Thursday, 5 April 2012

Tickover's Five Top Tips for Ford Suspension and Handling

We, at Tickover often get asked "what should I do to my suspension to make my car handle better?".

Well, over the last 20 years that Tickover has been operating, we've tried, tested and fitted many different components to Fords of all varieties.We have come to the conclusion that for road use simple upgrades work best and complicated systems, such as 4 - links and panhards and other track type devices simply ruin a car, making things harsh and unpleasant on the road. 

So, we thought we'd share our collective experience on suspension and handling in the hope that our five top tips will save you money, time and help you avoid some expensive mistakes we commonly see.

Here's what really works for a nice tight handling car that won't shake your fillings out or make you want to throw your car in the bin !!!


Choose your shocks with care - we like these Ford Capri Spax sprints. Front...


...and rear shock absorbers

1) Shock absorbers - get a good matching set of gas pressured shock absorbers all round. Currently we believe Spax adjustable units give the best all round value for money, are high quality and also let you tailor how firm things are, very simply, to suit your own comfort level.

2) Springs - uprate these by 25 - 50% in stiffness - no more than that - it will simply make things too hard. Also lower these by 1" - again no more than that, or you'll be whacking your exhaust on every speed bump out there.

3) Change all the bushes for urethane. This will take all the slop and lack of response away. Superflex are by far and away the best quality. We stock a wide range - from Capri to Ford Anglia.

Ford Capri rear anti-roll bar chassis poly bushes

4) Check all the ball joints are good and the steering rack too. Replace anything worn.

5) Get the tracking set up after fitting all of these.

These procedures work on all Fords, but to get specific let's look at the Capri. 

A complete package of new springs, new gas adjustable shock absorbers and new urethane bushes throughout will transform your car WITHOUT ruining it. 

I can't stress this enough, do not put flash race parts on cars used on the street.

Ford Capri bushes
Many people do, just because the parts exist and just because other people have used them. All these cars feel truly awful to drive. Many owners don't like the results and some are too embarrassed to admit it.  

Here's what we don't like and why:

  • Anti-dive kits - do not use these on lowered cars - lowering does its own anti-dive thing, and too much anti-dive can make the front skid under heavy braking. It also reduces the steering's ability to self centre.

  • Roller top mounts, especially adjustable camber, caster ones. They either introduce a steering shake or a vibration, depending on make, and do very little to lighten steering. 

    A total waste of money on any car with power steering too!

  • X-frame and A-frame axle location kits. Designed to stop leaf spring twist and thus sideways axle movement. Well, a good set of urethane bushes does this too! The axle kit clamps to your leaf spring and stops it absorbing bumps properly! It makes the back harsh, and eventually damages your springs.

  • 4 links, 5 links, panhards and the like. Strictly track stuff, only work when set to extremely rigid settings. Fine on ultra smooth surfaces, anything else forget it. Rough as hell, vibrate like hell, total aggro to fit, and lose your back seat too - bargain!

  • Coilovers with adjustable spring height. Nice idea, but you'll only adjust them once before they seize anyway, so you might as well just get the right height springs to start off with. Also for the front they make the strut fatter, right where the tyre goes and will cause fouling on some wheels and tyres.

  • Adjustable track control arms (TCAs) and rollbars. If you stick to the 1" lowering job all the original Ford settings for camber and caster stay in spec, there's simply no need for them - unless of course you are trying to dial out the effects of another unnecessary component!
The upshot is keep it simple, keep it sensible, and this will keep you, your car and your wallet (and probably your missus) much happier.

Tickover's special offer on a complete Capri kit

Buy a complete set of bushes, shock absorbers and springs for a Capri and we'll take 10% off the listed individual price cost. Complete Capri kit (depending on model) of 4 shock absorbers, 4 springs, full car set of urethane bushes. 

To take up this fabulous Ford offer email us at Tickover or cal01322 839303 as this is not available to but on our online shop.

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