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 Post subject: Weird suspension problem
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:09 am 
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I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with my left rear wheel without success, I hope you guys can make some suggestions.
The wheel has some serious negative camber and the car is dropped on that corner about 1 finger more than at the right side. At first I thought is was a weak spring, but that was ruled out after measuring the springs under the car. I tried a spring from another a swift as well, but got confused about whether I installed the same spring or not , after noticing that nothing was changed :P .
The control arm and toe bar seem OK as well and the strut tower looks pretty much like the other one, but that's visually of course (don't know how to measure if it's bent?). And even if it was I don't sea how, cuz there are no indications of the car even getting crashed from that side and there are no rust-spots around the tower either.
Here are some pics

image_id: 22413 image_id: 22400 image_id: 22412 image_id: 22398

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Last edited by elbola on Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:39 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:27 am 
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anybody?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:29 am 
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Driver side almost always sags, take both springs out and put the tallest one in the drivers side and remeasure.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:18 am 
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Also check to see if the shock has a bend right at the very bottom where the hub assy bolts on with the pinch bolt, often on a hard rear end bottom-out the shock gives a little in this area.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:42 am 
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or check the shocks themselves. my Left Side (Passenger in my case; drivers side for yours) had completely collapsed, i was riding on the springs pretty much. the struts were just there as a show piece.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:29 am 
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Thanks for the reply's guys. I will take everything out again next week from both sides and compare the parts out of the car, but as I said earlier... I measured the springs on the car and they where both compressed equally; so I guess it will probably be a bent strut. Did any of you guys ever measured the length between the strut-tops, so I can know if the left strut-tower is bent? I think it would be smart to check that out, before taking everything apart.

Fyrestorm wrote:
or check the shocks themselves. my Left Side (Passenger in my case; drivers side for yours) had completely collapsed, I was riding on the springs pretty much. the struts were just there as a show piece.

How could a weak strut cause these issues :huh: ? As far as I know the springs offer resistance when the body is traveling down and the struts when it's going up... the springs being the ones determining the actual height of the car? Correct me if I'm wrong though

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:06 pm 
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The only way a strut could affect ride height is if it is gas charged. None of the OEM suzuki struts would affect the ride height at all......

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:09 am 
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OK guys I disassembled everything today... before doing anything I noticed the control arm being a little off, like it's mounting points were moved from the stock locations or something. See how the toe bar is slant (left picture), compared to the passenger side (right picture)?

image_id: 22435 image_id: 22436 the spring is kind off on a diagonal position as well.


Looking at the parts specifically, I could see a difference between the left and right spring (same order in picture). It seems like the left one has like one quart less coil, but the right one is more compressed... and they have still the same height; which is probably why they measured the same while still on the car. So should I overlook the fact that the springs are not actually equal?

image_id: 22438


Than the left strut is longer than the right one :huh:

image_id: 22437

The control arm itself (left/bottom on pictures) seems OK... no visual damage or inconsistencies if the other one (right/top on pictures) is used as reference.

image_id: 22440 image_id: 22439

So what I'm I missing here? Should I check anything else? and what should most likely be the issue here? I just don't want to put everything on and off the whole time until I find the weak link, that's gonna take a lot of time and effort :(

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:20 am 
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update:

I swapped the springs and shocks one at a time and there was no improvement, as a matter of fact I think it got worse after putting the right spring on the left side. I really don't know what to do anymore... the control arm is noticeable out of place, but I can't see why; as it's mounting places don't seem to be moved. The one right after the fuel tank is a little "damaged" like it was hit with a rock or something, but it doesn't seem to be moved or anything. You can see the position of the arm at the first pic of the previous post.

Ideas?

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:03 am 
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I too have a mystery problem with my driver's side suspension, though not as severe--in my case it might still be worn springs, because I haven't swapped sides yet, but I really don't think that's the problem.

I just have a problem with inexplicably lower ride height by a couple of mm--camber is not affected. The car has a bunch of bondo on that fender, so I suspect that there was an accident at some point in the past.

In your case, because you have swapped out everything you can and can confirm that everything is assembled and tightened properly, I wonder if it is possible to have bottomed the car in a way that bent or bashed in the upper spring seat (check for rust too?). You mentioned that the spring seems to be out of alignment. One way or the other I suspect some kind of twisting or damage to the unibody so that the attachment points themselves are out of whack. Which is what I think my problem is too, just a very minor tweak somewhere.

