CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Suspension Help

I installed lowering springs (1.5 inches front and rear) on my car, 1990 Maxima, with new performance shocks, but the ride is a little bouncy at times. I know this is from the reduced travel the shocks have…even though they are stiffer than stock. Is there any way to give a little more travel? or any suggestions to give the shocks more dampening force? (besides putting the old springs on of course). Would lighter wheels/tires help? How about loosening the center nut on the strut a bit? Thanks.

You did what you did, and now you’ve got what you’ve got. These things are all trade offs, and if the springs are shorter, they have to be stiffer and the ride is going to suffer.

I assume you changed both front struts and rear shocks. If so, the bouncy ride is likely to be the norm and may seem even worse because you’ve been acclimated to a normal and possibly much cushier ride from aged struts and shocks.

Don’t know what to tell you to do at this point but loosening the center nut on the strut is something that you should not do.

I don’t want to pretend to know what I’m talking about but wouldn’t cutting the bumpstop increase suspension travel?

That won’t help the springrate or the shockrate.

The OP can try running the tires a few pounds below the recommended pressure, but that’s about it.

Lighter wheels and tires MIGHT help a tiny bit, as there’d be a little less unspung weight, but I doubt if the difference would be noticable. But the cost sure would be!

Do not loosen the nut on the strut.

First a short explanation of spring rates, a spring’s rate is expressed as the force required to compress (or extend) the spring divided by the change in length. For simple coil springs the rate is linear. If it takes 100 lbs to compress the spring 1 in it will take 200 lbs to compress it 2 in. With progressive rate springs the rate increases the more the spring is compressed. For example: If it takes 100lb to compress the spring 1in compressing it 2in might take 250lbs. Your car dropped 1.5 inches because the replacement springs had a lower initial spring rate than the stock springs. This might explain the ‘bouncy’ ride. You essentially exchanged 1.5 inches of compression travel for 1.5 inches of rebound travel. Ideally you should have bought the springs and shocks as a matched set. You don’t have a lot of options and they depend on your goals and wallet. If you lowered it primarily for the ‘look’ it is probably best to just live with it. If you were looking for better handling it would be best to buy struts and springs for just that purpose.Adding a spacer to increase the preload on the spring might help, but only if you you are willing to do some research and be sure it can be done safely.

Excellent post, MT, but I recommend against spacers. They concentrate the forces at the edges of the spacer and can cause the springs to break. I understand that that was the reasoning behind the coomment on doing the proper research, but just wanted to add the warning.

What size wheels and tires are you running??

Thanks for the advice…I know its hard to get the right shocks to match lowering springs…I am running stock wheels/tires…205/65/15inch…thinking of going to 225/45/17…i doubt lighter wheels would help with the bounce (It bounces the most after hitting a large dip, not so much the bumps)…but maybe make the bumps less harsh. I really cant complain with the setup… looks good and it handles great…just have to get used to it…

Do you mean it keeps bouncing after you go over a dip? That’s from underdamped shocks/struts, odd that would happen with new ones. What shocks/struts, exactly, did you put on?

You might look into replacing the shocks with something adjustable. KYB and Koni aretwo I found with a quick Goggle search. Someone else here might have a specific recommendation. Welcome to the expensive world of suspension tuning.

The 17" wheels/ tires will just make it worse…