Enhanced Cornering and stiffer suspension

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
For Awhile now I am lost on what to do, My Voy as of right now needs replacement of the struts. I was going to convert the entire suspension to an SS's but that may not be the best option considering I Tow alot of toys, unless the springs are stiffer (Aftermarket of course). Lifting I am fine with but, I don't think this will help my situation much. Will putting some bilsteins on help the cornering alot compared to the stock shocks with 100,000 on them??? Thanks,
Trent
 

ScarabEpic22

Member
Nov 20, 2011
728
If you want to stay at stock height and your springs are ok (probably are) then Id get new Bilstein HDs all around. Up front they're the best option and they're good for the rear. Just dont couple them with a drop/lift kit in the rear, they will ride like CRAP!

For better cornering, buy a DJM rear swaybar from Tony on TBSSOwners.com. I used to be all about the Hotckis bar, but now that I have both (02 has the Hotckis, 08 SS has the DJM) Id recommend the DJM over the Hotckis. Its stiffer and you can adjust the firmness of it (I set mine to stiffest and have been very happy). Comes with poly bushings for the rear (cant remember about the front, dont think so, I ordered another set of Hotckis bushings as the ones on my 02 were 5+ years old and had 50k+ on them so I got a set for my SS as well).
 

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
ScarabEpic22 said:
If you want to stay at stock height and your springs are ok (probably are) then Id get new Bilstein HDs all around. Up front they're the best option and they're good for the rear. Just dont couple them with a drop/lift kit in the rear, they will ride like CRAP!

For better cornering, buy a DJM rear swaybar from Tony on TBSSOwners.com. I used to be all about the Hotckis bar, but now that I have both (02 has the Hotckis, 08 SS has the DJM) Id recommend the DJM over the Hotckis. Its stiffer and you can adjust the firmness of it (I set mine to stiffest and have been very happy). Comes with poly bushings for the rear (cant remember about the front, dont think so, I ordered another set of Hotckis bushings as the ones on my 02 were 5+ years old and had 50k+ on them so I got a set for my SS as well).

Thanks, The sway bar was on my list! Lol But looks like it got bumped up haha
 

ScarabEpic22

Member
Nov 20, 2011
728
03envoy said:
Thanks, The sway bar was on my list! Lol But looks like it got bumped up haha

You wont regret it, DJM swaybar + new Bilstein HDs all around and it will handle a TON better. :thumbsup:
 

schedebaby

Member
Dec 6, 2011
12
you've sparked my interest with this djm sway bar, but i looked on the site and all i could find was a lowering kit?
 

ScarabEpic22

Member
Nov 20, 2011
728
Yup thats the link, Tony got the initial issue with the bushings sorted out last summer so no one worry about that. They all come with the correct rear bushings now, and it makes a difference!
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
I'm not exactly sure what the 9-7 did differently as far as specific part numbers, but the handling difference between my 9-7 and my Rainier is night and day with almost zero resemblance to eachother. Maybe the 9-7 is like the SS but I don't know exactly but I know it handles crazy good compared to the Rainier. Gotta think the 9-7 parts are simple to come by.
 

MDBT

Member
Jan 26, 2012
223
+1 to Jkust's post there.

The TBSS is still plenty capable of towing, as is the 9-7x. Provided a retrofit was done properly with OEM or better parts I wouldn't expect you to lose any towing capacity. Rather it may be more stable when doing so. I'm not sure if your vehicle has the air suspension already, if not I'd probably not bother with it.
 

ScarabEpic22

Member
Nov 20, 2011
728
gmcman said:
Any reason that bar is listed as 03 and newer? I didn't realize the bar changed from 02-03....or did it?

All GMT360 rear bars are the same, any swaybar made for our trucks will work with any of the variants from 02-09, I6 or V8, 2WD or 4/AWD.

The front swaybar is the only one that has changed, and it changed 3 times. 02-03 are one size, 04-07 are another, and 08-09 are yet another. But, only 08-09s use a different front swaybar endlink design.
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
ScarabEpic22 said:
All GMT360 rear bars are the same, any swaybar made for our trucks will work with any of the variants from 02-09, I6 or V8, 2WD or 4/AWD.

The front swaybar is the only one that has changed, and it changed 3 times. 02-03 are one size, 04-07 are another, and 08-09 are yet another. But, only 08-09s use a different front swaybar endlink design.

I have an SS rear and my stock rear sway bar and they really are identical.

