sway bar or spring first?
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This is a discussion on sway bar or spring first? within the Suspension & Wheels forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I understand the basic concept behind both sway bars and springs, both are beneficial, but I cant afford to do ...

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    Registered User Hogdweeb's Avatar
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    sway bar or spring first?

    I understand the basic concept behind both sway bars and springs, both are beneficial, but I cant afford to do both at the same time, and I have no idea what size sway bars to get, nor brand. I read the sway bar sticky, but still struggling to justify what will yield a happy me in the end. Springs, they're simple. lower it a whisker, lowers my center of gravity, theoretically increase my cornering response and speed. Plus the perk of my 2004 not looking like a "mutt" as one of my buddies called it cause it sits so high. In any event, I'm not looking for manufacturer recommendations, ultimately I'll getting BOTH springs and sway bars. Right now I'm leaning to the springs simply because they will get me the slightly more aggressive WRX "look", with the small handling increase, but what is the wiser decision? I'm new to the suspension world. Dont know much, and I dont want to be jumping into something and not be happy up front with my purchase. I'm not looking for definite answers about what to do first either, but simply fishing for opinions from others so I have a better idea about what and why I would enjoy one over the other first.

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    UnBanned Sinister's Avatar
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    I thought my sway bars changed my handling more than anything else. You don't need an alignment with sways. With springs, you'll probably need camber bolts (at least for the rear) and you'll definitely need an alignment. So keep those costs in mind.
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    Registered User Hogdweeb's Avatar
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    Did you find the adjustment for the sway bar change a "challenge" so to speak, or just different in how the car felt with less body roll? Why would I need camber bolts for the rear and not in the front? Forgot about needing an alignment, thanks for refreshing me

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    UnBanned Sinister's Avatar
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    Most people here will tell you to get the fattest bar possible. I think you should get an adjustable bar and figure out what's stiff enough for you. Perrin has adjustable sway bars. Maybe look at them!
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    UnBanned Sinister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hogdweeb View Post
    Did you find the adjustment for the sway bar change a "challenge" so to speak, or just different in how the car felt with less body roll? Why would I need camber bolts for the rear and not in the front? Forgot about needing an alignment, thanks for refreshing me
    The sway bar made me feel more "planted" and I felt more comfortable taking turns faster. Around the town it felt about the same, just rougher on the potholes or any situation where one wheel articulated but the other did not.

    The front camber bolts can handle a slight drop with the springs.... the rear cannot. They run around 60-120 bucks last I looked.
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    Registered User boone1186's Avatar
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    I've read that upgrading your rear sway bar is the best first mod you can do on your WRX suspension. Supposedly the difference is night/day, but remember that is track style driving not daily driving. So you have to ask yourself, what is really more important at this point in time. Sway bars will transform your driving experience in the cornering, but springs/dampers will transform the appearance and ride quality with a little bit of handling improvement. I personally upgraded my springs and dampers first because it was the more expensive of the 2 suspension components and I had the cash available. If I had the choice to go back in time I'd still do the same thing.
    2010 WRB WRX

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    Registered User Hogdweeb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinister View Post
    The sway bar made me feel more "planted" and I felt more comfortable taking turns faster. Around the town it felt about the same, just rougher on the potholes or any situation where one wheel articulated but the other did not.

    The front camber bolts can handle a slight drop with the springs.... the rear cannot. They run around 60-120 bucks last I looked.
    Ride quality, so long as it isnt slaughtered, wont bother me much. I need something more "planted" as you put it, a lot of fun roads around me that have minimal traffic where I can really "be one" with the car...however i dont want to lose it cause I dove in too fast.

    Can I do the camber bolts easily when everything is out and apart?

    Quote Originally Posted by boone1186 View Post
    I've read that upgrading your rear sway bar is the best first mod you can do on your WRX suspension. Supposedly the difference is night/day, but remember that is track style driving not daily driving. So you have to ask yourself, what is really more important at this point in time. Sway bars will transform your driving experience in the cornering, but springs/dampers will transform the appearance and ride quality with a little bit of handling improvement. I personally upgraded my springs and dampers first because it was the more expensive of the 2 suspension components and I had the cash available. If I had the choice to go back in time I'd still do the same thing.
    I dont need a track set up. I wont be going on the track much, if any at all. as a result, im leaning towards like a 23 maybe a 24mm bar. I'm also not going to be aiming for an absurd amount of power. gonna have an intake, uppipe, MAYBE a TBE (emissions will cause me to put the factory on for 45 minutes every year and keep it from spooling there and home) and a tune to compliment it. Closest I can gaurentee to a track would be the occasional run down the local drag strip just to legally open her up.

    All of this where im torn. So many damn variables, and i have all winter to decide whats first as I wont have the cash until work picks up in the spring time again.

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    Registered User wreckingball man's Avatar
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    Bear in mind anything you change in the suspension will likely have a snowball effect, you'll usually have to mod several components to create balance..even with springs.

    If you only want the lower stance, go with Epic springs and stock struts. No other springs are designed to work with the stock struts that I'm aware of. I think there may be a couple others out there like the Prodrives, I just dont know for sure. A step up from that would be STi struts and springs. Then another step would be Tokico D-spec or KYB AGX struts with RCE springs or equivalent. Anything above that I wouldn't run as a street setup.

    For bars, 24mm front 22mm rear whiteline adjustable solid sway bars. I would get these above all, next in line would be Cusco sways. Endlinks and stiffer bushings will also be in order with the new bars.

