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Suspension/Brake FAQ - READ THIS FIRST!!!!! update 30 JAN 13

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cahilj Gender:Male

Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 7633
Location: KS

1994 Cavalier VL Coupe
2001 RAM 1500 Pickup
1994 Cavalier Z24
1994 Cavalier Z24 Convertible
2003 Silverado 1500 HD

PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:57 am    Post subject: Suspension/Brake FAQ - READ THIS FIRST!!!!! update 30 JAN 13 Reply with quote


Last Update- 29 MAY 15

-All parts are interchangeable from 82-94 (springs/shocks/struts/etc)
-Lug Pattern for all 82-05 J Bodies is 5x100
-Z24 chassis parts (sway bars, subframe brace, etc) can be used on non-Z cars
-2nd gen Wheel/Tire Info
-Tire size Calculator
-Wheel size Calculator
-2nd gen front wheel bearings are the same as 3rd gen bearings
-ALL (ABS and non-ABS, 2nd and 3rd gen) rear wheel bearings have the same bolt pattern on the axle side, so it is possible to swap bearings between years 82-05, taking into account the differences with ABS
- If you're looking for a specific part, and need to know what it was available on, try looking on www.Car-part.com
-Understanding Corner Weights
-Understanding Alignment Angles

Stock suspension dimensions-
--1982-1989- 101.2" (2,570mm)
--1990-1994- 101.3" (2,573mm)

-front track width
--55.9" (1,420mm)

-rear track width
--55.35" (1,406mm)

Schematics of the suspension- (Only the parts you would actually replace/upgrade are listed. These are all stock parts, aftermarket parts may look different. All the factory part numbers can be found in the PDF file at the bottom.)

1- brake rotor
2- dust shield
3- wheel bearing (hub)
4- spindle
5- seal
6- caliper
7- strut
8- upper strut mount
9- upper strut mount insulator
10- upper isolator
11- lower isolator
12- strut boot
13- spring
14- control arm assembly
15- ball joint
16- control arm bushing
17- subframe
18- sway bar
19- sway bar bushing
Spindle to strut bolt- Monroe part #AK42 (comes as pair)


1- steering rack assembly
8- inner tie rod bushing (2 required)
15- inner tie rod
17- tie rod end
18- tie rod end boot


1- axle
2- axle bushing
3- brake drum
4- wheel bearing (hub)
5- backing plate
8- upper shock mount
9- shock
11- spring
12- upper isolator
13- lower isolator/bump stop
14- sway bar
15- sway bar bushing

-Steering rack turns lock to lock (racks are interchangeable)-
--FE1, FE2- 3
--FE3- 2.5
-How to de-power your steering rack (not a J-body, but same principle) (has been done successfully on 2nd gen)
-The part number for the Borgeson direct fit steering universal joint is- #014946

-The 89-94 Beretta tubular rear axle can be used. It is 3/4" wider than the factory J axle (3/8" each side).
-Factory front axle swap info

--Energy Suspension
--Performance Suspension Technology

Sway Bars:

-Stock J body sizes (f=front, r=rear, all in mm)

These still need to be verified and assigned RPOs

1982-1984 f= 22, 28 r= 15, 17, 19, 21
1985-1986 f= 24, 28, 30 r= 13, 15, 19, 21
1987 f= 24, 28 r= 13, 15, 19, 21
1988 f= 28, 30 r= 13, 15, 19, 21
1989-1991 f= 22, 28, 30 r= 13, 15, 19, 21
1992-1994 f= 22, 28, 30 r= 19, 21

-Schematic of 18mm FE7 direct acting swaybar (found on 90-93 Beretta GTZs, 92-93 Grand Ams, 92-93 Achievas, 90-91 Corsicas, all 2.3/3.1 models)
#1- 22573131
#2- 22538570 and 14063559 together
#3- 7476007
#4- 17999125
#9- 7477002 and 7477001, one is left, the other is right