The front swaybars are different enough the LCA are different due to the end link mounting changes.
 
Jan 21, 2012
58
the 02 to 04 use moog # k6665 & k6666 while the 05 to 07 use moog # k80824 & k80825 these are the same design but are different length. the 08-09 use completly different looking these are all for the front the rears are all the same moog # k6667 & k6668.
 

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
The DJM swaybar will help with trailer sway also, right? It being thicker not giving as much as the stock, Therefore not allowing as much flex within the frame, Correct? I have a trailer that really loves to sway on me and It takes me over into the other lane when going over 70mph. Thanks
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
03envoy said:
The DJM swaybar will help with trailer sway also, right? It being thicker not giving as much as the stock, Therefore not allowing as much flex within the frame, Correct? I have a trailer that really loves to sway on me and It takes me over into the other lane when going over 70mph. Thanks

Even if it does, you are just hiding the symptoms of another problem. Something is wrong with your trailer/hitch setup. No one needs new swaybars for towing.
 

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
HARDTRAILZ said:
Even if it does, you are just hiding the symptoms of another problem. Something is wrong with your trailer/hitch setup. No one needs new swaybars for towing.



Yes, I need a Drop hitch and to shift some weight around but, just looking for somethings that will help a little bit. Thanks
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
03envoy said:
Yes, I need a Drop hitch and to shift some weight around but, just looking for somethings that will help a little bit. Thanks

Solve the issues you know of first. I spent $25 and replaced my 6 inch drop w an adjustable set at 11 inches and have no issues towing similar weight to what you tow and I have no rear swaybar at all.
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
03envoy said:
The DJM swaybar will help with trailer sway also, right? It being thicker not giving as much as the stock, Therefore not allowing as much flex within the frame, Correct? I have a trailer that really loves to sway on me and It takes me over into the other lane when going over 70mph. Thanks

Speeding is bad. Speeding while towing? Even worse :no:

Keep the speed lower when towing. Much safer.
 

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
Sparky said:
Speeding is bad. Speeding while towing? Even worse :no:

Keep the speed lower when towing. Much safer.


Haha I am sorry Sparky lol I have a heavy right foot!:biggrin:
 

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
HARDTRAILZ said:
Solve the issues you know of first. I spent $25 and replaced my 6 inch drop w an adjustable set at 11 inches and have no issues towing similar weight to what you tow and I have no rear swaybar at all.


Where did you get your adjustable hitch from?
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
03envoy said:
Where did you get your adjustable hitch from?

They are on sale at Harbor Freight for $25 instead of $50, then they let me use the commonly available 20% off coupon so It was $20 actually. Good to 5000 lbs. I replaced the pins with bolts, but that is not needed. If I were to haul anything heavier, my father has one rated to 20,000 but still adjustable. I just could not justify spending $150 like he did when I dont pull that much weight generally.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
Since I posted earlier that the 9-7x handels pretty well I thought I'd follow up with some research from Car and Driver with specific changes to the 9-7x and the applicable skid pad and braking improvements. The article acknowledges the 9-7x at least grips better than the SS though it is obiously much slower with only a 5.3 liter. The 9-7x stops a whopping 38 feet shorter from 70mph and provides a decent improvement on the skid pad. I actually never saw the actual stats before. I want to find a spot to try an emergency stop tonight.

On the mechanical side, Per Jansson--finally, a Swede!--pretty much emptied the suspension engineers' bag of tricks to give the 9-7X more accurate handling and a taut ride and to generally trim off the flab from the GMT360's American-style mushiness. Among the numerous minor (but noticeable in their aggregate) changes are firmer shocks, springs, and control-arm bushings; revised front-suspension geometry; quicker steering (the ratio was lowered to 18.5:1 from 20.3:1); and an increase in the front anti-roll-bar diameter to 1.4 inches from 1.3. Several changes to the braking system, including a switch to stiffer cast-iron calipers, make a huge difference in pedal feel and the ability to modulate braking more precisely
On the road, the Saab feels considerably more composed, with stiffer shocks and springs that go a long way to calm excess body motions, a steeper steering ratio that gets rid of some on-center slop, and stiffer calipers combined with a more aggressive pedal ratio that help to alleviate a previously soft brake. Combined with stickier 255/55R-18 Dunlop SP Sport 5000 tires, these changes amount to noticeable performance improvements: a 172-foot stop from 70 mph and 0.82 g on the skidpad, improvements of 38 feet and 0.14 g over the TrailBlazer. Throttle response is prompt, and the Saab scoots to 60 mph in a respectable 7.3 seconds. But there's still noticeable chassis flex over bumps. And compared with the sharp responses of unibody class...
There's a price problem, too. The V-8-powered 9-7X starts at $41,240 (the inline-six knocks the price down $2000), which is $10,380 more than a V-8 TrailBlazer. Even worse, since the 9-7X's introduction, a better GMT360 has been released - the TrailBlazer SS, powered by the Corvette's 6.0-liter V-8. For $35,850, the 395-hp SS thrashes the Saab in a straight line, trimming the 0-to-60 run by 1.8 seconds, down to 5.5. Even though the 9-7X grips the pavement a hair better than the SS...
 

