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On modifying your suspension...
Clint Fong (

Fred Miceli ( and I ALWAYS warn others against installing performance struts without simultaneously installing lowering springs. Do the WHOLE deal at once, or you'll probably end up having to redo the whole thing again anyway!!

It feels like I can start thinking about replacing the shocks anytime now on my 92 Sentra SE-R (51K miles). The shop I'm considering (EuroTire in NJ) offers Konis and Bilsteins. Installing Konis (P&L) would cost about what a dealer wants to install stock shocks, while installing Bilsteins would be significantly less. I understand Konis require modification to the struts, which means that only Konis can be used from then on, unless future replacements include replacement struts (which I presume they would). I plan to replace all four corners. Comments, warnings or recommendations, anyone? (Longevity and daily-use performance are among my concerns.)
Sam Strano (

Well first of all Bilstein doesn't have shocks for the Sentra, SE-R or otherwise. I have no clue why they think they are available, the only things they make for Nissan's are for '84-89 300ZX, 90-96 300ZX, and 82-84 Stanza. They are awesome shocks, and if they were available that's the choice.

I am not a Koni fan. First of all, like you mentioned the housing has to be modified, which is a pain. Secondly they aren't all they are carcked up to be as far as being adjustable. They only adjust for the rebound stroke, which really doesn't change cornering much. Actually the rebound adjustment was originally intended to be used as the shock wore and required more damping. And then they have to be taken apart to be adjusted. Meaning the spring has to be taken off, the pistoin depressed and turned, then all put back together. And if you don't have the tools to do the work you have to pay to adjust your shocks. They also are hydraulic, no gas at all. Gas pressure keeps the oil in the shock from foaming and causing shock fade. And while they have a lifetime warranty, they (Koni) is very picky about warranties. If something happens to the strut it has to be sent in to be checked and so on. Which leaves you either without your car because it has no struts, or having to buy some others to drive the car. Cost: $129 each.

There are GAB's which are compression and rebound adjustable, seperaely too (nice). They are expensive, about $240 each, and have a 1 year warranty.

Tokico, these are what most people on the list have, including all of my cars. They are reasonably priced, $87 each. Have a lifetime warranty, and personally haven't had trouble getting warranties on all 5 of them I've had to send back. They are a gas shock, and have internal valving to self adjust a bit (similar to a Bilstein). And they are complete strut housings, so they go right on the car, which saves some labor on installation because the housings don't need modified.

I just purchased Stillen's suspension kit consisting of Eibachs, Tokicos, ST anti-sway bars, and their front strut brace. Any tips or tricks to installing these items? e.g. cutting of bumper stops for springs/struts, disconnecting exhaust for the front anti-sway bar, etc. Anything to watch out for?
Cary Lingg (

Once you have the bars installed I would suggest installing Zerk fittings in the anti-sway bar mounting brackets. Even though the S/T urethane bushings are silicon impreganted they will still squeak after time. I have found that by loosening the bracket (lets the bushing open a little) and squirting some marine grease through the fitting prevents squeaks from happening, ever ! I usually do this every 3k miles when I'm changing the oil.

There are no bump stops to speak of (like on a Honda) therfore there is nothing to cut. I would suggest ordering new upper/lower rubber spring mounts as these usually take quite a beating and by replacing will prevent any future problems (ie. knock, spring cutting into strut housing causing housing to rust). They are just a couple of bucks. When I re- built my suspension I purchased all new strut components. This way I can throw in the stock struts at any time and I know the new struts and springs I put in were truly new (ie. all new parts).

It cost a little extra but I felt it was worth it. I must warn you I'm somewhat compulsive so it might not be worth the money to you. Brown & Brown will give you a good price on those parts should you decide to go that route. Good luck, you'll certainly enjoy the new suspension's performance and ride.

