Woe... this suspension (barf)... how d'ya stabilize the car?

Discussion in 'Technical' started by whisky, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. whisky

    whisky Whisky

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    Hey everyone!... well I got my new toy on the road - spent all weekend driving around burning gas and it was a blast (got a few nods as well)...

    but I'm DIZZY... :vomito:

    quick rundown is that I have stock suspension and tire sizes but after driving Hondas for 10 years my Comet is pretty wobbly and bouncy... I know the front struts and rear leafs are a whole new animal to drive... and I haven't checked for wear on the shocks and bushings yet...

    Any ideas suggestions comments and whatnot for getting the suspension response a little less nauseating...

    My car has std brakes, all drums, std steering, 4 bolt wheels and 185/70-14s all around. I've read the thread on adjusting leaf springs but I'm not racing... yet...
     
  2. Rick Book

    Rick Book Member

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    Congrats on getting the car going. That's always fun.

    The fronts are shocks (not struts) and very inexpensive to replace. I'd start by replacing all four shocks. The rear are inexpensive also (and both front and back can be found at your local parts store).

    Next, you can lower the front by cutting a coil or two off the springs (use search feature above) and a 1.5" lowering kit for the back, and maybe switch to wider, low-profile 15" (at least) low-profile tires.

    There's a "shelby drop" that's done but it's a little more involved and always starts an argument when discussing the difference, or lack thereof, in handling afterwards.
     
  3. scott

    scott Member

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    if you don't want to go with any suspension mods yet..(aside from new shocks and since you are driving a honda you are used to a less than smooth ride so get some stiff shocks ) maybe look into some better tires. i am not sure if such a tire is made for your wheel but i recently put a set of TRACTION T/A (not radial t/a) on my karmann ghia and what a huge difference they made! not sure how long they will last since the rubber seems pretty soft. if it is just a toy and not a daily driver you may look into a set of these.i paid 75 bucks a tire and well worth it! you can always go with a leaf spring helper kit to stiffen up the rear. again... all the other things mentioned will also help a lot. better tires are a fix you can do without actually doing it yourself.. one other thing...steering is tight? idler arm and ball joints tight? just my .02
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2008
  4. PaulS

    PaulS Member extrordiare

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    Try not to stiffen the suspension - especially the rear suspension. It makes the car oversteer. You can take the side roll out of these cars by installing new, bigger sway bars front and rear. You can get rid of the bump steer by using the Shelby Drop. By lowering the mounting point of the upper arms an inch it improves the handling. New shocks at all four corners will help too. All older unibody cars have a lot of frame roll. Stiffening the suspension make this worse. Adding sub frame connectors will reduce the flex in the chassis but to make it a lot better you can add roll bars. Granted they are for racing and don't add much in the way of looks and not really meant for the street car but they do make the car handle better.
     
  5. whisky

    whisky Whisky

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    Thanks for the info guys... I did notice a few things... drums were rebuilt recently and it wiggles like hell under hard braking... gonna check the adjusters (correct me if I'm wrong... pumping the brakes while driving backwards - do these self-adjust?). Or do I have to go inside to adjust them?

    Also, it has OLD mud & snow tires which - like my Astro van - when a snow tire is overused and worn out they handle horribly. They're also previously used tires according to chalk marks inside and are two different types front & rear.

    There's a loose bracket on one rear leaf and the shocks don't rebound too much (they actually look kinda new) - so I'm gonna replace the tires first then look at susp. upgrades in the spring.

    Is the Traction T/A like an all-season or a sport tire? In Canada we can get good, cheap tires at Canadian Tire when they go on sale every other month. Got my last set for 2/3 price.
     
  6. Mavman72

    Mavman72 Gone backwards but lookin' forward

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    Another component that adds some rigidity to the front suspension is a "monte carlo bar" it bolts between the front fenders under the hood just in front of the shock towers.Its easy to make your self(I did) or you can buy an early mustang one and modify it(lengthen it) to fit.It definitely helps alot to take some slop out of the front portion of the chassis.Click on the camera icon under my avitar and look at the engine compartment photo,you will see the black bar going tower to tower in front of the air cleaner,thats a monte carlo bar,very simple,very effective.Definitely get rid of the old mismatched tires.Good luck.
     
  7. Jamie Miles

    Jamie Miles the road warrior

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    New tires and upgrading to disc brakes up front will improve your driving experience enormously. Obviously, you need to check for slop in the suspension and steering components, as previously stated.
     
