Niran

Upgraded Sway Bars, Bushings, and General Suspension Upgrades with Coilovers

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A few of us were discussing this topic on my build thread. Thought it would be good to get a thread up and generate more discussion on the topic. 

 

The main discussion point is some vendors say using stock sway bars and bushings with quality coilovers yields the best handling and comfort, while others oppose this saying upgraded bushings and sway bars along with coilovers are best.

 

I've seen / heard of race winning cars running both scenarios and performing well which make it an even harder decision to make. 

 

Here is the response i got directly from MCA today:

 

"For any vehicle that will be seeing track work we would recommend our Street Ultimates, Race Primes or Race Reds.  The Street Performance and the Street essentials were never designed for track use.

 

As for sway bars and bushes we strongly recommend factory sway bars and factory suspension arm bushes.  Stiffening up a car for the track can be a good thing but there is a certain amount of suspension movement required for the suspension to function correctly and modifications like larger aftermarket sway bars and suspension arm bushes can really start to limit this movement quite significantly. Through all our years of testing we have found factory sway bars and bushes to offer better comfort on the street and more performance on the track when paired with a tailored suspension set up specifically for a car.

 

Josh the owner of MCA still runs all stock sway bars, sway bar bushes, lower control arm bushes and all other bushes that play a role in the suspension functioning correctly.  His 86 is currently the fastest 86 in Australia and possibly the world as far as we know.

  

If you wanted the best combination of comfort and performance our Street Ultimate series might be the best possible option for you.  I will not offer the same performance level as the race primes or race reds but is a custom valved and sprung product specifically for your use of the vehicle.  It incorporates our latest Fusion valving technology along with a more powerful damper adjust which helps to give a good blend between comfort and performance for when the vehicle is being driven on the street.

This series retails at $2750 including GST"

 

Seems pretty clear cut! But...

 

I spoke to Whiteline today as well and they basically said the opposite.

 

From all the testing they've done on basically all the WRX (and other makes/models) generations, upgraded sway bars along with correctly matched coilover springs give you the best result. He did mention softer springs might be more suited with bigger sway bars.

 

So. Post up your experiences and lets generate some discussion? Surely there has to be a best of both worlds scenario here

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Cheers for doing the research and posting this up, its really good info. This is one of those 'it all depends on the application' topics. 

 

TLDR: I trust MCA's advince - They are based in our hemisphere and drive the same cars as we do on very simliar roads/tracks we do. 

 

IMO: MCA is in a better position to be calling the shots. Whiteline make some good products but if i was going to take anyones word, it would be the chap that is passing on feedback directly from the man in the seat of the car. I've run MCA Coilovers and have no doubt they know what they are doing. If running their products take their advice. 

 

On the flipside when running some generic BC or YellowSpeed Coilovers that dont nesaserily have spring rates tailored to your car, you may be able to create a better overall result with off the shelf items such as differnet bushings or swaybards. This is not the route I would take however.

 

Furthermore! I think this is a humours topic in someways due to the fact that Swaybars are one of the common DIY driveway mods for street car enthousiats, its cute because arguably you are really just making your car less comfortable for the street. But we always do things like this to our delightful street cars anyway so i'm not pointing fingers, I've run Coilovers way to low and ruied ride comfort purily for easthetics... but i refuse to drop $200+ on swaybars that simply do not help the vehicle perform "better" but rather "differntly" on the street.  

 

 

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The track is usually nice a smooth, no pot holes, dips etc - good scenario for suspension, no sudden change in force i.e hitting a pot hole or one wheel getting stuck in a groove and pulling the car in a different direction causing random movement in the arms etc)

 

Road: all sorts of s*** surfaces, suspension components are being pushed and pulled in all sorts of directions - in this situation I would not want soft bushes allowing multiple components to move around at weird angles.

 

A car can be made to go straight really well.

 

A car can be made to corner really well.

 

Doing both is hard and where compromise is needed (or a big wallet and R&D team)

 

Sway bars are good on a level road, going over bumps can cause the car to act very squirmy - but generally an upgraded sway bar makes the car feel more solid.

 

Bushes if they are too soft and have a lot of play can mean that the alignment can changes a few degrees under force. I experienced first hand when I was working on my car. I took the rear coilovers off the rear control arm to make adjustments to my sway bar etc, to get them back in I had to push the tyres in/out to get the bolts to line back up, and it was amazing to see how much the tyre would flex on certain angles as i pushed it (soft control arm / toe bushes).

 

Bushes are generally there to isolate vibration and provide cushioning so the ride is improved. You don't want movement in these places, but for the general public you don't want noise and vibration on a road car.

 

Coilovers have their place when they are designed well and tested. 

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I'm not a suspension expert but I suspect that a lot of it has to do with the damping profile of the shocks in the car. MCA and other decent suspension companies use a digressive damping profile meaning that over smaller bumps the damper remains very stiff but when a bigger hit occurs it softens up. You can control roll extremely well while maintaining ride and wheel independence. When sway bars were introduced as 'the' silver bullet subaru handling cure all in the 90's/early 00's this sort of damping was not as common. Believe MCA has a more modern approach than Whiteline.  