But maybe not.

Is your car a Mk4 (1995-2000)? I noticed that the Mk4's do have the extra length of non-active coil on the one side, presumably to make them seat at the right spot on the control arm--for that reason you might have to get a "known good spring" from another car to rule out a sagging spring rather than just swapping them.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:04 am 
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Teeth wrote:
I too have a mystery problem with my driver's side suspension, though not as severe--in my case it might still be worn springs, because I haven't swapped sides yet, but I really don't think that's the problem.

I just have a problem with inexplicably lower ride height by a couple of mm--camber is not affected. The car has a bunch of bondo on that fender, so I suspect that there was an accident at some point in the past.

In your case, because you have swapped out everything you can and can confirm that everything is assembled and tightened properly, I wonder if it is possible to have bottomed the car in a way that bent or bashed in the upper spring seat (check for rust too?). You mentioned that the spring seems to be out of alignment. One way or the other I suspect some kind of twisting or damage to the unibody so that the attachment points themselves are out of whack. Which is what I think my problem is too, just a very minor tweak somewhere.

But maybe not.

Is your car a Mk4 (1995-2000)? I noticed that the Mk4's do have the extra length of non-active coil on the one side, presumably to make them seat at the right spot on the control arm--for that reason you might have to get a "known good spring" from another car to rule out a sagging spring rather than just swapping them.

Mine is a mk3 GTi. You are right about the springs... the previous owner said that all of his cars were always lowered, so I guess this one wasn't the exception; but I'm having trouble finding oem-springs online :( and there are no swifts at the junkyard right now. But swapping the springs didn't change anything, so at least we know that's not the source of the problem. There's also no rust anywhere so that ain't either.
I think your suggestion of "twisting or damage of the unibody" is my best bet now, just wanted to check everything else before messing with the attachment points. There's no visual evidence, but whatever I'll see what I can do to get the arm back to where it should be.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:31 am 
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Mine is a mk3 GTi


Mine is too--I cut two sets of springs for my car and forgot that the extra little piece of coil was actually on the Mk3 springs not the Mk4.

So your car has not been lowered--those springs are stock, but that little piece of extra coil might make them seat differently when swapped. Not sure how to resolve that without a "known good" set of springs around to compare to.

While I haven't completely fixed my ride height issue I put a spacer on the upper spring seat on the drivers side and now I am within about 1mm I think.

The camber issue is more troubling--you could probably fix it by slotting the holes where the strut mounts at the top a little, but I would hate to recommend something that drastic if you could figure out what's really wrong and straighten it out.

Best of luck!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:15 am 
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Teeth wrote:

Mine is too--I cut two sets of springs for my car and forgot that the extra little piece of coil was actually on the Mk3 springs not the Mk4.

So your car has not been lowered--those springs are stock.

While I haven't completely fixed my ride height issue I put a spacer on the upper spring seat on the drivers side and now I am within a 1mm I think.

The camber issue is more troubling--you could probably fix it by slotting the holes where the srut mounts at the top a little, but I would hate to recommend something that drastic if you could figure out what's really wrong and straighten it out.

Best of luck!

So the one on the left in the pic above is from a mk3 and the one on the right from a mk4? they are according to this post viewtopic.php?t=26246&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=#p213476 (mk3gt 5.5 coil and mk4 6.4 coil) so if you can confirm, we are all set! both springs have the same height though... is that normal or maybe the mk4 was heated? I'll check for wire diameter as well, but if you look in that link you'll see the mk3gt's and the mk5's don't have the same height.... using that as a reference and assuming mk4 and mk5 springs were the same.
You think slotting those holes is drastic? I was thinking of heating the strut-tower and pressing them out! :P I had to do that to my previous swift, cuz it was hit from the side. Not doing that this time though, cuz I don't see the strut out of place. I'll go to a friend this weekend and measure the distance between the strut-tops just to be sure.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:50 am 
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OK wait I just read one of your posts about one side having a little extra piece of coil on oem springs? now I get what you mean, it's weird though. But you actually said this was only on mk4's and not on gt's :huh: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=26246&start=100#p399486 Sorry I'm confused, there's way too much different info in the forum.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:33 pm 
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Now I've confused myself :roll:

I went and reread my old post and the extra little piece of coil was indeed OEM on the Mk4 cars, but now that I look at it again it was on the front springs that I noticed this and not the rear. I don't have any uncut springs to compare anymore but I don't remember it being like that in the back.

