By on July 31, 2015

 

automotive aftermarket. Shutterstock user Dezay

Evan writes:

Hi Sajeev!

How do people get your name wrong when it is in your email address? But that wasn’t why I was calling. My question: are aftermarket parts for brand spanking new cars sensible?

For instance, I’m picking up an Audi SQ5 and there are these ‘x-brace’ things and mount inserts. Why would Audi not have engineered it well enough in the first place? Money savings? They didn’t think whatever attribute x-braces add was ‘for’ the SQ5 demographic?

Or are companies selling mount inserts and eXtra bracing to people with $60k sport-crossoverUVs selling snake oil?

Thanks for the insight!

Sajeev answers:

You can’t make generalizations — except about the horrible people calling me Sanjeev even though my name’s been plastered all over TTAC since March 2006…but I digress.

Vehicles are designed to a certain expectation of performance, ride quality, cost constraints, and acceptance to a wide variety of consumer preferences. Aftermarket performance modifications can do better than factory stuff.

But some are worse than other aftermarket alternatives, especially against those of a creative and grassroots racer nature. Sadly, many (either by themselves or in a package) only make a difference to the owner’s perception of vehicle performance and some parts are worse than what came from the factory (i.e. oversized throttle bodies on a naturally-aspirated motor). Take it from the guy that loves tweaking RWD Fords: every scenario above is true.

It’s like walking through a metaphorical minefield: keen research, trusted advisers with years of hands-on experience, and hours of internet forum digging are mandatory to sort fact from fiction.

So, shut up and tell us, what’s the scoop on these SQ5 bits? Well, I’ve never driven said vehicle…

However, I rather like those billet aluminum bushing inserts, even though billet and anodized finishes are often overpriced flash. Yes, many forms of motorsport require such fancypants materials, but that doesn’t apply to the SQ5. Flash doesn’t sell me; tangible improvements in performance does. To wit, these babies likely improve performance out of the hole, especially with an aftermarket computer tune bumping up performance, reducing torque management and perking up throttle response.

Yet I wonder if there’s a universal fit, solid (rubber or invasive polyurethane) bushing you can buy from a catalog (or from another VAG product) — which might be like, waaay cheaper, son.

And since a new Audi is far from the flexi-flyer chassis of my beloved Fox Ford products, I question the value of any chassis improvement on a higher dollar luxury car, much less a billet aluminum one. Does it stiffen the chassis and improve feel enough to matter? Maybe it helps NVH control. Perhaps handling is more confident with other modifications. Odds are, though, it won’t make the SQ5 any quicker on a track.

Consider, if you will, improving the factory part: adding metal (perhaps triangular sheetmetal between the weak points?) welded it up by someone familiar with roll cages. Perhaps that aftermarket part is a good template. That’s more labor and it won’t be billet aluminum pretty…but, right or wrong, it’s the other side of this coin.

Don’t forget one other important fact: modifications are worth pennies on the dollar in the vehicle resale department. Many will lower the value as stock vehicles are preferred at trade-in time. The SQ5’s bits add curb appeal for buyers motivated to get on their hands and knees to see them, which amounts to precisely nobody in the used car market.

Don’t get me wrong, I love modifying cars with cool aftermarket bits, but it boils down to two words: buyer beware.

[Image: Shutterstock user Dezay]

Send your queries to [email protected]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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76 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Fallacy of Aftermarket Performance?...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Looking at vendor’s description:

    “are designed to fill the large voids in the factory transmission and rear differential mounts, and limit drivetrain movement without sacrificing ride quality or introducing any additional noise, vibration, or harshness into the cabin. By filling the voids in the factory mounts, this package eliminates the associated slop to ensure that you experience crisper shifts, harder launches, and a smoother driving experience.”

    So they’re sticking these inserts into the gaps specifically engineered into the factory bushings for NVH dampening and lessening drivetrain shock. For certain people going after a more direct feel from their drivetrain maybe this doodad is an improvement. But just remember that the engineers made those voids in there on purpose, not just to save a bit on material or something. Same reason as why most factory bushings are rubber and not polyurethane like so many aftermarket offerings: rubber is more compliant and isolates vibration and shock better, and is quieter. For 99% of buyers, that is the desirable choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Sky_Render

      Bushing voids are used to either reduce NVH or allow bushing deformation in a particular axis.

