Suspension upgrade to save my tires (SL1)

Discussion in 'Saturn S-series' started by Frank, May 25, 2004.

  1. Frank

    Frank Guest

    I am considering multiple suspension upgrades to reduce the excessive
    wear on my tires. My 97 SL1 is stock (and yes, properly aligned) and
    went through, Yokohama Avid T4 in 9,000Mi (alignment and suspension
    items check before and after) and chewed 6/32" off the new V rated BF
    Goodrich Traction T/A after just more than 1,500Mi (front only, the
    rears are like new). Yep, quite agressive driving style.

    I am considering the following upgrades (in order):
    1) install rear sway bar (probably a stock SL2 sway bar from scrap
    yard) but also thinking of a 16mm 3way adjustable
    2) change dampers to KYB GR-2
    3) change spring to H&R Sport

    My objective is to transfert more weight to the back to relieve the
    front tires. I am gathering the opinions on the benefit from each of
    these options in terms of limiting the (front) tire wear.

    The solution has to be cost effective otherwise I'd rather change the
    tires every 10,000-15,000Mi.

    The no brainer is to obtain the stock sway bar (and links and stuff)
    from a SL2 or SC2 (cheap and guaranted to help) but I wonder if it
    will help "enough".

    Thanks for the opinions

    97 SL1
    Frank, May 25, 2004
  2. I've got Eibachs, KY Bs and the adjustable sway bar on a 97SL2 - only makes
    tires wear faster because I'm buying softer tires to enjoy the stiffer
    suspension. (grin)

    There a couple of downsides to the lowering... the springs are a stiffer
    rate which give you a choppy ride (comparatively), and some Saturn's get a
    non-destructive axle shimmy (mine has it) at low speeds. Also, you drag
    the air dam off on many driveways do matter how skillfully or awkwardly you
    approach the driveway.

    With the aftermarket rear bar and poly bushings I get a squeak - I've lubed
    them a couple of times, it doesn't last.

    If you're serious about the aggressive style you mentioned, then the fast
    tire wear goes with it, no? And I'm thinking you SL1 is running fairly
    narrow tires on 14 inch wheels...

    Maybe a factory bar and rubber bushings and a wheel/tire package to start.
    I've got Bridgestone Pole Positions and they wear fast and are quiet. The
    previous Bridgestone's became cupped at 9,000 miles and howled at freeway
    speed. Both models have been 205/55-15's. I've heard good things about
    Michelin Pilots, they're just a little pricey.

    Good luck.
    Jonnie Santos, May 26, 2004
  3. Frank

    Lane Guest

    I would be surprised if those suspension upgrades will do anything for tire

    You haven't mentioned what type of wear, or if it is even or odd. Have you
    tried going to a tire with a much higher treadwear rating? How about
    getting the alignment checked at a different shop, other than the one you
    normally go to?

    Lane [ l a n e @ p a i r . c o m ]
    Lane, May 26, 2004
  4. Frank

    Frank Guest

    Nice, two replies from people I read often and whose opinions I

    I agree: Agressive driving style means accelerated tire wear. Putting
    1000$ of suspension upgrade to extend the life of 400$ tire sets may
    not be cost effective.

    I bought 15" steel rims to install 205/55R15. The BFG Traction T/A V
    rated is rated for 60,000Mi. My other tires were all in 175/70R14
    Firestone FR-680 43,382Mi (easy driving)
    Michelin MX4 Rainforce 22,278Mi (moderate at first, agressive at the
    Yokohama Avid T4 8,036Mi (agressive throughout)

    In the case of the Michelin and the Yokohama, the thread was worn
    pretty much equally inside to outside (when measured in the groves),
    but the side walls were chewed and missing chunks. The tires rolled a
    lot. The Yokos actually "broke", I couldn't see anything visually but
    when I slapped the winters on in August, the car felt like it was on
    rails in comparison.

    Installing V rated tires limits tire roll but doesn't eliminate it.
    The BFG have a L shape line going from the top to the side wall. That
    line is gone after 1,500Mi but the wear does not go down the side wall
    as much as on the other tires.

    Factory bar... yep. Step 1 was 15" wheel to get wider tires and the V
    (or W) rating. Step 2 is the junkyard special sway bar of an SL2.

