By on May 12, 2014

John writes:

Wasup, Sajeev!

I have an 06 R/T Charger and I am contemplating getting a set of Eibach springs for it. What other costs might be associated aside from installation? What other products would I need to purchase, if any?

Thanks for any input,
John

Sajeev answers:

Well son, there was once a time when lowering springs ruined the suspension settings of a half-assed platform: hat tip to my dear Fox Body Ford. Hopefully your German-bred Chrysler product has none of those problems.

Eibach makes two kits for your car: spicy and spicier. That’s because the lower you go, the more heat you gotta handle.

Lowering (or lifting, for that matter) springs alter any vehicle’s suspension geometry.  A wheel alignment is mandatory, and the LX forums seem to agree.  Mild lowering kits (1.5″-ish max) are usually fine with stock dampers, even if a firmer shock compliments a lower and (usually) firmer spring.  More aggressive setups usually need a matched set of dampers to go with, unless you care not about ride degradation.

Sometimes a full suspension kit includes an anti-roll bar upgrade too, which could help the feel and scrub understeer but the reduced left-to-right suspension flexibility isn’t necessarily that fantastic. More jolts don’t translate into faster lap times: do extensive research before you buy.

There’s also the matter of stock wheels: even the R/T might look a little silly with a lower body and boring-ass stock wheels. A bigger rim with a shorter sidewall is needed to “complete the look.” A different offset rim (see hyperlinked thread above) can also help with the inevitable: the meeting of expensive rubber with metal body parts. And brings me to the big problem with aftermarket lowering bits: driving style!

The more you have, the more likely you’ll avoid the punishment of potholes, pavement joints and puddles.  If you live in a place with bad roads, or flooding, you might want to reconsider.  Because nothing’s worse than a sore back, a tired ass and a hydro-locked motor if you treat a lowered car like a normal one.

Bonus!  A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

See the slippery slope here? What exactly do you want?  Looking lower requires more parts than just springs to complete the look.  That’s the stance or hellaflush look, and it ain’t cheap. Going faster for the road and track? Going full aftermarket may be overkill: I’d try some factory funded engineering perfection via SRT-springs, famously high quality dampers (like Koni, Bilstein) and stickier tires on stock wheels. That won’t make you look any cooler, but you certainly will be.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

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56 Comments on “Piston Slap: Spicy…or Spicier?...”


  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    John:

    You must be single. If not, you’re wife will object as soon as she takes a ride in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Or perhaps she has her car and he has his and both are free to do what they want within reason. Could that not be a possibility?

      • 0 avatar
        gmichaelj

        It certainly could. But, I’d say only if she rarely rode in his car, like maybe they take her car to dinner, or whatever. Also works if she regularly doesn’t complain (good luck on that!). OR if she loves the hella look on HIS car.

    • 0 avatar
      racebeer

      Not necessarily. I put Stranos and adjustable Konis on my 4th gen F-Body, and the ride got much better. Due to the progressive nature of the springs, it actually soaks up bumps much better than the stock setup, and the Konis control the rebound. My wife said she actually felt more connected to the road and appreciated the more controlled movement of the suspension. It isn’t harsh at all, unlike some other spring / shock combos I’ve encountered.

    • 0 avatar
      montethepoodle

      I have a lowered car. My dear wife has smashed the front cowling and gotten high sided with untold scratches under the car and one parking spot with a 3 inch cement stop smashed it another time. The ride is terrible and it is not worth it. You can not drive it like a normal car ever again and in San Francisco we hit the doors when you open the door on the sidewalk.

      I did this 10 years ago and never never again.

      This was a Dodge and our 330CI is just as bad if not worse. Then the Jack issue, the stock one will not work as it is not low enough.

      I always thought the Low Riders with the Airplane suspension is the way to go.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The OP didn’t tell us if he is doing this for autocross or aesthetics. That fact by itself makes a big deal.

    Does he just want the look or is he trying to shave a tenth off a lap?

    • 0 avatar

      Autocrossing a Dodge Charger? Let’s hope not.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        I once saw a 25 year old short Land Rover (original ‘defender’ style) at an Autocross. The Charger may be too big to be effective, but some people do it just for the challenge ;)

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          This. I took my 2013 R/T to a couple lapping days. While it wouldn’t be very competitive in a race or autocross, it sure is fun.

