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350z Street Suspension Upgrade (springs and shocks, not coil-over)

Old 11-19-2014, 02:06 PM
  #1  
Spike100
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Default 350z Street Suspension Upgrade (springs and shocks, not coil-over)

I recently replaced my 2003 350z’s suspension system, upgrading the sway bars, springs, and shocks. Since I do not track my Z, it would be foolish for me to spend $2k to $4k on a coil-over setup with the requirement for additional adjusting arms and other components for camber and alignment.

I decided to go with a “no fuss” non-adjustable setup. The goal was a minimal drop (about 1/2” to avoid a requirement to install camber arms, additional toe adjustment, etc.), progressive springs, and good shocks. I also decided to replace the stock sway bars with something better. Initially my intention was installing the Nismo sway bars along with Nismo JDM shocks and springs (the current JDM Nismo Suspension Kit for350z).

The JDM Nismo shock and spring kit is expensive and it’s difficult finding available kits for purchase. I decided to go with Bilstein shocks and Tein springs with similar specifications as the Nismo setup. I swapped in the following parts: Nismo front and rear sway bars, Bilstein B8 shocks, and Tein S-Tech Springs.

1) Nismo JDM Front and rear Sway Bars (Stabilizer Bars)
Part Number: 54600-RSZ30US
____________________
2) Bilstein Shocks: You buy one front right and one front left, and two rears (identical)

46mm Monotube Shock Absorber, Position: Front Left
Part Number: 24-101561
Series: B8 (SP)

46mm Monotube Shock Absorber, Position: Front Right
Part Number: 24-101578
Series: B8 (SP)

46mm Monotube Shock Absorber, Position: Rear
Part Number: 24-101585
Series: B8 (SP)
__________________
3) Tein S-Tech Springs (two front and two rear)
Part Number: SKP26-AUB00
Spring Rate (kgf/mm, lbs/in): Front: 6.9/386 Rear: 7.2/402
Drop: Front: -17mm (-0.7”) Rear: -14mm (-0.6’)

Initial Impressions


It’s winter here now and the ground is frozen, so I am unable to push the car for better testing. But, at a level that might be defined as “spirited” street driving, this suspension performs very well.

Appearance is improved, but minimally. The drop is only 0.6”, but it is visually noticeable.

Handling is better. The Nismo sway bars keep the car flat in turns, and the turn-in feels more responsive with less plowing (understeer).

The Tein/Bilstein spring/shock combination work well together. The ride is no more rigid than stock, and in fact feels more comfortable. I tried running a stretch of road that causes my OEM setup to start bouncing and “walking.” The Tein/Bilstein setup kept the tires firmly on the asphalt providing significantly better control.

Unless there is something I haven't encountered yet, this setup is much better than the stock suspension. It's not for everyone since it is not adjustable and has a minimal drop.

=================
EDITS:
MicVelo’s message #64 is a great addition to this thread.

Last edited by Spike100; 02-26-2015 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:19 PM
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Nice setup. More than adequate for the street and probably more than 90% of drivers would or could ever handle (or need without driving school.)

I'm old school.... "When the driver can use 80%+ of what the car can do, then and only then should modifications over what Nissan engineers put into the car be made."

As such, my car sits on a similar setup, non-adjustable shock/springs, non-coilover (as I know I'm too lazy to actually make any adjustments on it once it's set up for my style of driving anyways).

Bilsteins, Eibach handle the up and down, Hotchkis bars to control side-to-side and the bars are set up for rear bias (hole #2 on rear bar, hole #1 up front) - MY preference for neutral-to-slight oversteer that suits how I drive my car (canyon, mountain roads on Sunday mornings)

The '03 Z is/was notorious for a buckboard ride (despite handling well) and you're not imagining that the ride is better. Bilsteins are legendary for giving a respectable ride while offering, arguably, the best jounce/rebound control available in a conventional shock out of the box. Eibach progressives help to maintain the civility but tighten up nicely when pushed hard. I kinda like my teeth where they are. I imagine the Teins are similar, also progressive rate, yes?

Anyhow, very nice setup on your car. Thanks for sharing.

Mic

PS I know I've been around the block a few times too many when I remember when only formula cars ran coilover suspensions and shake my head asking "Why?" when I see all of these street cars running around on 'em. Not a dig on coilovers, just my preferences for simple talkin' here. LOL!
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Old 11-20-2014, 03:55 AM
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If it works on race cars it works great on the street right? I have friends that went the extreme route and on an honest one on one conversation they'll tell me they regret it for one reason or another. I went through that stage where I had to have the greatest race parts and eventually ended up with a rig that was incredibly quick but not fun to drive. Not doing it with this one. Keeping it a stock height (I scrape coming out of my driveway now), replacing all of the bushings to get rid of the knocks and tighten things up a bit, new shocks, and maybe new sway bars, but that's it. The car can out drive me as it sits now and I'm over the whole trying to impress people stage.

