: Spring question for the Focus experts
08-14-2012, 10:25 AM
Background: N00b to Focus, not to suspension in general. Most recently I had an 09 WRX, all the bushings, arms, bars, springs, custom valved Bilsteins etc. I went through a lot of setups to find the perfect smooth road/washboard road compromise type of handling.
A few Friends and I are getting an 01 ZX3 Focus in shape for a fun/race car. The suspension needs help, bushings and shocks are shot. First step to upgrade I ordered a set of Tokico HTS. Koni was a little more expensive, wanted to try the HTS/D-Spec as the WRX guys love them. We can run the stock springs for now but I want to think about where to go from here.
Question: What performance springs are available that don't lower too much? I've searched, found the thread with the spring details, I am inclined to say the answer is "No". In my mind I would like something 200# or so that doesn't lower more than 1". IMO travel is key if we use this car for anything other than glass smooth racetrack.
Question for the experts: Does the Focus suspension work fine lowered 2"? How much travel is left? My experience comes from strut suspensions, typically the geometry of a strut suspension sucks due to camber gain in compression, best you can do is not lower it too much and use a stiff spring/sway bar, and run lots of static camber. Some good handling cars with struts like a WRX/STI or a BMW use a good amount of the caster to counteract this effect in cornering. I haven't looked at the Focus but most economy cars don't run the 5 deg+ of caster like a Subie. Now the rear suspension may be a different story, the control blade I am sure has some specific characteristics that I don't know.
It seems from a spring rate perspective the H&R race would be for us. Want good handling, don't care about ride quality, I have a Lexus daily for that. I am just worried about the extreme lowering being a problem. On the other hand I might just go with stock SVT springs and we can add extra spring with thick sway bars...
Comments or other spring recommendations?
08-14-2012, 09:47 PM
Your right about the strut setup it is what it is. A lot of hi end cars= bmw, etc are running strut suspension. I'm not sure what you want= lowered or stock height. It is going to handle better lowered, but yeah you lose camber gain. So its a compremise= what get you the most gain? For what your doing, I'd go w/ the H&R race springs w/ Koni yellows. Costly but efective compared to say a desent set of coilovers= K/W, Bilstein. The rear suspension is what makes the Foci handle. I would add a set of toe-links= makes the rear end feel more positive & makes for easier toe adjustment. A great upgrade is CFM's tubular control arms= lighter weight/camber adjustment & more forward bite & w/ that go for their 4-point lower stress bar. And then top it all off w/ a torsen. Just to throw out something= How does a '09 Colbalt SS 4-dr sedan handle so great w/ of all things a trailing axle? Drive one of thou's & your asking your self how?
08-14-2012, 09:52 PM
The SVT springs lower aprox. 1/2". That's about the lowest drop you'll find for an aftermarket spring. The spring rates aren't quite what you're looking for at 157F, 129R.
You're right in that the Focus doesn't use too much caster up front. The spec range is 2.5 to 4.1 degrees and most printouts I've seen show cars with around 2.8 to 3.2 degrees. Even that low, the cars are not twitchy and track pretty good. The downside is that the caster is non-adjustable with stock components.
The H&R Race spring combined with Koni Sport dampers is a tried and true performance setup for the Focus (great for autocross, decent for lapping). They do drop the car close to 2" but the serious spring rates (325F 375R) make up for the loss of travel and keeps the car off the bump stops and the tires from rubbing.
Too many 2" drop springs for the Focus are too soft and designed for ride rather than performance. There's lots of 1.5" drop springs available but again alot of them are fairly soft. One of the better ones is the Apex Sport (150F, 200R). Most of the stiffer ones are progressive and seem to start to soft e.g. the Eibach Sport although the Steeda progressives are a little more serious spring rate wise.
08-14-2012, 09:52 PM
Welcome to the forum [welcome] [ffrocks] [loveff]
Here is a link to our suspension threads. Very informative on what's available for the focus HERE (http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=61959).
Here are more links that may help you here (http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=218336). [thumb]
If have any other questions feel free to ask.
08-14-2012, 10:13 PM
Thanks guys that helps a lot. As enthusiasts of inexpensive cars we are going to have to make the best of a strut, or a rear twist beam or whatever that is typical. Certainly much can be done and the Focus is a good handling car for what it is.
