before and after cleaning:



    ___________
    Section 7: Issues encountered

    OK… now for the issues I encountered during this project.

    Step 11 (removal of the caster adjustment bolts, which hold the bearing housings to the camber plates) should have been easy, but it wasn’t. For one, the bearing housings are not rectangular, they are rhomboid… so I had to make a small adapter in order to be able to secure it in my bench vice. Next, the first of the hex button head bolts came out just fine, but the second one decided to get a little ornery. It just seemed to seize, but only after backing out about 2/3rds of the way. I switched ratchets to get more leverage. Nothing. I then grabbed my breaker bar. The end result is that the bloody hex hole stripped out! I grabbed my Dremel and cut the head off so that I could continue disassembling the camber plate.



    Sadly, this was not the type of bolt I could pick up at Home Depot, so I ordered replacements through Bolt Depot. Fortunately I had the new bearing housings (with bearings) lined up, so waiting on new bolts only slowed down the reassembly (step 15 and onward). Even that wasn't a problem in the end, since I decided to send the units for their health check-up, and I had to travel to visit family for two weeks. All's well that ends well...

    - - - Updated - - -

    Additional pictures:

    Different view of the sway bar link mounted to tab.



    Old vs. new sway bar links. Interestingly, the Meyle parts came with replacement lock nuts. These were M10-sized prevailing torque nuts as well, but unlike the BMW parts they have an integrated flange, and are 15mm across the flats (BMW are 16mm).



    Last edited by BMWBergy; 07-15-2013 at 06:20 PM.

  2. #2
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    Nice work.
    Not 100% sure, but I think you might need more than just anti-seize on the pin with those bushing. On the street you don't see the heat, but I cook off all the lube in one weekend. Also after just experiencing substantial improvement in feel and tire wear, I recommend you change out the front wheel bearings even if they feel tight. It's a 20min a side job with the backer plate off like you have. Hardest part will be finding the right socket. Also, might want to consider a brake backer plate to shield the strut from rotor heat.
    Dan "PbFut" Rose

  3. #3
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    Thanks Dan. I'll have to consider the bearings for the next time I take the front apart. I was curious about the heat shield - so I looked at an old picture of the first brake job I did on my previous coupe a decade ago, and sure enough - there's a heat shield! Where's mine?!?!? I guess the PO removed it. Instead of buying new factory plates, I may just wait to install a cooling duct kit...

  4. #4
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    Substantial effort noted to document everything; good job!

    I've installed probably a dozen (or more) TCK s/a & d/a coil over kits, but I've only worked with the new parts, so seeing how serviceable everything is, is confidence inspiring (I use them myself).

    WHile I'm all about a compliant suspension, especially for street and dual purpose cars, I can't help but think that 400#/400# is a little on the soft side. Nearly all the systems I put in were 450#/500# and I was led to believe that was borderline soft. Maybe some of the wear can be attributed to that?

    As I'm sure you're already aware, Konis can be rebuilt/recalibrated for years to come; their greatest virtue. I run mine at about 25% of available firmness (and how I'd set all the cars leaving my shop); what are you running yours at (if it was listed above, I missed it with my skim-read)?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Forbes View Post
    Substantial effort noted to document everything; good job!

    I've installed probably a dozen (or more) TCK s/a & d/a coil over kits, but I've only worked with the new parts, so seeing how serviceable everything is, is confidence inspiring (I use them myself).

    WHile I'm all about a compliant suspension, especially for street and dual purpose cars, I can't help but think that 400#/400# is a little on the soft side. Nearly all the systems I put in were 450#/500# and I was led to believe that was borderline soft. Maybe some of the wear can be attributed to that?

    As I'm sure you're already aware, Konis can be rebuilt/recalibrated for years to come; their greatest virtue. I run mine at about 25% of available firmness (and how I'd set all the cars leaving my shop); what are you running yours at (if it was listed above, I missed it with my skim-read)?
    Thank you, Randy - just trying to do the community a favor... and you set a great example in that regard!

