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Need shocks: why Koni's so expensive, worth it? and why not air, not much more ... by 85 SE VIN 9
Started on: 04-02-2013 08:44 PM
Replies: 15 (1311 views)
Last post by: 85 SE VIN 9 on 08-07-2013 08:32 PM
85 SE VIN 9
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Report this Post04-02-2013 08:44 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 85 SE VIN 9Click Here to Email 85 SE VIN 9Send a Private Message to 85 SE VIN 9Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
By the way, Thursday, 4/4/2013 the Fierostore is having one of their one-day 10% sales.

My GT bounces a lot, even with new Michelin's and I figure it needs new shocks and struts. I spent a lot on the tires, so now I feel maybe I should get good shocks/struts too. I have great respect (from the forum) for Koni's, but man, nearly three hundred for the fronts alone! I don't drive hard at all, but as it is the car doesn't feel very good when turning. Even before I bought the first Fiero I wanted to put an air suspension on it, but what besides the risk of failure (leaving me stranded) and the expense would be wrong with that idea? What if I put Koni's on the front, and save the air for the rear. I assume I could do the fronts pretty easy myself. They look pretty good. I don't see corrosion on the big bolt.
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Custom2M4
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Report this Post04-02-2013 11:52 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Custom2M4Click Here to Email Custom2M4Send a Private Message to Custom2M4Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
If I was to only put air on one side of the car, it'd be the front; To raise it up for bumps / curbs. Why air the rear?

If your car is slammed, then koni's are the way to go, if its factory height or close to it.. KYB's are good. Koni's have just a better rating for minimal travel as in extremely lowered vehicles, and more of a performance shock vs a factory replacement.

Anything will be better than what you have now.

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85 SE VIN 9
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Report this Post04-03-2013 03:15 AM Click Here to See the Profile for 85 SE VIN 9Click Here to Email 85 SE VIN 9Send a Private Message to 85 SE VIN 9Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Somebody did a study/concluded that "the rears do 98% of the work." I think it was Rolls actually. I think the idea is you get a much better ride and more "competent" suspension with a powered air setup. The only cars I've driven that had it were a Lincoln town car and an accessible minivan that had the rear suspension Buick uses on their minivans. It's mainly a load-leveling system, but on accessible minivans with very little clearance in the center, lowered portion it is effective in keeping that part from scraping on every little bump, hump, and driveway crown, whether you're loaded or not.

No, I don't have anything lowered, in fact I only have 14" wheels. I suppose I could just put the Monroes on that I already bought for the SE. I never understood why you can get a basic shock like that for twenty or so, yet there are shocks like the Koni's that cost more than ten times that. There must be a pretty substantial difference people are willing to pay that much more for a part you can't even see.

By the way, shouldn't your signature read "2M8" or maybe "2M8TT?"
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jaskispyder
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Report this Post04-03-2013 08:06 AM Click Here to See the Profile for jaskispyderSend a Private Message to jaskispyderEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I put new monroe sensa tracs on my '86 and there was a world of difference... night and day. I say you just need new shocks/struts. Front shocks are easy to do, struts will require some special tools and an alignment. It can be done, but the tools, if you buy, can run $150 for the spring compressor (good quality version)... or $50 for a cheaper set (which I have used.... and always wondered if they will hold). You will also need a large breaker bar to get the strut bolts/nuts off the bottom. Then an air wrench makes it easy to remove the top bolt from the strut, or buy the special tool they sell to hold the strut piston while you turn the bolt. I use a pipe wrench on the old strut, but use an air wrench to put the new nut on without holding the piston.

A few weeks ago I put new struts on the Aztek, and that really helped with the feel of the front end. The old struts were worn.
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Report this Post04-03-2013 08:18 AM Click Here to See the Profile for BoostdreamerClick Here to Email BoostdreamerSend a Private Message to BoostdreamerEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Konis are more because they are adjustable and they are rebuildable. They are also sold in matched sets so both sides should perform exactly the same. I bought a whole set but I've not put them on yet.

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Report this Post04-03-2013 02:50 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Toontown FieroSend a Private Message to Toontown FieroEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Just out of curiousity have you checked the control arm bushings for wear? My old rubber ones surprised me when I jacked up the front and put a bit of pressure on the control arm with a pry bar. The rubber had a lot of give and the control arms moved front/back quite a bit. New ones made a world of difference especially in corners.
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85 SE VIN 9
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Report this Post06-30-2013 06:18 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 85 SE VIN 9Click Here to Email 85 SE VIN 9Send a Private Message to 85 SE VIN 9Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Did some shopping, here's the plan.

