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Performance Suspension Buyer's Guide - Next-Level Handling

Where most enthusiasts stop, these suspension mods begin

Anthony Gelinas
Aug 15, 2016
Photographer: Courtesy of the manufactures

When it comes time to upgrade suspension, we all go for the basics—shocks, springs, and sway bars. What most people don't realize is that aggressive driving with your new suspension upgrades can put undue stress, excessive wear and tear, or even damage the unibody or chassis. These potential issues are not caused by the aftermarket upgrades but are a side effect of the increased forces applied to the suspension system.

Some companies not only design systems to improve handling, they fix inherent manufacturer design flaws. For example, Tyrol Sport DeadSet Rigid subframe collar stops the two-piece subframe from shifting in Audi 8P A3, Gen 2 TT, and VW MK5/6 OEM suspension. Tuner Motorsports' chassis reinforcement plates prevent cracks and deformation in the shock towers.

The OEM suspension bushings are not necessarily a flaw but more of a design compromise. Most manufacturers choose to use softer rubber bushings to give a balance of comfort and handling. While this is great for a stock car, when you stiffen up the suspension, they easily deform or even rip. Aftermarket bushings eliminate unwanted flex and help keep the rubber on the road.

Some vehicles are equipped with plastic or flimsy metal sway bar endlinks. The increased roll stiffness of aftermarket sway bars can cause them to snap at the weakest link. Aftermarket upgraded endlinks are stronger, feature heavy-duty ball joints/bushings, and are adjustable.

After lowering the car, the suspension geometry (toe, caster, or camber) can go wonky, which leads to excessive or uneven tire wear and poor handling. Most OEM manufacturers use a "set it and forget it" method, meaning once they assemble the car the camber and caster is fixed and small adjustments are possible but don't really help. Aftermarket components are designed to both correct suspension alignment issues and optimize handling.

Suspension upgrades can exacerbate the weak points in the unibody and subframe. This is why aftermarket suspension engineers developed bracing to reduce the twist and flex, helping to stiffen the chassis and keep the car on the ground and flat through the corners. So keep this in mind when upgrading your suspension—there is more to handling than just the basics.

Tarett Engineering

Application: Porsche
Products: Strut braces, drop links, camber plates, bushing upgrades, control arms
tarett.com
Phone: (858) 674-5573

Ground Control

Application: BMW
Products: roll correction kit, adjustable control arms, camber plates, shock mounts
Application: Audi, Porsche, VW
Product: camber plates
ground-control.com
Phone: (530) 677-8600

Elephant Racing

Performance suspension buyers guide elephant racing gt3 front suspension Photo 2/12   |   Elephant Racing GT3 Front suspension

Application: Porsche
Products: offset camber plates, adjustable control arms, bushing upgrades, shock mounts, bumpsteer kits, ball joints, control arms
elephantracing.com
Phone: (408) 297-2789

Power Flex

Performance suspension buyers guide Powerflex suspension geometry adjustment bushings Photo 3/12   |   Power Flex suspension geometry adjustment bushings and front wishbone rear bushing anti-lift and caster adjustable for VW/Audi

Applications: Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lotus, MINI, Porsche, Saab, Smart, VW, Volvo
Product: bushings, rear bushing anti-lift and caster adjustable kit, suspension geometry adjustment bushings
powerflexusa.com
Phone: (540) 674-5212

Energy Suspension

Applications: BMW, Volkswagen
Product: polyurethane bushings
energysuspension.com
Phone: (949) 361-3935

Whiteline

Performance suspension buyers guide whiteline front sway bar link Photo 4/12   |   Whiteline Front sway bar link assembly VW MK6

Applications: Audi, BMW, Fiat, Volvo, Mini
Products: bushings, sway bar links, anti-lift kit
whiteline.com
Phone: (909) 476-2860

Integrated Engineering

Applications: Audi, Volkswagen
Product: camber plates
performancebyie.com
Phone: (801) 484-2021

SuperPro

Performance suspension buyers guide Superpro alloy control arm Photo 5/12   |   SuperPro alloy control arm with DuroBall

Applications: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Volvo, VW
Products: bushings, control arms, anti-lift kit, ball joint, offset bushings, sway bar link kit
superpro.com.au

K-Mac

Performance suspension buyers guide kmac camber plate Photo 6/12   |   K-Mac camber plates VW MK5/6

Applications: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Saab, VW, Volvo
Products: camber/caster plates, camber bushings, bushings
k-mac.com
Phone: (888) 414-0762

Turner Motorsports

Application: BMW
Products: strut braces, chassis reinforcement plates, camber plates, sway bar links, control arms, bushings
turnermotorsport.com
Phone: (800) 280-6966

Mason Engineering

Applications: BMW, MINI
Products: Strut braces, sway bar links
masonengineering.net
Phone: (805) 527-6624

Unibrace

Performance suspension buyers guide unibrace lower chassis brace Photo 7/12   |   UNIbrace Lower chassis brace

Applications: Audi, VW
Products: rear strut brace
unibrace.com

Automotive Performance System

Performance suspension buyers guide automotive performace strut bar Photo 8/12   |   Performance Suspension Buyers Guide Automotive Performace Strut Bar

Applications: Audi, Fiat, MINI, VW
Products: strut braces, tie bars, control arms, subframe brackets, sway bar links
neuspeed.com
Phone: (805) 388-7171

Tyrol Sport

Performance suspension buyers guide Tyrol sport Photo 9/12   |   Tyrol Sport DeadSet rigid subframe collar kit

Applications: Audi, VW
Products: hatch brace, solid subframe bushings
tyrolsport.com
Phone: 917-626-3368

Ultra Racing

Applications: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, MINI, VW
Products: strut bars, chassis braces, tie bars
ultraracing-usa.com

Eurocode Tuning

Applications: Audi, VW
Products: chassis brace, sway bar links, strut bars, tie bars
ecodetuning.com
Phone: (310) 294-8108

Eurosport

Performance suspension buyers guide eurosport deadset rigid subrame collar kit Photo 10/12   |   Eurosport stress bars

Applications: Audi, VW
Products: tie bars, stress bars, camber plates, bushings
eurosportacc.com
Phone: (714) 693-1555

Specialty Products Company

Performance suspension buyers guide spc camber bolt Photo 11/12   |   Specialty Products Company camber bolt

Applications: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, MINI, VW, Volvo
Products: control arms, alignment shims, camber bolts
spcalignment.com
Phone: (800) 525-6505

034 Motorsport

Performance suspension buyers guide 034 density line adjustable upper control arm kit Photo 12/12   |   034Motorsport Density Line adjustable upper control arm kit

Applications: VW, Audi
Products: adjustable control arms, subframe braces, sway bar links, spherical bearings, bushings
034motorsport.com
Phone: (510) 657-6707

By Anthony Gelinas
54 Articles

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