Chevy Impala SS Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
578 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I’m trying to get as far away from that “driving a big waterbed” feel with loose steering, as possible without compromising comfort too much on highway road trips with my '95 RMW daily driver.

I own a kiteboard shop & school so this Roadmaster is my Woody Wind Wagon work vehicle and is spent chasing wind up and around 300 miles of Lake Michigan coastline, Spring-Fall. In the Winter, 225/15 Blizzaks go on the stock wheels and we run around snowkiting.

I’ve never had the opportunity to ride in anyone else’s wagon who has made any suspension or steering improvements. The only thing I’ve done up to now, suspension & steering-wise, besides keeping everything in good repair, is add a set of Bilsteins, add 245 Summer tires on 18x8 Boyd Coddington wheels all the way around and hook up airbags to the rear load leveling. The shocks & tires haven’t even come close to where I’d like it to be with feel.

From reading here and talking with a couple helpful members, this is what I've been contemplating;
Beefing up the front sway
Adding a front frame brace
Adding a rear sway and whatever I have to do to the rear arms to prevent binding and have a good attachment points for the sway (haven’t figured out exactly what that is yet)
Installing Global West front & rear arm bushings

I would also like to lower it slightly in the front, more in the back to even off that rake, give it a more aggressive look and hopefully tighten up the ride (haven’t figured out that solution either).

From there, drive it for a while and if the steering itself still feels loose, consider sending the steering box, and possibly the PS pump, off to Steering Technology Group to give it a spec tightening-up, appropriate for a daily driver.

What are the experiences here? Will the sways, brace and bushings tighten up the ride feel without making it feel too aggressively, "hard-core purpose built race car" rigid?

Has anyone done a lowering on a highway street car wagon (not more than an inch up front and a little more in back) but the car was still decently comfortable and road-trip drivable?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
976 Posts
The springs I used in my sig replaced a set of hotchkis lowering springs.
It drives very well and is not overly harsh IMHO.
Car already had lowering springs/f&r sway bars/bilsteins/and rear lower control arms.
Took it for ~300 mile trip for holidays and even with my horrid back pain, the ride was good.

I've been driving/used to full size jeep grand wagoneers for past ~12yrs though. So my idea of harsh and ride quality may be different than some?

I drive my wagon daily now, and my back is much happier. YMMV...Only thing I may change in future is shocks? Overall I am very satisfied with it though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,537 Posts
how are your front end components ? Make sure they are all up to snuff.

stiffer springs would help. Some find the springs mentioned above (80098 or 7268) to be a bit harsh with the bilsteins. I use them with konis set to max stiffness and like them. If you want the back to come down, go for the CC625 vs the CC623. Same specs but about 1" shorter. I use the CC623 on the caprice and CC625 on the RMW.

Then you could try adding a rear swaybar. Guys have good luck with the panther platform bar.

If you keep fairly stock front springs, you could go with a hellwig or hotchkis front/rear bar.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
578 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
The springs I used in my sig replaced a set of hotchkis lowering springs.
Did you replace the Hotchkis because they were too harsh?

Car already had lowering springs/f&r sway bars/bilsteins/and rear lower control arms.
Took it for ~300 mile trip for holidays and even with my horrid back pain, the ride was good.
This was after the spring replacement?

I drive my wagon daily now, and my back is much happier. YMMV...Only thing I may change in future is shocks? Overall I am very satisfied with it though.
What shocks do you think you'd go with?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
578 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
how are your front end components ? Make sure they are all up to snuff.

stiffer springs would help. Some find the springs mentioned above (80098 or 7062) to be a bit harsh with the bilsteins. I use them with konis set to max stiffness and like them. If you want the back to come down, go for the CC625 vs the CC623. Same specs but about 1" shorter. I use the CC623 on the caprice and CC625 on the RMW.

Then you could try adding a rear swaybar. Guys have good luck with the panther platform bar.

If you keep fairly stock front springs, you could go with a hellwig or hotchkis front/rear bar.
Only thing bad right now in the front end it the steering damper. Planning on replacing.

What is the diff between the 80098 & 7062? Do you know how much drop each serve?

Can you give me more info about what exactly the Panther bars are?

Are you saying you would leave the stock front sway if lowering at all? Would appreciate any further explanation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,040 Posts
The Impala springs will give you the lowering you want without messing with the ride too much. You must adjust the camber by removing 1/16 inch from all four front suspension mounting points to correct for the negative camber. The Bilsteins should be good for general ride control. If you have automatic level control hooked to your airbags, you can shorten the length of the arm to the sensor by the amount of drop you want. A 21mm rear sway bar from a Crown Vic, or Grand Marquis will bolt up to the axle with a couple of heavy duty muffler clamps and a couple of end links to the frame. There are holes that become self apparent when you clamp the bar to the axle. I did this mod, and it is really easy, and cheap if you get the bar from a junk yard (less than $50). You can also replace the bushings with urethane for a little less compliance (stiffer). The steering box can be adjusted if you follow the FSM instructions. There is nothing you can do to the power steering pump that will make any difference in the operation of the steering, unless it leaks. Rebuilding the front suspension, and steering in general will make it feel a lot tighter, except for any play in the steering box. Putting urethane bushings in the rear will make it feel a lot less compliant there as well
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
976 Posts
Did you replace the Hotchkis because they were too harsh?