      An example is the lower control arm bushing on a 3-link suspension like that found on the S197 Mustang. Voids exist above and below the central axis of the bushing, allowing the control arm to pivot (“articulate”) about its long axis, which is needed during cornering. However, the bushing is solid to the left and right of the central axis, to reduce deflection in the forward direction of the car, making power transfer from the axle to the chassis more effective.

      Contrast this with a race-only part replacing that bushing with a spherical bearing (or “Heim Joint”). The Heim joint would allow articulation about the control arm’s long axis (like the bushing), but would allow zero deflection in the forward direction of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        This.

        In the G8 community you’ll see plenty of posts that go:

        STEP 1: I looked at the factory bushings and they are utter crap

        STEP 2: Lots of agreement

        STEP 3: I’m going to buy bushings from Brand X and replace

        STEP 4: Holy war around Brand X, Y and Z

        STEP 5: I’ve made up my mind – brand X

        STEP 6: I installed my bushings and wow what a difference!

        STEP 7: About a month later, my car rides like a tank and squeaks and groans, my wife is complaining

        STEP 8: Well ya, that’s why the factory bushings were soft in the first place, so the ride was softer for general street use versus a track car

        STEP 9: Anyone want to buy some slightly used bushings – my wife wasn’t happen

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          You ain’t kidding, when I put polyuthrene sway-bar bushings on my older Volvo they resulted in squeaks, rattles, and a ton of lubrication to keep it quiet.

          But on the upside they’ll last 40-50 years according to the forums!

          • 0 avatar
            mechaman

            Odd, because I stuck poly bushes on the sway bar and other links on my old 510, and it wasn’t that noisy. Of course I had the radio up to 11…

    • 0 avatar
      vtecJustKickedInYo

      Luckily 034 offers different densities. Street density (still a comfort bushing) is great for preventing premature bushing wear, which is an issue on every single Audi made after 1994. I wish Audi would use 034 bushings from the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      About 13 years ago I had Flyn’ Miata in Grand Junction build up my Miata:

      Stage 2 turbo (RWHP dynoed at 250)
      race clutch
      aluminum radiator
      lowered springs
      shocks
      race exhaust
      etc.

      It was a blast to run around Second Creek track in the good old days.

      When it was time to sell it about three years later, I calculated it’s worth by taking the stock value and adding half of what the mods cost ($10,000). The first person who saw it bought it.

      The difference between stock and modified was night and day.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        To be fair, the only modifications that truly end up adding any appreciable value to a car are massive expenditures like turbo/supercharging or a built motor. The people who are looking for a car like that are generally willing to pay for it, especially if it was done right with quality parts, though you are definitely limiting your buyer pool.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I mean German engineers at VAG probably have no idear what they’re doin. Germans are the worst sort of engineers n stuff.

      /s

      Leave it be!

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        I am sorry, but in damn near every case, the German solution to any engineering problem lacks intuition and seems overwrought and over-complicated. Take the front wheel off of an M56x Infiniti and compare with a Mercedes 4Matic of your choice. The shine wore off of that apple to me 30 years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          A German car mechanic told me that needless German engineering complexity puts food on his table.

          Back during WWII, the German tanks were far better than the US Shermans in a one-on-one battle. But the Shermans could be fixed on the battlefield while the German tanks were so complicated that they often could not be. The Americans could get a new tank from the States to France faster than the Germans could get a repaired tank back to the front. Perhaps that anecdote has relevance today.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I’m not fighting a war with my car. I can afford a little perfection. As I like to say, if you can’t see what makes a 3-series $15K more expensive than a Camry, enjoy the Camry and spend the money on something that makes you happy. You can play a lot of golf for $15K.

            If I was fighting a war I would want enormous volumes of cheap Russian crap – as long as I had enormous quantities of Russian cannon fodder to go with it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            My own car is German. I like it. It has even been reliable.

            But I haven’t forgotten how to understand statistical data, nor will I make excuses for dubious decisions made by German automakers. Enjoying the car and analyzing the questionable choices that were made in designing and producing it are different matters.

            Why you constantly feel the need to make excuses for bad ideas, I have no idea. Unless they’re paying you, you really ought to give it a rest.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “… the German tanks were far better than the US Shermans in a one-on-one battle. But the Shermans could be fixed on the battlefield while the German tanks were so complicated that they often could not be.”