        • 0 avatar

          At the risk of being “that guy,” autocrossing a Defender would definitely be against SCCA regs. CG is way too high.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Not all clubs run to strict SCCA rules. My local club uses common sense for this (uncommon thought that may be). I have every intention of running my ’01 Range Rover this summer once or twice. With the air suspension locked in crawl mode and fat Geolanders it will probably do OK.

            I have run a Peugeot 504D in the distant past. The body roll was EPIC.

            As to the OP – IMHO for the majority of cars lowering and stiffening for appearance is a quick road to ruin, unless you live where the roads are like polished glass. Bumpier does not mean better handling.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Why not? Even if you don’t take home a trophy, surely maximizing your capabilities with what you drive on a daily basis can’t be a bad thing.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Get an SRT suspension if you really want a sore back over a bit of city driving, and more frequent alignment issues.

    You’re really better off just keeping that Charger stock and throwing on some new tiresfresh springs.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    All these things are why I will probably never lower my Z. It’s already basically a G35 sedan lowered ~2″. Even a 1″ drop requires camber arms front and back and new shocks. I’ve priced it over and over again and the grand total is always dang near 2K to do it to a level I would find satisfactory. Best bet would be to just get a better handling car.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      There some deals for a grand or less for a full coilover including shock and correctly rated spring. If the ride is stiff even the basic kit offers some dampening adjusting.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/271054335346?redirect=mobile

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        The K in Ksport stands for Krap. Their shocks are garbage and their spring rates are generally poorly chosen.

        The minimum I would want for the Z would be Bilstein B14 coilovers which would cost $1,400 new. Then I have to get it aligned which would be another $400 or so in parts and $100 or so in labor. Nah, gonna keep it the way it is, or just +1 the wheels. With the right offset it looks just as good if not better.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Well, if you have an AWD model like the one in the pic, I’d say adding some lowness is definitely in the cards. Those things are like 4x4s!

    Whether AWD or RWD, as long as you aren’t going too aggressive, you shouldn’t have too many issues, but as mentioned, get it completely aligned. You might also want to check with other owners who have gone this route to find out if bump steer is an issue when lowered. As Sajeev mentioned, it can be one of the things that makes a lowered Fox body into a death trap without a bump steer kit to correct the geometre of the tie rods.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I’ve used Eibach Pro-Kit springs on a few past rides, the nice thing about Eibach is that they’re a progressive spring. The more they compress, the more they tighten up so with daily driving the ride is only slightly firmer than OEM. Get a set of adjustable Konis and an alignment afterwards. As long as you keep the drop within 1.5″ to 2″, you shouldn’t have any issues.

    • 0 avatar
      racebeer

      +1 on the progressive springs and Konis. The only way to go. Of course, if you really want it to ride like crap, just put in poly bushings at every suspension mounting point. That may be OK for an autocrosser, but for daily driving they are waaaay too harsh and noisy.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    My take, FWIW:

    DON’T DO IT! Why?

    1. Just for looks. Nope – better and cheaper ways to make your car stand out from the crowd. Just no stick-on portholes, please.

    2. As stated previous, can you spell “Geometry”? There are all sorts of problems, real and potential. As expensive as a car is, for an everyday driver, it just isn’t worth the expense and headaches associated with it. Trust me, I know about this, having done similar things many years ago.

    3. Your car is almost 10 years old.

    4. Because your car is a Chrysler product, even though RWD, you are facing the law of diminishing returns. I drive a W-body Impala, I know, but I love it anyway!

    Which leads me to a final piece of advice: if you love the car like I love mine, and have the financial means, GO AHEAD AND DO IT, just because we all love our cars! You might even have a ball doing it, too.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Zackman, we have a W body Century and lowered it with Eibach springs, KYB adjustable struts, Addco 7/8th in bar in the rear, and a Dorman bar up front. Poly bushings on the front, steel ball adjustable endlinks in the rear. Car corners flat and handles incredibly well. Stock tire size. Talk about a sleeper. Best part – my wife uses it! If the roads are smooth the ride is ok, but when the roads get bad, the ride goes to hell. Even for my g-force addled brain, I’d try a bit softer next time…

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    The Charger RT is one car that I don’t think needs to be lowered, it’s already has a pretty good stance from the factory. If you want an aggressive muscle car look then it does need the 20″ rims though, the base 18’s look too plain. Lowered with 18s will look silly.

    The OP should clarify what his goal is and how he uses the car. I tried lowering springs twice and was never happy, they rarely improve the handling and most of them just go too low. The Eibach Sportline springs are the only ones I have found that only do a slight drop. I would stick with factory components, if you really want the look then try to find a used SRT suspension. If you don’t already have them, then my recommendation would be to find a set of OEM 20″ wheels, maybe the SRT wheels or if you have the $$ go for the Viper reps, those look awesome on the Chargers and Challengers, especially in black.