My order for the HTS got cancelled today the vendor was out of stock and they are discontinued. In lieu I was offered a good deal on the Koni Sport + springs kit so I am going for that. Ultimately I think those H&R Race springs are what we want, but these should do for now, to let use get used to the car before speeding up the reactions with stiff springs. From my research the spring rates are not known on these Konis but the lowering is not too much.
If the Konis can handle 300# springs I assume they are pretty aggressive out of the box?
The arms may come later, need to see if any bushings are shot which will speed up the replacement of those.
3-4deg of caster is not bad. I am leaning toward grabbing the SPC caster/camber kit up front for these struts, which claims up to 1 deg additional caster. Probably will put it in between max caster and max camber and see how that shakes out.
If I lower 1" will I have camber problems in the rear?
08-15-2012, 09:37 AM
Do a search on the SPC camber/caster kit. There's a love hate relationship with these. The problem is that they seem to work by binding the top (the strut rod) of the strut (especially if your looking for maximum camber) which can lead to premature strut failure (which a number of members have experienced). I don't need to remind you that this can get expensive especially if your using a good quality strut.
Most Foci are delivered with too much camber in the rear (at least from a tire wear perspective). The allowable spec range is -2.3 to +0.3. My ZX3 was delivered with -1.8 degrees of non-adjustable camber and so were the cars of many members. This amount of camber combined with with even moderate amounts of allowable rear toe results in a tire eating monster. Through lots of research and experimentation I and several other members who autocrossed, lapped and tracked their cars found that no more than -1.5 degrees of rear camber and 0.04 inches of rear toe-in minimized inside edge tread wear. Based on that most Foci need a camber adjustment devise even with a stock suspension and especially when lowered by just about any amount. Now for the track you might need more rear camber and most track people will accept some tire wear in exchange for the improved benefits some extra benefits negative camber can provide.
08-15-2012, 09:47 PM
Ahh too good to be true such a simple kit to move the top strut mount point. I have seen this done with a number of parts to do the same on other chassis but perhaps there is something specific with the Focus here. I would think the strut just pivots on the lower ball joint, but reading about it more this SPC kit takes the strut shaft off-axis with the spring and bearing which must be the problem.
So what do you do for proper camber adjustment, have to go to coilovers and camber plates? Doesn't seem to be any plates compatible with stock style springs. I didn't reallize how much I like struts with clevis holes that can be slotted or camber-bolted...
Might just leave that alone for now. Maybe ultimately we'll sleeve and coil-over convert the Konis.
08-15-2012, 10:19 PM
Some members have slotted the strut towers and some other have retrofitted some existing camber plates to work. I believe both have worked reasonably well but I also believe it took quite a bit of work to get it right. Those who slotted only did enough to get an extra degree so as not to weaken the top of the tower. If I remember correctly one member posted the CAD templates and dimensions he developed for the work somewhere in this section (but don't ask me where it might be hiding).
10-10-2012, 06:00 PM
Hey everyone I just wanted to update this thread, I always like to add some closure when someone might read this later. Just did the first auto-x this past Sunday with the Focus. One of the other guys went to the last event as well, so we are all getting some seat time.
I had tried to get a set of the D-Spec/HTS struts but the vendor said they were discontinued. I then ordered a set of Koni Yellows with their springs which seemed like a good idea. The price was so good from 1xRacing I couldn't resist. As you might imagine it took forever to get the product. It was always on the way from Holland when I called them. Very nice people there but it takes a while if you want the good price. Then suddenly Amazon is in stock on the HTS/D-spec again maybe Tokico is blowing some extra stock out. Ordered on a Tues got them on Wed. 1xRacing didn't call back or respond to e-mail, but they refunded me right away when I disputed through PayPal.
While I am reviewing vendors...one thing about the D-specs, one front came with the wrong size top nut, the stock dust covers don't fit the rear shocks, and we had to drill out the top washer on the rear shock to fit the Tokico shaft. I expected plug and play from Tokico but oh well.
So in the end we just put in the D-specs with the stock stuff, got a set of Kumho Ecsta XS 205/50/15. First auto-x was great we got destroyed in H-stock of course but that isn't because of the car.
We are thinking maybe stock class race tires next season, and/or a front sway bar. There are also a lot of options for classes with all the street tire options now. Ultimately class is not a big deal though.