ScarabEpic22

Member
Nov 20, 2011
728
So the 9-7Xs have the same size swaybars as every other GMT for that year (changed a few times remember, grab a caliper and measure them if you want to compare) and the same V8 brakes. Remember the V8s have different brakes than the I6s and the LWB trucks have the V8 brakes. There are 3 sizes of front brakes, SWB I6, SWB 5.3+LWB, and SS/Aero. I think rear brakes are the same size but have different calipers (SS/Aero, not sure about SWB 5.3). Sounds like most of the SS suspension stuff was used on the 9-7X too and the steering rack as well.

7.3s 0-60?! Is that really what the SWB 5.3s do it in? No wonder a tune + CAI SWB I6 keeps up with stock 5.3s. Think the SWB I6s are quoted at 7.8-8s.
 

MDBT

Member
Jan 26, 2012
223
Technically since the saab came out in 2005 and the TBSS was released in 2006 one could say it is the TBSS that borrows much of it's suspension from the Saab. The reality is that's semantic and not terribly important.

The laundry list of changes are applied to all of the Saabs, even the ones with the 4.2 so the mention of some of the items like the 12.8" discs have a little credibility. Remember that the writer of that review was just regurgitating the data that Saab provided.

I don't know the differences in all of the pieces nor do I know where they all originated from or if they are used on other GMT360 trucks. It would seem as though Saab was given a little leniency to pick their own parts however when citing the use of the H3 Nav unit instead of the existing unit that was perfectly good enough for the Envoy Denali.

Speaking of regurgitated manufacturer data here is some more in depth info on the Saab changes: Saab 9-7x | Saab Cars – Trollhattan Saab

Getting back on point, the Saabs all had 3.73 rear ends and the 4.2i (same engine as OP) had a tow rating of 5600 pounds. 2003 TB SWB 4.2 like the OP's had tow ratings between 5200 (3.42) and 5900 (not sure what ratio). That in mind, I'd expect the OP to be able to maintain his original towing capacity if using OEM 9-7x parts for his drop. That drop is about one inch from the Saab release info, and the tires are about an inch shorter as well.
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
Would like to toss in a question if I may concerning the front brakes since it has been brought up already. Can you use the iron calipers on a SWB that has the larger caliper bracket from the LWB? Would the SS calipers work in this application? I have the rotors and bracket but would like to change the caliper.
 

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
Wow, Some interesting facts. All in all I am going to go with stiffer springs but going about this is going to be hard. Roadie said stock replacements are around 85-86's i believe. If I order those up front and stock Tahoe springs on rear, I should result in a stiffer suspension all around without suffering ride height? Lol
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
03envoy said:
The DJM swaybar will help with trailer sway also, right? It being thicker not giving as much as the stock, Therefore not allowing as much flex within the frame, Correct? I have a trailer that really loves to sway on me and It takes me over into the other lane when going over 70mph. Thanks


What are you towing, are you loading the tongue up enough? I had a "tail wagging the dog" experience once pulling a car hauler at about 60 MPH. Pulled over and positioned the car about 2 feet forward adding a little more tongue weight and it pulled perfectly straight.
 

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
gmcman said:
What are you towing, are you loading the tongue up enough? I had a "tail wagging the dog" experience once pulling a car hauler at about 60 MPH. Pulled over and positioned the car about 2 feet forward adding a little more tongue weight and it pulled perfectly straight.


2 sleds, it's the trailer and it's too small to pull the sleds up anymore so we will be getting a new trailer soon, Thanks.
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
ScarabEpic22 said:
I think rear brakes are the same size but have different calipers (SS/Aero, not sure about SWB 5.3).

