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Old 01-22-2013, 11:51 PM   #1
murraypaultec
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Better handling please....

I just aquired a 2003 Focus ZX5. It has 145k miles and tires that are OK, but not matched. Overall, it is in very nice condition. I am pleasently surprised with the engine performance, it is very quiet at idle and has a lot more pep than I was expecting. What I don't like is that it feels like it is all over the road. I am used to larger vehicles with bigger tires, but I thought this car would handle better than it does.

My desire is not to spend a bunch of money and be ready to go out racing, I just want a car that feels solid on the road. Is it possible to improve the ride and handling without turning it into a race-car-wanna-be and spend less than $500 on the parts?


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Old 01-22-2013, 11:57 PM   #2
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with that kinda money the best ur probably gonna get is a front and rear sway bar which would help alot but a coilover kit is gonna be ur best bet
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murraypaultec View Post
My desire is not to spend a bunch of money and be ready to go out racing, I just want a car that feels solid on the road. Is it possible to improve the ride and handling without turning it into a race-car-wanna-be and spend less than $500 on the parts?
Age and miles will have a big impact on the car rides, and 10 yrs old and 145K miles is starting to get up there.

The two biggest bang for the buck items will be new dampers and a new set of tires. A new set of SVT dampers with the stock springs you already have could be an affordable option. Blown/worn dampers will lead to a car that feels like it can't hold the road.

Mismatched tires can lead for funky handling. Also, at that age, wheelbearings, ball joints, and tierod ends can start to go, adding to the handling issues. These items should be inspected.
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:58 AM   #4
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I would say first off make sure your tie rod ends and ball joints aren't worn out. Those aren't too expensive or too hard to replace, and new ones can make a big difference in steering feel. Dampers are a good suggestion too.
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:58 AM   #5
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it sounds simple, but check your tire pressure
If the tires are pretty well shot, replace
Make sure existing tires are all the same size
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:38 AM   #6
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I take it that "dampers" is another name for "shocks"? I have seen some kits with shocks, springs, and sway-bars for about $500. They all boast that they will lower the car 1/2", I wasn't looking to lower it, but I guess 1/2" is no big deal. I will also check out the tie-rod ends and ball-joints. It likely needs brakes too, so I may as well gather up all the parts and do it all at the same time.

Its a California car, so I shouldn't have much trouble wressling the parts off.

Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murraypaultec View Post
I take it that "dampers" is another name for "shocks"?
Yup, I like to use the term damper, that's what the part is doing, slowing down and controlling the speed of the suspension movement. Shock is a more common term, but not as descriptive (semantics really). A strut is a damper thats been designed such that it is a loaded link of the suspension. Struts are common on the front of most modern cars.

Anyhow, if you like, there used to be some kits available with just the SVT dampers (struts and shocks).

And don't call them dampeners, that would imply stuff is getting moist :P
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:54 PM   #8
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A strut is a damper thats been designed such that it is a loaded link of the suspension.
Essentially functions as a double wishbone, with the upper arm being infinitely long.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:55 AM   #9
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When the shock is on the interior of the spring and they are both held together in one assembly it is called a strut and the shock absorber is more likely to be called a damper. (But all shocks work by dampening the movement of the suspension)
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:02 PM   #10
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I would recommend the SVT suspension kit. The "lowering" will be barely noticeable and the ride will be much more planted without being too firm.

Item number is M-3000-ZX3
$247 @ tousleyfordparts.com


And while you've got the suspension off I would recommend MOOG front end links and a full set of poly bushings.

That all together should run close to $500 and will feel like a brand new car without being a boy-racer.
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