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280zx (1983) shocks and springs, anyone?


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hey guys

I have a '83 280zx pretty much stock everything except for the engine stuff (turbo and intercooler).

 

My car drives like a bowl off jello, and I wanted to buy new shocks and springs.  and I'm cheap, so no super cool expensive coilover sets (beside the car doesn't run well, so I won't shell out money on a car that, after 4 years of screwing around in, still won't run well)  and I don't want a car that too low for very daily driving. 

 

I found out that KYB shocks are everywhere, there is some Gabriels as well on some sites.  so I guess, for basic, stock like performance, i'm covered for shocks..

 

but the only springs I could find is an eiback lowering kit (1 inch lower) for a lot of money ( https://www.thezstore.com/page/TZS/CTGY/classic20c01 ).    

 

if anyone aware of stock like (or mild drop) springs available anywhere?  There are some AC delcos listed in a few place, but back order everywhere..

 

thanks!

 

seb

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so, turns out I had originally posted this in FActs, and no one could reply.  forstly sorry about that. 

 

secondly, Jhm replied directly to me and and told me this:

 

Hello-

 

Unfortunately, you're finding that there's not a lot of off-the-shelf performance spring options for the 280ZX, which is the unfortunate fact of life.  Most guys end up converting to adjustable coilovers to give them a wider selection of spring sizes and rates.

 

If that option does not appeal to you, I'd try replacing the shocks and see how much difference that makes.  If your current shocks are worn out, a good performance shock can really make a big difference in how the car handles.  Personally, I'd stay away from brands like Monroe and Gabriel, and focus instead on better brands like KYB and Tokico.  You can even search to find a good deal on Konis.

 

Good luck with it.

Edited by supernova_6969
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and finally (third post to reflect what happened in the few weeks since I posted in the FAQs), I have 4 new KYB shocks on the way (2 bought on amazon, 2 on Rock auto, for prices; saved 150$ by splitting the order).. 

I'll have the in the car in a week or so, i';l post to let you guys know what new shocks feel like with what I suspect to be 20-30 year old springs (I suspect anyways)

 

EDIT :  I`ve since put the shocks in the car, and I`d advise anyone going through this for this car or any other older car, to check to see if you need the rubber shock boot/bellows  and also consider buying new bump stops on all four corners.  The other rubber I played with were in good shape on this repair (some spacers/bushes and stuff) but these were terrible (rotten or missing in the case of the bump stops).  So do yourself a favor and order that before you take everything apart. 

Edited by supernova_6969
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Hi Supernova, thought I would give you a little more info on this topic. I am running KYB's non adjustable in the rear. And Koni yellows fully adjustable in the front.

Both front and back have the 1" drop Eibach pro kit springs. The product page for the springs says that you should see a 1" drop on (most applications). This tells me that some cars might see no where near that or my not lower the car at all. This is the case for my current setup. The springs actually seemed to raise the car up a bit. 

 

Here's the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YKj99GrCjw to the video I made show casing this, and asking anyone who has these springs if they are seeing the same thing.

 

Hope this helps you out.

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hey 79er

I just saw your video.  yeah, not very low...   

I just changed the rear shocks and I think the new ones (who aren't busted to hell like the old ones, no support or absorbtion left in those, ?i now know) make the car sit a bit higher than before, with the same old springs.  

 

I just measured, and with stock sized tires, there is 4.5 inches between the top of the tire and the wheel arch...   That gives you an idea or what a stock car should be.  Eyeballing it, it seems to me that you might be a little lower than that.  I'd be curious to see how much a brand new stock 280z had...  Maybe they just had so much clearance that even a mild lowering spring makes a much wider gap than newer cars have..

 

now that i've seen it (mine), I think it sits a little high..  so if I ever buy springs, i'll probably got for drop springs.

 

have you fixed the problem in the front where you simply couldn't put it back together?  

 

seb.,

 

ps: for the curious, I haven't driven her yet.  i'll probably put the front shocks in and then got for a ride.  I'll post then, to give impressions..  but just from pushing on the car, I went from bowl of jello to hard rubber.  it's encouraging.  maybe the car won't feel like it's floating on the road anymore....