The pads, caliper, rotors, swaybar are the same on the rear of SS or 4.2. I need to compare the panhard bar since the different ride heights may have needed different lengths to keep rear end centered. At least in my swap everything was the same. 08 SS and 06 I6.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
ScarabEpic22 said:
So the 9-7Xs have the same size swaybars as every other GMT for that year (changed a few times remember, grab a caliper and measure them if you want to compare) and the same V8 brakes. Remember the V8s have different brakes than the I6s and the LWB trucks have the V8 brakes. There are 3 sizes of front brakes, SWB I6, SWB 5.3+LWB, and SS/Aero. I think rear brakes are the same size but have different calipers (SS/Aero, not sure about SWB 5.3). Sounds like most of the SS suspension stuff was used on the 9-7X too and the steering rack as well.


Interesting, I wonder then how the 9-7 does better on the skid pad including beating the the SS?

7.3s 0-60?! Is that really what the SWB 5.3s do it in? No wonder a tune + CAI SWB I6 keeps up with stock 5.3s. Think the SWB I6s are quoted at 7.8-8s.

Still waiting to see a SWB 5.3 get tuned. You saw the post recently comparing two identically tuned LWB's and the 5.3 killed the 4.2.

MDBT said:
Technically since the saab came out in 2005 and the TBSS was released in 2006 one could say it is the TBSS that borrows much of it's suspension from the Saab. The reality is that's semantic and not terribly important.

Yep I looked further and later 360's got some of the SAAB engineers' tweeks but not all. If you watch Top Gear UK it is an eye opening learning experience on how the euro's tune their cars versus the U.S cars. U.S. cars tend to corner poorly and have cheaper interiors among other deficiencies at least up to the 2004 season that I'm watching now. They bashed the 04 vette in yesterday's episode and the 04 300C. To me the SAAB driven changes are right in line with what I glean from that show. I've got the Rainier and the SAAB side by side in the garage and the handling differences and cornering abilities aren't in the same ballpark but the Rainier is 5x more comfortable of a ride with its ultra cush suspension but it tows really well including my two place snowmobile trailer with two snowmobiles on it. I haven't hitched anything to the 9-7 yet. For pure handling and cornering in the performance/street sense, the articles and pro drivers seem to indicate the 9-7 beats all including the SS for that particular year. Then and only afterward did the others get some of the improvements.
 

ScarabEpic22

Member
Nov 20, 2011
728
HARDTRAILZ said:
The pads, caliper, rotors, swaybar are the same on the rear of SS or 4.2. I need to compare the panhard bar since the different ride heights may have needed different lengths to keep rear end centered. At least in my swap everything was the same. 08 SS and 06 I6.

Good to have confirmation, I figured as much because all the talk of suspension/brakes between the I6/5.3 and SS have been the front brakes and overall ride height. Ill put it in my todo list to measure the length of my panhard bar next time Im under the truck (hopefully next week for front/rear diff, xfer case, and trans fluid changes).

Jkust said:
Still waiting to see a SWB 5.3 get tuned. You saw the post recently comparing two identically tuned LWB's and the 5.3 killed the 4.2.



Yep I looked further and later 360's got some of the SAAB engineers' tweeks but not all. If you watch Top Gear UK it is an eye opening learning experience on how the euro's tune their cars versus the U.S cars. U.S. cars tend to corner poorly and have cheaper interiors among other deficiencies at least up to the 2004 season that I'm watching now. They bashed the 04 vette in yesterday's episode and the 04 300C. To me the SAAB driven changes are right in line with what I glean from that show. I've got the Rainier and the SAAB side by side in the garage and the handling differences and cornering abilities aren't in the same ballpark but the Rainier is 5x more comfortable of a ride with its ultra cush suspension but it tows really well including my two place snowmobile trailer with two snowmobiles on it. I haven't hitched anything to the 9-7 yet. For pure handling and cornering in the performance/street sense, the articles and pro drivers seem to indicate the 9-7 beats all including the SS for that particular year. Then and only afterward did the others get some of the improvements.

Yep mod for mod, a 5.3 will ALWAYS be faster than an I6 with same gears, etc. The SS was introduced in 06 and the only drivetrain/suspension changes between 06-09 include a different ECM for 07-09, different front swaybar/endlink setup (08-09), and shocks (mid-07-09 got black bodied ones that arent as stiff as the 06-early 07 yellow bodied ones). Same rear swaybars for all years and brakes are the same as well (think they're the same size as the regular V8 rotors up front with different pads ["Vette-spec" I think is how they were described at one point]).

