View Full Version : Modding Your Car - Not for the Faint of Heart. RESEARCH and PLAN

05-30-2013, 10:58 PM
First off, let me say I've been in LOVE with my 2012 Grigio Abarth since the day I took delivery; my only wish had been that Fiat had come out with the Cabrio Abarth that same year (another story).

I did the Track Experience last Summer and that only made me love my Abarth more, BUT...I had acquired this longing, after the Track Experience to do what I could to turn my Little Beastie into a Track-Capable Daily Driver - which is the Spirit of Abarth if I read, correctly, my history.

So, this month I took The Plunge and did my first mod, Eibach Sportline Springs and a reinforced rear Anti-Sway Bar.

Starting off, I was nervous about the amount of drop the Sportlines would make. But, I forged ahead.

Now, is a good time to share with you that, even though back in the mid-1980's I helped restore an early model Fiat 500 and an Alfa Romeo Boat-tail Spider (we never finished the Spider-couldn't find the 1600cc heads), no one could EVER accuse me of being a gear head. Me and the NEW 500? Back in 2009, in Reno, I saw a 500 Cabrio in a car rental place. It wasn't for rent, and the agent informed me it was the agency owner's personal vehicle - which they were sending back to the factory. It must've been a Euro model that dude had imported. So, at first sighting, I knew what it was and I knew I wanted one.

Returning to present-day, I drove apx. 200 or so miles after having my Eibach Sportlines and replacement anti-sway bar installed - all highway driving - before I heard THE CLUNK. That's when the buyer's remorse, not to mention ABJECT PANIC, set in.

"Oh N-n-NO! I've KILLED my CAR!"

I consulted the forums, and read many posts regarding "THE CLUNK", and the fix Fiat has issued - Good Studios will cover this fix under warranty - regarding jounce bumpers.

My Studio would NOT cover the jounce bumper replacement under warranty, as I had already installed the Eibach springs. NUGGET OF WISDOM: If you're planning to install suspension mods, have your studio install the jounce bumpers BEFORE you install your mod springs.

Hers's the REAL knuckler, I had the shop to whom I'd entrusted my old truck, for years, check out the CLUNK issues with my Abarth, and they found that the linkage on my front anti-sway bar was loose...had nothing to do with jounce bumpers, at all.

That diagnosis and fix only cost me an additional $100; for $100 on top of that, I had them do an alignment, as well. For me, that was a SMALL price to pay to regain my confidence in my little BEASTIE. Not to mention that I now feel like I have a home-town shop on whom I can rely for the other mods I want to do (ZERO confidence in any of the San Antonio Studios, sadly).

Those fixes, allow me to experience/realize the joy I anticipated from my mods. And, I agree with all that everyone else whose done the springs and sway bar mod! Totally changes the character of the ride; hugs the road better, decreases body roll in tight, higher speed turns, looks REALLY cool

I did go ahead and purchase jounce bumpers and top strut mounts - as a preventive measure - FYI.

My point is, regarding mods, - to borrow a Golf metaphor- pay close attention to the "Risk-Reward" factor, and be COMMITTED to achieving the REWARD side of the equation, regardless,...or remain STOCK. I mean, after all, the stock ABARTH is pretty dang neat.
Just one modder-newb's experience/advice.

Peace n ChiknGrease!


Abarth Five O
05-30-2013, 11:10 PM
As the saying goes Dave, "Pay to Play". I have my share of stories of having to tweak the little beast, spending more $, etc. in the spirit of mods. If it weren't so much fun to mod and drive the Abarth, I would buy a ho hummer and keep it stock.

05-31-2013, 10:01 AM
Great post. :)

Experience helps build wisdom if you can wrap your head around the situation and learn from it. The only way to get experience is to learn the hard way and go broke doing it. You can only learn so much from the forums and internet, though if you're skilled at sifting through the copious amounts of BS it's certainly a big help.

From the hundreds of lowering springs and coil-overs I've installed [and fixed] through the years, the most common fault I see from DIY 1st timers is loose front drop-links on Mac strut cars. Most torque specs call for about 35 LbFt of torque on those fasteners, but in reality it's just too little. Torque to that spec and you'll get clunking as the nuts loosen within a few miles. I know this counters the "infallable" workshop service manuals, but Mac strut sway-bar drop links need to be torqued to the safe maximum of their hardware size/material. This is often closer to 50 LbFt for a 16mm nut and 60 LbFt for a 17mm nut. Don't take this as blind advice though, be sure to validate the hardware grade [e.g. grade 8.8, et al] before cranking away.

To throw another "saying" into the mix: If you don't know what you're doing, either do it right (research and learn) or leave it alone.

05-31-2013, 04:21 PM
My studio installs my mods and they are all covered under warranty, they are awesome ^_^