Here's my report of the installation of Stillen's suspension package, consisting of Tokico shocks, Eibach springs (progressive-rate front, standard rear), Suspension Techniques anti-swaybars, and Stillen's front strut brace.
Carson M. Hanahan (

Whomever posted here that installation was about an hour and half either hasn't installed these before, or is bionic. Even with an electric impact wrench (HIGHLY recommended), the total job for two of us was about 5 hours or so. The old suspension came out easily with the impact wrench. There were no problems refitting the new strut/spring assemblies and no disassembly of the existing suspension was required (eventhough the manual makes it look like you've got to take apart the back suspension). The anti- sway bars took a little more time. The rear does not mount on the strut as the stock one does, but instead mounts to a bracket (supplied) which is attached to the bottom of the radius arm. The front mounts as stock, but mounts *under* the lower control arm instead of over it. Also, if you're good with tavern games, you can get the old front anti-sway bar out and the new one in without having to detach the exhaust, but you'll need to drop it - just remove the hangers by the cat. Once attached to the body, you'll also need to lower the car so it rests on its suspension to attach the anti-sway bars to the suspension. Do not install the front strut brace until the car is lowered back onto its suspension either; it won't line up quite right.

Following the sound advice (thanks!) of a fellow subscriber here, I pre- drilled the mounting straps and "hyperthane" bushings for the anti-sway bars to accept a zerk fitting for lubing. Works great. A word to the wise: mounting the zerk fittings in the middle of the strap is fine for the rear, but mount the ones for the front closer to the base of the strap; the strap will be the lowest thing on your car and you don't want to skim off the zerk fittings on some manhole cover... You'll also need to use both supplied shims for the front anti-sway bar's mounting bushings.

About GAB struts...
John Todd (

I just put a set of GAB SUPER adjustable struts on the rear of my NX. I'm no ace mechanic, so it took me pretty much all day. It was definitely worth the effort, though it wouldn't be fair to compare them to what I had on there (original equipment), as they were pretty well shot. So far, I have only tested them set at 2 and 4 (out of 8 possible). I would say that 2 approximates the stock set up. 4 had me grinning like an idiot on my test loop of on/off ramps, but was a bit harsher. I would probably have left them on 4 for normal driving, but when my wife got in the passenger seat, the ride got noticeably worse. She doesn't ride with me all that often, but I couldn't see crawling underneath the car every time she did. For now, I'm saving 5-8 for the next autocross and those damned Neons!

About Tokico struts...
Art Sturgis (

The regular price for Tokico struts from Stillen is $110 ea. Ask for an additional discount and get them for $99 ea!

Fred Miceli (

The Tokicos are a gas strut where as the stock ones are hydraulic. BTW, Tokico is the OEM supplier of struts on the 91-94.5 Sentras.

About Stillen's suspension package (consisting of Tokico struts, Eibach springs (progressive-rate front, standard rear), Suspension Techniques anti-swaybars, and Stillen's front strut brace)...
Carson M. Hanahan (
Radical. Very aggressive. And not what I expected. The front was lowered a full 2", from a stock 24 1/2" to 22 1/2". The rear wasn't lowered as much, only 1/2" from a stock 24 3/4" to 24 1/4". It makes the car look nose- heavy, but kinda cool. There's enough clearance for the front wheels (I'm running 195/55 14" SP8000s on stock wheels). I'd rather the back lower the same amount, just the sae. A quck callto Hankat Stillen confimed I hdn't installed anything incorrectly - they all do that, he said. Give the suspension about 600 miles to break in and the back will drop another 1/2" to give a difference of +1" from front to rear. We'll see. As low as it is in front, don't opt for that chin spoiler unless you want to drag it. Oil changes are gonna be a bitch now too.
Looks like a race car, handles like a race car.... rides like a race car. *Mondo* bumpy and skittish across uneven city pavement. Bring your kidney belt. Almost too jumpy, but I'm getting used to it, and most roads around Indy suck. "Normal" roads aren't terrible. Another call to Hank says wait a few hundred miles - the Tokicos and Eibachs will break in and smooth out. Tokico claims valving is 20% stiffer than stock. Don't believe it. It's more like 35%. The suspension doesn't bottom out, which I was worried about with like 2" of ground clearance in the front below the bottom of the anti-sway bar. I suspect the back being so much higher than the front is causing some of this.
I've driven street cars that handle like this - BMW M3s. *Wicked* good handling. I never realized how good those Dunlop SP8000s were until I give them a suspension that can use them. It's unreal how flat the car is, how responsive it is. Immediate turn-in, and the car feels like all one unit. No flex or creaking or wobbly front. It just does it. And it *keeps* turning in until you get scared. *Very* little push at human speeds, neutral, unlike before; a touch of OVERsteer (can you believe it?) at terminator speeds. This car will now turn until you scare yourself and back off. Very predictable too. Even while turning with this stiff suspension, it handles changes in elevation and bumps like a pro. Can't wait for the track in mid-August. =:-)