The one thing that I can confirm is the Mk4 springs are definitely a good bit longer and have another 1/2 coil compared to Mk3. If you look at this photo you can count 6 coils on the Mk3 GT spring on the right and 6.5 on the Mk4 spring on the left

Image

The extra 1/4 to 1/3 coil that you have on the spring on the right in the picture is a flattened or "dead" coil that won't affect the spring rate because it is already in contact with the control arm. So even though I don't think mine were that way, I wouldn't be surprised if it came that way from the factory given what I noticed about the Mk4 fronts that were the same way. The springs are wound the same direction but have to go on opposite side of the car so I suspect they may have used the extra length to tune how they seated on the control arm. I still think those are both OEM springs. If not, it is the right one that is suspect, but I don't think it's a Mk4 because it doesn't quite have 0.5 extra coils and is way shorter.

Consider this scenario: previous owner notices a sag on the drivers side and swaps springs, which happens to work for a while in part because of the way the springs seat. Now you notice a bit of a sag with the new arrangement and swap back--only now the issue is worse, again because the springs don't seat quite the same.

I still don't know of any way to really know for sure short of getting some "known to be good" springs, but it certainly doesn't hurt to shim out the low side with an extra spacer at the top of the spring like I did.

I cut mine out of rubber:

Image

I after cutting the blank out I had to also cut a hole in the middle--you might need more and/or stiffer material to fix your problem.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:21 am 
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Thanks for the info so far, you have been really helpful. I'll try to fix the control arm first and them focus on the springs... the one with the extra piece of coil goes on the left right? Also do you know by any change if the springs from other swift models (89-94) are the same? Cuz all the info I could find in here or at redline was about metros and GTI's, not about regular swifts; which is all we've got over here.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:32 pm 
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Anything that comes off the top of my head is pretty suspect information :ez_smokin: , but I am fairly certain that the non-GT cars all have softer springs--they should fit, but they are not quite as stiff. Not sure how much softer.

Without digging deep in team swift for a definitive answer, it is also possible that the 4cyl models are the same as they share more parts with the GT than the 3 cyl cars and are heavier, but you'd have to double check--also I don't know as I've ever seen a Mk2 sedan out here but I know they exist and if you can find any of those I've read that those springs are heavier too.

As for which sides your springs were originally mounted on, I really don't know--I am pretty sure that unlike yours, mine at least appeared to be identical. If the problem was better the way they were to begin with, then I'd keep them that way and start adding shims to the top and/or sliding 1/2" rubber hose around the bottom where it seats on the low side. If you go to a junkyard, I'd like to know if you find any other cars with a little bit of dead coil on one side or the other from the factory.

Check this post in my autocross racing thread to see how I roughly calculated the stock and cut spring rates

http://teamswift.net/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=53180&start=175#p410240

Armed with this knowledge and a calculator you could look for springs of roughly the same dimensions from another model of car at a salvage yard and do some math to figure out what the rate might be. You might have to cut them to fit but you might find some good options (Passat springs?). Let us know if you find anything that works well. Stiffer is generally better in the back of the car because the spring is inboard and because it helps the car to turn (less understeer)--Whiteline recommends 450lbs, but that would be too much with stock fronts.

Also, I don't know if anyone has pointed this out yet, but I can see from your pictures that it looks like you have one OEM strut and one Monroe strut in the back. I can see that contributing to your issues as well, as the Monroe is gas charged (raising ride height) and the OEM strut isn't. You might want to get a matched pair of new struts before you go too much further. Is your car RHD or LHD? If it's RHD drive that might be your problem. If it's LHD, then maybe the Monroe is worn out and has lost it's charge (does the shaft come back out on it's own when you compress it?).


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:05 pm 
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I'll go to the salvage yard as soon as possible, I'm busy with school exams at the moment but I'll be finished in about two weeks. I will try to gather as much information I can find, not many old Passat's around here though.

My car is a LHD and the Monroe is on the left side (the one with the problem). The shaft comes out of it's own, so I guess it's OK; I even thought that the other one was damaged because it doesn't :P. So if the Monroe is fine and actually rises ride height, I guess the problem will be even worse with an OEM strut on that side right?

I'll see what I can do. New shocks cost around $250 each locally :shock: My first priority now is fixing the control arm mounting points, so I can have a good start.