    But for the record, the coolest Charger I have ever seen was a black SRT8 with blacked out badges and cop car 18″ steelies with nice fat aggressive tires and a Magnaflow exhaust. It sounded as mean as it looked.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    I did not like climbing up into my 4X4 GM half ton. Lowering it was very easy. Remove the spacer block between the rear spring and axle and turn the adj. screws on the front torsion bars. I like the look and might even get better mileage on the highway. I have had some good size loads without bottoming out. The stock front alignment adjusters were just barley able to bring it back to specs.

  • avatar

    I’ll never understand the “lowering” crowd.
    Maybe that’s cause I live in NYC and I’ve lost 3 Chin Spoilers to potholes?

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      I can see optimizing the ride height to eat up unnecessary wheel well gap, but yeah, I never understood the Low Crowd either.

      Have you ever seen what I call the Japanese Broken Suspension Look?

      I think its officially called VIP style, but they promote the hell out of it on Speedhunters. The car’s almost literally in contact with the pavement and the wheels are all cambered in a good 20 degrees.

      It looks like something big and heavy fell on the car and broke all the pickup points, or they rebuilt the suspension and just forgot to install springs.

      These aren’t lowriders. They actually drive them around like this. See for yourself.

      http://www.speedhunters.com/2013/03/a-second-spotlight-o-rama-excite-king/

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Hah! Speedhunters and VIP cars what an oxymoron if ever I’ve seen one.

        That is precisely what I’m talking about when I’m referring to the stanced crowd.

        Per your link the worst offender I can see is the grey car below the minivan. Tires way to narrow on wheels way to wide (pro tip! If you need lighter fluid to inflate a tire on a wheel because there is no other way to seat the bead your trying way to hard!)

        Saw a Honda Civic a few months back with the VIP treatment in the rain and with that ridiculous amount of camber it had serious issues handling even small puddles in the road. The tail waggled like it was RWD and on the throttle.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        I did. They invented the facepalm precisely for this. “Speedhunters”? More likely hunting for the parts that got scraped off at the last bump.

        Back in the ’80s I worked at a speed shop and drew some healthy commissions selling air shock & wide Cragar combos to yahoos with Camaros. I never thought things could get any sillier. I was wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Mustangs pretty much demand it with their ‘frady cat stance. Although Mustangers being Mustangers like to take it over the cliff, off the deep edge and into the abyss with a shovel, blasting caps and a big ass drill. Then (and I tend to be a pretty tolerant guy when it comes to a person’s automotive tastes – the passion is what counts) there are the knuckleheads the embrace the whole “stance” thing and make lowered Mustangs look like mud-boggers coupled with tires that are way to narrow on wheels way to wide ( about as frick’n dumb as gutting yourself with a dull rusty spoon and taking a swim with starved sharks ).

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        I just remembered this one.

        Worst. Celica. Ever.

        Danger to himself and others.

        http://noriyaro.com/2012/04/trollface-kawashima-celica-at-the-nagoya-exciting-car-showdown-2/

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          How does he keep the tires inflated? Or are these special rims custom designed to cater to a$$hats?

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            Nothing special, the tire seals at the face of the tire bead not the sides. As long as you can get a reasonable amount of flat surface and the bead mostly remains flat the tire will seal.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    “What other products would I need to purchase, if any?”

    You would certainly want to replace any suspension wear items: control arms, bushings, strut mounts, tie rod ends, etc. Your new stiffer suspension will just make things worse if anything is worn (and lots of things are after 8 years). Use OEM Mopar parts, the big cost is labor, and you don’t want to pay twice to replace a cheap ball joint within a year.

    Some advice: keep the old struts and springs in case you want to go back. Some lowering kits are great, and some will ruin a perfectly good car.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Just have him change the mounting points for the sensors……nevermind, wrong car. But seriously, it is yet another reason the Panther is king of the second hand road. Be it bagged or steel, easily revamped chassis.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    I just used the eibach pro-kit on my mazda3 with stock dampers for about 2 years until they blew. Then I replaced them with bilsteins and adjustable camber rear arms. Ride is pretty good… I friggin hate wheel gap so it was absolutely necessary for me. I think just about every car on the road could use a 1-2 inch drop. I don’t know why everything goes for monster truck ride height.