What are the recomended springs and struts for the SE-Rs? How much?
Fred Miceli (
GAB's - best out there, but they are expensive (list=$264) and they are 4-way adjustable in the front and 8-way adjustable in the back (I believe)
Tokicos - excellent high performance strut, non adjustable and alot cheaper than the GAB's (I've got 'em--they're great!)
Koni(inserts) - Stay away from these because you will have to do some drilling because they are not a full strut replacement, they are a strut cartridge replacement!
Eibach Pro kit - great springs...make car stiffer but very streetable/practical and lower car 1.25" at all 4 wheels (I have 'em and it lowered the car exactly the specified amount) and at a great price!

Others - don't know much about 'em.

DON'T lower the car more than 1.25", you WILL bottom out, because I do even with the Eibachs...I have a nice dent in my oil pan.

The CHEAPEST place to get suspension stuff is at RD Enterprises/Anderson Stiehle (ASI) in CA and their # is: 800.683.2890 (they have an ad in the back of Car & Driver). I have had no problems with them --they are in CA and I'm in NJ. Here is what I paid:

  List RD/ASI Date
Tokico Struts (each) $130 $82 04/28/94
Eibach Springs (4) $270 $185 06/06/94

If you are gonna change anything make sure you have the Service Manual and replace, grease, etc. all parts as indicated! Also, if your gonna change the springs or struts, you should BUY a spring compressor ($50) because the rentals aren't worth shit! I got a pair of rental spring compressors stuck on one of my springs and it was VERY difficult and dangerous to get it off!

Regarding the Eibach springs - how much am I giving up in ride quality by replacing stocks with these? How much am I gaining in handling? Are the Tokico's with the stock springs a good match? Any advice here welcomed. Also, best place to buy this stuff?
Fred Miceli (

I think Eibach claims the springs are 15-20% stiffer than stock (not sure), but how does that translate into actual feel?? I've got them on my SE-R and it is a slightly harsher ride, but definately very streetable! I've got them paired with Tokicos...Not bad, but the ultimate struts to use are the GAB adjustables...Only problem is that they are more that twice the price of the Tokicos! Buy them right in CA at RD Enterprises (aka Andersen Stiehle)...I believe they are mail order only! Look in the back of Car & Driver for the phone #!

Merlin Johnson (

Since we don't know what is harsh to you, we can only tell you what we feel. If stock is very comfy to you now then going to a full suspension setup (195's,15" rims,shocks,springs,sway bars,tie bar) will only makes things a little more uncomfortable....but as far as that stuff goes it is VERY comfortable, not at all like VW's or some butchered Hondas. Just stick with either a GAB's (adjustable) or the Tokicos if your on a budget.

Carson M. Hanrahan (

It is pretty harsh ride. If you're concerned, don't buy it. You'll be disappointed.

When you changed the stock spring/shocks to aftermarket ones, would you need to re-align the wheels? It seems that such a drastic change in suspension would throw the alignment out alignment.
Allen Chan (

Definitely yes!