OP, glad it's working out well and thanks for the feedback. Gives me some great ideas.
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Old 11-20-2014, 12:13 PM
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Sitting on Bilstein HD's and Eibachs. Love the ride. Had Coilovers and this setup feels better for me. Next step is a new front sway.
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Old 11-20-2014, 03:53 PM
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I went with the Nismo sway bars, but I purchased these quite some time ago and it has taken years to finally get them on the car. If I did this over, I would probably go with Micís preference:
Originally Posted by MicVelo View Post
[Ö] Hotchkis bars to control side-to-side and the bars are set up for rear bias (hole #2 on rear bar, hole #1 up front) - MY preference for neutral-to-slight oversteer that suits how I drive my car (canyon, mountain roads on Sunday mornings) [Ö]
I was also considering Hotchkis springs (they lower the rear 0.8ĒÖ slightly more than the Teins), but I based my decision on the many positive reports about Tein S-Tech. I have no regrets on my decision since the Tein S-Techs are excellent (a blend of great performance and comfort).--Spike
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Old 11-20-2014, 06:02 PM
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tein s-techs are progressive in the front, linear in the back. however, the front progressive coils are coil-bound when the car is on the ground, making the fronts work in a linear capacity. read that somewhere...but if you do look in the wheel well with the car on the ground the top coils are completely bound.

i love my s-techs though. on stock shocks right now, will upgrade as soon as i can. IMO it lowers the car nicely, but not too much. i did add energy suspension poly spring mounts in the rear (rather than cutting the stock ones like most do) which gave the car even gaps front and rear. might slightly throw off the front/rear balance, but probably not enough to matter. ride is fine, and car feels great when thrown into corners. sways and shocks will increase my enjoyment im sure...and theyre on the list!

really thinking about Bilsteins, well see if i decide to splurge on them later.
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Old 11-21-2014, 08:10 AM
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Before coils I tried Bilsteins with Tanabe GF springs and that felt pretty good too. It does sit a little lower than your setup, but didn't keep me from going over speed bumps or anything like that. Now I'm in a completely different suspension zone known as the "leaf scrape zone".....
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Old 11-21-2014, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by soc_monki View Post
[…] i love my [tein] s-techs though. on stock shocks right now, will upgrade as soon as i can. IMO it lowers the car nicely, but not too much.

[…] sways and shocks will increase my enjoyment im sure...and theyre on the list!

[...] really thinking about Bilsteins, well see if i decide to splurge on them later.
You describe my goal using the Tein S-Techs. I only wanted a slight drop. I’ve repaired rust on my rear fenders so I cannot roll. The 0.6” drop with the Tein S-Techs keeps you at a height that won’t rub even without a fender roll. I think that Hotchkis springs is also an excellent choice. You get slightly more drop (0.8").

You will definitely enjoy better sway bars. I installed Nismo bars, but there are as good or better options costing less. The more rigid sway bars mitigate the Z’s under-steer.

Bilstein B8 (SP) shocks make a noticeable improvement in your car’s handling. They provide a more comfortable ride while keeping your tires "better-planted" on the asphalt.

Last edited by Spike100; 11-21-2014 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 11-22-2014, 08:07 AM
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This reminds me of Wickliffe's spring/shock review last year (https://my350z.com/forum/brakes-and-...gs-review.html).

Although I would suggest Swift over Tein personally, as long as you've gotten your desired result who am I to argue.

Some pictures would help your OP though, people love pictures
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Old 11-22-2014, 03:37 PM
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^^ I agree with you about pictures. I thought about it, but it is winter here now. Not a lot of snow, but itís been freezing so the car isnít detailed. The snow tires go on this week.

I considered Swift springs, but Spec-R was the only option for the 350z, and that lowers the car 1.2Ē front and 1.0Ē rear. That much drop requires rolling my rear fenders which is something I cannot do. Iíve had to repair rust on the rears, and rolling will exacerbate the problem.
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Old 01-21-2015, 03:08 PM
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Hey guys,

This is pretty much the same set up I've ordered over here.
The only difference is that I'm going to use the B6 shock, if you read the Bilstein FAQ, the B8 is for 30mm-50mm (but ideal 30-40mm), same Tein springs and later the Eibach ARB/Sway.
Good to know a few of us try these before coilovers.
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Old 02-14-2015, 02:35 PM
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^^ Rob... If you have installed the shocks and springs, do you have an opinion?
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:16 PM
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Hey Spike.

I installed them yesterday, so my set up is:
Bilstein B6 shocks
Tein S springs
Standard sway bar (with Prothane bushings)

(hopefully this week will see other Prothane bushings fitted)

So once the old shocks were off, I compressed them to see how long it would take for the piston rod to extend - the front ones took probably 15+ mins hah, the rears probably about 1-2 mins. So obviously they were for the bin anyway.

I've not had a real chance to push them as of yet, so I can only comment right this moment on initial impressions of typical daily driving.
The ride now rebounds far quicker, so it feels harder but the feeling is more rounded, it's not harsh at all and certainly gives you a more confident feel.
I'll post back here once I've spent a couple of hours driving some of the twisty roads near my parents place, as it's there I can tell the difference as I'd get wheel hopping and didn't feel confident at times to use the throttle.

