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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-03-2010, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Smoothest Ride Quality?

Hey guys, I know very few people here ask this, but how can I get the best and smoothest ride out of my 97 non-sport bird?

I've already got the softest springs.

I know some high end tires are an option, but they are expensive and I have good tires right now.

Would swapping from coil springs to air bags in the rear help?

Maybe swap to mark 8 bags up front?

What about shocks? I know cheap shocks can ride like crap, but would the more expensive Bilsteins or Koni's smooth out the ride without making it ride too firmly?

I plan to replace my worn out strut rod bushings with OEM rubber bushings as many of you suggest.

I know my upper shock mounts are still good.

Any suggestions are appresciated.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-03-2010, 07:37 PM
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Tires make more difference than anything; the 215/70-15s on my Newest car suck in my opinion.

I think you'd like them fine; they make a nice MN12 feel like my Mom's 68 catalina on high seas.

Buy cheap monroe shocks, use the stock springs, and large sidewall tires; you'll get there.

I'm working on exactly the opposite; Sport Springs, bracing, konis... I wanna feel the stripes on the pavement, lol.

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-03-2010, 09:30 PM
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Don't bother with air ride, that is way more trouble than it is worth. Easiest solution would be some new cheapo shocks all around, make sure your tires are balanced, drop your tire pressure to 28psi, and double check your motor mounts, trans mount, diff mount, suspension bushings, etc. With all of that, the car should ride plenty smooth. Just don't expect it to carve up the corners too.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-03-2010, 10:28 PM
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Konis turned way down made my v6 feel like a limo lol way to soft for me but maybe what ur looking for. Plus since they are adjustable if you ever did want to carve corners all it would take is a turn of four knobs.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-03-2010, 10:37 PM
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Lets see, ditch the sway bars, use V6 springs, and get whatever junk napa sells for shocks.


You'll have the worse handling mn12 on the road, but it definitely will be like driving on a pillow.

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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 05:50 AM
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...but it definitely will be like driving on a pillow.
I don't know why, but that made me laugh.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by XR7-4.6 View Post
Lets see, ditch the sway bars, use V6 springs, and get whatever junk napa sells for shocks.
So you've tried it or are you guessing?

I'm my opinion sway bars have little to no effect on ride quality so you always want to keep them.

V6 springs might make the suspension sag up front. Are they even softer?

And cheap shocks tend to increase impact harshness due to their high speed bump circuits not being set correctly. I'm thinking Konis might be better. (EDIT: on my previous 97 Tbird I replaced my soggy rear shocks with some new Gabriel units and the back of the car rode worse. Bumps felt just as harsh plus it was slightly annoying when driving on the freeway. Even my passengers noticed. So I don't think cheap shocks are the way to go.)

I have the sport 16" rims now because they look better. I might can swap to some 15's, but I hate the narrow tire look and it's poorer braking in general. I'd prefer a smooth riding 16" tire if possible. We'll see on that one.

I already dropped the tire pressures to 28 front and 25 rear and it does help, but you don't want to go too low.

BTW, I have a 99 Trans Am with Konis, coilovers, etc... So I'm covered on handling. The bird is for daily driving and takes the corners plenty fast for a daily driver in stock form. I'm making it quiet too so I can hear my high end sound system. I mainly want it to soak up the bumps better without effecting the handling too much.

Last edited by JasonWW; 01-04-2010 at 01:59 PM.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 01:23 PM
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Don't take this the wrong way, but if you can tolerate the ride of an F-body, how is it that the stock ride of a tbird is not smooth enough for you? I would think the difference would be so much that the tbird would feel smooth as glass after getting out of the T/A.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MadMikeyL View Post
Don't take this the wrong way, but if you can tolerate the ride of an F-body, how is it that the stock ride of a tbird is not smooth enough for you? I would think the difference would be so much that the tbird would feel smooth as glass after getting out of the T/A.
Well my TA rides very nicely even with 19's, stiff springs and being lowered. Yes, the Tbird rides smoother, but it still seems to hit bumps pretty hard. Harder than it should at least. I know it's strange.

I believe there really is a science involved here. Such as the rate in which the tire deforms when hitting a bump as well as the rate in which the shock compresses the suspension and then rebounds.

I know some models of tires are just built a certain way that they will ride rough no matter what. Like the stock 16" Goodyear GSC's used in the F-bodies. They made the car responsive, but rattled your bones. When I switched to 17" rims/tires the ride smoothed out a lot, but the responsiveness only reduced slightly. The end result was much improved. This was with stock suspension.

So maybe I just have some stiff tires on the Tbird right now? They are Michelin Symmetry.

Okay, I just read a bunch of reviews from tire rack on this model and even though they suck in the rain, everyone does seem to agree they ride smoothly. Hmm. I'm thinking shocks are the next logical choice. The car has 90K on it and I bet the shocks are the factory pieces.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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Konis turned way down made my v6 feel like a limo lol way to soft for me but maybe what ur looking for. Plus since they are adjustable if you ever did want to carve corners all it would take is a turn of four knobs.
When you say a limo, you mean soak up the bumps better or made the car feel like a boat?

Are you running the stock springs?
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 02:05 PM
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I for one will weigh in on my experience , Before I got my BFG T/As I had on the bird Michelin Harmony tires the ride now is much better with the T/As( ie softer compound )

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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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Don't bother with air ride, that is way more trouble than it is worth.
Yes, I'm not ready to go full air ride, but swapping the rear springs with some universal bags might be an option. Just put some inflation valves in them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MadMikeyL View Post
double check your motor mounts, trans mount, diff mount, suspension bushings, etc.
Why do you mention the motor, trans and diff mounts? Are you thinking that if they are sloppy it will make the car shake or vibrate when hitting a bump? If so, I never considered that.