What are "Progressive Rate" springs? I assume this means that they get harder / stiffer the more they are compressed. Is this true? If so, isn't that natural spring behavior anyway?
Jui-Lin Hung (

Progressive rate springs are springs who's coils are "progressive"...they don't all have the same spring rate. They will tend to "adjust" (dont' know if that's the right word) to your environment, over bumps, etc. to try and soften your ride and make it more comfortable. Progressive rate springs typically have coils that are not the same size...getting smaller at the ends than in the middle...linear rate springs should all be of a uniform coil size.

Has anyone cut their own springs before? What tool did you use?
Larry Wright(

If you're on a really tight budget, you can use a hacksaw; get one of the blades made of a wire coated with a particulate abrasive (carbide?). I've done it (not on an SE-R), and yes, it will take a while. However, you might save enough over other methods to buy yourself a set of spring compressors; doing without those is genuinely dangerous. I'm a "lefty" by birth; don't become one by accident!

I put the short springs/struts in my 510 at a friend's house a long time ago w/out the compressors. My friend took the stock assemblies and built a "bunker" around them of cinder blocks, figuring on the mass containing the energy; then used a ratchet with a long extension to unscrew the top nut. The blocks flew apart like they had been hit by a 'smart bomb' and it took a while to find where all of the parts went, along with the ratchet. And this was a set of really tired 510 springs. We were amazingly lucky.

Get the right tools; even a cheapo set should be O.K. for occasional use IF there is a decent positive-retention feature to keep the tool firmly on the springs.

The Eibach webpages....
Eibach Homepage
Eibach FAQ

How soon should I be concerned about replacing the stock shocks? The suspension seems fine now, but now that I'm upgrading the grip, I don't want to give anything (much) up to shot suspension.
Merlin Johnson (

You shouldn't have too much of a problem...depends on how you drive and what you will know when things get too squirrly (like going way over 100mph, you start to get more agressive in corners, etc) I managed to squeeze a little over 40k miles from my stock shocks...they were fairly worn out by then. So, driving the car hard...probably about 40k miles...or otherwise probably about 80k miles for the stock shocks...not sure bout the springs.

What should I do after I install the springs/shocks? What the ride/handling with new SB. The stock ones look fairly hefty. Do new SB make a big difference?
Carson M. Hanrahan (

Anti-sway bars, definitely [should be done next]. You won't need the strut brace until you stiffen the anti-sway bars and/or use wider tires. [The difference with a sway bar]: *Huge*, yeah. The car's absolutely flat through the corners now.

How do strut tower braces effect ride/handling?
Carson M. Hanrahan (

They don't affect the ride, but they do affect the handling - but only really if the rest of your suspension is up to it. Obviously, your anti-sway bars and/or tires are going to flex before your strut towers do. So, stiffen up the suspension some more with anti-sway bars first, then go for the strut brace.

David Alexis Pertuz (

It sharpens initial steering turn-in (ie, transient response), particularly in moderate-to-high load turns....this makes the car feel a bit more neutral, though it actually does nothing of the sort (just feel.). When you first crank the wheel into a turn and one wheel's suspension is compressed and the other's extended, there is naturally some flexibility -- first there is rubber in the suspension and it flexes a bit, and second the components are of course not infinitely stiff and they bend just a bit, too. This adds up into a little bit of mushiness in transient response (but _not_ in steady-state response) the brace links the top of each strut tower and makes the front end a little stiffer and adds a bit of an edge to turn-in. Even better would be to brace each strut tower to the firewall (as is available for Mustangs). You can get lower braces for some cars, too.

Is there a fix for the "clunking" noise from the rear with the Tokico/Eibach combo?
Cary Lingg (

Cause: Rear springs are shorter than stock (obviously) and have a tendency to unseat themselves when unloaded. When load returns they pop back into the seat and "clunk". If you lift the rear of the car you will see that you can unseat the spring with your hands if you push up on it.

