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Frosty20112

'83 944 Suspension aneurysm and nervous tick

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Morning all,

I am starting to develop a twitch when it comes to sourcing early 944 suspension options. Literally every phone call or visit I've made (up to about a dozen now) has resulted in the 'too hard basket' being pulled out from under their desk and my query being filed away immediately. Add this to countless hours of research.

The car doesn't feel quite right at the moment (pulling to one side and steering doesn't feel even when turning left compared to right) and while I am now familiar with the cars cooling system(LOL!), I'm not confident in self diagnosing my problems with suspension yet. I realigned the front sway bar over the weekend as it was an inch out but that doesn't seem to have done a whole lot. Removing the sway bar and going for a run certainly made it feel a bit more washy, as to be expected but was a fun little experiment so I had some comparisons. I was told by a wheel alignment guy that he couldn't conduct one as the front right strut is bent. I can't see what he thinks he could see though but he wasn't a suspension guy and I haven't pulled the front end off to physically compare side by side. Either way, my intention when purchasing the car was to always replace the suspension with something a little better than OE.

I won't be tracking my car. It will be a daily driver with the occasional road trip with desert landscapes with the hopes of it being capable enough to head out to Birdsville.

My number 1 priority on this car is its ability to handle. Number 2 is its ability to stop. Number 742 is how fast I can go. I love the idea of having a car that handles effortlessly. I already grin ear to ear when I take a nice corner and feel the car nod its head to me as if to say 'yes sir, enjoy' and the suspension isn't even fixed yet. The downside is my wallet isn't large enough for a bespoke solution. My budget for a solution is ~$3k.

The options I have seen available to me;

OE replacement - Nah. I'd like a bit of an upgrade, if able.

Swap out for one of the later offsets - After much reading, I have no intention of doing this. The cost alone is on the crazy side given the amount of parts that need replacing to allow it to work. Those aluminium control arms are not cheap! Either are brand new wheels and tyres.

Yellow Speed racing coil over kit - Surprisingly, they appear to do one for my car. I am a little weary of the price and brand though. If anyone has used this system, I'd love to hear it. I don't want a false economy situation happening with these though which is why I'm hesitant.

Koni yellows front and rear with replacement struts - This seems to be the goer from what I can see but only because it seems simple as you aren't screwing around with anything but getting a nice little boost to performance. 944online seems to have their front strut assembly kit with Koni upgrades, along with springs and rear struts available for purchase. This appears to give me what I need for $2600 AUD. I'm sure they are available elsewhere too but that is where I am looking at them.

Changing to some M030 front and rear sway bars (or aftermarket) also appears to be something worth considering from what I have read. A tower brace will also eventually go in.

I would appreciate any guidance on this matter as it is doing my head in. I'm currently stuck in paralysis by analysis and I am trying to kick myself up the butt to make a decision already.

 

Thanks in advance.

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No direct Porsche experience (yet), but if it helps I refurbished all the suspension in my well-used e39 wagon and the transformation was sensational.  Arms and things weren't terribly expensive so I replaced all the joints and when an arm came with the joint in it for not much I just replaced that also.  For shocks I used Bilstein B8's on the front and B6's on the back (no B8's available for the M-Sport Touring).  I'm super happy with the Bilsteins, sporty enough when the road gets twisty but still quite plush over bumps and nice for the daily driving.  I reused my original springs & swaybars.

If the entire arm is quite expensive for Porsche and bushes are available separately, they're usually quite easy to press in and out if you can find someone with a press, or even buy one - <$200 for a little benchtop one sufficient to do suspension joints.

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Frosti

I have a 88 S.

I added Koni yellows, as recommended by another experienced 944 owner, thanks @Rob

Found some 16” wheels to replace my small 15” wheels. This allowed a greater selection of tyres. Basic Bridgestones. My wheels are for the later offset. Your car will have the earlier offset unless you change the lower control arms (& who knows what else)

My cars handling is neutral & awesome, and is enough to be far beyond what is considered a safe cornering road speed.

These couple changes have been very “economical”. Lots of future low cost little projects to do like replaces the rubber bushings & add a front sway bar reinforcement brace (homemade).  
 

Now this brings up to what the purpose is going to be for your car: “spirited” road with a balance of comfort, a full blown track monster or something in between. Road comfort needs to be identified & how it fits into your cost/benefit equation. We had a previous discussion on this forum on spring rates, for various applications for the 944. I’ll find the link & post it here: 

 

Changing the front lower control arms, if you can find them is a nice idea but the cost/benefit trade diminishes drastically unless you find the parts very cheap & do it yourself.

There is a you tube video as well as a topic by a PFA member on this forum somewhere about fabricating his own coil overs. This involves buying bits & pieces and putting it together yourself. This was done for the obvious money savings. 
 

I would be hesitate to start buy new gear to hot rod your car before your existing handling issue is diagnosed & rectified. 

 

 

Edited by brian in buddina
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Thanks @st3ve. That's good to hear that a refurb with mild upgrade makes such a difference. Side note - love the E39 wagon.

@brian in buddina Thanks Brian. I like how these mild improvements make massive differences to both you and Steve. And I love that these improvements are more than adequate for what I want to use the car for.