    Lowering has drawbacks... thanks for that, I had not considered it.

    Alignment... Up to the moment were I replace the outer tie rods, the
    car had its alignment verified 4 times, all in 3 different shops with
    the numbers being very close (measurement error?) and within specs.

    Thanks for the input. I will report back when its done and I have put
    another 1,500Mi on the car (I'm holding off on tire rotation to start
    with the fresh set at currently at the back).


    97 SL1

    Frank, May 26, 2004
  5. Frank

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    I would be surprised if those suspension upgrades will do anything for tire
    I would tend to agree with Lane on all points. Why don't you just buy tires
    that are rated longer? I burned up Dunlop SP Sport A2 as well as BF Goodrich
    Comp TA HR4's in around ~20,000 miles. Now I got some Pirellli P400's, they're
    lasting forever and they stick good too.
    BANDIT2941, May 26, 2004
  6. Frank

    uphilldoggie Guest

    (Frank) wrote in message
    I just bought some BF Goodrich Traction T/A H rated 195/70R14's for my
    '93 Honda Accord based on the reviews I read at the and
    decided to do a quick search to learn impressions of the tire. Hope
    you don't mind my jumping in to ask a few questions and perhaps share
    a comment or two.
    You meant 195 above, right? 175 to 205 would be a huge leap. I'm
    curious though, why did you decide to up the rims so you could fit
    205's? Stock on my car are 185's and a knowledgeable tire rep was
    trying to convince me to go with them as wider tires handle worse in
    rain and snow as they tend to hydroplane more easily and particularly
    after wearing a bit. Second, your gas-mileage decreases. But I
    wanted the wider tire because I thought it looked better, and finally
    ended up going to a place that would put them on--several of the
    discount merchants would not fit anything but oem spec. Was pure
    asthetics the appeal for you as well?
    Obvious maintenance, but you do check tire pressure regularly? For an
    aggressive driver, correct inflation seems trebly important.
    How are you impressed with the tires threadwear aside, rain and dry?
    Used them yet in the snow? Understand that may be their weakness, but
    considering that's just a few days out of the year for me, I mostly
    neglected it.

    You know that these Traction T/A's are among the first which BFG is
    offering a 60KMi warrenty on; that is, wear out before and you can see
    a some or full recovery--check the fine print. Would you consider
    getting another set based on the performance thus far, or think you'll
    move on after these are through.

    It's difficult to compare tires, because the thing that people
    remember about their last tires are the sounds of dying bald-eagles
    making a dump-truck whir down the interstate.

    One last question: what should the new thread thickness measure and
    how do you measure it? I'm assuming grove depth would be the same
    between a 205 and a 195.
    uphilldoggie, May 27, 2004
  7. I'm sorry to seem like a jerk, but I have to ask. Might your aggresive
    driving not be appropriate for the street with other traffic who aren't
    as skilled as you, and may do something stupid because they don't know
    what you're doing? You might really enjoy SoloII or something along
    those lines - a great way to channel the 'aggresive' energy in a
    controlled and relatively safe environment:
    I'm by no means a tire expert or anything close, but over-inflating your
    tires a bit will help keep the sidewalls from rolling under.
    Unfortunatley, by doing so you're stressing the tires and changing the
    handling characteristics signficiantly. From the SoloII handbook:

    "Tires: [Before racing] ... you should put an extra 10 to 15 psi in your
    tires. The reason for this is to keep your tires from rolling under
    during hard cornering. But how much is too much? Put chalk on the edges
    of your tire, in three places around the diameter, and you can see how
    far over the tire was going during your runs. Bleed out a little if the
    chalk is still showing on the tread, or add a little more if the chalk
    has been worn off down the sidewall. The line of worn chalk to remaining
    chalk should be right at the corner of the tread and sidewall. Keep
    notes on how many psi you ran, and where the chalk line was, for your
    next event."

    richard hornsby, May 27, 2004
  8. Frank

    Frank Guest

    205 an error?... nope. I wanted to get the 195 and there were not in
    stock at BFG (odd size and the production of another was not even
    scheduled yet). I got he 205/55R15.