TireRack Koni reds come to $518 all four. There is an installer conveniently located that I plan to ask for an estimate. I asked Pepboy, they quoted over 300 labor only.

According to two different editions of Haynes the procedure for removing the strut assembly is not difficult, assuming the bolts come out easily. I don't see why that should take hours and cost hundreds.

Separating the strut and spring seems like something that should be left to the professionals, especially considering most people say it's only ten or fifteen dollars. Btw is that price to switch the new strut in place of the old, or is it ten dollars to remove the old and another ten to install the new?

TFS has things otherwise hard to find: the spring pads at $35, and springs $352. Lots of places have bolts, TFS seems highest. Rockauto has bolts, mounts, and bellows together shipped still under a hundred bucks. What bolts are really needed? TFS has at least two different sets, both in double digits. The car has less than 150k. I really don't think springs are necessary.

The air suspension option doesn't seem that practical. There is a set that claims to be "plug and play" for all years and models of Fiero, but if you look into the instructions it turns out you have to decide where to locate new shock mounts, among other things. They also apparently assume you have a plasma torch. Pretty expensive too. That one is over two grand, including compressor, tank, controllers, etc.

JC Whitney has a hundred dollar set, but it's only a bag that goes in place of the strut inside the spring. That sounds ok, but I wonder how long it will last and how well it will work. I can't get the link to work at this point.

Here is another link. I think this is the best one, but again, not cheap.

http://www.kmwperformance.com/product/rb-fiero

It took three months to get around to installing the new tires and wheels. This is why I'm inclined to use tirerack and their installer. It's just more likely to get done. I've rationalized that if I'm going to spend a lot to get them installed I might as well get the best I can afford. (The yellow Koni's seem too hard for what I do, which is almost entirely drive to work). As long as I'm spending the money on labor and struts I figure I should also replace the mounts, bolts, and bellows. I'm off work this week, but it's too late to get it done professionally because of where the holiday falls, given I haven't ordered anything yet.

[This message has been edited by 85 SE VIN 9 (edited 06-30-2013).]

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Will
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Report this Post07-01-2013 08:55 AM Click Here to See the Profile for WillClick Here to Email WillSend a Private Message to WillEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
You can rent spring compressors from Advance or CarQuest. If you can get the strut assembly out, there really isn't anything that should keep you from swapping the spring.

Besides... stock Fiero springs are pretty soft.

One of the things I've been able to do is remove the strut top nut with weight on wheels. Then the strut assembly comes apart as soon as you jack the car up. If you're *REALLY* slick you can put it back together this way also.
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nitroheadz28
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Report this Post07-01-2013 11:03 AM Click Here to See the Profile for nitroheadz28Send a Private Message to nitroheadz28Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I skimmed through the thread, but I'm getting the idea that the struts are hard to do.. Replacing shocks and struts is a quick job and not labor intensive.

Also I'd be happy to pay $500 for a full set, they're a few hundred dollars more for my Trans Am
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85 SE VIN 9
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Report this Post07-01-2013 11:32 AM Click Here to See the Profile for 85 SE VIN 9Click Here to Email 85 SE VIN 9Send a Private Message to 85 SE VIN 9Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Yeah, that's the thing, it sure doesn't sound like an all day, three hundred dollar job. Even the front shocks the Firestone store a few hundred feet away wanted hundreds to do. I've done shocks myself. It wasn't bad except for the rusty bolts, which were certainly a chore. Maybe that's the issue. I've often had trouble getting people to honor their "free installation" on shocks or even install them at all. Maybe they just don't want the problems getting the rusty bolts loose.

Will - do you know what they charge to rent a spring compressor at Advance or CARQUEST? I've "rented" from O'Reilly's a number of times, they don't actually charge anything, you pay for it, if you bring it back complete and undamaged within forty-eight hours they refund your money. I'm more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of releasing a loaded spring or even using a spring compressor. I'm sure it can be done, but I've driven a lot of disabled people to doctors and hospitals. You don't want to take any chances that might put you in their position.

Today the weather is nice and I'm working on the SE, which hasn't run for a year and a half. The main issue is a failed brake line. I have the TFS stainless set and have doused the bolts that hold the old one in. The GT has the same lines already installed, but the PO just tied the lines in place wherever. They will probably be in the way of removing the struts. The one on the right side bangs against the strut, it's not connected to the wheel well. Once I get the SE running I can start on the GT because I'll have a backup DD.

I'm also going to do the front shocks on the SE to see how that goes. If it's as easy as expected, I'll do those first on the GT.