I still believe this car was "lowered", probably using the heating-method. Maybe that's why no coil is missing on the springs. The previous owner has had lots of swifts (many of them GTI's) and stores many parts, normally swapping parts at will; but he usually doesn't know what he's doing. I forgot to measure the height of the springs while out of the car, but I'll do that next time I take everything apart again.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:26 am 
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update: I have been playing with this for the last week... the car is still lower in the left than in the right, don't ask me why though. I've tried every possible solution and I think it's either a worn chassis or a bent strut-tower. Either-way I'm not going to try to "fix" that, I'll just lower the car on the right till it matches the left-side.

The good news is that I've successfully modified one of the mounting points of the control-arm, so it can sit where it's supposed to. The only problem now is the ride-height. How much coil do you think I should remove to lower the right-side by one finger? I ask because I've taken it all apart so many times that I just couldn't do it 3 more times just to don't cut too much, I think I would go nuts! maybe cutting 1/4 coil first?

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:59 am 
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have you checked the front suspension. remember one corner can affect the next

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:02 am 
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If you have to cut coils to fix the problem, then I'd do both sides and add a spacer on top of the spring on the lower side. That way you don't have two different spring rates in the back--I realize you might anyway given what you've posted earlier about the previous owner swapping parts indiscriminately, but they do still both look like Swift springs.

One way or the other, try to have the same number of active coils on both springs.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:41 pm 
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aqqus wrote:
have you checked the front suspension. remember one corner can affect the next

Wow I didn't think about that! The car is indeed higher at the right-side in the front, which may influence the lower left-side at the back?
What's really strange about the front is that the right-side (higher) has excessive negative camber, while the left-side(lower) has no camber at all :huh: I thought it should be the other way around.


Teeth wrote:
If you have to cut coils to fix the problem, then I'd do both sides and add a spacer on top of the spring on the lower side. That way you don't have two different spring rates in the back--I realize you might anyway given what you've posted earlier about the previous owner swapping parts indiscriminately, but they do still both look like Swift springs.

One way or the other, try to have the same number of active coils on both springs.

You are right, I'll do it on both sides. What's the maximum thickness you think I could use without risking the spring to "pop out"?

One more thing guys... I'm losing control of the car above 120km/h. The car steers itself in an zigzag-pattern from one side to the other. It's more clear when off gear, but it happens while braking and under acceleration as well. I bumped the tire-pressures to 40PSI and now it happens above 140km/h but it's still there. Do you think this could be related to the negative camber on the two opposite corners of the car (front-right and rear-left)?

PS: this is driving me crazy... I've replaced so far: ball-joints, wheel bearings, brake rotors + pads, tie rods + ends and control arm bushings. The front-wheels are lined and balanced, the rear ones are not.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:11 pm 
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:oops: You know I hadn't thought about looking at the right front either.

I have been following this thread closely because I seem to have a milder version of the same issue--I've also got a tad more negative camber (between one and two tenths of a degree, so not much but still noticeable) on the right front, but I thought this was from a strut mount that I noticed had worn the hole for the shock shaft a little larger. Maybe not. If there's any difference in ride height, it can't be very much but I'll look again.

Sometime soon I am replacing the stock strut mounts with custom pieces(waiting for the machine shop to drill them) so that's another opportunity to check everything out.

To answer your question on how thick the spacer can be, you can see the material I cut mine out of--that's about .25" or 6mm. I believe there was plenty more space as the bottom of the wire of the first coil of the spring wasn't yet flush with round piece that holds it in place after the spacer was installed. I think you could probably get away with twice that much, but you'll have to just look at it and see--worst case you could probably weld another round piece to allow a thicker spacer :shock:

I have no idea what's causing your lack of stability at speed. How do you do your alignments? If you check the DIY alignment thread, I posted some additional info that might help you check everything out:

http://www.teamswift.net/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=42479&hilit=+alignment#p409804

If you do it yourself, you [url]know[/url] what's really going on with your alignment. Also leveling your garage would be the best way to get really good measurements for ride height. It's a bit of a process, but it's worth it.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:27 am 
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Teeth wrote:
:oops: You know I hadn't thought about looking at the right front either.

I have been following this thread closely because I seem to have a milder version of the same issue--I've also got a tad more negative camber (between one and two tenths of a degree, so not much but still noticeable) on the right front, but I thought this was from a strut mount that I noticed had worn the hole for the shock shaft a little larger. Maybe not. If there's any difference in ride height, it can't be very much but I'll look again.