Fix: Wrap the lower two coils with coiled wire wrap and seal with electrical tape. Tie wrap the bottom of the spring to the strut. There are large drainage holes on either side of the strut, just pass the tie wraps thru them. I would suggest padding the upper edge of these drainage holes so that they don't cut the tie wraps. I cut up my mouse pad and used that for padding. I used 6 tie wraps per strut. If you are patient you can do this without removing the strut.

VOILA! Your clunking noise will be gone. Hope this helps somebody, the noise annoyed the hell out of me.

Does anyone know of another place to get aftermarket suspension components (shocks, springs, sway bars) besides Stillen?
Merlin Johnson (

I got my stuff from Anderson & Stiehle, Inc. (ASI). Their number is 619.584.2890 (for inquiries) or 1.800.683.2890 (for orders).

Anybody know or can post the part numbers of Tokico struts and shocks?
Carson M. Hanrahan (

These number are for the 91-94 SE-R.

  Left Right
Front HB1069 HB1068
Rear HB1067 HB1066

Searl Tate (

These are also the right numbers for the 200SX SE-R.

Are the Tokicos a direct replacement of the stock struts? All I want to do replace the struts. I want to keep the stock ride height and ride. Can this be done?
[Editorial note:A lengthy thread of conflicting experiences was produced, once again demonstrating the impossible: people with the same upgrade getting different results! :)]

Carson M. Hanrahan (

Yes, and yes. Struts don't affect ride height, springs do. I run Tokicos on my `91 SE-R, but I run Eibachs too which lower my ride height by about 1.5" front and rear.

Clint Fong (

No no no. Struts DO affect ride height. I helped Fred Miceli ( initially install only Tokico struts. His car was JACKED UP about 1 1/2 to 2 inches or so!! The Tokico performance struts are gas pressurized, whereas the the stock ones are fluid-based dampers. The stock struts remain in the position they were pushed to (if you pushed them in by hand). The Tokicos on the other hand actually extended themselves back to their original position. Needless to say, the car looked pretty bad, and of course would suck for autoxing etc etc. So, he ordered the Eibach Pro (I think) set, and we reinstalled the whole system.

Carson M. Hanrahan (

I just can't reconcile this logically - I mean, to raise the car, the struts must have some pretty damn high pressure to exert a force that would lift the entire 2400lb chassis 1.5"! But, in the face of conflicting empirical evidence verus a priori knowledge, I'll *always* bow to the empirical evidence. :)

I was wondering what would happen if I ran Eibach springs with stock shocks?
Merlin Johnson (

I did that for some time. The handling does improve, you get a very nice ride, but you start to wear out the shocks quicker. Just don't put on the ST sway bars until you get the shocks as the extra rebound of the bars is a little much for the stock shocks. You will get a little floaty at higher speeds.

Has anyone put on the ST stabilizer bars with stock springs & struts? I want to reduce body roll in cornering, but I don't want to lower the car. Or, would this be a waste of money? How about using the sway bars with stock springs, but Tokico shocks?
Merlin Johnson (

Concerning swaybars with the stock shocks: Yes. You will reduce body roll at the expense of control. The car will get bouncy over low frequency bump, at high speed over undulating bumps. If you dont go too fast they are OK. The stock shocks dont haven't enough control for the extra rebound you get with the sway bars. It is driveable.

Concerning swaybars with Tokicos chocks: I haven't personally tried that. I would suspect it should be peachy, interesting combo. Remember that your car may rise a little (dont ask me why, the list went all through that :).

Could anyone tell me if I can just put sway bars on with stock springs and struts? Or would this be a waste of money without the rest of the suspension setup?
Merlin Johnson (

Putting on bigger sway bars will help you a little, but there is a side effect, now you dont have enough rebound control. I ran with the ST bars and stock suspension for a while and it gets too bouncy. The bars seem to spring the car up too quickly for the stock suspension to control. It can get to the point were you feel like you are going to catch air if you hit the right hump going fast enough. It also not a safe combo at 100mph+ speeds on a undulating freeway or road.