I imagine the 9-7X got a few euro tweaks, but IIRC it was designed in MI like the rest of the GMT360s. I imagine it went to the Nurburgring like the SS as well.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
ScarabEpic22 said:
Good to have confirmation, I figured as much because all the talk of suspension/brakes between the I6/5.3 and SS have been the front brakes and overall ride height. Ill put it in my todo list to measure the length of my panhard bar next time Im under the truck (hopefully next week for front/rear diff, xfer case, and trans fluid changes).



Yep mod for mod, a 5.3 will ALWAYS be faster than an I6 with same gears, etc. The SS was introduced in 06 and the only drivetrain/suspension changes between 06-09 include a different ECM for 07-09, different front swaybar/endlink setup (08-09), and shocks (mid-07-09 got black bodied ones that arent as stiff as the 06-early 07 yellow bodied ones). Same rear swaybars for all years and brakes are the same as well (think they're the same size as the regular V8 rotors up front with different pads ["Vette-spec" I think is how they were described at one point]).

I imagine the 9-7X got a few euro tweaks, but IIRC it was designed in MI like the rest of the GMT360s. I imagine it went to the Nurburgring like the SS as well.

Designed in MI by (at least some) Swedes since GM owned SAAB like Ford owned Jaguar. The above post lists via that link the most detailed list of mods i've seen. It's a lot of little things and more things that I had realized. The things I can really feel are the better skid pad ratings. The skid pad result of .82 is as good or better than a lot of everyday cars that I randomly googled and .02 better than the same year SS. I'm so used to U.S. cars that I actually like the cushier ride especially on our MN side roads destroyed from the freeze thaw cycles. The Euros have apparently far more curves to deal with in their countries and so our U.S. tuned/squishy rides don't do well over there and they really do poorly on the test track or again at least up to the 2004 season I'm watching now. They still refer to us as 'The Colonies' and generally dislike anything and everything American with a sort of 'better than us' verbiage constantly like how Consumer reports clearly has a bias against American cars and so I take everything they say with a grain of salt. You still get the sense of them being sore losers of the Revolutionary War.
As for the 5.3 vs the 4.2, without some turbo or supercharging, it seems to be difficult to offset the effects of two extra everything. But again, the Euros seem to ding the HP on all of our cars as well squeezing a ton of HP (they rarely mention torque) out of there v6's by comparison. They really hammered the 300C with the high HP Hemi as low on torque and it showed in the side by side comparisons.
 

MDBT

Member
Jan 26, 2012
223
I'd just get the Saab 9-7x Aero if you want more hp and still want the Saab body. If you don't need the Saab body get the SS. The suspension on the 9-7x and the SS are similar enough I wouldn't use that as a deciding factor. Not sure on the tow rating for the SS, the 9-7x 5.3i is 6500lbs.

The Hennessey stuff isn't looked on with a terribly positive light, at least that's the impression I get from the limited time I've spent surfing performance sections of sites similar to this one. If you want more power from a 5.3 I'd be looking at something like a TVS 1900.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
MDBT said:
I'd just get the Saab 9-7x Aero if you want more hp and still want the Saab body. If you don't need the Saab body get the SS. The suspension on the 9-7x and the SS are similar enough I wouldn't use that as a deciding factor. Not sure on the tow rating for the SS, the 9-7x 5.3i is 6500lbs.

The Hennessey stuff isn't looked on with a terribly positive light, at least that's the impression I get from the limited time I've spent surfing performance sections of sites similar to this one. If you want more power from a 5.3 I'd be looking at something like a TVS 1900.

The SS tow capacity maxes out at the same as the 5.3 all else equal and so the engine isn't the limiting factor. The 9-7x however only come in 4AWD while the SS had a 2wd option. The SS's and the Aeros aren't actually that much money lately it seems presumably as they get older and cyclically as gas becomes expensive. I've had my eye on some that have been sitting forever. Marshall at PCM4less recently posted the dyno results from a 5.3 with a supercharger and efans and it bested a stock 6.0's stats pretty handily. Point being the 5.3 has gigantic and easy to access potential.
 

03envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
Just received my 81110 Moog springs very close to 86's and should be ordering my bilsteins in the next couple of weeks.
 

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