So far, so good
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Old 02-15-2015, 02:35 PM
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Thanks for the reply. I like your description of the improved handling:

Originally Posted by RobPhoboS View Post
[Ö] The ride now rebounds far quicker, so it feels harder but the feeling is more rounded, it's not harsh at all and certainly gives you a more confident feel. [Ö]
I couldnít express this better. That is exactly the sensation I perceive with the Bilsteins and Tein S-Type springs.

Right now i I have my winter wheel/tire setup on the car. Iíll get some pictures on this thread as soon as I get my summer wheel/tire setup back on this spring. --Spike
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Old 02-15-2015, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Spike100 View Post
Thanks for the reply. I like your description of the improved handling:



I couldn’t express this better. That is exactly the sensation I perceive with the Bilsteins and Tein S-Type springs.

Right now i I have my winter wheel/tire setup on the car. I’ll get some pictures on this thread as soon as I get my summer wheel/tire setup back on this spring. --Spike
Well, now that we're back on non-coilover suspensions, I thought I'd share my next grand experiment.

If you look at the first post after Spike's great review of his Bilstein/Tein/Nismo setup, you'll see that I'm pretty enamored with my Bilstein B12 ProKit setup (Bilstein B6 with Eibach Pro Kit springs). Really great street and weekend runner setup for me.

However, my son's car ('07 Touring) is in need of new shocks so.... like a good dad - ahem - I let him "talk me into getting him a set". Well, not quite. I'm giving him my Bilsteins (he has to buy his own springs and such) because I've ordered up a set of Koni Yellows while keeping the rest of my setup the same (springs, bars).

But my rationale is simpler than that.... since I'm tearing down the suspension to install all of my new camber gear, what better time to do the shocks again than now, right??

But seriously, now that I'm really not driving the car as much in daily use, thought I'd give myself a little more adjustability for the differing weekend runs and he gets my known good setup for his primarily street driven car.

I figure I'll be losing some comfort at the gain of adjustability but it's all good, I'm sure if my backside tells me I goofed, I can finaggle the 'Steins back. "Son, you're young, you can take a little more bumps.... you'd do that for your old man wouldn't you? Wait, whatdya mean 'hells no'??" Laff...

Full comparison report in a couple of weeks.

Mic

Last edited by MicVelo; 05-29-2018 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 02-15-2015, 03:18 PM
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^^ Mic... Looking forward to the comparison report. That will be very interesting. --Spike
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Old 02-15-2015, 04:33 PM
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Speaking of street suspension, are most people running stock spring mounts in the rear or cut?
I have the Nismo S-tune kit with a combo of Nismo and Whiteline bushings, Kinetix front control arms and SPC rear camber arms. I would almost like it to be a little lower in the back but I understand why it is set up at a slight slant from the factory.
I got some Whiteline sway bars that I am putting in pretty soon, since the ride is not much lower than stock I should be able to use new stock end-links right?
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Old 02-15-2015, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by DarkZ03 View Post
Speaking of street suspension, are most people running stock spring mounts in the rear or cut?
I have the Nismo S-tune kit with a combo of Nismo and Whiteline bushings, Kinetix front control arms and SPC rear camber arms. I would almost like it to be a little lower in the back but I understand why it is set up at a slight slant from the factory.
I got some Whiteline sway bars that I am putting in pretty soon, since the ride is not much lower than stock I should be able to use new stock end-links right?
Yes, that will work.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:28 AM
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I have the stock rear spring mounts, what is the reason for the slight rearwards rake ?

I think perhaps in March I'll buy and pop on the Eibach sway bars (highly favoured over here in the UK) but I need to see how much it's leaning with the new set up for me first of all

In regards to rake:
https://my350z.com/forum/brakes-and-...mount-mod.html
(it wasn't something I'd do anyway but if you filter out the noise on that thread I now 'get it')

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Old 02-16-2015, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by DarkZ03 View Post
Speaking of street suspension, are most people running stock spring mounts in the rear or cut?
I have the Nismo S-tune kit with a combo of Nismo and Whiteline bushings, Kinetix front control arms and SPC rear camber arms. I would almost like it to be a little lower in the back but I understand why it is set up at a slight slant from the factory.
I got some Whiteline sway bars that I am putting in pretty soon, since the ride is not much lower than stock I should be able to use new stock end-links right?
There's a whole lonnnnnng thread on the "spring mod" that discusses rake and all of the things that are affected when one takes .2 to .5" out of the rear spring mount.

Me personally, I don't like modified spring cushions because it does just that, modifies the spring isolation by that much taken out (less cushioning). I have done so many of these types of mods - upper spring mounts, bumpstops, etc) when I was an S30 driver that now in my old age , I don't need that kind of NVH detracting from the drive. Spring rattles from unsettling, putting additional stress on the upper mount, etc. No thanks.

Such problems aren't always present, I admit, and are theoretical for the most part but why take chances? I'm not THAT picky about how the car sits (aesthetically) so long as the suspension WORKS.

My preference, YMMV.
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