    When I bought the car, I replaced the 550#/500# setup because it was far too harsh for where I lived in Virginia, even after 6 months of trying to mitigate the effects of the road by fiddling with compression/rebound settings. And the coupe wasn't even my daily-driver at that time. I wanted to run 450#/450#, but TC doesn't make a 450 rear spring, in either the standard or shorty configuration. I've always felt the 400 x 4 to be a great streetable setup, but I have toyed recently with the idea of switching back - or at least moving to 450/500 or 500/500. Unfortunately I SOLD the rear 500# springs, so I'm up a creek there.

    Living in Carmel right now, though, the roads are pretty atrocious, and since we downsized our automotive footprint, this is my daily driver at the moment.

    Compression:
    Full range (front and rear) is 12 clicks. I'm running the front at full firm -5, and the rear at full firm -6.
    Rebound:
    Full range up front is 2.125 turns. I'm at full firm -1.125 turns.
    Rear rebound range is 2.25 turns. I'm running full firm -1.5 turns.
    Last edited by BMWBergy; 07-15-2013 at 01:39 PM.

  6. #6
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    David,

    Not to sidetrack the thread, but I'm curious why you are running so much more spring in the front than in the rear?


    /.randy

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    Quote Originally Posted by rf900rkw View Post
    David,

    Not to sidetrack the thread, but I'm curious why you are running so much more spring in the front than in the rear?
    Randy (the other),

    Probably because it wasn't denied by TC! I hadn't considered the 400F/400R to be excessively biased toward the front considering it had been 550F/500R when I bought it. I've been following the 'soften the end you want to stick' mindset, but my setup (relative to the previous one) actually goes the other way a bit.

    Like I said, when replacing the original setup, I'd wanted to run 450F/450R, but that latter rate wasn't (and still isn't) available. And again, I've been wanting to try a stiffer rear sprint (like 450/500), but I'd need TC to cut me a deal on spring exchange (2x front 400, 2x front 550, 2x rear 400) to get the necessary parts!

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    That's the thing. TCK calls for rates like that, and every one seems to stick close to it. Going by spring rates doesn't really tell the story. It's the wheel rate, what happens where the tire meets the ground, that matters. The wheel rate is the spring rate times the motion ratio of the suspension squared. Thus, kibitzing off an E30 racing forum post, the front would be spring rate x 0.88, and the rear would be spring rate x 0.45.
    So in theory with our near 50/50 cars, you would want springs that are twice as stiff in the rear just to keep an equal front/rear wheel rate. While dead equal is a bad thing in practice, I can't see deviating as much as seems to be the normal choice for these cars. What the hell am I missing?
    Last edited by rf900rkw; 07-15-2013 at 03:56 PM.


    /.randy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Forbes View Post
    WHile I'm all about a compliant suspension, especially for street and dual purpose cars, I can't help but think that 400#/400# is a little on the soft side. Nearly all the systems I put in were 450#/500# and I was led to believe that was borderline soft. Maybe some of the wear can be attributed to that?
    This.

    I run 450# front and 500# rear and regret not going stiffer.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by BMWBergy View Post
    Compression:
    Full range (front and rear) is 12 clicks. I'm running the front at full firm -5, and the rear at full firm -6.
    With my springs I'm running full soft +3 front and +2 rear. I find that even with the 450# and 500# springs the car feels soft. It's seriously comfortable to drive, not what I want out of a sports car but it might serve your purposes driving on the rough roads in your area.

    As they say, it's the shocks (not the springs) that contribute the most to ride quality. The springs are just there to control the shocks.

    If I'm not mistaken, adjustable shocks were originally designed to combat softening over time. As the shocks softened, you could just turn them up a click. Of course people turn them up for extra stiffness, but in general they're overdoing it for street driving.

  10. #10
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    Larry,

    Like I said in response to Randy Forbes ("...even after 6 months of trying to mitigate the effects of the road by fiddling with compression/rebound settings."), I really did work through the range on the compression and rebound before committing the money to four new springs! Not to say that I had it all right back then... this was my first adjustable suspension. In retrospect, it was probably the 550# front springs that did me in, and I should have just backed off to 450F, and kept the rear at 500.

    I am looking at replacements now, though I should be studying!!!

