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New strut opinions? 04 es2 ex

1134 Views 9 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  Blues_hawk
I've decided things are getting sketchy enough(hi speed float) that I need to replace the struts on my 2004 civic ex sedan. I've always wanted adjustable damping on my car like I have had on motorcycles and bicycles for many years so that limits the choices some. I also don't like the idea of dumping thousands of dollars into a strut kit. I'm not racing, just an enthusiastic daily driver that does an occasional rally/touge run on tight Viriginia mountain roads, which sometimes get rally rough. This has led me to the decision that I don't want to lower the car much if any, but at the same time reduced body roll and torque on the stabilizers would be nice. My current thinking is Koni sport inserts(since I can't find yellows anywhere) and a ground control coilover kit that will let me decide on ride height.

It's already got eibach stabilizers which really help control body roll. I considered them a repair when I bought the car with wanky little wires they put on it for the U.S. market. Without them the car would lift the inside rear in a butt puckering sort of way on complex corners. Not something you want when braking into an off camber downhill switchback.(yikes!)

Anybody got ideas or thoughts on this, or alternative setups that won't break the bank or arbitrarily lower the chassis to bouncy skateboard level, Also, any other adjustable links or bits I should consider?


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Update on my research. I know I want something with "digressive" damping, because that gives the most body stability for the rollercoaster roads I drive on. I've also figured out that many "track" offerings are way oversprung, no wonder people are bouncing around blowing dampers. I've had trouble finding specs but my best efforts show that stock springs on my es2 are very soft compared to even the most forgiving coilovers. Best I can tell, stock appears to be somewhere around 2kg/mm. Offerings range from 6kg/mm all the way to 14kg/mm, with the most interesting offerings in the lower price range ($1000-1500) typically being 8kg/mm. I suggest most folks would be very happy with the lowest of these ranges in daily driving conditions. I also have had some trouble with arbitrary lowering, which is why the rates are so high on some setups. I still have to be able to get into Food Lion parking lot so lowering much at all is out of the question. Yellowspeed racing offers a coilover that allows for stock ride height and up to a 3" drop without shortening shock travel, but I haven't seen a dyno test on them yet, or verified damper type. I asked the company via their North America websitebut have not yet gotten a response.

It's worth looking at damper types before putting out major cash like this. There are three typical types of pistons:

The shock has a flat curve that means big bumps are damped harder and you feel the and there is body float that has to be controlled with spring preload - stock struts and most cheap coilovers have this. Damping is achieved by a single plate valve restriction with no torque on it.​

This one has a tensioned valve plate which causes more restriction for the lowest velocity inputs and then once the valve preload is overcome the fluid flow is regulated by a jet at a lower damping rate. This means the car body is stable when low speed pressure is applied such as in turning but big hits(like curbing or potholes etc.) are soaked up nicely.​
These shocks have less low speed damping and the damping curve increases for bigger hits to prevent bottoming. This is mostly used in off road vehicles(afaik).​

One shock company is actually hand making coilovers in a town only a few hours away but they cost nearly 3x as much as the imports and I can't give them a recommendation since they don't offer a kit for 7th gen. I may have to pay them a visit one day if I have to go that way and find out why they don't. Props to one of our vendors @carid for offering several coilover kits for the 7th gen civic. Maybe you guys have an opinion or info and or corrections to add?
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Followup: I debated and researched coilovers but in the end decided that the shortened travel would not work out well in the mountain roads, because they really are "rally" level bad sometimes. I also decided to keep the stock springs for now, until I see how my choice does with them. I decided on Tein Endurapro plus which gives me easily adjustable damping. I've installed the fronts but the heat is a challenge right now. I hope to have the rears installed over the weekend. Even with just the fronts replaced it's already much more stable. I started about midrange and turned it 5 clicks tighter this morning to see how rough it got and the combination is very stable without beating you up. Another reason I picked these is that I could use the savings to buy or build(30yrs in electronics) an EDFC unit for it. EDFC stands for "Electronic Damping Force Controller" and it mounts little motors on the adjusters which can be controlled in real time manually or, in the pro model, automatically in order to provide the best damping for the situation and driving style. There's even a GPS unit for Tein's EDFC but I haven't figured out why as yet --unless they use it for the gravity input. Tein has some nifty ads for the toy, but sticker shock has made me sit on that bit until I get things working. I may decide I don't need it.

