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Discussion Starter #1
My Sky Redline hits 10 yrs old this fall!
And I've done nothing to the suspension.
Its like driving on metal. Rough is not strong enough of a word.

Can someone spell out a down and dirty suspension upgrade for a guy who is just a driver of a convertible, and not looking for SCCA performance? I just want to bring back that new car loving feeling on the road.

(I'll also add that handling on the road is "squishy". Car used to feel like a magnet on the road, now it floats)

What should I upgrade/fix?
And any product suggestions?

Shocks, Bushings... ?

There is a ton of information here, but looking for the down and dirty list

I appreciate the help!
 

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I would say simply changing the shocks would make a big improvement. I have seen cars with 25000 miles with worn out shocks. If you notice any squeaking or noise when going over bumps then you may also look at changing the bushings in the front and rear sway. "Floating" as you call it is a good sign the shocks are gone. The stabilizer links( there are 4 all total ) could also be getting bad but if that was the case you should be hearing more "noise" on things like bumps and pot holes.
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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Discussion Starter #4
I keep reading...

I don't understand the mix of; Shocks, coils, springs, bushings, sway bars...
Probably why I haven't done anything.

starting simple, what is a good shock to buy that doesn't cost $250 each?
 

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There are lots of shocks available - if you advertise here you may be lucky enough to get a set of almost new take-offs from a member that fitted more performance oriented shocks early in the life of their car.

I passed my GXP stock shocks along to an NA owner (they are a mild upgrade for them).
 

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Ahnuld, don't cheap out on shocks. At the very least, stick with the factory style Bilsteins.

Here are the FE3 (Redline/GXP shocks) front and rear strut spring assemblies for sale.

Pontiac Solstice Saturn Sky GXP Redline Front Shock Strut Spring Assembly FE3 | eBay

Solstice Sky Opel GT GXP Redline Coil Over Rear Shock Strut Spring Assembly FE3 | eBay

That's $199 per shock for the fronts, $100 per shock for the rears. This was just a simple and quick eBay search. You may find them elsewhere.

Your other option is to go with a set of aftermarket coil overs like the BC coil overs that run about $1,000 for the set. These are a nice upgrade but really only worth it if you want the adjustability to get the most out of your suspension or to lower your car. If you just want stock ride and ride height, stick with the very good stock units.

Putting them on is simple if you have four jack stands and a decent set of mechanic's tools. If you don't work on your car, then you'd have to pay the price to have them put on.

I would stay away from buying take off shocks (shocks people remove from their cars when they replace them with other shocks) as you never really know what you're going to get.

As for the different parts of your suspension, here's a quick rundown:

Springs - These are the part most people are familiar with. These are coiled springs in our cars (other cars like trucks may have leaf springs...VW Bugs had torsion bar springs...there are a lot of different "springs" but our Kappas have coil springs). Their job is to carry the weight of the car while allowing the suspension to move up and down. How much they allow up and down movement depends on the rating of the spring. A "heavier" spring rate will resist motion more than a "lighter" spring rate. A heavier rate will let the car roll less in the corners but will result in a harsher ride while the opposite is true of lighter spring rates.

Shocks - Also called dampers. The job of the shocks is to absorb the energy transferred to the suspension by road forces and the springs of the suspension. When a spring is compressed, energy is stored in the spring. When you release that energy, the spring is going to expand past it's original position. As it slows, it now wants to return to it's resting position but again, the energy it has stored from being expanded will cause it to contract past this initial resting length and the process starts all over again. Obviously with each cycle the amount of energy stored and released is less than the time before. If you drive with worn out shocks, you'll experience this spring oscillation when you go over a speed bump...the vehicle will feel like it "bounces" a few times before settling down. This is the role of the shocks, to dampen this oscillation.

However, shocks will also help resist suspension movement too. A firmer shock will allow the car to roll less but give it a harsher ride while a softer shock will do the opposite. Just keep in mind that adjusting the dampening is fine tuning this effect. To make bigger adjustments, you would change spring rates. Also, heavier spring rates should see firmer dampers since the harder springs will hold and release more energy over the same compression distance as lighter springs and thus will require more dampening to control their compression and rebound.

When it comes to more high end and adjustable units, often times the user can adjust how much dampening the shock has on compression and how much dampening it has for rebound. For most users, this is overkill but if you want to go racing on a track, dual adjustable dampers are a must. For the rest of us mortals, a single adjustable dampers like the BC units is enough. A single adjustment shock will adjust both the compression and rebound settings together. For the user, you either have a softer overall setting, or a firmer overall setting for both compression and rebound.

Anti-Sway Bars - These are strictly used to control body roll. Now it was mentioned before that both springs and dampers can control body roll. However, roll is only job your suspension has to deal with. One is the front to back shifting of weight when you accelerate or brake and the other is absorbing bumps in the road. If you use just spring rate and shock firmness to try and combat roll, you'd be left with a car that would have very firm suspension and would have handling problems when on the gas or brake while feeling like a jackhammer on bumpy roads. The way we can reduce body roll without having a personal chiropractor on call is with anti-sway bars (also called anti-roll bars).

These bars run from your left side suspension arm to the right side suspension arm and there is one in the front and a separate one in the rear. These bars mount to the chassis in rubber (very hard rubber) bushings and metal mounts. When both left and right tires hit a bump, the anti-sway bar contributes nothing to the stiffness of the suspension. Both ends ride up, and both ends ride down.