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Independent roll control at each corner by using coilovers doesn’t address the other issue which occurs during hard cornering, that is the wheel itself trying to roll under itself from lateral force and creating less than ideal wheel alignment.

 

Sway bars help keep the wheel in place while also limiting body roll, the drawback with this is that you lose wheel independence and whatever happens to one wheel more or less happens to the other to some degree.

 

I can’t remember clearly but I recall an episode of Top gear or the Grand tour where they were driving a new Mclaren at the time and one of the key features was independent wheel control ? They attributed this to the tremendous handling ability of the car, each wheel was completely independent (power delivery, movement etc?) 

 

edit: 4 wheel independent steering 

Edited by Omsin
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So a coilover manufacturer told you that struts are more important, and a bushing manufacturer told you that bushings are more important? Now there's the surprise of the century. /sarcasm.

 

If the factory bushings are so s*** hot, why do the WRC Subarus use pillowballs pretty much everywhere?

 

Also, #unpopularopinion but I would say (total spitball figure) probably 80% of adjusty/coilover installs reduce the car's cornering grip. Best thing I ever did for my car's handling was make it a whole s***load softer.

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4 hours ago, boon said:

So a coilover manufacturer told you that struts are more important, and a bushing manufacturer told you that bushings are more important? Now there's the surprise of the century. /sarcasm.

 

If the factory bushings are so s*** hot, why do the WRC Subarus use pillowballs pretty much everywhere?

 

Also, #unpopularopinion but I would say (total spitball figure) probably 80% of adjusty/coilover installs reduce the car's cornering grip. Best thing I ever did for my car's handling was make it a whole s***load softer.

Riding sports bikes I can definitely say it’s better to be soft than too hard. Any little bump would upset the bike. Struts are supposed to absorb bumps in the road.

 

The thing upgraded coilovers are supposed to offer is improved rebound and compression (individually adjustable that is) while not getting too hot or aerating the shock fluid.

 

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Having spent some time on a sportsbike I'm of the opinion that too soft is just as sketchy as too firm. 

 

I personally run mca performance series with whiteline bars and links

 

I have softened the mca's up by like 4 clicks f+r as I'm running 9kg/mm front and 8kg/mm rears as it's a occasional track/autocross/fast road type setup. 

 

It's going to be some trial and error, and to be fair bars are cheaper than struts to swap around. Most people do one or the other, I appear to be in the very small section of people that have done both. 

 

My setup is firm, and I know the alignment is a little out, but so far it's been really good. Can't really comment too much though, as I've only got maybe 1500km on it since putting in the struts, most of which has been work commute

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1 hour ago, Kiwi_Fozze said:

Having spent some time on a sportsbike I'm of the opinion that too soft is just as sketchy as too firm. 

 

I personally run mca performance series with whiteline bars and links

 

I have softened the mca's up by like 4 clicks f+r as I'm running 9kg/mm front and 8kg/mm rears as it's a occasional track/autocross/fast road type setup. 

 

It's going to be some trial and error, and to be fair bars are cheaper than struts to swap around. Most people do one or the other, I appear to be in the very small section of people that have done both. 

 

My setup is firm, and I know the alignment is a little out, but so far it's been really good. Can't really comment too much though, as I've only got maybe 1500km on it since putting in the struts, most of which has been work commute

Yes never go SOFT, but in comparison to track setups it’s good to be near factory settings for the road.

 

For example, on some bikes you can adjust the preload on the rear shock on a sports bike, setting this one thing too hard means there is very little give and the force will go through the bike and not the shock and either give you a good jolt and wobble the bike or cause the tyre to break traction. Too soft and you pogo or there’s moments where there’s very little weight on the rear wheel

 

I have both coilovers and upgraded sways. Halfway through changing out bushes and also ticked off quite a bit of chassis bracing on my car 😁.


 

My experience so far 

-stiff sway bars on stock suspension 

-one position softer on sway bars with stiffer coilovers

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Think i agree with everyone's opinions here. From what i've research in parallel too is that the best way is to start with a good set of coilovers, and then keep adding 'stiffness' from there. You don't want to buy 22mm bars and then install nice coilovers to find the bars are way to stiff. That makes a lot of sense to me. 

 

What doesn't make sense is why MCA say to not even upgrade the stock bushes? That seems bizarre. Surely at least whiteline bushings, maybe endlinks with their coilovers would mean less slop and better handling?  

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+1 bushings, swaybars, endlinks and coilovers. Not ideal for roads though, especially all these pot holes and speedbumps around (Akld). It is quite stiff. Never tracked but I'm assuming that's where my setup shines.

Edited by ACE3.0R
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7 hours ago, Niran said:

What doesn't make sense is why MCA say to not even upgrade the stock bushes? That seems bizarre. Surely at least whiteline bushings, maybe endlinks with their coilovers would mean less slop and better handling?  