            “Perhaps that anecdote has relevance today.”

            These lines are as close as I will ever see to a PCH101 endorsement of Panther Love, so I’ll take it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “These lines are as close as I will ever see to a PCH101 endorsement of Panther Love, so I’ll take it.”

            Easy, tiger.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            In WWII, the Germans did not have the resources to make 1,000,000 mediocre tanks. They had no choice but to try to make a small number of really good ones. It didn’t really matter either way – they were GOING to lose the war once the US and Russians entered it simply due to that lack of resources.

            When it comes to cars, Germans make different decisions, whether they are bad or not depends on your point of view and is highly subjective. All makes have their occasional “WTF” moments.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            khrodes1,

            As someone whose family lost half the male relatives of that generation in the war, you can go to hell with your cannon fodder comments. The Soviet troops took the absolute best SS/Wermacht divisions the third reich could muster and ground them into dust. When it’s quite literally a fight for survival of ones’ kin, a country’s people will do what is needed to win, massive self sacrifice to buy time to regroup the rear was the order of the day.

            The T34 shocked the ‘ubermensch’ in 1941, it was unfathomable to them that the backward slavs could engineer such a brutally effective and capable machine, one that was virtually impervious to their early war low velocity guns, let alone something like a KV2, which was known to stall advances of entire columns until it ran out of ammunition and crews abandoned them. In the sincerest form of flattery, the Panther tank was basically a supersized T34, but they missed a key takeaway in the T34’s design: its easy and low cost manufacture.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Of course. Having stuff that was hard to fix really helped the Germans in the 1940s.

            Oh, I should correct that: It really helped the Allies, since it’s hard for the other guy to win the race when his steed is stuck in the shop.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            While the Tiger and even moreso Panther were problematic, the PzKpfw II, III, IV were reasonably reliable tanks and could be repaired in the field (the chassis continued to be used for assault guns, and the PzKpfw IV was built until 1945 despite the fact it was obsolete).

            The Soviet T34 was the tank which literally altered the course of human history. The sloped armor and ease of manufacture were revolutionary. Another factor were motors, the Soviet’s used diesel motors and the Germans used gasoline powered V-12s. Which is better in the steppes of Russia?

            Zee Germans would have been wise to simply directly copy the T34 as opposed to coming up with their interpretation of it.

            “The Panther was far cheaper to produce than the Tiger I tank, and only slightly more expensive than the Panzer IV. Key elements of the Panther design, such as its armour, transmission, and final drive, were compromises made to improve production rates and address raw material shortages, whereas other overengineered elements, such as its highly compact engine and its complex suspension system, remained. The result was that Panther tank production was far higher than what was possible for the Tiger I, but not much higher than that of the Panzer IV. At the same time, the simplified final drive became the single major cause of breakdowns of the Panther tank, and was a problem that was never corrected even after the war.[4] All of these compromises resulted in the Panther being less reliable than the Tiger I, which was generally satisfactory when given appropriate logistical support and after its initial flaws were addressed”

            “Engine reliability improved over time. A French assessment of their stock of captured Normandy Panther A’s in 1947 concluded that the engine had an average life of 1,000 km (620 mi) and maximum life of 1,500 km (930 mi)” Tiger used the same motor -28CL

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panther_tank

            However even with a revolutionary design such as the T34, German industry 1941 and later would not have the capacity to produce enough of them to fight a two front (North Africa and later Italy plus the Eastern front), and later three front war (Normandy).

        • 0 avatar
          beastpilot

          Every time I hear this, I wonder what is wrong with me. I’d much rather work on my BMW than my Subaru. I find almost every maintenance task on the BMW straightforward, simple, and full of little surprises where someone thought about the fact the car would need to be maintained and did something to make it easier. Even the electrical connectors are well thought out.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Well first off, I’m assuming you’re in America where the highest speed limit is 85mph. In this case, perceived performance may as well equal real performance so if you have $ burning a hole in your wallet, why not spend a little on blingy-may or may not shave .1 sec’s off your ‘ring time crap. America was founded on bad financial decisions, so enjoy.