  • avatar
    raph

    “I’d try some factory funded engineering perfection via SRT-springs, famously high quality dampers (like Koni, Bilstein) and stickier tires on stock wheels. That won’t make you look any cooler, but you certainly will be.”

    Indeed, while I couldn’t talk the parental unit into doing a spring swap for just a little bit lower ride height on her 07 Mustang GT when it came time to replace the dampers. I was however pleasantly surprised with the combination of Koni SRT dampers and my OE GT500 sway bars and strut mounts. It tightend the otherwise overly soft riding automatic GT Mustang ride right up and a switch to a quality tire (in this case Michelin Pilot Sport A/S from the OE BF Goodrrich KDWS) in a slightly wider tire helped as well.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Factory car suspensions are always a compromise, so if you want a lower car, lower it. With an older used car it will usually be an improvement anyway, especially if you do the shocks/dampers at the same time (recommended)

  • avatar

    Lowering a ten year old car? Why not. But go ahead and buy struts/shocks. They’re already worn out and running them 1.5″ more compressed will kill them in a matter of days/weeks. Plus if you do springs and THEN do shocks you’re paying for the same labor twice. Do it all at once.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I’d recommend going for it, but I would recommend against taking it too far. If you do a mild Eibach or H&R lowering spring with either Koni FSD or Billstein Sport dampers you’ll be improving handling without ruining your geometry or replacing unnecessary parts. At this milage though I’d agree with the above comments that you really need to do a complete suspension overhaul simultaneously. Control arms (or at least bushings), tie rod ends, sway bar endlinks, Suspension top mounts, doing it all at once will save you a turdton of future labor and effort and actually improve the car all in one moment (sparing you the chasing of noises dance.)

    Sway bars are a worthy upgrade, but only in strict moderation, usually only on the rear, and preferably an OEM+ part that uses rubber instead of poly bushings. I’m not familiar with modding that chassis, but I’d assume the SRT sways would be the logical choice.

    Do not do poly bushing anywhere. They do last longer and deform less, but they come at an NVH price that doesn’t suit your big comfortable car’s character. Buy a lightweight sports car to justify that.

    Don’t add power, you’ve got plenty and no turbo, but do at least get a cone filter for throttle response and induction noise.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    This is a timely thread. My brother has an 04 GLI he lowered last summer with coil overs from the local VW t00ner. He didn’t raise it prior to winter and his fancy front valances paid the price. Now, it sounds like the suspension is going to fall out from under the car. Is that a result of him slamming it down with no other complimentary part alterations?

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      davefromcalgary

      It all depends on how low he went with it, what additional parts he installed and the milage on his existing bushings and mounts. If he got adjustable sway bar endlinks with his coils then I would immediately look there. After that I would assume that the top mounts are shot, they are a wear item and a stiffer suspension transmits more force right at them. There is a company doing a vulcanized rubber OEM+ style replacement part if that ends up being the case. If this is the case it’s something that would have come up in time anyway.

      The other more obvious culprit is bolts not torqued to spec. Ze Germans can be pretty specific about this stuff and it’s not just their cultural OCD doing the talking, they engineer everything assuming you will follow directions exactly. Same goes for one use bolts (subframe etc…), they really mean it when they say one use, and a lot of mechanics get tripped up on this out of complacency.

      Either way he’s looking at suspension out to diagnose and fix it.

  • avatar
    flatout05

    I’m in the go-ahead-and-drop-it camp. A moderate lowering (1 to 1.5 inches) won’t do anything dramatic to your suspension – though, as somebody pointed out, your car is likely to have many worn bits due to its age. I’ve lowered the last 3 vehicles I owned as soon as their warranties expired, and retained the stock shocks, without problems. (Yes, an alignment is a must.)

    I also disagree with Sajeev (a rarity!) over the stock wheels and tires. I actually admire the modest lowering/stock rims look; the car just plain looks better, and most observers aren’t sure why.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    tedward,

    Thanks for the reply. He went pretty low. Its hard to drive anywhere. It makes that sort of “POING!!” sound that a bad strut mount bearing makes, he replaced them recently though so I wasn’t sure, but if lowering it is hard on those then we might be on to something.

    In this case, the only parts he replaced were the OEM struts/shocks and springs with the aforementioned coilover units, as well as strut mount bearings at the time. Nothing else was changed though. The car I think has 100k miles. I have definitely been of the opinion of late that the severe change in geometry has buggered up the remainder of the suspension.