 

Yeah I find this hard to believe as well, sway bar thing I understand but look at any S201-204 impreza and generally one of the main differences is they have the whole STi catalogue of pillowball lateral links/trailing arms/sway bar links in the back. 

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Guess Some poly bushes remove the linearity of the movement by being quite firm while turning on odd angles which can negatively affect handling but to say leave everything stock except coilovers seems excessive. 

A bush with less movement will definitely keep the alignment in check when driving hard but finding hard before/after data to back anything up is almost impossible

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Don’t get whiteline bushes, go for superpro or Group N (factory Subaru bushes with hardened rubber made for rally spec cars).

 

Whiteline is ok but you’ll probably have less trouble if you go for the other two.

 

 

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Hardrace is another good option. Most of their’s are hardened runner rather than poly which in theory will give a firmer but smoother ride

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so was down at Speedhub again today, paying for the tyres i bought off em. 

 

Had really good yarn with Paul. The 800hp vantage rally car has, wait for it, a 30mm titanium rear sway bar, and a 27mm front one lol. 20k worth of actual strut on top of that. The springs are on the softer side apparently. That car rips at lead foot etc. But is a full race car.

 

He reckons sway bars are the way to go with good suspension. Apparently MCA parts are made in China and assembled in Aus! Obviously made to spec.

 

He reckons whiteline links and bars are decent enough, but not some of the bushings.

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Rally cars are like that, soft springs and heavy roll bars. The bumps are largely rut or jump impacts and even across the wheels. 
Soft springs allows for the weight transfer under braking and flicking the car around corners is controlled by the roll bar.  
 Though you can take a few kg/mm out of springs once you get a good call cage due to reduced body flex. 
 

titanium seems odd bar material since it is more brittle than steel. Plus is that bar hollow or is titanium just used to linkage arms?
 

MCA gold are the only Ozzie made ones. Not bad at $5k a set. It’s on the tarmac setup of masons car I think, but most are reiger (sp?) for gravel. 

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When you have firmer coilovers the sway bar becomes ineffective. It’s the body roll / weight transfer that activates / builds up resistance in the sway bar and engages the link to the other wheel so to speak

 

I would run my car on the softer settings if I had better dampers (reacts poorly over bumps) as the car really hooks on tight corners with the upgraded sway bars.

 

 

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This is where the last two generations of STi have had changes. The Post 2007 C spec and facelift have heavier spring rates. The VA 2016 damper bodies are even shorter and better valved. 
 

I think the sway bars are still the same or at most 1mm bigger. 
 

if you run lowering springs it’s too soft then too hard to make up for reduced travel. 

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The V11 facelift Spec C is a great car to drive. I even drove one with HKS coilovers and it was fantastic. Guess it depends on the setup overall.

 

@Niran what width and offset are your wheels? Going beyond factory specs usually has a negative impact on straight line stability and cornering as the axis moves further out due wider and lower offset wheels?

Edited by Omsin

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12 minutes ago, Omsin said:

The V11 facelift Spec C is a great car to drive. I even drove one with HKS coilovers and it was fantastic. Guess it depends on the setup overall.

 

@Niran what width and offset are your wheels? Going beyond factory specs usually has a negative impact on straight line stability and cornering as the axis moves further out due wider and lower offset wheels?

 

Gone +1 inch - 18x9.5 +38. I'd probably disagree to your point on width. If its setup well, you get oodles more grip. My car actually handles bloody well tbh. Ask @Gripless lol. Took him for spirited drive haha. Could only get better with a nicer set of coilovers. Just don't want to make a bad choice with sway bars. 

 

Check out Mark Jagers time attack setup. 11 inch wheels, 315s on the tyres... insane

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@Niran car has way more grip from the wider wheels. You notice it most on flat roundabouts where it does squeak a tire and just keeps grip. 
 

I’ll do the same to mine at some point. 

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Had a chat with RSS who get the MCA shocks in for us in NZ. He reckons they are a bit adverse to sway bars because it makes it harder for them to calculate the right spring rates for the application. Either way, the best approach for applying sway bars is getting the shocks first and then adding stiffness as fit. So should be fine.

 

Options are:

Race Primes: $2350

Street Ultimates: $2750

Race Reds: $2900

 

Keen to see what you guys think

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I over your tein you’d need to setup to gold ones to make it worth it. 
 

sway bars are more a personal choice in the balance of the car. While bigger isn’t better for grip lots more fun and feels better to most. 

 

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24 or 22mm solid adjustable bars seem to be the go to for the majority of people and can be fine tuned for your driving style . Larger bars aren’t “usually” beneficial on typical road cars.


 

 

If you’re getting coils i would start off with those and then work out if you want sways. Stock STI’s sways might end up being enough for you. 
 

With the adjustable sways you can dial in the under or over steer or make the car neutral.

 

More important would be replacing your suspension components with spherical bushings if you wanted the best handling and feedback

 

 

Edited by Omsin
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