    Here's a thread that has a lot of good links in it. It's an STi specific thread but the same lessons can be applied:
    Ultimate Street Suspension? - Subaru Impreza WRX STI Forums: IWSTI.com

    I'd just find some springs that work with the stock struts and a rear sway, then go from there.

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    sways and endlinks.

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    Registered User Hogdweeb's Avatar
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    Wreckingball, why just rear sways to start? I understand the spring part, however, if im in there and its all apart, im wondering if i should put a set of new shocks on too.... If I'm doing shocks and springs while im in there, i may as well get a set that compliments both nicely, while giving me the 1", 1.25" lowering that im aiming for. Those 2004 STi's look the same ride height as the WRX's. Let me look around at more options for springs/shocks/sways.... Keep the options and thoughts coming!

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    UnBanned Sinister's Avatar
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    sway bar or spring first?

    The swift springs are where I would've gone if I hadn't gotten the ones I did.


    Hogdweeb, I did the sways before I did springs and I'm happy I did. They're an easy modification to do, don't cost a lot and they give you a lot of return. I thought that the sways did more than the springs, and sacrificed less ride quality.

    You can do either front or rear, or both depending on what you want. I'd recommend doing front and rear adjustable. Then you can figure out if you want the rear to feel tighter by doing softer up front and harder in the rear, or vice versa.

    I didn't see what year car yours is, if you have the metal endlinks in front and rear, then you don't need to buy endlinks. But if you got the plastic ones, then buying end links would be a great idea. I would buy endlinks from whomever makes the bar your buying. They all say they fit each other, but my Perrin end links did not fit my Cobb bar very well.

    When you get into springs, you'll always want more. And to keep a daily driver ride, it'll cost you a lot. Swift spec R springs and tokico d-spec struts with group n 02,03 top hats are what I'd do.

    If you're doing springs, do the struts at the same time. They're a pain in the ass to do.

    So, based on your budget, I'd just get the sways and possibly endlinks right now
    Last edited by Sinister; 12-17-2013 at 02:23 PM.
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    Registered User wreckingball man's Avatar
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    Wreckingball, why just rear sways to start? I understand the spring part, however, if im in there and its all apart, im wondering if i should put a set of new shocks on too.... If I'm doing shocks and springs while im in there, i may as well get a set that compliments both nicely, while giving me the 1", 1.25" lowering that im aiming for. Those 2004 STi's look the same ride height as the WRX's. Let me look around at more options for springs/shocks/sways.... Keep the options and thoughts coming!
    Depends on how much you want to spend and how far you want to go with your setup. If you want struts as well, then you've already passed my recommendation. STi struts are the best option based on price and daily drive-ablity in my opinion. That's what I run, as well as many others I've seen at autocross. I have the Pink lowering springs to go with them. Good for a budget, Inverted design etc etc, and still soft enough to take long trips and drive everyday.

    If you want competitive autocross performance then you may want to look at D-spec or better struts and stiffer springs.
    Last edited by wreckingball man; 12-18-2013 at 07:49 AM.

  14. #13
    UnBanned Sinister's Avatar
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    sway bar or spring first?

    Quote Originally Posted by wreckingball man View Post
    STi struts is what your after. Various sets of performance/lowering springs match up well with them. Especially the SPT/STi pinks.

    Plus the STi struts were made specifically for subaru impreza. Best option in my opinion without going coilovers or Koni's.
    Tokico D Specs are way better than most struts that come with coils (except maybe KW, SSTs, or Ohlins).

    The STI struts from 2004 are the only ones that would fit a WRX. And honestly, they aren't worth the money. They're great for oem shocks, but there are better aftermarket options.

    Because they're only available in 1 model year, they are verrrry expensive.
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    Pro Manscaper Mikie13's Avatar
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    I wouldn't waste money on looking for STI struts, as Sinister says. If you're going to spend the money, look for D-Specs or something similar.

    Keep in mind that a good set of sways and endlinks will work that much better once it's paired up with a good stiffer spring and adequate damper.
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    Master Baiter EJ257's Avatar
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    You need to consider the entire suspension as a whole. If you're looking to get better handling, the first thing you need to focus on is the only part of the car that touches the road surface: your tires. As soon as the tires lose traction, all money in the world won't help you handle better.

    Once you've gotten your tires selected, you want to start figuring out how to maximize the contact patch of your tires onto the road. A pretty cheap and easy way to get that done is an alignment. For $100 at a local shop and $30-50 in hardware (camber bolts for the rear), you can alter the contact patch that your tire will see as you enter a turn. From the factory, your car is setup to understeer, which in laymens terms, your car will "push wide". There are a variety of factors here, but one is the alignment. OE specs have a bunch of negative camber in the rear, while not very much in the front. Using the stock hardware up front, you can increase the camber (which will provide more contact as the suspension comes under load in a corner), and using the aftermarket bolts in the rear, you can dial out some negative camber; this will make the car a bit more neutral in the corners.

    From there, it's really up to you how to proceed in terms of parts. As a general rule, I feel that body roll should be handled mostly by your struts/springs, and fine-tuned with swaybars. Buying adjustable bars allows you to do that without replacing the units (just altering which hole the endlink connects to). Also, as a general rule, a bigger bar up front is ideal vs larger rear bar.

    I can go on and on about my feelings, but the guys @ TiC have summed it up pretty well already, so I'll just leave a link:
    Sway Bars for 02 WRX - NASIOC
    2005 WRX STi (Mods | Virtual Dyno)

    Resident Tuner @ WTF Tuning

    "Never trust anything that bleeds for a week and lives ..."

    UNYSOC

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