A warning about suspensions mods...
Allen Chan (

My car has the eibach/tokico springs and shocks. I tried to get an oil change this morning, and the car did not have enough ground clearence to get on the lift. After trying for about 10 minutes, the mechanic gave up, and told me to go away.

Fred Miceli (

Since I've lowered my SE-R, I've bottomed out quite a few times, and have dented/scraped the front cross member and oil pan, and both have rusted at the dent/scrape points!!

Merlin Johnson (

You won't bottom out with Eibach Pro springs and Tokico HP struts.

Rick Zotz (

I also have the Eibach/Tokico/ST combo on my SE-R, and believe plenty of other drivers with this setup are in denial of the consequences. Despite the better handling, greater high-speed stability, and good looks, the lower stance causes plenty of trouble. Problems include increased inner wear on the tires (camber), premature bushing failure, occasional tagging of the front end-links on road wrinkles and surface hazards, and a bumped oil pan. Upping the tire size to 195/60-14 compensated a bit for the drop. 195/55-14 would have worsened the situation. When the Tokicos die, I may put the factory springs back in. Unless you race or stay on smooth roads, think twice.

On installing Tokico struts...
Art Sturgis (

I just finished yesterday installing a set of 4 Tokico struts on my '93 SE-R. One problem I ran into was that the struts/springs/top bearing are not symmetric. If you don't notice that little fact when you assemble the new struts/springs together (there is a tiny little mark on the spring retainer indicating front/back) it will not bolt back in properly. Oh well, they are on now and seem to be an ideal balance between tight handling and acceptable ride.

Are there camber bolts available for out cars?
Kyle Gilliland (

They are available by a company named Specialty Products, 800-525-6505. If you want to purchase the kit you have to purchase it through a local dealer, they won't sale direct. The list price is $29.54 per kit(this will handle the front or the rear). So for $60 you can dial in your camber front and rear, not a bad deal :). The part number is 83450. Bad news for 200SX owners though as this kit will only work in the front. They have no way of adjusting the rear.

Experiences with a modified suspension...
Ian Lyn (

I thought I would contribute some of my knoweledge (experiences) to your suspension section.

  • With the S/T bars (front) it is nearly impossible to enter into automated car washes here in New York. You will definately rub the left end link on the front bar along the guide rail! (unless you find a car wash with a very thin guide rail you can let the tire {inner or outer} ride it to avoid the end link cap from being banged up).
  • The rear end links squeak like hell! They are too annoying. I find myself hosing them down to remove debris and spraying wd40 on them at least once every month.
  • If you are in a bumpy area and drive every day I do not reccommend lowering springs on the NX. This car is low enough. I had to slot out my top bolt on both front struts because of pothole "influenced" camber changes.

These are my only gripes with the suspension. Other than that the set-up has helped me out of many a dangerous situation. It works like it is supposed to......FOR SAFETY REASONS!!!

Will a STB fit on an NX with all the ABS computer junk in the vicinity?
Paul R. Detjens (

I have a 1992 NX w/Pan STB. No rubbing whatsoever. Tight fit around the ABS stuff, though.

About Suspension Techniques springs...
Scott A Johnson (

They seem to be about as low as the Eibach Pro-Kit, and have the same nose-low atitude as the Eibach's. They're blue, BTW, so you can quickly identify them on a used SE-R.

I wouldn't recommend running these with the stock struts. The springs themselves are very liveable on the street (even here in Kansas City with it's wheel-eating potholes), but you need the damping of the Tokico HB's to have good handling over anything but a glass-smooth surface.

What type of alignment settings are you autoXers running?
Raymond J. Colbert (

Try -1.0 deg camber front and -.75 deg rear. O toe front (tire wear goes up enormously w toe out) and have the shop tell you how many in of toe per turn you need to produce 1/8 total toe. No guage is needed by this method and you can change the to at the track on jacks. Try 1/16 toe out to ) toe rear.

Maintained by Ronald S. Chong (