What you say makes total sense. No point investing cash to hot rod it and try to fix a problem that is yet to be diagnosed. Worst case is that there is an issue elsewhere that is causing this symptom and I've put money in with no change. I want to continue enjoying my car, not resenting the money spent on it. Your way seems to protect me from just that!

I appreciate the sound advice. I think my excitement in owning this car is running away on me hah. I'll pay someone to diagnose the issue then work towards resolving it. I'll update here when I have the diagnosis. Hopefully help future googlers of 944 problems.

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If you can write down the issues  you have in detail. There is a lot of experienced individuals on this forum with 944 knowledge. So if you can describe your issues you may find that you can fix it yourself and learn about your car at the same time. There are procedures to isolate & find issues with requiring spending big bucks.
 

Try reading through on the older posts on this forum, because you will not be the first person with your mechanical issues. It’s all been done before. Try reading up on the web page “Clark’s Garage” as that is the go to for all things 944 in the “workshop section”
 

Good luck.

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You could try calling East Coast Suspension or Buchanans and ask for a product recommendation.  Both have been doing this work for many years & have intricate knowledge of 944's, both street & track.

edit - you may have already tried this...apologies if so.

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Thanks @brian in buddina. I love working with the car. So much satisfaction working out problems. I think I got a little scared at the suspension system. I'll be working on the car all weekend so I'm going to try and do what you say and attempt to describe my issues in detail and get the troubleshooting wand out.

I'll go digging around! I'm on clarks garage now. I haven't been able to get the website to work for me and produce any of the documents and walkthroughs until I checked it again just now. It doesn't work with Google Chrome! Using Microsoft Edge so I have access now! Now I have a great start to my troubleshooting for this problem. A good 3 items I can check on the weekend!

@Gavin (CliffToCoast) I'll call East Coast Suspension and Buchanas today for their thoughts, thanks! I got tunneled on local QLD solutions then forgot the rest of Australia existed (can't even cross the border without paperwork, and we live right near the border) then went straight for US solutions. Appreciate the suggestions!

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Steering is now awesome. Went through Clarke's garage and troubleshooted the front end. Found nothing wrong.

Decided to try a different alignment place after we exhausted all issues so headed down to the local Jax tyres that dad goes to. The guys were brilliant and explained everything about why it was pulling hard to the left. Turns out the first alignment place put the job in the too hard basket as the issue was that one sides camber was restricted due to some clearances to the body from what I understand. Not uncommon for your body to not be completely square from what I have read. So with a restriction on the right wheels camber being ~2deg75min, they got the left tyre to ~2deg57min (from 0deg originally!). While he did say an agressive camber will produce slightly uneven tyre wear, I really don't mind too much if it solves my problem.

The guy said it'd drive like a new car. And sure enough, yep. Took it through the mountains to get back home and it felt solid. There's still improvement to be had but it is night and day.

Now that we know that the struts are good. Time to order my Koni yellows or Bilsteins. I'll also be doing all the control arm bushes too as they are looking a little tired. From what I have seen and read, the steel control arms are super cheap and I can get new ones with everything prepressed and ready to go for a reasonable amount and that should help things along further.

@Gavin (CliffToCoast) I spoke to Bruce at Buchanans. He is bloody brilliant, right? From one conversation with him, I walked away with so much. Walked away with answers to questions I didn't even know I had. So much more appreciation for the car and its quirks now. So cool!

 

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On 21/11/2020 at 12:25, Frosty20112 said:

Steering is now awesome. Went through Clarke's garage and troubleshooted the front end. Found nothing wrong.

Decided to try a different alignment place after we exhausted all issues so headed down to the local Jax tyres that dad goes to. The guys were brilliant and explained everything about why it was pulling hard to the left. Turns out the first alignment place put the job in the too hard basket as the issue was that one sides camber was restricted due to some clearances to the body from what I understand. Not uncommon for your body to not be completely square from what I have read. So with a restriction on the right wheels camber being ~2deg75min, they got the left tyre to ~2deg57min (from 0deg originally!). While he did say an agressive camber will produce slightly uneven tyre wear, I really don't mind too much if it solves my problem.

The guy said it'd drive like a new car. And sure enough, yep. Took it through the mountains to get back home and it felt solid. There's still improvement to be had but it is night and day.

Now that we know that the struts are good. Time to order my Koni yellows or Bilsteins. I'll also be doing all the control arm bushes too as they are looking a little tired. From what I have seen and read, the steel control arms are super cheap and I can get new ones with everything prepressed and ready to go for a reasonable amount and that should help things along further.

@Gavin (CliffToCoast) I spoke to Bruce at Buchanans. He is bloody brilliant, right? From one conversation with him, I walked away with so much. Walked away with answers to questions I didn't even know I had. So much more appreciation for the car and its quirks now. So cool!

 

Fantastic result !

And Buchanan’s  while not the fount of youth fount of knowledge  

btw how long was the chat with Bruce ? 

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Hi Frosty , more than happy to help you over the phone & whats really nice is you're growing appreciation of 944 series

Regards
Bruce Buchanan
Buchanan Automotive  ( 44 years working on Porsche cars , often 6 days a week   )

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