When you turn however, one suspension arm is being forced up (the tire on the outside of the turn), while the other suspension arm wants to "fall down" as the chassis rolls through the turn. When one arm goes up and the other goes down the anti-sway bar now gets twisted and wants to resist this twist. It tries to pick up the suspension arm that's wanting to fall and pushes down on the suspension arm that is being pushed up by the weight transfer in the turn. This means the bar is fighting the rolling motion of the chassis and trying to keep it level.

Like with springs anti-sway bars come in different sizes. A thicker bar is generally a stiffer bar and resists more roll than a softer or thinner bar. There is a lot more to it than this (such as where the end links connect to the bar) but if you're going to get that into sway bars, chances are you're going racing.

Bushings - Bushings are hard rubber inserts of various sizes that are used in our suspension where we have moving joints. Such places are the aforementioned anti-sway bar chassis mounts but we also have such bushings in our A-arm mounts. These bushings can wear out over time but again, unless you're a die hard racer or the car has REALLY high mileage, these are things you generally don't replace. Most folks that replace bushings do so to swap out the softer factory bushings with something firmer so that the suspension is doing more of the work it was designed to do. This is often referred to as getting ride of the "slop" in your suspension.

To understand this, think of a trailer hitch. You have a ball and you have a socket. Imagine you put a 2.25" hitch socket on a 2" ball. It would work, but the hitch would be able to move around a lot on the ball compared to using a 2" hitch and a 2" ball. When GM and other manufacturer's build a car, they are about striking a balance between performance, comfort and cost. A soft bushing costs less but will give a more comfortable ride while a firmer polyurethane bushing will give better performance but cost more and give a harsher ride. Obviously you've had no problems with the performance of these stock "soft" bushings so it's not that they are "bad"...it's just for some folks who like to race they want to get the most performance out of their suspension and to them, they feel the upgraded bushings make a difference.

I got polyurethane bushings when I got my Z0K anti-sway bars from DDM and love them...I just have to really grease them every so often (Like now) or they squeak.

Anti-Sway Bar End links - These are the links that connect your anti-sway bar ends to your suspension arms. They have a bushing or joint on each end since the bar and the arm move and the link must adapt to this movement while transitioning the force from the suspension arm to the bar. These can wear out but I have yet to have a worn out end link. Even so, they do make replacement links which are thicker (with the theory that they will transfer force more efficiently to the bar and thus give a more precise and consistant feel) and have serviceable joints which can (and must) be greased over their life making these end links more consistent over their life than the stock units. For racers (or people like me that are just that anal retentive) there is some value to these links. For the average user, unless your end links are making noise, you're probably good with the stock units.

"Coil Over" shocks - Most people will refer to after market shocks and springs for our cars as Coil Overs. Really, this is kind of a misnomer. A Coil Over shock assembly is one in which the Coil Spring of the suspension sits over (or around) the shock/dampener body. Our stock suspension is a Coil Over design already. What we are really talking about when we talk about buying Coil Overs for our cars is that we're getting different springs (usually a wee bit stiffer) and an adjustable damper to replace or stock springs and non-adjustable dampers. So really we already have "Coil Overs" but the aftermarket "Coil Overs" give us more options and features over our stock units.

Examples

Factory Units:


BC Units:


In that last picture you can also see the anti-sway bar (big red bar on the right) and the polyurethane bushings it attaches with to the chassis. The end link to the suspension arm is behind brake rotor.

I know this is a lot longer than I intended it to be but hope it clarifies your suspension.
 

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My ride also feels rough like i can feel every little bump is that just the stiff suspention when i push down on each corner of the car it springs right back up and doesnt bounce at all so are the shocks good maybe i need new tires?
 

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My ride also feels rough like i can feel every little bump is that just the stiff suspention when i push down on each corner of the car it springs right back up and doesnt bounce at all so are the shocks good maybe i need new tires?
Does it feel different from when you got the car?

Just asking because the Sky is by far one of the stiffest bumpiest cars I've ever driven (it wins BY FAR on the list of cars I've owned).

Other contenders:
A friend's dad's 914. Very fun to drive. Turrabull on teh bumps :banghead:

A different friends highly modified MX-6. Yeah, he may have eventually gotten it dialed in a little better. He over stiffened because he hated body roll with a hot passion (some roll is good though, so the car wasn't that fun to drive). :eek:
 

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70K is about the time it is recommended to change your shocks so it could be they are going bad but it really is about ride. A bumpy ride can indicate the shocks are no longer absorbing the impact that is compressing the suspension like they use to. However, see how the car feels when you go over a speed bump. If it wants to bounce a bit after the bump, chances are your shocks are needing replacement. The push down by hand test I've never really felt put enough energy into the shocks to get them to bounce if they are bad.
 

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It doesnt really bounce much it feels like its super stiff like there no spring at all not to the point that it makes a slamming sound everytime i hit a little bump (had an old car that did that) but there is a good thud every time i hit one
 

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that thud can be 2 things
1. Bad shock and you are bottoming out
2. the whole shock/coil assembly is not bolted down all the way

The second is not uncommon on our cars after time. The nuts on the top bolts can back out a bit. I would first suggest that you going around and verify all of the nuts are torqued down to the correct spec.
if the sound continues after that, you most likely need to replace a shock.

I will be installing my BC Coilovers this weekend. My shocks are super bouncy right now. I think the amount of time it sat without being driven caused this.

Ahnuld
If I remember correctly you are not too far from me. I have swapped out suspensions so many times on our kappa's that I am pretty quick and efficient. If you get some replacement parts and want help, feel free to drive over to my place. I have the tools and space
 

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I'll be interested in seeing how you like them. I like the balance of the 7Ks but we'll see how it feels on the Autocross track come June with some fresh rubber on it. I keep kicking around the idea of changing out the springs.
 
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