Sometime soon I am replacing the stock strut mounts with custom pieces(waiting for the machine shop to drill them) so that's another opportunity to check everything out.

To answer your question on how thick the spacer can be, you can see the material I cut mine out of--that's about .25" or 6mm. I believe there was plenty more space as the bottom of the wire of the first coil of the spring wasn't yet flush with round piece that holds it in place after the spacer was installed. I think you could probably get away with twice that much, but you'll have to just look at it and see--worst case you could probably weld another round piece to allow a thicker spacer :shock:

I have no idea what's causing your lack of stability at speed. How do you do your alignments? If you check the DIY alignment thread, I posted some additional info that might help you check everything out:

http://www.teamswift.net/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=42479&hilit=+alignment#p409804

If you do it yourself, you [url]know[/url] what's really going on with your alignment. Also leveling your garage would be the best way to get really good measurements for ride height. It's a bit of a process, but it's worth it.


Yes, I do the alignment myself, I do everything myself :P . I did read that thread some time ago, but didn't pay much attention cuz my method was different and worked well on my previous swifts; this is my first GTi though. Now that I carefully read the whole thing, I notice the car has to be properly leveled... didn't know that. This is the method I used

Attachment:
IMG00430-20130105-1712.jpg
IMG00430-20130105-1712.jpg [ 463.46 KIB | Viewed 3622 times ]

measuring between both sides right next to the rotor and than at the end.

Than I found some interesting info about bumpsteer... never heard that before(still a newby on suspension and steering subjects). I think I might be suffering from bumpsteer at high speeds, cuz I tried again at 160km/h earlier tonight on a new road (dead flat) and the car handled much better. Now I remember that even-though the wheels were "aligned", one of the rods was further turned into the rod-end; the difference was 2cm from the other side. I'll split that difference between both sides tomorrow, maybe that'll help with my "bumpsteer- problems". I don't have so many scales, but I'll at least try to check the aligment with the wheels on the car :oops:

About the camber-problems at the front, I was thinking about getting this from Rockauto

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camber.jpg
camber.jpg [ 13.07 KIB | Viewed 3622 times ]


It's listed for our cars, claiming to adjust " Up To 3 Degree Positive(+) Camber" in the front. I was going to start another thread to ask if someone ever used this tool, but I guess people are following this anyway.
I made some mods to the front-suspension recently: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=54850 but the problems were there before. I guess I should have measured the camber on the right-side before doing anything. The ball-joints are at the exact same place on each control arm and the left side has no issues, so I guess that's not the source of the problem.
I don't know the history of this car so I couldn't tell if it was ever hit on the corners, causing body-flex or anything. I guess I'll have to measure the distance between the strut-shafts on both front and rear. If you find yourself on a boring afternoon with nothing to do :P could you check that on your car so I can have a reference?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:43 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:16 am
Posts: 412
Location: sidney, nebraska
Having done alignments while working at a ford dealer many years ago, I can tell you this.
Alignments NEED to be done on a dead flat/level surface if you want to have the best alignment possible. They MUST be done with FULLvehicle weight ont the TIRES[b]. You first measure your ride height [b]AS PER FACTORY SERVICE MANUAL. Caster and camber are checked and adjusted first, since they will affect the toe. Do you have a caster/camber guage or swing plates? Follow the procedures to the letter. Thats the only way you will get good results. Those methods are proven. If you insist on doing your own thing then just throw the book away.

You stated you dont know the full history of the car. Are you 100% sure it has never been in an accident? If you have any doubts about chassis trueness take it to a FRAME shop and have it checked. There are a lot of check points and triangulated measurements that need to be checked to ensure its truly straight. If you have been chasing this problem for some time then you need to start at the beginning and know exactly what you have. I had a 69 datsun 510 that i slid into a snow filled ditch and laid on the passenger side at about 35 mph. The left front corner hit the far bank first before flopping on its side. Car looked fine. You could not tell it was wrecked until you took it down the road. It would not drive straight on a slick surface. The chassis was bent and out of align.

As to your camber issue in the front. Chech the frame horn, make sure its not pushed out of place. Has it been replaced? If so was it put in the right spot? if the welding was not done properly it could have distorted. You also need to check the strut tower. Is the paint cracked? Are there any signs of distortion in the metal? Does it look like its in the right place?

The suspension is a SYSTEM and it must be treated as such. I have seen way too many weird and unlikely situations to list. Start at the beginning and follow the steps one by one.

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