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Educate me on suspension
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Thread: Educate me on suspension

  1. #1
    Member piney500's Avatar
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    Educate me on suspension

    OK, this is a little embarrassing, to say the least, but here goes. So, my 500T is the first car I've owned since my long distant youth that I'm able to tweak and make more sporty. I need to preface this by saying that I'm definitely not the most mechanically inclined person in the world (so brace yourself for stupid question time) and don't even really have a grasp on anything but the basics of maintenance. Good news is I'm a great visual learner and I do have a savant-like ability to "monkey see, monkey do" so at least there's that.

    Anyway, to the main point of my post. I've gleaned through reading hundreds of posts over the last few weeks that before I go trying to increase the forward momentum of my car I probably want to stiffen up the suspension. Makes perfect sense to me. I do, however, have questions. Mainly about what impacts the ride and handling the most and where I can get the most immediate benefit for the money, because this will affect the order of priority on my to-do list. Having said that, I'm pretty sure that I'd like to do the following (not listed in any particular order):

    Koni rear shocks
    Rear Anti-sway/torsion bar (?)
    Chassis braces
    Front brace bar

    Here are my questions:

    1. Since I'm just shopping right now, what is the difference between an anti-sway bar and a torsion bar? Is there any difference or are they just two names for the same thing? I know it sounds like a super dumb question, but I certainly don't want to buy the wrong thing.

    2. Which of the listed components will give me the most benefit right away without depending on the others, i.e. is the anti-sway bar going to do me much good without the benefit of the Konis?

    3. If I have a front brace bar, do I really need chassis braces?

    Thanks much in advance for any help and for humoring an idiot. Really appreciate it!
    Last edited by piney500; 11-17-2014 at 12:32 AM.
    His - 2013 500T Cattiva, Rame
    Hers - 2012 500 Sport, Bianco Perla

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    Senior Member nilfinite's Avatar
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    1. Yup on the rear of the car, torsion bar and sway bar are the same thing.

    2. The shocks and sway bar are both independently good. Don't need both if you don't want to spring for both. I'd recommend the shocks and chassis brace first just because they are the easiest. The biggest benefit will come from the torsion bar. For the turbo, I think you have three torsion bar options. The ST & RRM bars which require a hole drilled on each side or CPR's weld-on brackets. I personally like CPR's weld-on because you can pick the thickness of the torsion bar that you put on but that's only if you do plan on racing the car.

    3. By the front brace bar, are you referring to the bar in the engine bay or CPR's bar that goes on the bottom of the car? The engine bay bar is useless. CPR's bar is great but independently good, you don't absolutely need both. But having both would help.

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    Member piney500's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nilfinite View Post
    1. Yup on the rear of the car, torsion bar and sway bar are the same thing.
    Kind of thought so. Thanks for confirming. I'm assuming that mainly what they do is keep the car from rolling as much?

    Quote Originally Posted by nilfinite View Post
    2. The shocks and sway bar are both independently good. Don't need both if you don't want to spring for both. I'd recommend the shocks and chassis brace first just because they are the easiest. The biggest benefit will come from the torsion bar. For the turbo, I think you have three torsion bar options. The ST & RRM bars which require a hole drilled on each side or CPR's weld-on brackets. I personally like CPR's weld-on because you can pick the thickness of the torsion bar that you put on but that's only if you do plan on racing the car.
    Don't plan on racing (at least not for now), just want some increased performance handling. And I do plan on going with CPR's gear. I was also under the impression that lowering the car with the shocks would help the bar do it's job better, so would one not benefit significantly from the other?

    Quote Originally Posted by nilfinite View Post
    3. By the front brace bar, are you referring to the bar in the engine bay or CPR's bar that goes on the bottom of the car? The engine bay bar is useless. CPR's bar is great but independently good, you don't absolutely need both. But having both would help.
    As mentioned above, I do plan on using CPR's hardware so it would be the bottom one. Thanks!
    His - 2013 500T Cattiva, Rame
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    Boost Addict Lifetime Member opiateESP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nilfinite View Post
    1. Yup on the rear of the car, torsion bar and sway bar are the same thing.

