I have 195/50/15. As I said I switched to coilovers with adjustable damping, so I should be able to dial in height (spring rates) and damping as required. I am excited to see the results of swapping. That was actually my best setup for auto-x (not perfect, it still plowed, but that could just be my style ), I love the smaller front bar on the street but in auto-x it didn't help.
Also forgot to mention, I'm on the lookout for new wheels, would like a 7", that should help too.
I have had a few tires in my day (Dunlop Sport A2, Bridgestone Potenza, Falken 912), and the Falkens are my favs. They're the only set I bought a second of. THe Potenzas came on an old car and whil they are supposedly top of the line, they'd only work when hot. The Dunlops were an average everyday tire, and ran out of grip real quick 9but they weren't sporty models either, despite the name). The Falkens have actually saved my ass a few times, and been the grippiest tire I've ever felt (especially in the rain, which is important for a DD). I've heard Toyo makes a good tire too but I was really impressed all around with the 912s, wear, feel, and all weather (even snow) were all impressive.
I ran a set of 912's and they were awesome for daily duties. They lasted a while and I ran those puppies damn near to the cords and they STILL had great grip in the wet. Puddles of course were another story entirely...
The new range of ultra high performance summer tires is quite a different breed than in the past when the falken azenis was king. With the growing popularity of the street tire classes in autox the big companies have come out with some really sticky rubber that is meant to be driven to the track, check out the latest 2 grassroots motorsports issues for a dry and wet test with full results
Falken ZE912's are great DD tires, but no match for a high performance summer tire.
this article is a little more relevant to us since it uses a FWD SF civic as its test vehicles and testing 15" tires. where as the tire tests in the last few GRM issues tested a MX5 on 17" wheels.
problem for those of us running 15" wheels is that they only make a 225/45/15 and that may pose some fender clearance issues.
I would prefer 15. Still gotta look good
I'm setting up my coils and will be doing my alignment this weekend. Anyone have good advice? I've always done -2/3 degrees camber, and 0 toe like the stock specs say. Now I need to factor ride height into that equation. Any suggestions?
I hear ya - they're my race wheels - old skool Revolutions and Panasports (2 sets of 4). The Revolutions are a bit beat up. Maybe I'll refinish them and put them on the '97 Passat I'm hoping to grab for a commuter car.
Enough of that drivel, on to alignment specs...you're on coils, yo - slam it so the rockers scrape and you're golden. No one will be able to keep up with your mad setup regardless of your skillz...er, um, I digress..
Measure the current ride height by measuring the front and rear fender lips to the pavement. Note the difference in height between front and rear which is effectively the rake.
Then set the front so that the control arms are parallel to the pavement (but you already knew that)
Set the rear to the same rake as before you installed coilovers.
IIRC, you drive the car on the street which changes the setup a bit - I run -2.5 degrees camber in front and -1.75 degrees in the rear. I'd stand those up a bit for the street - -1.75 front and -1.5 (factory spec) rear. Zero-toe is good for the front BUT if you're autocrossing, consider running 1/16" to 1/8" toe OUT to enhance turn-in. Don't do that for the track though if the track is bumpy or you'll catch every ridge on the pavement and the car will be a handful on the straights.
Too late, I already swapped out the suspension... I had a bit of reverse rake (Jetta sag) anyway. I'm struggling to set all 4 to the same height. I'm thinking maybe 1/2 inch or so of (front) rake, to accommodate differing loads too (I'm at 1/4 tank right now), but the trunk has some junk too). I'm using the rocker, same point on both ends of the car- the fender flares are bigger/wider in the front to accommodate the turning wheels).
The coils at full height in the front have the arms parallel- and there's almost an inch of dreaded reverse rake with the rear all the way up too. I've heard that coilovers can get stiffer the higher they are (spring preload and such, basically varying the spring rates manually, correct?). So I'm thinking these were designed to be low, and I think I'm just going to have to deal with it. They are damping adjustable but I don't think that'll change the feel of the spring being loaded up.
Hmm. I kinda like a handful but I want it to be a good all-rounder too, so maybe 0 toe to prevent tire wear. The camber shouldn't affect that much. I think I'll go stock camber at the highest practical coilover setting (for winter/adverse conditions), so if i lower it the camber will increase as well. Is there an appreciable increase in camber for, say, a 2" difference in height? How about toe?
Last edited by VDub2625; 08-18-2011 at 09:45 PM.
Lower, then measure. I havn't seen a super direct correspondence with lowering a certain amount vs. the alignment. I'm sure there is one if you do it and measure enough though...
My car is set really low right now cause I just daily drive it, and it handles more than fine for that. I was actually surprised how well it turned in the one autox I did with it at that height. I didn't really notice any horrible bump steer and the car responded very well the the inputs i gave it. The control arms are not level, but are only slightly pointing up. Doing a "real" autox (more than 40sec and higher than 5k rpm) next month, and will likely raise the car a bit for that.