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You should always get full weight on the suspension and roll the car back and forth before evaluating changes.  Make sure the shocks aren't binding by moving the car up and down.  And consider tire size, a smaller tire will lower the car but make the gap bigger in the arch.  Best to measure from the rocker panel to the ground if you're talking about lowering.  Don't blend lowering with tire gap.

 

And drive over a few speed bumps slowly early on so you'll know what's going to scrape later.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have Eibach springs and Koni struts/shocks awaiting to be installed on all 4 corners. Purchased the kit from The Z Store, which saved $50 buying the items individually.  I read on The Z Store the KYBs are not for lowered cars, which is why I skipped those shocks. 

 

I went the shock/spring route because I didn't want to cut my front shock tubes.  That's one of those "point of no return" things.  I was trying to source a set of front strut tubes, but didn't want to pay the $230/side the Z Car Source was trying to charge. 

 

I still paid ~$900 just in parts for the shocks/springs, bump stops.  But I'd need a shop to cut/weld the shock tubes, so I'm saving around $300 on the low end by not doing coilovers, to about $900, depending on coilover choice.

 

With my stock shocks and springs, I have about 5" of ground clearance at the "frame rails".  Everything is original.  I'm hoping my suspension hasn't sagged too much.  We'll see after the install.

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Hey Tokuzumi..

Can’t wait to see how you like it.  I’m curious about the combo you have..

I'm not certain I follow the whole deal here (talking about deal, nice about saving 50$ if you buy all the things separate.  Defeats the point of having a kit, but, hey, not my store).  Are you saying that some people cut the shock tubes (which are the things in which you originally have the shocks, and in which you insert the new shock cartridge. right? The thing that goes from the ball joint to the spring and ultimately to the shock tower?)

I guess if you keep stock height springs, cutting the shock tube would shrink the overall height of the strut assembly.  But yeah, that’s pretty hardcore…  You have to be very confident in your welding skills.

 

Let us know if your lowering kit has actually lowered anything, or if, due to old setup sag, you end up getting a slight raise..  I know 79er had some issues with the springs you have, so I’m curious.. 

Thanks for the post, please post back when you’ve driven it for a couple of mile.. :)

 

Just as an update for me, I have actually rebuilt the struts (well, changed the shocks and put it back together), but haven’t had a chance to put them in yet.  Stay posted….

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I realized my wording wasn't very good.  The kit saved me $50, compared to piecing the parts together individually. 

 

Going the strut/spring method I went with, I can just disassemble the factory coilover, in install a new strut, and reassemble the coilover.  If I want to go with an aftermarket adjustable coilover, you have to cut the front shock tubes, and have a sleeve welded in its place. which is the threaded collar the coilovers use for height adjustment.  Fortunately the rears don't have this "cut and weld" requirement.  S30s you had to do the cut and weld front and rear.

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hey smoothz

 

let me know about the prices you are getting...  

I'm in Canada, so obviously the price itself is different, but the deals might be too.  I know that amazon, after I bought the shocks, raised it's prices (the prices were lowered since, I guess it realized I wasn't buying a second set).  but it might be just for me, to try bleed me dry in case I repeat buy. 

 

the shocks you want (well, the ones I bought) are

-Rear: the KYB KG9113 (Gas-a-Just Gas Strut, the middle quality out of 3 possible ones, essentially supposedly better than stock, but not quite serious aftermarket stuff).

-Front: the KYB 365013 (these are Excel G, the base shocks KYB makes, probably similar to stock ones;  they are cartridges that insert into the shock sleeve after you remove the original sealed mechanism).

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by supernova_6969
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On 6/9/2020 at 6:57 PM, supernova_6969 said:

I ended up going to a local parts store and got the KYB Gas A rear shocks for about $51 each.  They have to be shipped in from Indiana or somewhere.  I haven't determined if I need front shocks, but I should look into it.

 

 

 

 

Edited by SmoothZ
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that's about what I paid for mine here is the land of the pland of the mapple leaf..  in CAD$  so that's not bad, since you don't have to pay for shipping.

 

I just finished installing mine, actually, but I finished at 2am last night.  no time to put on the wheels or take it out.  Tonight I suspect...  :--) 

 

to make it easier to push down the transverse link, I ended up taking out the tension rod on both sides..   I'd say that putting those back on took 85% of the time and 95% of the effort.   I suggest anyone try to simply pry the transverse link down with the tension rod on first.  