Bar installed on J body-

-Beretta sway bar info and numbers
--18mm (see above schematic)
--22mm (same as J body I4)
--24mm (88-95 Grand Ams, 88-93 Achievas, 88-96 Corsicas, 88-96 Berettas, all 2.3/3.1 models, J body 2.0 FE1, FE2 models)
--26mm (88-96 Skylarks, 88-95 Grand Ams, 88-93 Achievas, 88-93 Corsicas, 88-93 Berettas, all 2.3/3.1 models)
--28mm (same as J body 2.0 FE3)
--30mm (same as J body V6)

--16.5mm (89-94 Berettas, 92-94 Grand Ams, 92-94 Achievas, internal solid FE3 and F41 #10097847)
--19mm (89-94 Berettas, 92-94 Grand Ams, 92-94 Achievas, internal hollow FE7 #10097840)
--20mm (88 Beretta external #14106795)
--21mm (88 Beretta external FE3 #14089779)

FE7 internal rear sway bar (FE3 and F41 similar)-

--Addco (front and rear)

Lowering (springs):
-Understanding Springs
-Spring Rate Calculator (from a truck website, but the best/easiest one I found to use)

-Rates (in lbs/in F= front, R= rear, p=progressive) (I found some conflicting info researching these, so I just listed everything)
-- Stock 91F/131-222Rp (for a 1987 Sunbird SE) 137F/131-222Rp (Sunbird GT) (still looking for Cav specs)
-- Apex ????
-- Intrax 143-239Fp/97-143Rp or 135-200Fp/144R
-- Eibach 143-228Fp/126-377Rp
-- Springtech ????
-- Sprint 143-239Fp/97-143Rp or 135-200Fp/144R
-- Suspension Tech 248F/225R or 175-200Fp/300R
-- Canuck (1.3”) 205F/306R
-- Canuck (1.7”) 205F/265R

--Apex Suspensions - 1.5" all around (no longer available)
--Intrax Suspensions - 1.7" F / 1.5" R (part #25.1.008)
--Eibach - 1" F / .8" R (no longer available)
--Springtech - 1.6" all around (part #1005 - no longer available)
--Sprint Springs - 1.7" F / 1.6" R (part #3150)
--Suspension Techniques - 1.25" all around (part #69485 - no longer available)
--Suspension Techniques - 1" all around (“Sport” kit - part #60485)
--Canuck Motorsports 1.3" all around (part #2125.41200) or 1.7" F / 1.6" R (part #2125.41100)

Lowering (air/hydraulic):
--AIM Industries

-Ground Control Coil-over How-To (by James Cahill)

-Koni Yellow Strut Insert How-To (by Matt)
-2nd gen Mitsubishi Eclipse (90-94) inserts can also be used. They are 15mm shorter and have more travel than the 3rd gen inserts. The only real reason for using these would be for more overall suspension travel.
-Saab 900NG (94-98 ) rear shocks can be used (think Koni yellow). The upper shock mount must be modified or replaced for use with the 12mm stud (2nd gen J bodies have a 10mm stud).
-There are several race-only shocks that will fit, you just need to match up the dimensions with the stock shock.

--MRZ Performance (billet strut tower covers)

Camber Kit:
-Not needed on 99% of J bodies. Even if the alignment shop tells you it is.
-Front uses camber bolts, rear uses camber/toe shims.

--Ingalls Engineering (part #81280 – cam bolt)

--S&W Race Cars

-Factory strut tower brace (89-91 at top, 92-94 at bottom, found on FE3 equipped cars, can be used on any model VL, sedan, wagon, or convertible without FE3)

-Factory core support to fender brace (found on some 1st gens)

-Factory firewall to fender brace (found on convertibles and sedans)

-Factory lower subframe brace (found on FE3 equipped cars, can be used on any model VL, sedan, wagon, or convertible without FE3)

An explanation of forces acting on a Strut Tower Bar (STB)-
sasuke from Team 99'ers - Honda Civic 99 Spec Enthusiasts' Network wrote:
It is my belief that a strut bar definitely does help. And during the explanation that follows I will try to provide a convincing argument for this.