There is also a small issue with the radiator supports on the SE:



I already have Rodney's supports. Just have to paint them and get those bolts loose.
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nitroheadz28
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Report this Post07-01-2013 01:06 PM Click Here to See the Profile for nitroheadz28Send a Private Message to nitroheadz28Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Oh boy! That suspension made me cringe lol, good luck to you sir!

I was lucky enough to be working with a car that had seen snow less than a handful of times in its life, it was a great feeling when I finished my suspension

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Report this Post07-01-2013 01:50 PM Click Here to See the Profile for NetCamClick Here to visit NetCam's HomePageSend a Private Message to NetCamEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Two jacks? Wow.... talk about luxury!
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85 SE VIN 9
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Report this Post07-01-2013 02:16 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 85 SE VIN 9Click Here to Email 85 SE VIN 9Send a Private Message to 85 SE VIN 9Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Yeah, that looks great, but for me, with this car, ain't gonna happen. It's amazing how different cars age. My GT is the same age, and even has more miles, but it's my "new" car. A world of difference. Overall I'm not unhappy with the condition of the SE. The radiator supports are not a big surprise. You should have seen what happened when I ran the impact wrench on the bolt in the picture. The support disintegrated even more. There's a pile of rust under it now.

I've had an ominous clunk from the front end for a long time. It may very well be the energy absorber, which is loose on one side, but look at this:



Looks a little like I'm missing a frame attachment bolt.

I got the ten millimeter sheet metal screws holding the brake line loose easily. The brake line runs behind the coolant tube, so I had to loosen the ten millimeter screws holding that in too. Of course the pieces more disintegrated than came loose. Add those to the TFS shopping cart, lol.

Btw, the coolant tube on one side of the GT may be new, but it's held together with about a dozen clamps and just hangs from the hoses. What's a little rust? The SE has never leaked or had any problems with the cooling system except the PO put the thermostat in upside down.
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Lou6t4gto
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Report this Post07-02-2013 06:21 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Lou6t4gtoClick Here to Email Lou6t4gtoSend a Private Message to Lou6t4gtoEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I've seen northern cars with rust like that up front, BEFORE you put another "dime" in that car, Pull The Rear" inner fender LINERS off (plastic liners) and take a look at the upper rear frame rails. I've seen low mile "Mint looking "cars that had No frame left !
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85 SE VIN 9
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Report this Post07-02-2013 06:49 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 85 SE VIN 9Click Here to Email 85 SE VIN 9Send a Private Message to 85 SE VIN 9Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
No doubt I should do that, but I'm not all that worried. Most metal parts of the car are in pretty good shape. I took the tub out this afternoon and used a wire brush to clean up all the parts within reach. It's remarkably solid except for that one brace. Even the other brace is pretty solid. Most (in fact, all) of the fasteners holding the brake line in place were able to be unscrewed. The hangers for the coolant tubes were still holding, but disintegrated when removed. Most of what I need for this car is already bought and paid for and has been for years. I'll certainly look at the frame before the engine swap it will need before long. This is my backup car now. I bought a GT, same year, even same color, but with the brakes already done, and an engine that doesn't even use oil.
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85 SE VIN 9
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Report this Post08-07-2013 08:32 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 85 SE VIN 9Click Here to Email 85 SE VIN 9Send a Private Message to 85 SE VIN 9Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Lou6t4gto you got me all worried. I don't plan to put much into this car (the SE) anyway. Most of what I plan to use is already bought and paid for and gathering dust. Since your comment I've done a lot of painting and some patching around the battery.

I bought a new battery after taking a look, but when I started cleaning up that area to paint I found some good sized holes and the bracket holding the fusebox or whatever was hanging on by a thread so to speak. I fashioned an aluminum patch and support and painted with Rustoleum rusty metal primer, regular primer, and black.

I still haven't taken the liners off. I've run out of time again. I've had a couple Sundays off, but did nothing with them. Now I may not be off again until Labor Day.

So back to the GT: I put the Koni reds in my wish list at tirerack, along with mounts and camber bolts and looked at installers, which include the PepBoys I already visited and another a couple blocks away that charges about three times as much for tire mounting, but has good reviews. I'm still hoping to visit this installer, but it will be hard to fit in more than a last minute visit or more likely a last minute phone call.

On the camber bolts: I see lots of slightly different bolts with widely different prices at rockauto, tirerack, and TFS, just to name three. Which, if any, would be best? Do I really need new bolts assuming the old ones aren't broken? Are camber bolts something of an aftermarket mod? Are the OEM bolts just bolts?

I plan to order spring pads from TFS, but not springs or strut boots.

The Koni sale ends September 2 so I plan to do this in the next couple weeks. It might be cheaper to do it myself or something like that, but realistically that route means more unused car parts sitting around my tiny apartment for months, in fact, years.
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