 

 

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mmm. no, i`m pretty terrible about it.  but it is a simple proces, especially for the rear..  

 

do you have a copy of the shop manual for our cars?  I have a nice clean copy for 1982 and an average copy for 1983 (although I don`t know that there are any differences), oth digital. I could email you one if you need it...

 

but the rears are dead simple, you jack the car up, you take off those covers on the shock tower, undo the 3 nuts there, then you undo the bottom nut at the base of the shock...  and presto you have a strut assembly on your hands.  

 

from there, you have to compress the spring with the appropriate tool, undo the top nut, and everything is apart.  install is the reverse.  I did have a hard time putting the nut back on because the rubber bushings that came with the shocks were too thick, I did end up cutting I think two per side to about half their thickness.. I'd compare with the stock ones before you do so (for all I know I did it wrong), so when you take it apart, make certain you lay each stock part in the order you take them off the shocks, so you know which ones (new or old) goes where, and be able to compare the new parts and old parts for size.  

 

For cutting them, I put them sideways in my vise, 1/2 in, and cut them with an xacto knife, a little bit, then rotate, rinse and repeat till you get to the center and it`s cut all around. 

 

let me know how it went for you, and if you had to cut them too.  

 

s

ps: the shop manuals also show you in what order to put all the little buits in cas, in a rush, you mix up all the rubbers and washers....  it`s a small drawing, but it does the job

Edited by supernova_6969
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SO.....

I finished the job last night, and took her out today.  What a change.  It's no F1 or lowered monster, but it doesn't squat like it used to when I start off (it went from what felt like 2-3 inches to .5-1), won't dip when I brake, even hard (from what felt like 3-4 inches to maybe 1) and won't lean very much anymore as I turn. 

 

BUT most importantly, it'll now stick to the road.  In the last few months, driving it felt like it was floating on the road, and not like a Bentley might cruise gently, but more like walking on a grate, where you foot is flat, but nor making contact everywhere.  That's what it felt like anyways, and it wasn't reassuring.  Now, it feels like any other newer car, and follows the road and sticks to it, mostly.  It's very satisfying.

 

I can't compare to the stock shocks (new), but the KYB are very satisfactory.  Probably a little but harder/harsher than stock but not too much, and if you have a car like this you won't mind a little extra "sportiness".  Very curious what it'd feel like with new springs though....

 

So my final though : shocks alone are definitely worth it if you don't want to spring for a new set of springs (yeah, lame pun, but it was originally unintended).

 

(Also, I just edited another post up here where I suggest anyone doing the shock (or shock/spring) job should buy all new boots and bumper stops from the get go, without even consider not buying any. )

Edited by supernova_6969
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/15/2020 at 1:36 PM, supernova_6969 said:

mmm. no, i`m pretty terrible about it.  but it is a simple proces, especially for the rear..  

 

do you have a copy of the shop manual for our cars?  I have a nice clean copy for 1982 and an average copy for 1983 (although I don`t know that there are any differences), oth digital. I could email you one if you need it...

 

but the rears are dead simple, you jack the car up, you take off those covers on the shock tower, undo the 3 nuts there, then you undo the bottom nut at the base of the shock...  and presto you have a strut assembly on your hands.  

 

from there, you have to compress the spring with the appropriate tool, undo the top nut, and everything is apart.  install is the reverse.  I did have a hard time putting the nut back on because the rubber bushings that came with the shocks were too thick, I did end up cutting I think two per side to about half their thickness.. I'd compare with the stock ones before you do so (for all I know I did it wrong), so when you take it apart, make certain you lay each stock part in the order you take them off the shocks, so you know which ones (new or old) goes where, and be able to compare the new parts and old parts for size.  

 

For cutting them, I put them sideways in my vise, 1/2 in, and cut them with an xacto knife, a little bit, then rotate, rinse and repeat till you get to the center and it`s cut all around. 

 

let me know how it went for you, and if you had to cut them too.  

 

s

ps: the shop manuals also show you in what order to put all the little buits in cas, in a rush, you mix up all the rubbers and washers....  it`s a small drawing, but it does the job

Awesome, thanks for the steps.  Can't wait to do the install and see how it feels.

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