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    The ride quality of the shock is function of the high speed valving. The Koni adjustments are to the low speed valve only. The low speed valves are used during changes in fore-aft and cornering loads. They effect the transient handling. The adjustments are to tune how the car responds to driver inputs. They are not there to cover for wear, though that is a popular myth. And they have minimal impact on ride quality.


    /.randy

  12. #12
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    Awesome write-up, Bergy! Thanks for taking the time to document and post.

    I've experienced some of the same symptoms and noises, so this will be a big help when I get around to tackling it.
    jeremy [AT] coupecartel [DOT] com

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    Quote Originally Posted by rf900rkw View Post
    And they have minimal impact on ride quality.
    Are you sure about that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by f50nut View Post
    Are you sure about that?

    Yep.


    /.randy

  15. #15
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    Great job on the write-up!
    I have the TCK SA coilovers with TCK camber plates and I do have a couple of notes to make since I just replaced the strut bearings:

    1) I had trouble taking the top nut (19mm) off the shock to remove the camber plate. I could not keep the shock shaft from turning while I was trying to loosen the top nut. I called TCK and they advised me to push the bump stop down the shaft and use channel locks around the bump stop to grip the shock shaft. They also advised to use an impact gun SPARINGLY because there is a risk of loosening a nut inside the shock.

    I did not heat the top nut, but it did come off with a short squeeze of the impact gun trigger. The bump stop was also fine, they are more resilient than I thought they would be.

    2) I used blue loctite on the the top nuts when tightening them back up. As per TCK's advice, I grabbed the shock shaft by the bump stop with my hand and tightened the top nut until I could not hold the shaft from spinning any longer.

    3) I used the NHBB branded bearings (P/N ABT10) that are referenced in other threads as being more durable than the ones that come from TCK.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swaybars View Post
    Great job on the write-up!
    I have the TCK SA coilovers with TCK camber plates and I do have a couple of notes to make since I just replaced the strut bearings:
    1) I had trouble taking the top nut (19mm) off the shock to remove the camber plate. I could not keep the shock shaft from turning while I was trying to loosen the top nut. I called TCK and they advised me to push the bump stop down the shaft and use channel locks around the bump stop to grip the shock shaft. They also advised to use an impact gun SPARINGLY because there is a risk of loosening a nut inside the shock.
    2) I used blue loctite on the the top nuts when tightening them back up. As per TCK's advice, I grabbed the shock shaft by the bump stop with my hand and tightened the top nut until I could not hold the shaft from spinning any longer.
    3) I used the NHBB branded bearings (P/N ABT10) that are referenced in other threads as being more durable than the ones that come from TCK.
    All good points. Thanks to the fact I used red Loctite the last time I put the suspension back together, I absolutely had to use heat and the gun. I hate using the impact gun immensely (in any application), but holding the bump-stop, I just wasn't able to get to the necessary/required torque on that top nut before the shaft turned.

    Also, I live in fear of nuts/bolts coming undone, and in an application where it doesn't seem possible to reach the factory-specified torque value, I opted for the red Loctite. Of course, the next time I have to undo everything, I'll be cursing myself.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by rf900rkw View Post
    That's the thing. TCK calls for rates like that, and every one seems to stick close to it.
    Randy, you should really call TC and talk to him about it. I spent 15 minutes on the phone with him today (I prefaced the conversation with "I have a question that may lead to an order..."), thinking that at the end of the discussion I'd have an order in for 450#F and 500#R. He seemed very keen on me maintaining these rates - so keen in fact, that he didn't take any more of my money. He did say that he and his crew will be out at Seca for the O-fest events, and that he'll have an extra set of 500# springs that they will install for me if I'm not happy with the 400F/R set-up.

  17. #17
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    I have spoken with them twice. Both times when wheel rates, suspension frequencies and the like were brought up, one end of the phone went quiet.


    /.randy

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    They must have been driving through a tunnel?

    Have you taken all the measurements on these cars for calculating the motion ratios (F/R), and if so, could you send them to me? I'm interested in fiddling with the numbers a bit.