    Secondly, engineers are always trying to strike the balance between NVH, comfort, handling, safety, etc. So the ‘best part’ from an OEM is not always the ‘fastest part’. I read this:

    “*Engineered to Fill Voids In Factory Transmission/Differential Mounts
    *Drastically Reduces Transmission & Differential Movement During Shifting & Deceleration
    *Improves Shifting Feel, Resulting in Crisper Shifts
    *Allows for Harder Launches & Better Response from Rear Differential”

    …as it’s going to make your transmission bang harder. Probably won’t hurt anything, but it’s a sport-wagon, not an r8.

    edit: looks like gtemnykh beat me to it.

    • 0 avatar
      rehposolihp

      Thankfully I’m not concerned about saving any time on my ‘ring times. Really I just was trying to understand why a product like this exists. My takeaway thus far is slightly different than ‘because racecar’ which is what I had initially guessed – but more of a ‘because it will make it feel more racecar,’ albeit without dubious actual improvements.

      Also, it made me vaguely uneasy that perhaps a ‘better ride’ existed out there for my new car, and that it didn’t come with it from the factory. A different ride? Certainly. Better? No so certain. I like Sajeev’s advice of buyer beware.

    • 0 avatar
      andrewa

      @ gtemnykh

      Ah yes, the best all round tank of the second world war the T34. Used the superb American Christie suspension (which the USA didn’t use for any of their tanks of course) an excellent British cannon design (which the British didn’t bother to use till about 1944) and a brilliantly reliable though a trifle underpowered American diesel engine design (which the US armed forces again didn’t use) as well as a production line designed by Henry Ford for the production of tractors. It did of course have two Russian strokes of absolute genius, to wit, sloping Armour (which surprisingly the US copied for the Grant/Sherman) and a wedge cast into the chassis to automatically re insert loose track pins thus contributing to the extreme reliability of its tracks and overall mobility. It became even better when fitted with a bigger version of the gun, a three man turret and American supplied wireless equipment. Then Russian workers made them by the thousands under trying conditions with a factory warranty of 1000 kilometers! Its few shortcomings (like the Sherman’s) being more than made up for by reliability and availability in quantity. The Russians were not shy to copy the best designs available worldwide and just add the final touches of engineering expertise. It also helped that the Russian factory’s were not inconvenienced by RAF bombing at night and USAAF by day (Its hard to make tanks without water, electricity or ball bearings)

  • avatar
    agent534

    Cheapest way to stiffen mounts: Fill the voids with ‘Windo Weld’
    From Road Race Engineering, I remember this from my Eclipse days. Here is the site explaining it:

    http://www.raktron.com/misc/mt.htm

    You could do that on the Audi mounts. If you don’t like the look cut out a small, thin metal piece to put on the end as a cover.

    That isn’t my page obviously, the RRE page links to it.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Aftermarket can def do better if for no other reason than not being as constrained by cost or emissions regs.

    But OEMs are not leaving anywhere near as little on the table as they used to. And for some cars getting what you can exceeds what is rational to spend. This was a huge part of why I ditched my Z. A decent exhaust is $1000. Doing your suspension the right way is another $2000. Decent wheels and tires are another $2000. Because of how the intake is setup, no cheap Ebay crap. Has to be name brand to be properly calibrated with the MAF, and the gains are minimal at best. Etc etc. So we are talking like $6K alone, and then to actually start making power you have to spend more. To do the car like I wanted it prob would have been like $10K. No way.

    My Civic is nowhere near as beastly but I can spend 2-3K on it and completely transform it into something that is just as fun in its own way. If building cars is your thing choosing the right platform for your needs and budget is absolutely critical. And you have to become adept at separating the real from the BS, and not be afraid to spend some $$$ to do things right and once.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “My Civic is nowhere near as beastly but I can spend 2-3K on it and completely transform it into something that is just as fun in its own way.”

      Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just buy an Si in the first place?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Call me weird, but this is my 4th Honda, and I am just not fond of the DOHC VTEC powerband. I test drove a same year Si (09), and between the noise, the super short gearing and the weird detatchment from speed at WOT I was instantly reminded of why I sold my old H22A Accord many moons ago. After about 2 or 3 K worth of legal fees in the last year of ownership of my Z, I figured falling back to something slower and low key would be better. Plus in any case I still have my motorcycle for thrills the Z could never deliver.