I do need to replace my front strut arm bushings. Think that would make the front suspension ride better?
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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I for one will weigh in on my experience , Before I got my BFG T/As I had on the bird Michelin Harmony tires the ride now is much better with the T/As( ie softer compound )
Really? Tirerack rates the Harmony very good in ride quality. About equal to the BFG Traction TA and Advantage TA. That's strange. So with the same tire pressures you think the BFG rides better over the bumps and potholes? Did you get the Traction or Advantage tire?
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 02:40 PM
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I wasn't thinking so much about hitting bumps, but more like general vibration and harshness driving down the road. I used to have a 94 cougar that the trans mount got soft from trans fluid leaking and soaking into it, and when I replaced it the car got much smoother.

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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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I wasn't thinking so much about hitting bumps, but more like general vibration and harshness driving down the road. I used to have a 94 cougar that the trans mount got soft from trans fluid leaking and soaking into it, and when I replaced it the car got much smoother.
Oh, okay. I'm fine just driving down the road. It's just the impact harshness that bothering me. I think I'm going to get those strut bushings swapped and see what happens. I'm not expecting much difference, but we'll see.

In the end, I bet it will be the shocks that will make the most difference.
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post #16 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 04:40 PM
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In the end, I bet it will be the shocks that will make the most difference.
Adjustable shocks are your best bet .. that way you can dial them in to your comfort level. If it still feels too stiff even on the lowest setting, your springs can be replaced with something in a progressive rate, or a lower spring rate - like from a V6.

Air suspension is extremely variable - you wouldnt want to use schrader valves and set them to one specific height. Air spring height and Internal pressure determine the spring rate and as air compresses, the spring rate changes as well like a progressive rate coil spring would - except much softer. With the drawback of having to adjust your own pressure or a standalone module and spend much more $$$. If you want your car to ride like a Lincoln, or Cadillac .. this is the way to go.
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post #17 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonWW View Post
When you say a limo, you mean soak up the bumps better or made the car feel like a boat?

Are you running the stock springs?
both, and yes it had stock springs.

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post #18 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 06:05 PM
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The most ride difference I have ever felt is replacing the bushings. Everytime I replace some I say to myself, "the ride cannot get better than this". But it does.

Upper control arms, lower control arms, and all the strut rod bushings. Incredible difference. Even when I did the upper bushings on the rear it made a big difference.
I have stock springs, KYB's by the way.

Tires are stock size 15's. Not performance but a good mileage tire.

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post #19 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 08:10 PM
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Make sure your exhaust rubbers are good too. The exhaust may be hitting the body or the bracket under the exhaust at the center of the car.
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post #20 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 08:25 PM
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The most ride difference I have ever felt is replacing the bushings. Everytime I replace some I say to myself, "the ride cannot get better than this". But it does.
I agree with this completely. When I originally got my cougar the ride was great, but eventually it felt like how you are describing it - great on smooth roads and could handle a little bump here or there, but any decent size bump would make my car seem like I ran over a speed bump at 30mph. As I started to replace bushings, things improved a lot, but it was totalled before I finished completely, so I cannot say if I got back to normal or not. I've replaced shocks and springs, but the bushings seemed to do more for me.

Also, make sure your interior is on tight, as it doesn't contribute to bumps, but the noise gives a feeling that the bump is worse than it really is.

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post #21 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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The most ride difference I have ever felt is replacing the bushings. Everytime I replace some I say to myself, "the ride cannot get better than this". But it does.

Upper control arms, lower control arms, and all the strut rod bushings. Incredible difference. Even when I did the upper bushings on the rear it made a big difference.
Very interesting. I might do that before spending the big bucks on Konis. Since you have experience replacing all the bushings, do you think aftermarket (cheap) bushing are okay or should I stick with all OEM bushings?

(I know strut rod bushings should be OEM only as aftermarket don't last)
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post #22 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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Also, make sure your interior is on tight, as it doesn't contribute to bumps, but the noise gives a feeling that the bump is worse than it really is.
You bring up a good point as most people don't realize this. I learned this years ago when I was flying down a really bumpy road with stereo so loud I couldn't hear anything else. It's like the ride got smoother.

I've got all the junk cleaned out in the glove box and center console. Got the cig lighter fitting tight. I know I'm getting a few squeeks from the dash. I might try to find the source of them as well.
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post #23 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-04-2010, 10:03 PM
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Extra bracing helps too. A stiffer chassis focuses the energy into the suspension instead of the frame. I've noticed a difference on mine since adding front and rear shock tower braces.

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post #24 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-05-2010, 12:25 AM
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'97 Non Sport? Want a good ride?

Keep stock springs and sway bars, if it's got a lotr of miles and floats too much for you, install top line Monroe or Gabriel shocks at all 4 corners. For tires, good quality 215/70-15s will be hard to beat. My '95 has B F Goodrich radial T/As on it, they are some kind of smooth. The car rides phenominally smooth, but it has about 55,000 original miles. No float yet, so shocks are OK.

Is there some problem? Maybe you need some bushing work? High miles may well mean it's time for some bushings. OEM is hard to beat.

Forget air bags.

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