Worth noting, Tein's current em1,em2.es2 model has the lower mac strut mount holes too small so it would be better to look at that before you install springs, in case you decide to return/exchange them. I have not asked Tein about this as yet but will report here if I get an answer. I'm thinking the my having 15 inch rim EX model might be the reason.
--I decided to drill them out myself, which worked out okay but porting them was a job using a dremel and stones.
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One of the rear lower mount bolts had found the power of the force and became one with the strut mount. An extra day, 2 trips to town and 2 sawzall blades later I finally wrestled it out and got the job done. Kitsune is much more nimble now. The car is noticably higher diue to the eom struts being flat and riding lower, so I might get some stiff Tein lowering springs for it at some point. They have some that only drop it an inch or so, but considering it was a bit of a struggle, and the 50$ for an alignment in the next week or so, I might put the spring job off for a while. ...or I might order springs today becuase I'm clearly a masochist..
Follow up:
I got a full alignment and adjusted the struts a few times to get a nice balance. The handling was very good but with the stock springs feels overdamped and undersprung still having too much body movement in open switchbacks. With the stock height It has no trouble in off road sections getting to hiking trails, and felt very stable at high speed on the interstate and the obvious bonus carving up twisty mountain roads.

Turn for the worse: Both rear struts have lost their nitrogen gas charge and now have no damping in the middle just like the old ones, regardless of valve setting. I used @carid 's form to request warranty and they responded that they needed a picture or video to prove there was a problem, so I put the car on ramps and stuck my oly pm2 on a small tripod and videoed myself pushing up on the bottom of the trunk to make the car bounce - something I could not have done when they were working. Carid said they'd get back with me after contacting Tein in a day or 3 and I'm still waiting for their response. The fronts are still working properly.

Tein may have some kinks to work out in this new system which uses crimped strut tops to cut costs even on the coilovers I looked at originally. This makes the struts basically disposable - as most oem style struts are. If and when I do this again I hope to be able to find rebuildable and or hydraulic only struts, or affordable 2 stage compression/rebound units...on a 5spd ep3
In other Tein related news, I asked them if their springs for an em1 would fit my es2 and got a confusing reply. They say they don't offer them for the es2 but specs on the two cars show the wheelbase and weights are virtually identical. I got no further response after offering this info(with links) and offering to be a tester. Hopefully @carid will have more luck communicating with their vendor.

More on this as I get it.
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I got another email from @carid wanting more and different "proof". I suspect it may have been a third person trying to work the ticket, but they didn't sign it. This time they want a photo of the "defect" and of the silver label on the strut. I responded that it might be difficult to portray a loss of damping in a photo. I'm good with a camera..but not that good! Also, I already made and sent them a video showing the problem. As for the silver sticker, I plan to try to get at it but I'm not pulling those out until I have replacements. I realize they are a vendor member here, but I have to say my rating for them is not very high at the moment. I understand things get hectic sometimes and mistakes are made... @carid Care to join the conversation?
And another. This time it's apparently Tein wanting more info...

  • Can you please provide the Vin#?
  • What does he have the damping force currently set to?
  • Where was the damping for starting point? ( Full Counter Clockwise, Middle, or Full Clockwise)
-Does he have an other modifications? (lowering springs, control arms, audio system ect.)

Not sure what my audio system has to do with anything. {"His audio system is so loud it made his shocks lose their nitrogen charge."} --has never been heard...

Service economy my foot. More like "no service" economy. :p
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Following up on this truly absurd saga. After delivering on every demand made @carid emailed Tein(gee I could have done that) who responded asking for me to either blind ship the struts for evaluation or take them out and make a video proving the problem I made a video comparing them to KYB excel-g that I got to stick back in there while I sort this out. I emailed 2 videos to @carid who forwarded them to their Tein representitive. It's not been 5 days. I asked for confirmation and apparently we're waiting for Tein at this point. (tap tap tap tap)

[addition]: The gas charge is there, the damping adjustment is not. Something came apart in there.
I know nobody wants to see my rant in their forum updates so i'll leave it at this for now. This was supposed to be a short blog review on my little daily driver "upgrade" experience, so I apologize if anyone is annoyed at my negative comments harshing their vibes.

@carid finally emailed me and said that Tein would "evaluate" my struts and if no defects are found send them back, and if they are found send replacements. --would you "find" a defect given the choice? I sent a video they requested showing the obvious failure at their request, but apparently that's not good enough. I have issues with both companies at this point, and shouldn't go further until I meet with admin and possibly work through legal proceedings. I will at some point be sharing the email chain and everything I've been through in one article, here or elsewhere. It needs to be told.
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Finally some closure. I contacted Tein directly and asked for help. I also posted on Twitter as well as sending update emails and Carid emailed an apology for all the confusion and has decided to refund me for the defective parts to put an end to this saga. I wonder if it was the note that accidentally went to the Chinese Tein instead of teinusa. :p I think Carid is something called a "drop shipper" storefront which might explain the mess. Anyway... My next escapade is to go in search of stiffer springs, Or get those rebuildable coilovers... I'm not sure which way I will go. They let me keep the bad shocks so I might take them apart one day and see what went wrong. It's a bit of a bummer that I won't be able to adjust rear damping for now but I learn a lot from the experience. Mostly to be careful about doing business with New Jersey.
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