    • 0 avatar
      vtecJustKickedInYo

      Its best to think of Audi Tuning companies like 034, APR, and AWE as OEM Plus companies. With the exception of their track applications, their main focus is still reliability, driveability, and regulation compliance.

      Yes you pay more than no name ebay brands, but the quality of their modifications are usually worth the (relatively) high price.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Or for $6K bolt a Vortec Supercharge on the Z and your in business. The problem with the Z is the N/A mods (as you noticed) do basically nothing, 5HP here another 5HP there at huge expense. Thus the car is pretty much “tuned” from the factory for excellent performance (expect the worthless brakes). Turbo VWs on the other hand are tuned very conservative from the factory, thus your a $600 ECU flash away from 50 extra HP. Add a fuel pump, intake and exhaust combo and gain another 50 HP for a total of 100, its crazy.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        For all that I would rather just go TT. And then what. I’d be $15-20K total into a $8-10K Z. I would rather just do a 135i or something, if big power were the goal.

        There are some things that can be done. IM spacer, cheapo long tube headers, custom 3.5″ exhaust and a tune would give it a little more punch and a lot more throat. Z was smile-on-my-face-shake-my-head-everytime-I-punched-it fast… just needed to drop some weight get a little more bark and have its controls fixed. Steering and transmission interfaces were annoyingly heavy. It was a fun car though.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Like Sajeev said, your vehicle is engineered to behave a certain way. Any mods you make can conceivably tailor that vehicle to your specific wants. I had a 1987 GTI, which came with an oversized steering wheel, I replaced it with a smaller Momo unit. It made the steering effort higher, which was fine for me, but most women would have said the steering was too hard. Was the car better? I enjoyed driving it more, but others would say I made it worse.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Saving $1 per unit rockets $16-million to the bottom line in a good car sales year.

    Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are not always well designed or first quality. Charging 10 times the production price is considered aggressive rock bottom pricing. A factor of several hundred is common. A hot dipped galvanized bolt is often marked up 2,000 times between China and customer. And OEM parts are poorly warrantied, 90 days to one year.

    An irate customer stormed into a high end dealership demanding to know why the manufacturer put a $1 jack in his new $80,000 Belchfire. The sales manager replied, “Because they ran out of 50¢ ones.” The automakers have now surpassed themselves. Modern cars include neither a spare tire nor a jack.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Looks like 034 is looking for a problem for their solution.

    I think 034 is trying to stay relevant to more recent products when their core/original product and namesake (VW/Audi part number for one variety of inline 5) is mostly extinct now.

    • 0 avatar
      vtecJustKickedInYo

      Audi Control Arm bushings and engine mounts still break at 30k miles. Ask people who own the B8 A4s. 034 street density mounts are a great upgrade if you are willing to sacrifice a little comfort. Plus they dont have any fluid that can leak :D.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        This man speaks the truth. Aftermarket bushings are the way to go. The OEM bushings disintegrate in short order. Also, you may want to upgrade the subframe mounting bolts to a stronger aftermarket solution. The subframe clunk is irritating.

        • 0 avatar
          vtecJustKickedInYo

          Whats great is the new Audis have sensors in the engine mounts that trips a fault code when the fluid leaks out of them. You can no longer skate by boosting on broken mounts haha.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Haha oh wow, that just about sums up German engineering for me: common problem with a failing part that everyone else has never had issues with? How about a sensor to monitor their failure?

            To be fair, I’ve heard rear liquid filled bushings in Honda Pilots failing at incredibly low mileages.

          • 0 avatar
            vtecJustKickedInYo

            Also is a great way to double the price of the part. Repairing Audis is Job Security at its finest. But Im a weirdo and like crazy German engineering, I think the 2.7t found in the allroad is a great engine. I have 170k on mine in my S4.

      • 0 avatar
        qfrog

        The B8 control arm bushings are far longer lived than the B5/C5/D2 era cars. B8 engine mounts are often sold as repair kits only and they have been kinda crappy which might have something to do with forcing them to be replaced as pairs.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    A sizeable portion of the aftermarket “performance” parts industry exists because people assume stiffer means better. This is not the case.

    If you are not competing for money or trying to solve a specific problem that you have identified most aftermarket performance mods are a waste on a quality late model vehicle. Modern cars are so optimized and so competent to begin with that the potential for worthwhile gains is low unless you are spending big money.