    Among other things, I'm curious how to take into account the multiple mounting points for the LCA up front and the SRTA in the rear when figuring out d1 and d2... not to mention measuring the angle of the rear spring! This is the resource I'm playing around with: http://www.hypercoils.com/spring-rate-calculator/

    Thanks Randy!

  19. #19
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    Years and years ago I took the time and effort to measure and plot spring vs wheel vs shock data. The cosine of the strut angle in the front, and about 3/2 in the rear. The data is probably (hopefully) still on my old laptop, but I have since found THIS PAGE with E30 data matched what I had. Bookmarks are easier. Speaking of bookmarks, I use this handy suspension frequency calculator. Note that it takes the inverse of the motion ratio (1.5 rather than 0.67), and I fudge a sprung corner weight of 650 lb for all corners on a Z3. If you want info on IRCs, probably would be best if I pdf up and email a few pages from my hardcopy library.

    It's not that I'm saying the common rates are wrong. The classic math says they are, but sometimes the reality of the design requires compromise. An example would be having to run really high wheel frequencies because of extremely limited wheel travel. But the TCK recommendations are high in the front, low in the back, mathwise. When I ask, I get told it's what TCK recommends. When I asked TCK, they said that's what seems to work for most people. After waffling for a long time, I went with the math on my car; 350/500.
    Last edited by rf900rkw; 07-18-2013 at 10:02 AM.


    /.randy

  20. #20
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    Maybe we should move this to a new thread, but when we're talking about 350f/500r spring rates, or 400f/400r or whatever... We're talking absolute spring rates and not relative, correct? The Z chassis is close to 50/50 from what I know, and a general starting point on a MacPherson strut setup would be equal rates all around. We obviously have a substantial moment arm (motion ratio?) in the back requiring much stiffer absolute rates to equal the rate up front in a relative manner. Just off the top of my head, 400f/400r sounds nuts if those are real, absolute spring rates, and 350f/500r sounds much more plausible. This is the simplest of assessments, no frequency talk needed?
    Last edited by BenFenner; 07-18-2013 at 10:22 AM.

  21. #21
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    Ben, yes we are talking spring rates as that is how they are sold. Wheel rates factor in suspension leverage and frequency takes into account the weight being controlled. See posts 6,7, and 8. And welcome to my side of the discussion.


    /.randy

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    Quote Originally Posted by rf900rkw View Post
    Ben, yes we are talking spring rates as that is how they are sold. Wheel rates factor in suspension leverage and frequency takes into account the weight being controlled. See posts 6,7, and 8.
    Boy do I look silly now. I should have read the entire thread before posting, not just the last couple posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by rf900rkw View Post
    And welcome to my side of the discussion.
    feelsgoodman.jpg ?

  23. #23
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    My DD/autox car is on tck DAs with 550 front/600 rear. Big bars front (full stiff) and rear (full soft). The car handles beautifully and it's amazingly responsive to the shock adjustments.
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    2,971
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    2000 M-Coupe, 1994 SE-R
    Quote Originally Posted by f50nut View Post
    As they say, it's the shocks (not the springs) that contribute the most to ride quality. The springs are just there to control the shocks.
    My brain is rejecting this out-right. Especially the last part.

    Quote Originally Posted by f50nut View Post
    If I'm not mistaken, adjustable shocks were originally designed to combat softening over time. As the shocks softened, you could just turn them up a click. Of course people turn them up for extra stiffness, but in general they're overdoing it for street driving.
    This is patently false.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Northwest NV
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    My Cars
    Audi B8.5 S4
    Quote Originally Posted by BenFenner View Post
    My brain is rejecting this out-right. Especially the last part.

    This is patently false.
    Ben, Randy already provided some thoughts on this issue... so I'll refer you to your previous quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by BenFenner View Post
    Boy do I look silly now. I should have read the entire thread before posting, not just the last couple posts.


    Changing direction a bit, have you linked this write-up to the Manifesto? I'd suggest an overall thread link for the rebuild of a TCK camber plate and addressing noise issues, and then, if you want to put a link under suspension specifically for spring rate discussion, we could start another thread specifically for that...

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