Figure 1 shows the forces of interest in a strut bar analysis. For this calculation only horizontal forces need be considered. There are of course vertical forces, but since the sum of forces must independently equal zero in both the horizontal and vertical directions, we can concentrate on just the horizontal forces in this analysis.

Figure 1

We must begin by making some assumptions. First, consider an M3 cornering such that it experiences 100% weight transfer at the front wheels. This is not at all unusual on a modified M3. We have probably all seen pictures of an M3 in a turn with its inside front wheel in the air. That is a sure sign of 100% weight transfer.

Second, let us assume that our M3 is cornering at 1G. Again, on a modified M3 with R-series tires, this is very plausible. If an M3 weighs 2700 lbs and has close to a 50/50 weight distribution, then the outside front tire must generate a lateral force of 1350 lbs under the circumstances just outlined.
Thus F1 = 1350 lbs as depicted in the figure above. The figure is really a "free body diagram" which considers the forces that act ON the strut/wheel assembly (the blue link in Figure 1). These forces must sum to zero in the horizontal direction. Also, the sum of the torque's acting on the strut/wheel assembly must cancel out. Our goal is to determine the force F3 which is the force that the strut tower exerts on the strut assembly. There is an equal and opposite force exerted on the strut tower BY the strut assembly.

We can solve for F3 if we do a balance of torque's around the outer ball joint (where the control arm attaches to the strut). What we get is:

F1(L2) = F3(L1) or, F3 = F1(L2/L1)

Now, we already know F1 = 1350 lbs. And we can determine L1 and L2 from a quick measurement of an M3 (L1 = 24.3" and L2 =6.0"). Thus F3 = 333lbs.

So the conclusion is that when an M3 corners at 1G with 100% weight transfer at the front wheels, there is a 333 lb force pulling OUT on the outer strut tower. Since the inside wheel is un-loaded there is no corresponding force generated at the inside strut tower. Therefore a strut tower bar tends to be in tension, not compression as is often believed.

Now we ask ourselves: How critical is a force of 333 lbs pulling on the outer strut tower?
This 333 lb load amounts to about 12% of the car's total weight. Even though the strut tower is designed mainly to manage vertical forces , 333 lbs in the horizontal direction is not going to permanently deform the chassis. But the problem is that this force is repeatedly applied over many cycles during the life of the car. The more you drive it hard the more cycles you generate. This can lead to fatigue failure of the material that forms the strut tower (or where the strut tower attaches to the inner fender well).

What a strut bar does is tie the two strut towers together so that they share the load applied at the outer tower. This gives you twice as much material to deal with the same cornering force and helps reduce fatigue stress in this area.

Another point to consider is that if your outer strut tower is deflected outwards 0.20" by this 333 lb force, then you just lost 0.5? of negative camber! If it deflects 0.42" you have lost a full degree of negative camber.

This demonstration has hopefully illustrated how a strut tower bar can be beneficial. But what about the possibility of a strut tower bar being under compression?

Contrary to the simplified analysis on the previous page, many people believe that a strut tower bar is predominantly under compression, not tension. This assertion is partially born out in some cars where the strut towers gradually move closer together over time. And I have heard of incidents where the strut tower bar was instrumented with strain gauges as the car was driven around. These tests show the strut tower bar is under compression as well as tension, depending on what the car is doing. One test showed that the highest loads recorded on the strut bar were in compression as the car was pulling out of a garage (sideways down an inclined driveway - we have all heard a stiff car twist under this condition).