    Want to mod your car and make it perform better? No problem. Here’s how to do it:
    1) Basic maintenance – pressures, wear items, alignment, bleed brakes, etc.
    2) Tires – the best you can afford
    3) Brake pads – something hotter than OEM, but realistically selected based on your actual driving. No full-race compound on a street car.

    None of the above is glamorous or dramatic, but these things represent by far the best bang for your buck performance modding possible on almost any car.

    Nothing beats a “modded” car with aftermarket intakes and ECU reflashes and whatnot rolling on shaggy mismatched Chinese tires. Misplaced priorities.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      I have a fascination with Chinese enabler tires. I collect pictures of the odd brand names and peculiar mascots adorning the sidewalls of ChinaCo tires.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Haha I always look for this in parking lots as well. The worst is seeing them on depreciated German cars. “What chu you mean it cost $2000 to replace the tires on my S-class? Ain’t nobody got time fo that! RimTyme has tires for $20 a week!”

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I love the brand names. They sound like Chinese Restaurant names. Or something SUPER American.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      This is among the best advice I’ve read on TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      pbr

      +1. Happiness is a stock and reasonably-maintained daily driver.

      Hobby cars? Sky’s the limit. Go wild.

    • 0 avatar
      mazdaman007

      I put 18″ Momo wheels and +1 sized Michelin Pilots on my Mazda3 (stock was 205/50/17) and while I LOVE the way they look I’ve lost approximately 1L/100KM in fuel economy (now 9.3 versus 8.4). It was a good lesson to me why OEMs make some of the decisions they do when it comes to the stock setup. However do I care about the mileage loss when I’m driving it, NO !!

      • 0 avatar

        Are you sure that your replacement tires are the same circumference as the OEMs? If they’re not, then your speedometer and odometer readings are going to be off, as would be any mpg calculations based on those readings.

        When I went to +1 Dunlop Direzzas on my Saturn, I made sure to check out the difference it would make at the speedo. In my case it was less than 1 mph at freeway speeds so I don’t bother to worry about it.

        The tires were in addition to putting on some sport springs that are significantly stiffer and about an inch lower. Yes, the car isn’t as comfortable as a box stock Saturn S, but it’s not unbearably harsh and the trade off in terms of less body roll and improved cornering is worth it. The car’s fun to drive now.

        • 0 avatar
          mazdaman007

          I put on 215/45R18 and according to the Miata.net calculator the new circumference is 80.5 inches vs 78.8 inches for the stock.

          It advises that the speedometer will read 2.2% slow (when speedo shows 60mph I am actually travelling 61.3mph). My understanding is anything under 3% difference is considered “OK” ?

          I didn’t get into the finer details when I bought the wheels regarding the weight but perhaps the new combination x 4 is a bit heavier causing the mileage disparity (in addition to the slight increase in width) ? I haven’t made any other changes to the car.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Wow, a 10% increase in fuel consumption. That sounds excessive, but maybe it isn’t. Rolling resistance of a tire is primarily a function of tread mass, so you’ll consume a few percent more just from new tires, a few more from tread width, and a few more from the likely more robust tire construction (effectively adding tread mass). Plus even a little bit from the extra rotational mass itself.

            Are you factoring in the 2.2% difference already? If not, there’s another 2.2% in apparent, but not actual, fuel economy right there.

            Car and Driver measured a 10% increase in fuel consumption going from 195/65R15 to 235/35R19, and that was between new to new, so it probably could have been as high as 15% going from worn out 195s to new 235s. Total wheel and tire mass increased by 14 pounds per wheel, so 56 pounds total, for an increase in effective mass of around 100 pounds.

            Tires and wheels can make a surprisingly big difference.

            http://www.caranddriver.com/features/effects-of-upsized-wheels-and-tires-tested

          • 0 avatar
            mazdaman007

            No I didn’t factor in the 2.2%. I think you’re right, it’s just a combination of everything. I do think rolling resistance is a factor based on the difference in the level of grip over the crappy tires I had before.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Fuel economy be damned, I’ll be going with 215/50R17 for my next set of summers on my Mazda3. The wheel wells need to be filled out a bit more for cosmetic reasons, and the width and extra sidewall will be better for the terrible Canadian prairie roads.

