By on February 7, 2020

Toyota Corolla owned by Lucas, Image: OPLucas writes:

Hello, Sajeev. I have a 1993 Toyota Corolla (Aussie spec, pictured here) and 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?

Sajeev answers:

I have a grudging admiration for the E100 Corolla, growing more admirable with every subsequent generation of less “compact” Corolla. Considering the high(er) performance Sprinter model, this should be your upgrade template.

Aftermarket support is pretty thin, but if the Internet doesn’t lie, the Eibach Pro-Kit is indeed your starting point: complete with the same spring rates as the TRD springs.  Generally, aftermarket products sold by the OEM (i.e. Toyota) are designed for most folks looking for a mild upgrade. So if TRD’s rates are the same as Eibach, and if they are (supposedly) TRD’s spring vendor, you have nothing to lose!

But with lower and stiffer springs comes the need for stiffer shocksKoni street dampers are likely to make a shocking (sorry) improvement to worn out, stock Corolla dampers. You can go with a cheaper alternative (KYB comes to mind) but there’s a reason why Konis are so pricey, so desirable: they even made the boneheaded Fox Body suspension of my 1988 Mercury Cougar handle curves and bumps like a far superior vehicle. Okay, fine, I am sure those Bilsteins are also a great upgrade.

With your lowered stance you probably don’t want stock wheels (though that probably already happened!) and high profile tires. I think a 16-inch wheel is the perfect blend of wheel-to-body on the E100, but no matter, just like getting Konis/Bilsteins, don’t cheap out here. Do your homework on tire compounds/treadwear/performance classification on one of the many Australian tire websites. Regarding wheels, every extra pound adds rotational mass that degrades acceleration, steering, braking, and often ride quality. If you gotta go heavy, stay as close to stock weight as possible.

And since this is close to a 30-year-old car, check and replace worn suspension bushings. Consider avoiding urethane bushings, as they are quite harsh and disturbingly noisy on the street. From there, adding chassis stiffeners is great, but avoid pivoting strut braces: that defeats the purpose of a chassis stiffener.

From there you can also add a rear sway bar (if applicable), but odds are that’s a consideration in the distant future.

So, what else do you need when installing Eibach lowering springs, Best and Brightest?

[Image: OP]

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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17 Comments on “Piston Slap: From Dull Corolla to a True Sprinter?...”


  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    The shocks are likely to make a bigger improvement than the springs. I installed the abovementioned Koni STR.T (“street”) shocks/struts on my ’13 Fusion 6-speed after the rear started to get a little floaty over bumps. Night and day difference with much more precise steering and road feel, with little tradeoff in compliance. I replaced the strut mounts as well, out of principle.

  • avatar
    Jon

    beer

  • avatar
    gtem

    These are IMO the best Corollas, and possibly one of the best compact cars ever made in terms of overall reliability, durability, and design. Have had friends with a number of this “AE100” body Corolla and Prism (Sprinter body), although have never driven one myself. Within the context of the era, these things were insanely well built and insulated. “Mini Lexus” was a very apt descriptor. Such a shame to see how far they’ve fallen and how modern Corollas stack up to the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’ve never driven this 90s generation, but I do really like the current Corolla SE. I guess it isn’t a “mini Lexus” anymore but like the OP I’d be willing to trade insulation for responsiveness.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        How’s the ride quality? My ’12 Camry SE certainly handles better than I think most people would expect, but the ride is definitely choppier than I’d like with our roads.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Ride quality was fine, but I live in Florida so probably not comparable to the Pennsylvania/Ohio moonscapes.

          Although I enjoyed it, the setup on the SE/XSE might be a touch aggressive in your area. I think it would be a good move if Toyota offered the 2.0L on the XLE trim.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            If we keep the Camry, I was planning on installing some KYB strut assemblies for an LE/XLE, the stock strut mounts (?) are just starting to make a bit of noise after 91k of daily abuse. But then I realized the knuckles on the SE/non-SEs are different. As it stands, I’m tempted to unload the car this spring in a private sale while it’s still under 100k and carries quite a bit of value. There’s the potential looming issue of a torque converter replacement in a few years that the 8yr/150k warranty that Toyota extended on ’12-’14 Camrys will be expiring. It’s been a good car to us, but feels quite different from the old Toyotas I’m used to in terms of the level of wear exhibited (everything from stone chips to windishield microscratches, flaking paint on center caps and muffler, etc).

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Edit: never *owned* one myself. Have driven a number of them.

  • avatar
    VWGTI

    Car and River did a shock absorber comparo some time ago, using a Fox Mustang as the test car. When all was said and done, the OEM shocks (built by ITT) scored better than anything else. The Konis were disappointing, with just average results and so-so build quality. YMMV.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Seconded that the shocks are likely to have more effect than the springs.

    Counting down the days until my bank account has recovered from a recent series of medical bills and I can get the similarly aged shocks (and strut mounts) on my ’95 Legend replaced. You feel their age over (and after) every bump.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I can relate here. I purchased Koni inserts for my Sable; these were the units Koni sold to improve the Taurus SHO. They replaced factory units with 60K on them. The difference was incredible. So good in fact, that I chose to leave the factory springs. $600 bucks in parts was a lot for a car that was then 15 years old but you gotta pay to play. Sway bar replacements, again from a first gen SHO, made another major improvement. As Sajeev no doubt knows, only the first gen cars got you the proper, consistently sized bars. I did opt for the poly bushings for the bars and I was ok with the mild increase in harshness. Frankly, for this Corolla, those changes alone will probably be all you need. All told about $1K in parts. Good high-performance rubber rounds out the package. If the Konis are too pricey, or no longer available as in my case today, KYB are a good compromise. Forget Monroe – they are 100% ride biased. Yuck!

  • avatar
    Featherston

    Thumbs down to the notion of upsizing wheels (especially by more than 1″) unless it’s dictated by a dearth of tire choice in a particular size. You’re making your cars worse, people.

    Yeah, I realize I’m outvoted here. I’m also outvoted in thinking women look better without DD implants and that the breed standard for German shepherds hasn’t always been “back sloping down to deformed hips and withered frog legs.”

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Forget the springs and get some decent struts/shocks (though you may want to get a complete strut unit with springs). OE springs and firm dampers give a nice balance of ride quality and body motion control for street driving.

    Bilsteins are very nice. KYBs are great value. You’d probably be surprised at how much firmer the ride is with just a set of those.

    Stabilizer bar bushings are probably worn out too. They’re cheap and can be surprisingly clunky with no visual indication of play or deterioration. Check end links, tie rod ends, and ball joints for play. Visually check control arm bushings.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

  • avatar
    JimC2

    The factory original suspension, when brand new, was probably underdamped by quite a bit- they usually are on most cars because that’s what most buyers like on a test drive. In general, I agree to replace the shocks before spending money on stiffer springs. Do your homework and research on the choices of aftermarket shocks.

    The suspension bushings on a 27 year old car probably badly need replacement. I doubt there are many choices other than either the OEM or very low quality knock-offs when it comes to this make/model/year, but if you’re into it then there are might be aftermarket polyurethane bushings (instead of the original material, which is basically hard rubber; polyurethane is more like medium hard plastic). That means a harsher ride over cracks and little bumps, but it will make the car handle a lot better too. You could probably get a competent race shop to fabricate these one-off by providing a set of OEM bushings… that’s an expensive way to go about it but it might be the only way if it’s what you want to do with your car.

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