    2. The shocks and sway bar are both independently good. Don't need both if you don't want to spring for both. I'd recommend the shocks and chassis brace first just because they are the easiest. The biggest benefit will come from the torsion bar. For the turbo, I think you have three torsion bar options. The ST & RRM bars which require a hole drilled on each side or CPR's weld-on brackets. I personally like CPR's weld-on because you can pick the thickness of the torsion bar that you put on but that's only if you do plan on racing the car.

    3. By the front brace bar, are you referring to the bar in the engine bay or CPR's bar that goes on the bottom of the car? The engine bay bar is useless. CPR's bar is great but independently good, you don't absolutely need both. But having both would help.
    Well said.

    Just to add. Mine is lowered on stock shocks and they don't feel as good as they were stock so I suspect there's some premature wear going on. Consider Coilovers or full Koni setup.
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    Senior Member streetsurfer's Avatar
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    This article on suspension designs may help you with your decisions.

    http://www.rqriley.com/suspensn.htm

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    Lifetime Member Lifetime Member SeaDawg's Avatar
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    I owned a 2012 Sport, which has basically the same suspension as the T, for 2 1/2 years before I purchased the Abarth. If you do buy lowering springs you will find the added stiffness of the springs will virtually eliminate body roll by them selves. But, I personally went with the RRM rear sway bar and I found it helped keep the wheels planted on some washboard pavement not far from my house. If there was any body roll/lean before the addition of the rear sway bar, there wasn't any after the fact. I never upgraded the shocks on that vehicle, but it would probably be worthwhile as the amount of rebound is decreased when you install the lowering springs. I'd also probably recommend NorCalSS's modified bump stops to give you more rear suspension travel room with the lowering springs. I had the chassis braces installed, but never added any additional bars up front.

    Good luck with your mods!
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    Lifetime Member Lifetime Member MAZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nilfinite View Post
    1. Yup on the rear of the car, torsion bar and sway bar are the same thing.
    Umm, Isn't the 'torsion bar' the rear beam that acts as the rear 'axle'? In VW nomenclature it is called the 'torsion beam axle'
    (On the 500 it is the part that flips down when you want to remove the spings)
    And the rear sway bar is a separate piece all together, it runs parallel to the torsion beam axle to stabilize it?
    Perhaps terms 'torsion' and 'sway' now mean the same for the 'rear bar'?

    You do not need a front top brace, that is a complete waste of money.

    For FWD vehicles, What you do to the front effects the rear and what you do to the rear effects the front in terms of stiffness and control.

    Best bang for the buck would be a large rear sway bar and a set of adjustable coilovers, KW V3's come to mind.
    Last edited by MAZ; 11-17-2014 at 11:47 AM.

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    Senior Member lammie200's Avatar
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    Being that I have done everything that you have listed, I would do them all in the order that you listed them.

    The stock shocks are worthless. You will get a lot more of a stable feeling in the rear end with the Koni's after they are broken in. The anti-sway bar will help with the understeer. You will get a lot more neutral of a feeling out of the steering with it. I would go with the STS bar since it is the cheapest and the easiest to install. The chassis braces are a "must-have" IMHO. Stiffens up the front end greatly. Your car will feel less cheaply designed/built with them in place. They will also add to the preciseness of the steering. I don't have a lower brace bar because I am lowered, but I can see benefits of having one. The upper brace bar is mostly cosmetic, but you might get less vibration out of having one. Also, with the way the engine is mounted you might get a more stable feeling out of the front end.
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    Member piney500's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input so far. As stated previously, I have no intention of doing an upper brace bar in the front, so that is a non-issue. After thinking about it I'm probably going to forgo having a front brace bar altogether and just do chassis braces. Since I live in a more rural area it wouldn't be the best idea for me to slam this car given the roads around here. The first 15-20 miles of questionably paved roads getting to the highway from my house could be murder on this car if the profile where too low. However, I was wondering how worth it it would be to at least bring the rear down to the same level as the front. I'm sure that any decrease in elevation would help, but at what point does the cost outweigh the benefit if I'm only going to go so far?
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    Senior Member Sales@roadrace's Avatar
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    Your car has a Torsion Bar, a sway bar (like on the Dart) is attached to end links, a torsion bar is not (from what I understand). Our Torsion Bars come with super beefy Aluminum Brackets and the bar, so it can bolt right on.
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