  • avatar
    vtecJustKickedInYo

    034, AWE, and APR are not snake oil brands. They are some of the most respected and trusted performance part manufacturers. Everything is extensively engineered, tested, and built in the USA. Is an x brace for an Q5 silly? yes it is. But Audi traditionally uses fluid filled mounts and air filled bushings (for comfort) that usually break and leak around 40k. 034 Chassis parts are a solid upgrade for stiffening your car and preventing premature bushing wear (which is a common issue on Audi’s whole model range). – Source I own an S4 with APR, AWE, 034 Parts and previously worked at a dealer for these products.

  • avatar
    Chan

    To go aftermarket, you must firmly conclude that your car is severely lacking in something.

    Say you’ve bought an 86/FRS/BRZ and you wanted another +100 hp. You need a supercharger.

    Or you’ve got a 987.1 Cayman S and want to track it. You need a power steering pump cooler and a 997 GT3-grade oil sump. You will also want to have upgraded brake pads and perhaps racing brake fluid.

    Or a Honda Civic and you can’t stand the road and wind noise and the hollow base stereo. You need some Dynamat behind your carpets and door trims, and a few upgraded speakers.

    If your car is “OK” but simply want this and that because it’s “stiffer” or “thicker” or “lighter” or “lower”, then you are disrupting the optimised design of your car by throwing stuff on here and there.

    I put aftermarket headers on my car. Not because it adds power, but because the OEM ones melt.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Question #1 to ask, before making any “performance” modification, is “Why isn’t this stock?”

    There’s a lot of snake oil out there that you can discard by asking this question. (The first example that comes to mind are “cold air” intakes that are anything but.)

    For these in particular? Well, the car has a planned amount of “give” in those bushings. If you want to make them stiffer, great, but such a change will not be consequence-free.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Several supercharger manufacturers will void the warranty if you put one of those jokes of a CAI on with the open filter element open to the engine compartment….Some people shouldn’t be allowed to modify their cars.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I have often wondered WTF with air filters OPEN to the air of a dirty, hot engine compartment instead of stock, closer to the outside, in the air stream (not the camper! ;-) ).

  • avatar

    Nothing like anodized muffler bearings to boost qualitative perception of hoonery characteristics

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    I’m another soon-to-be SQ5 owner. Nothing to add other than the U.S. spec version sits 25mm higher than the Euro version not to mention that Europe gets a hipo TDI as well.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I think there are enough authentic testimonials in internet fan forums to weed out the crap.

    From an aesthetics standpoint, some beautiful wheels and a tight suspension fitment will transform any of the premium German contingent (the SQ5 certainly) from a looker to a certified parking lot king.

    • 0 avatar
      rehposolihp

      I think the problem with the online testimonial is the ‘butt dyno’ just isn’t that well calibrated. Humans are apt to confirm their own beliefs. Anyone putting down money on a product is already convinced it will do something.

      And with most of these modifications being outside of many people’s ability to DIY, are you going to go back and forth between stock and modded to determine what the benefit is? Probably not.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I stand by my intake valve rotator bearings and hydraulicly adjustable injection cam lobe upgrades ;)

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I just did a google image search of the Audi SQ5, and I am pretty sure that is an SUV, not a race car.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Dude you need to clip the apex after you pull off Suburb Highway #30 onto Drexel Office Park Blvd.

      “Did you mean Chili’s, or Flingers?”

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Nope, Ruddfuc..errr..FUDDRUCKERS at the next stoplight! Wait..they’re not around!! Applebees? Nahhh..just had it yesterday! Err..what?! OK, Bob Evans it…no that’s back five miles, an hour in this traff…$hit, accident ahead!! Fvck it, you’ll never get here in under an hour..just throw a TV dinner in the nuker when I get home! :-P

  • avatar
    EAF

    I’ve always used ECStuning’s HD kits for control arms (bushings) and tie-rods. No press needed, the kit includes the entire arm & hardware… I believe manufactured by Meyle.

    I’m not sure how VAG enthusiasts rank their quality but since I’ve never had fitment issues I’ve continued with what has worked.

    As vtec said; 30k – 50k miles is the norm for the OEM ish IMHO. It gets noticeably sloppy, if you do any enthusiastic driving, after that. It is not an aftermarket fallacy!