Right now I have -1.7c front unknown in the rear (again street car) and about 1/8th toe out (for the autox). Been actually running this for a while without wearing on the tire too much. Its definitley darty on the freeway though
Last edited by -RalleyTuned-; 08-18-2011 at 10:05 PM.
The reverse rake helps to change the weight bias a bit so it's not all bad - not necessarily attractive but not bad.
So long as all the coils aren't compressed, the rate shouldn't change so long as you have linear rate springs. What length spring are you using? Perhaps the better solution would be to run a longer spring - most likely you have 6" springs - go with a 7" spring so that you have some suspension travel AND you can have some height as well.
When you lower the car, it will change all your settings - camber and toe. If you want to adjust for weather conditions - go with air-ride springs. Otherwise "set it and forget it". If you want to set it for summer and winter, make note of your alignment settings for both. Summer will be aggressive while winter should be STOCK.
Hard to tell in this pic, but this fellow that I crew for changes his ride height and alignment at each track, his rear is always lower than the front.
You can see the wheel gap in the front, the tire is tucked a little in the rear
We dropped the back of the rabbit one weekend when we were dealing with too much oversteer and it helped a ton. We made no other change than just that for 1 session to test and the results were good, and the rear has stayed down ever since
I ran my street car with Neuspeed "Race" springs that slammed the car with the control arms pointing well skyward. The look was cool and my 8000 lb, 19' long pickup truck rode and handled better...
Yup well aware This is my daily and it rides 2x better than my koni/GC's that were over an inch higher (pretty much level controls arms to the naked eye). I have a nice twisty drive on my way to work and the car feels almost as good as my rabbit (roll center corrected control arms that are perfectly level with the same coils). I kinda dropped it "too low" to see exactly what it feels like compared to correct ride height...surprisingly I don't notice any ill effects (ignorance is bliss perhaps in this case haha)
I'm debating running it at this height for the track day in sept, and at lunch raising it up and re-setting the alignment and see if I can feel a difference then...
Caster won't change when you lower it, and the alignment will not change in a good relation when you lower (hence needed an alignment when lowering even a little bit to not get gnar tire wear)
Basically a lower center of gravity, which is all well and good. Will you notice a huge change in performance? eh...Will it look cool and still handle? yes
I'm wondering if it's really reverse rake you guys are talking about... the front wheel housing is purposely bigger and taller than the rear because that's the steering wheels. I would be interested to see you guys measure the height at the rocker panel edges front and rear.
When lowering, the caster is going to increase, though probably not enough to matter. So I should just set the height for the summer and forget it, then re-set it for the winter... I'll need a new alignment? I've read the DIY alignment threads, I can get the toe pretty decent but I don't think I can do the camber. How are you guys doing this at the track?
I've got about a 1/2"~3/4" difference in wheel gap between the front and back. I'll take a level to see if it's actually reverse rake.
GRM article on understanding corner weights
Same at the track as at home, bust out the camber gauge and the strings and measure away. Smart Strings make setup really easy if you have the budget for em, but we stick with the jack stands and straight bars
So today I set the coilovers to an equal height side to side, and more or less equal front to back (maybe 1/4" lower in the front, to compensate for when I have a full tank). One thing that was annoying was that the car's height from the ground was highest (front and rear, to each other) on opposite corners must not be a level surface, or my car has a bit of a boomerang shape I also have the steering rack centered and tried to set the tie rods equal on both sides so the wheels looked straight but could not do it (one side had to be more in than the other), but that could be a visual trick and I'll have to bust out the strings/measuring tape to set that properly.
Camber gauges are expensive!
Sorry to have sorta taken over this thread.. it's perfectly timed as I'm setting the car up right now, lol.
A few things about alignments - they don't have to be 100% perfect, at least not at our level. With 0.1 degree is good for camber. Toe should be perfect and give how it adjusts, that should be easy to set compared to setting camber.
Bear in mind that alignments are an art form - some people have the gift and others are like me - a bull in a china shoppe.
I agree that the machine can set it best. I have a 20 minute drive to my preferred alignment shop though, and I would rather pay the $70 once (due to various parts failing,. I've already had 6 alignments in the last year!). I need to buckle down and choose a damn height already too!
Scare up the NC Region of SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) or perhaps Tarheel Sports Car Club.
NC Region SCCA - http://www.ncrscca.com/
Tarheel - http://www.thscc.com/
I was a member of Tarheel back in ancient history when I lived in Raleigh. Pick their collective brains about shop suggestions - the prices may not be less BUT you'll usually find that shops who understand competition cars (and track cars) tend to better at and for "aggressive alignments".