This was after the spring replacement?

What shocks do you think you'd go with?
No replaced springs because it sat too low. Rubbed/scraped constantly and was extremely annoying. While it looked great it was dysfunctional for a daily driver imho.

All hotchkis parts, etc. were on it when I bought it. If I replace bilsteins probably try koni?

I completely rebuilt entire front suspension when I changed springs.
Lots of work, but was well worth it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,537 Posts
Only thing bad right now in the front end it the steering damper. Planning on replacing.

What is the diff between the 80098 & 7268? Do you know how much drop each serve?

Can you give me more info about what exactly the Panther bars are?

Are you saying you would leave the stock front sway if lowering at all? Would appreciate any further explanation.
750 lb/in spring info . Both part numbers quoted above are the same. If you go that route, get the cheapest. They are ss height, but with the weight distribution of the wagon, the front will sit higher. I use these and found they work great.

The panther bar is the bar Fred mentionned. The bar from a crown vic/grand marquis/marauder (panther platform). He makes a good point: if you want to keep your bilsteins (good shock overall) then go with a set of stock SS springs. Konis work great with the 750lb/in springs, but the probably the most cost effective method to get what you want is just get a 450-600 lb/in spring and keep the bilsteins. They are good shocks.

I'm saying if you go with firm springs such as the 700+ lb/in, you don't really need a crazy large front bar for good handling. Just make sure you have a 30mm bar vs the 28mm one. If you go with a stock-ish spring rate, then by all means go ahead with the hellwig or hotchkis large bar. Naylifer was selling custom made bars (made by hellwig) a while back. Don't know if he's still doing it.

I personally don't use a damper. To each his own though. If you like it, keep it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
578 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Perhaps the reason for my floaty ride is cashed rear springs. The attached pic is of my wagon with all the air out of the bags. The back end really sags. A closer to stock spring might serve me better.

The Impala springs will give you the lowering you want without messing with the ride too much.
Fred, do you know a part number for these? Are you just speaking of the fronts? Are these are bit higher spring rate than the stock wagon springs to allow for lowering? What about something similar for the rears?
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,421 Posts
While the impala ss springs will give you a drop over stock, it might not be right for you as it is for others. Also your back looks dropped already. What springs are in there would be a question to start.

Stock wagon fronts and impala share the same spring rate at 440 lbs/in. Difference being length and results in how high the car sits.

Rears are more different. Wagons for load capacity came with 211 lbs/in rate springs while the impala had 154 lbs/in springs.

Hauling a load, you might want to keep stock rate or go higher, or a cargo coil variable rate. They're 'softer' with very small movements but then get much stiffer.

Just to clarify, this is the case with chevy wagons. Buicks are probably the same but maybe not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,040 Posts
As I mentioned earlier, if you hook up your auto level system to the airbags, you can adjust the link to the sensor to make the airbags keep the rear at the height you want. The spring is probably not damaged, because both sides are the same.


You may want to put stronger/taller springs in the rear, because it takes the basic load off of the airbags if the car is currently too low. You can tell the progressive springs from the fixed rate springs by looking at them. The progressive springs have a varying rate of distance between the coils, and the fixed rates have the same distance between the coils.


You can not cut the rear springs because of the pigtails on both ends. Chevys and Buicks are pretty much the same, but did come with different suspension packages.


The only way you will be able to determine what springs give you the ride height you want without 3 or 4 sets of springs to swap out, is to find a wagon that is at the ride height you want, and determine what springs it has. The best way to measure is from the wheel opening to the top, or bottom of the rim (same size rim), because that takes the tire size/inflation out of the equation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,040 Posts
PS. The softness of the ride is controlled more by the shocks than the springs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
Do what I did. Including pulling the steering box and resetting the preload adjustments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
578 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Do what I did. Including pulling the steering box and resetting the preload adjustments.
Car to share what else you did? Did you use a certain procedure to reset the preload adjustments? Is this on a wagon?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,040 Posts
The instructions for adjusting the steering box are in the FSM. I also posted them on the forum a while back. It is easiest to do if you remove the box from the car and put it on the bench.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
I found that with my Airlift bags at 25 psi and the factory trailer package suspension it drove really well. Without the airbags working it was a mess. Focus on the back end, it makes a huge difference.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
I only did minor mods to my 96 (original 50k mls) to make it more Germany-compatible:
-KYB shocks all around
-rebuilt steering
-air bags to stock load level system
-tubular INNER rear control arms with global west bushings (probably the single most effective modification, because those locate the rear axle)
-alignment with slightly more camber + much more caster (do not have the #s at hand)

Obviously stiffer shocks and springs would change the car more, but I like a comfy ride on my daily driver. The area I live in has a lot of cobble stone and dirt roads.
The alignment and rigid inner rear control arms made it much more "direct" without negative side effects.

Greets
Flo
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top