    Why change rims?... My stock wheel were 14"x5". Too small for the 195s
    (and 205s) says Tirerack, plus I believe I had not many choices in V
    rated tires in 14".

    Handling in rain... I could comment when the tires are more worn but
    so far I have amazed by the cornering with these tires under yet
    conditions. No hydroplaning incident yet.

    Handling in snow... I will never know.

    Gas mileage... like you I was concerned about it... this might
    interest you (I note everything):
    Firestone FR-680: 31.3mpg
    Michelin MX-4 Rainforce: 28.8mpg
    Yokohame Avid T-4: 31.8mpg
    BF Goodrich Traction T/A V: 29.9mpg
    These numbers are over the entire life of the tires (except for the
    BFG... 2000Mi only).

    Esthetic... not an appeal for me at all. My goal was to reduce
    sidewall roll.

    Tire pressure... you bet ya.

    Next set... I was hesitating between the Khumos Ectas 712 and the BFG.
    Next set will probably be the 712.

    Tread depth... check the manufacturer website. I use a micrometer to
    measure it.


    97 SL1
    Frank, May 28, 2004
  9. Frank

    Frank Guest


    Don't worry, I don't think you're a jerk, I think your concerns are
    valid (based on what you read).

    When I wrote "my driving style is quite agressive" I meant towards my
    tires, not towards other people/drivers. I never do agressive
    maneuvers towards others such a cutting off, tailgating, drag
    racing/nagging. I don't even speed except for the on/off-ramps where I
    have "fun" when alone (I'm the guy parked on the shoulder waiting for
    traffic to clear). I have "fun" always in the same (known) places. I
    drive like my grandma when the wife and kids are in.

    Funny thing is that my (48Mi round trip) commute to work has:
    one 80mph 90deg right turn,
    one 55mph 90deg left turn,
    one 35mph 90deg right turn,
    one 55mph 270deg right turn
    maybe 5 "starts" (no tire spin, just very close to it though)

    I have a "clear track" say 4 times a week on average and I had those
    tires for 8 weeks now. That's the cause for the 6/32" loss in thread.

    Overinflating... it's a thought (that and changing the camber) and
    although I am considering it, I don't want to affect the braking
    distance (since it's still a family-mobile).

    I did do SoloII activities and took my car on a race track. I just
    can't shake that need for on/off-ramp fun.

    Not that this post would help you at all (or change your opinion of
    me), but I did want to address the commentary on my person.

    Best regards,

    97 SL1

    Frank, May 28, 2004
  10. Frank

    uphilldoggie Guest

    Hi- I believe you misunderstood my inquiry and possibly the
    re-reading of your own initial post: I was not asking if your
    interest in increasing the width of your tire to 205 mm was an error,

    which prompted me to remark:

    Sorry, I'm not sure how I can explain that any more clearly. Again,
    please refer to your original post and my reply. Thanks.

    Yes, I'm familiar with tire sizings, the BFG Traction T/A line and why
    you had to change rims (though I did ask about the instrument you used
    to measure your grove depth), I was merely asking why you decided to
    increase the tire width to 205 mm as it was a pricey proposition--you
    had to change your rims. And you answered that.

    Great. I've experienced hydroplaning on even narrower
    tires--175/80R13--on an old Topaz, but it was a lighter car. I was
    concerned about my decision to increase to a 195 mm from the OEM spec
    and was interested in your experience. My current car, a '93 Accord,
    is too light for 205 mm tires: its curb weight is 2,866 lbs. Also, I
    think those tires on my car would look out of proportion to the size
    of the car.

    Interesting, thanks. I've yet to keep mileage stats, but I should
    consider it. I wonder how accurately such mileage charts can be
    attributable to any one implementation. That is, even assuming
    driving habits and patterns stay relatively the same, a car which
    expended a certain gas mileage at 30 Kmi may not get the same gas
    mileage at 80 Kmi five years later, even with regular oil changes.
    And this assumes no other fuel altering modifications: a change in
    oil/lubricant, removal/addition of luggage/sports equipment racks,
    etc. And of course, the stickiness _and_ the width of a tire will
    affect mileage. So many variables, that such specifically
    attributable comparisons seem almost meaningless. I'll have to think
    about this a bit more..

    uphilldoggie, May 31, 2004
Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.