  8. saltracer

    saltracer Member

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    Like Whisky my comet does not handle the way I'd like. It seems to dart to the right when I hit a bump. I have changed just about everything..... new lower a-arms, new ball joints, new tie rod ends, 13" disk brakes, 17" wheels, tightened up steering box. I just jacked it up and it seems to me the wheel can be moved back a forth a little. should the steering box be tighter? Possibly a steering stabilizer? thanks
     
  9. Mavman72

    Mavman72 Gone backwards but lookin' forward

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    Are you referring to the steering wheel??? 3/4" play from one side to the other from center is normal.You can expect an inch of play or a bit more from an old Mav or comet with a stock box.Have you had the front end aligned since you put the new parts on???If not... do so.You may want to replace your Idler arm as well as upper controll arms/bushings.Bad upper A arm bushings will make your car dart to one side or the other as well as pull to one side.If you adusted the preload on the on the box properly play should be minimal,if you over adjusted it your steering effort will have increased and you may experience sudden darting to one side as the sector shaft unloads.Thats not a good thing.These cars are not noted for their handling prowess and can be unpredictable when upset(such as when going over a bump)at speed or during acceleration over un-even pavement(especially if you have beefed up the engine)"torque steer" will shove you to the right.How stiff is your suspension??Too much stiffness will enhance the torque steer effect.When you stiffen up a car or add more power to it you change the cars handling dynamics which usually involves a learning curve.One of the reasons people wrap a car around a pole after swapping in a more powerfull engine or steeper gears.A bad or broken sway bar end link can cause your car to dart around too soo check that out too.Good luck.
     
  10. whisky

    whisky Whisky

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    You've done a lot, but for my car it amounted to fixing several small problems and it ultimately only cost me a set of tires - which I didn't buy until brakes and suspensions checked out ok.

    My car is MUCH better now.... a few things I did - and EACH ONE seemed to make the car more stable, so it wasn't just one thing - compared to driving a new Honda FWD which is very predictable, these old (uneven a-arms?) Mustang style front ends only track straight on an even road - accelerating or braking makes them loose - I think raising or lowering the car even 1" - like when you drive around a corner or go over a bump - makes the tires toe in briefly and with standard steering you can really feel what's going on. The big issue is old, saggy rear leaves (rear end will drop 1 or 2 inches) seems to make the steering very light and loose, alternately a jacked up, stiff rear end makes the steering very heavy and prone to wandering.

    Like someone else here said - ANYTHING you change with regard to wheel size, offset, etc usually requires a realignment.

    My probs:

    rear left rebound clip missing off one leaf - 2 on front side, one on back side rear but was missing - this eliminated the wiggle when the rear end went over a manhole cover.

    Brake adjuster popped off front right wheel - had them all readjusted - these cars always seem to pull slightly left or slightly right on braking, but at least mine doesn't bob and weave and wander all over the road. After a few good HARD steady stops to get a better feel for the braking going down a hill I feel much more confident (ie. I can SPEED again). Several times it almost veered into a car beside me. When you brake slightly hard and the back shoes start to grab unevenly it can be scary...

    Steels rims all around - front right rim was different style - might have weighed 1 lbs. different and it LOOKED like the offset was different. Now they're all the same and balanced.

    Stock but undersized (185s), mushy, worn out ice tires on the front and good all seasons on the back (195s) - because there was a bigger, better tire on the back the steering was awful. Rear end was stiff and back tire size and profile were 1 1/2" larger in diameter. This made steering heavy.

    Now I have wider, bigger, smoother tires all around. Car is getting an alignment as I write this. I went with 205/70-14 to fill the wheelwells.

    Each time I did something it got slightly better - so I am very happy with it right now. The steering feels lighter now and, fortunately, I have very little play in the steering wheel.

    Whisky
     
  11. whisky

    whisky Whisky

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    I guess my long winded message doesn't say much... heh... maybe look closely at how your rear suspension effects the front suspension and, esp if you just changed wheels, an alignment.
     
  12. CornedBeef4.6L

    CornedBeef4.6L no longer here

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    Some good advice but I have to disagree on a few points.....

    Without getting technical I advise everybody to read
    Chassis Engineering by Herb Adams
    Great book that explains how changing one part effects another.

    The part I disagree on specifically is stiffening rear suspension that in itself does not cause over/under steer......

    :Handshake
     
  13. PaulS

    PaulS Member extrordiare

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    If you stiffen the rear suspension without ballancing that new stiff rear with a stiffer front the car will over steer. The back end of the car will loose traction when any acceleration is applied in any direction. Speeding up, slowing down, or turning.
     
  14. saltracer

    saltracer Member

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    I'm running 17" Mach 1 wheels that are consideralbly heavier than the stock wheels. Don't know how good a swap this was, but I can't really go back as the 13" brakes require these wheels. In the front I have cut down 480 lb springs (one and 1/2 coils) and four leaf rear JC whitney springs. The car has a nice ride heigth and the ride quality is tollerable. I've had it aligned three times as I've made changes. I may change the idler arm tonight. For some reason I have a new one that never made it to the car. Also have the Total Control bump steer kit half installed.
     
  15. CornedBeef4.6L

    CornedBeef4.6L no longer here

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    That just is not true. Listen to what you wrote.

    The name of the game is minimize deflection.

    To maintain the suspension in a certain amount of travel while maintaining desired alignment angles and weight transfer.

    You are correct in the fact the Front suspension would be a weak link but it would be the cause not the rear of any short comings in the handling.
     

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