Suspension modifications - basic level

(Szerző: z. (Houdek Zoltán), utoljára módosítva: 2007.01.15.)

First, the two extremes:

The cheapest, easiest, and the worst solution is cutting the original springs. Why is it no good at all? The spring's force is designed to its full length. Cutting 15% of it, you'll have 85% spring force remained...

The other thing we read is the most expensive solution, obtaining an official lowering (or lifting (NIVA)) kit. These are much more expensive than they worth it.

The best you can do is to look for a spring specialist smith. They can prepare anything you want: leaf springs, normal springs, etc. You go there, leave your car there. They took out the original springs, and prepare brandnew ones, made of the steel you choose. You often load your trunk? just tell it to them. The spring will be prepared for that.

When you choose between comfortable or sporty stiffness (within sporty, there are "street sport", "rally" and "circuit racing" levels over here), be sure to check the available free travel of your suspension at the required height. I mean front wheels, steering to the max, and imagine a bump in that corner... ..when I was experiencing
with suspension possibilities for the first time, a pair of tyres were impacted by the fender in corners.

Besides ordering at a spring-specialist smith, you still have a few options if you own a Classic (2101..07) Lada. You can put p125 FSO rear springs or Wartburg Tourist rear springs in your front suspension. You can use Lada 2104 coils at rear. My personal experience is: put NIVA to all four places! Well, my struts are strengthened so that the body will not be deformed. I use NIVA front coils at front, NIVA rear coils at rear. Of course they are cut a little bit otherwise all my shocks were locked out :-)

At the time you get the springs, new shocks will also be required, matching spring stiffness. If you can afford, we all recommend bidirectional, gas-filled Bilstein or KONI (by "bidirectional" I mean that it works both ways (in and out)). You can also modify your original shocks, many ways. The cheapest is to disassemble them (if possible), and replace the oil with 15W40 engine oil or ..W80 transmission oil. These mods give extreme shock stiffness - until the internal valves bear the extra load and the oil comes to its boiling temperature!

You can also play with the valves inside (reducing diameter, reducing number of them (closing them), increasing spring force, etc), while keeping the original (or equivalend) fluid inside. Tip: NIVA shocks are bidirectional by factory!

A bit more expensive is to make it to the nearest shock overhaul workshop - if these are available at your country. Just ask them to re-new your shocks, and also make them stiffer than before. The best way - if possible - is to ask the spring smith to organize the shock renewal, consulting with the shock guys. If the smith often prepares sporty springs, he will know who to ask to do the job.

If you want perfect suspension, the shock should match not only the spring stiffness (probably the stiffer the better!), but the spring height too!

Two more suspension tricks

1. you'll have very cool oversteer by fitting a rear sway bar. This is the most simple tuning trick at suspensions... just obtain a FIAT Argenta rear sway bar, together with the long connection rods it is fitted to. Take out your weak Lada rods from the rear axle, and replace them with the robust FIAT ones. The sway bar bolt to them will do it's job.. can forget that terrible understeer at slalom races. This replacement is bolt-on, no welding or cutting is needed!

2. you can double the front sway bar, by cutting 10cm's (4") of a 2nd, used (cheap!) sway bar's both end. You connect them together somehow and put the whole assembly back on the car. This modification gives you a gokart-like steering reaction, but unfortunately reduces oversteer, increases understeer - which we Lada-owners hate a little bit.