    He bought the coilover units because they were “the same price as OEM struts and springs”. But I can’t help but believe he has done himself a disservice.

    unrelated, are you Ted Ward, or T. Edward. My brain always looks at your name and starts arguing with itself.

    EDIT damn, this was supposed to be a reply to thread above.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Dave

      It’s Edward, the t is separate.

      It is quite possible that the sway bar is touching a control arm or maybe just binding up (install correctly and set to the ride height.) Or it could be that he bought budget coils and is paying the price, although I can’t imagine that producing a sharp noise without obvious issues besides that. If it was me I might try raising the vehicle to a reasonable level (inch or so below stock) reinstalling the front sway bar properly and see what happens.

      While he’s down there in the subframe throw on a TyrolSport sub frame collar and bolt kit to make sure the stretch bolts down there aren’t contributing to wheel geometry or nvh issues.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I’ve recommended he raise it to stock-1″, so he could you know, exit main thoroughfares properly without leaving precious bits behind, amongst a slough of other drive-ability issues.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          haha, that too. In fact that’s the only reason I got coilovers for my car instead of a cup kit. I thought all the lowering springs I could find went too low for my tastes (and some wouldn’t even give spring rates).

          You can sell it to him on the “level control arms” principle. Everyone who goes low and slow knows that they get made fun of a bit by the modification for performance guys. It usually doesn’t take much pushing to convert them (unless of course they have joined the church of air ride, in which case all is truly lost.)

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I’ve always believed in the “equal gap all the way around the wheel arches” look. Its classy as hell and on his 04 GLi with the 18″ BBS rims it would look so good like that. But nope, he apparently detests the sight of the tops of his tires. And being able to enter parking lots.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            “equal gap all the way around the wheel arches”
            I think we’d get along just fine davefromcalgary.

            If he proves resistant bring him to an actual race shop, autocross event, hillclimb, you get the idea and ask someone’s opinion of rubbing-low cars in his earshot. It’s one thing from some guy on the internet (nevermind a family member,) it’s quite another when a better driver with a better car stands their ground on vehicle physics to your expense.

            This worked with a friend of mine, I just sent him to a shop that sets up race cars when he wore his subframe bolts down to the point where they couldn’t be removed by simple hand tools (yes it could have been resolved on the street but I was fed up.) They must have ridiculed him to some extent because 9 months later the wheel spacers are half size and top of tire is visible. He even just spent money on aluminum control arms…

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Sadly, he believes every word the local VW t00ners tell him. Keeping that car from getting trashed has been a losing battle for me.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    My lowered (came that way when I bought it) ’95 Thunderbird with poly bushings and nice big sway bars is loads of fun on twisty back roads, but the incredibly poor condition of many roads around here in Pennsylvania (where’s the road crews my increased PennDOT fees are funding, Corbett?) makes every commute a little…rough.

    Maybe I could move to Florida with my dad. :P

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I live in Florida, the roads aren’t much better thanks to crappy construction and lack of maintenance.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I guess my dream long wide smooth roads with high speed limits are going to be harder to find than I thought.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          Well we do have the 70mph limit at least, and some of the roads are fine, the new ones. They just degrade more than you think and FL sucks at repairing them. I hated driving in PA, it seemed to be 55mph everywhere, and cops ever cpl miles.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Yeah, I think only the turnpike is 65 and even then not for its entire length. And the horrendous and absurd winter did some serious damage to all the roads around here…roads that already were in a state of disrepair.

            Add to that municipalities hiring cut-rate paving crews who make uneven patches and you get a recipe for a bumpy ride.

  • avatar
    Blue-S

    The ST Suspensions Coilover kit might be a good option. ST is a subsidiary of KW, and their stuff is made in Germany. The ST kits do not have the stainless steel housings that the KW products use, though. It looks like the ST Coilover kit for the ’06 Charger is about $900 from several online sellers, and there is apparently a $150 rebate available through June. You would be hard-pressed to get a set of Konis or Bilsteins and a set of reputable-brand sport springs for that kind of money. Just don’t go nuts with the lowering. Just because you CAN lower the car several inches, that doesn’t mean that you SHOULD…

  • avatar
    raph

    I was checking out Koni’s site today and hit the news & event link. They are offering dampers and matched H&R springs. Pretty cool as this takes the chance of mismatching the spring and damper out of the problem.

    For the average guy looking to lower a vehicle this isn’t a bad way to go and by average I mean the person that isn’t willing to invest time into going out and evaluating their performance with concrete numbers and testing methods.


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