So what is this all about? Is a strut tower bar under tension or compression? One likely theory is that it experiences both. It just depends on the driving conditions. Cornering on smooth asphalt induces tension. Driving in a straight line over bumps induces compression. A force diagram illustrating how compression forces result from driving in a straight line (over a bump) is shown in Figure 2:

Figure 2

The left side of the figure shows the resultant forces acting ON the strut tower assembly. Force 1 is the road holding the car up, and force 2 is the weight of the car. Forces 3 and 4 result to stop the strut from spinning (they counter the moment produced by forces 1 & 2). Force 4 of course has an opposite and equal reaction force which is Force 5. This is shown on the right (in green) and is the resulting compression force on the strut tower.

Bear in mind that when the car encounters a sharp bump or dip in the pavement that the chassis may momentarily experience 3 or 4 G's. This means that F1 and F2 in Figure 2 could equal about 2800 lbs! F3 and F4 (and therefore F5) are much smaller, but could still be quite significant. To calculate F5 more precisely requires some measurements. I will get to this eventually.

In conclusion, some cars spend most of their lives driving in a straight line. Such cars might experience the strut towers moving together over time. Track cars spend a lot of their time cornering at over 1G. Thus a track car might see it's strut towers spread apart over the years. Thus a strut tower bar can be under tension OR compression depending on the environment that the car is operated in.

--Custom Made Shock Tower Brace
--Custom Shock Tower Brace Discussion
--RActive (strut tower brace)
--MRZ Performance (strut and shock tower braces)

-92+ brake swap (by Jason Bradwell)
-Converting from ABS to non-ABS master cylinder info part 1
-Converting from ABS to non-ABS master cylinder info part 2
-Good brake master cylinder info and tech thread
-H body (STS) brake swap How-To (by Jason)
-Dodge Neon Rear Disc Swap How-To (by James Cahill)
-96 F body (Camaro), N body, and some H body master cylinders will bolt up (all are same diameter, Camaro ports are on pass side, N and H body ports are on driver side. You will need distribution blocks and a proportioning valve) (SEARCH for this info)
-2nd gen 92+ front brakes are identical to all 3rd gen front brakes
-3rd gen front and rear big brake kits can be used (92+ front, all years rear)

--EBC Brakes (92+)
--Power Slot(92+)
--Wilwood (92+) (front big brake kit, listed as 95+)
--Baer (92+) (front and rear big brake kits, listed as 95+)
--SSBC (92+) (front and rear big brake kits, listed as 95+)

Wheel Studs:
-ARP makes direct fit wheel studs. The part number will vary based on what type of wheel bearing you’re using (hole diameter). Compare the factory measurements with ARP measurements and remember when you remove the factory stud, the hole will be bigger. There are several options you can choose from for length and knurl diameter. It’s up to you to make sure they will work, this information is only provided as a starting point.

--Factory: M12x1.5mm thread, 12.7mm knurl, 8mm shoulder, 41.5mm long

--ARP 100-7708 will work for the rear
--ARP 100-7717 will work for the front

Reference material:

The files attached below are-
-- rims.xls is a listing of hundreds of cars and their wheel bolt patterns
-- crashpartslist.pdf is a parts listing for just about every J body part from 88-94
-- suspension tuning guide.pdf is a great article about everything that affects suspension tuning

--Interparts axle/CV interchange (this will download an EXE with their entire catalog in PDF)
--Wheel Alignment Specs (this is a downloadable spec sheet for just about every car on the road)
--DIY alignment (Great DIY!)
--Interactive wheel bolt pattern cross reference

Crash Parts List

 Filename:  crashpartslistORIG.pdf
 Filesize:  3.95 MB
 Downloaded:  66 Time(s)

suspension tuning guide.pdf
Suspension Tuning Guide

 Filename:  suspension tuning guide.pdf
 Filesize:  1.76 MB
 Downloaded:  793 Time(s)

Wheel bolt pattern cross-reference

 Filename:  Rims.xls
 Filesize:  26.5 KB
 Downloaded:  665 Time(s)


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