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Sometimes, the OE design just isn’t suitable for your driving style.

    When I first got my Mazda3 in ’04, the amount of engine rocking and wheel hop wasn’t just annoying, it was certainly damaging things. It was bad enough on a launch or hard 1-2 – or even just a little too aggressive of a throttle application in the rain – that it sounded like the engine was hitting the firewall. Very alarming, especially since some owners experienced transmission case cracking near the mount attachment point. The transmission mount was the obvious culprit, consisting mostly of air with a couple strands of rubber.

    Sure, I could just drive more sedately. But why should I do that when every other vehicle I’ve driven made no obvious objections to that driving style?

    AWR was the first to come up with a performance engine mount for it, so I ordered one. This used a polyurethane bushing, and was so stiff that it pounded like a subwoofer on start-up and rattled the car at idle. I didn’t put up with that for very long. Then CP-E came out with a solid rubber version that received good reviews on the forums. But they were out of stock and I was desperate and even thinking of selling the car so I bought a solid rubber Top Speed mount off Ebay. That one wasn’t bad, but still had more NVH than I’d like. So after awhile I checked CP-E again and ordered their mount and have been happy ever since. Sure, it vibrates at idle if the A/C is on, but I only use A/C on the highway so that doesn’t matter, and I like that I can actually hear and feel the engine a bit when I’m driving now.

    Now, there are many options available, including inserts. One of the best came from Mazda themselves: the engine mount for the Mazdaspeed3. It’s interchangeable and more robust, with minimal additional NVH. Probably ideal for most drivers who aren’t satisfied with the flimsy stock mount. But I was already happy with the CP-E mount by the time that car was released, and I wouldn’t even want any less NVH than what I have with the CP-E. It’s about perfect for me.

    I should note that while the mount itself cured the horrible impact noise, it didn’t completely eliminate the wheel hop. That took aftermarket solid rubber control arm bushings (the OE bushings are liquid filled and also very flimsy), and dropping the tire pressure to 30 psi, from the recommended 32. The bushing change was necessary anyway because they failed, dumping fluid on the garage floor, and so was the tire pressure because I was getting overinflation wear at the recommended pressure with my Michelin Pilots. The narrower OE Goodyears – in the same 205/50R17 size – had shown underinflation wear at 32.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    So this guy hasn’t even taken delivery of his new SQ5, so he probably hasn’t driven one much (if at all) nor probably in any sort of way that might expose a shortcoming in the design of a component, yet he already KNOWS that the design is faulty and in need of immediate replacement…

    This is one of the big problems with enthusiast Internet forums.

    • 0 avatar
      rehposolihp

      Curiosity about a thing is not a shortcoming. And what part of my question indicated I ‘knew’ anything about the part?

      My first thought was that it was snake oil.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        Perhaps it was awkward phrasing, but.

        “For instance, I’m picking up an Audi SQ5 and there are these ‘x-brace’ things and mount inserts. Why would Audi not have engineered it well enough in the first place? Money savings? They didn’t think whatever attribute x-braces add was ‘for’ the SQ5 demographic?”

        Sounds to me like you read something on a forum about these bushings and decided that they were substandard for one reason or another. How else would you, as a not yet SQ5 owner, know of this brace and it’s supposed flaws?

  • avatar
    shappy

    One factor that I don’t believe has been mentioned is that of crash safety. Most vehicles are now designed to absorb energy in a holistic manner. A little give here and there throughout the vehicle can add up to a lot of energy absorption during an impact.

    If you remove some of that give with stiffer braces and/or bushings, you might end up transferring more forces to the passengers, in the event of a crash, resulting in a greater chance of injury.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The scale of the changes being made compared to the strength of the related structures and components is miniscule. It’s like adding a hundred pounds of piping to the underside of a structural beam supporting 100,000 pounds of equipment. No detailed engineering is necessary.

  • avatar

    The stock US market Audi SQ5 handles very well, remarkably so for something so high off of the ground. The suspension is good enough that Porsche pretty much uses it as is on the Macan platform mate. I thought it handled better than the A6 that I drove back to back with it.

    I’m enough of a boy racer that I put sport springs on my Saturn but I see no reason to mess with the SQ5’s bits that keep it on the road.

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