Suspension improvements for Autobahn--what would you do? :)

D-V_Envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 6, 2011
51
So heading to Germany in the Spring.
Already thinking about doing the SS suspension upgrade to the Voy. (SS Springs, F&R Struts/Shocks and GF rear springs.) Thinking that should be the min I do. I want to really enjoy a little "driving" and not having it feel too "floaty" around the 100+ MPH area.
Not sure I want to go too much lower and have it too "stiff" because in 3 years we hope to have her back in the U.S. and well, I do love a quality ride.

I've read a TON of what folks on have done and what spring/strut/shock combos are available. (countless combos out there)
Just curious as to WHAT would you do? Whether, reasonable or totally CRAZY!

Any input would be great.

UPDATE--I moved this over from TV to see what the NEW "IN Crowd" would do. :smile:
Pretty sure I am going to like it over here now.
Thx to Erik for pointing me over here.
Oh yeah and my 1st post over here!! :wootwoot:
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
I think the SS springs and some good shocks and struts would do well. Check your sway bar bushings and endlinks, possibly upgrade them and the bars.
 

D-V_Envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 6, 2011
51
HARDTRAILZ said:
I think the SS springs and some good shocks and struts would do well. Check your sway bar bushings and endlinks, possibly upgrade them and the bars.

Thx HardTrailz -- I changed my front endlinks about 2 months ago with Moog links. Had some noise--all gone now. :smile:
Another member also mentioned poly bushings would be a good thing as well. So looking into that now too.

Appreciate the input!
 

NORCAL SS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
165
D-V_Envoy said:
So heading to Germany in the Spring.
Already thinking about doing the SS suspension upgrade to the Voy. (SS Springs, F&R Struts/Shocks and GF rear springs.) Thinking that should be the min I do. I want to really enjoy a little "driving" and not having it feel too "floaty" around the 100+ MPH area.
Not sure I want to go too much lower and have it too "stiff" because in 3 years we hope to have her back in the U.S. and well, I do love a quality ride.

I've read a TON of what folks on have done and what spring/strut/shock combos are available. (countless combos out there)
Just curious as to WHAT would you do? Whether, reasonable or totally CRAZY!

Any input would be great.

UPDATE--I moved this over from TV to see what the NEW "IN Crowd" would do. :smile:
Pretty sure I am going to like it over here now.
Thx to Erik for pointing me over here.
Oh yeah and my 1st post over here!! :wootwoot:


as with any build what is your max budget you want to spend on parts?

With tbss front springs I would do this set up
TBSSowners.com Store - Belltech Street Perf. Shocks/Springs Combo (Powered by CubeCart)

but in rear add the 1 inch spacer which will give you a 2 inch drop becuase in front if you go the full drop to match the trailblazer rear springs you will need my djm modified uppers for alignment. I cant count how many trucks ive done where the stock upper rubber bushings were shot so if you can do it I'd get my modified djm uppers also.

Last but not least the djm rear swaybar bar far best one out there. I had addcos and i had hotchkis on my trailblazers and i worked with djm to come out with a bar that is adjustable and doesnt ride like the others
Check it out.
TBSSowners.com Store - DJM Trailblazer Rear Swaybar (Powered by CubeCart)
 

SSilveronyxx

Member
Dec 6, 2011
46
What they said (anti-sway bar links and bushings), lower the rear airbags, the panhard bar (mine was slightly bent when I pulled it out and replaced it with a Spohn-so you know its crap under stress), performance brake pads, and better tires than those RS-A's (especially if it's wet), HID lights...and a GoPro cam!:biggrin:
 

NORCAL SS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
165
SSilveronyxx said:
What they said (anti-sway bar links and bushings), lower the rear airbags, the panhard bar (mine was slightly bent when I pulled it out and replaced it with a Spohn, performance brake pads, and better tires than those RS-A's (especially if it's wet), HID lights...and a GoPro cam!:biggrin:


I think on his model he doesn't have the rear bags and like on our tbss site going from the bags to the belltech coilsprings and belltech shocks is a great improvement. Your set up hopefully shipping today from belltech.
 

D-V_Envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 6, 2011
51
NORCAL SS said:
as with any build what is your max budget you want to spend on parts?

With tbss front springs I would do this set up
TBSSowners.com Store - Belltech Street Perf. Shocks/Springs Combo (Powered by CubeCart)

but in rear add the 1 inch spacer which will give you a 2 inch drop because in front if you go the full drop to match the trailblazer rear springs you will need my djm modified uppers for alignment. I cant count how many trucks ive done where the stock upper rubber bushings were shot so if you can do it I'd get my modified djm uppers also.

Last but not least the djm rear swaybar bar far best one out there. I had addcos and i had hotchkis on my trailblazers and i worked with djm to come out with a bar that is adjustable and doesnt ride like the others
Check it out.
TBSSowners.com Store - DJM Trailblazer Rear Swaybar (Powered by CubeCart)

Thank you Tony! Saw your email as well.
Budget--I was hoping for 400-600 for everything else I need. But a little more will be cool to make sure I have what I need to do it the right way the first time. Looks like a little over $700 for what you're recommending.

I had looked at the Belltech SP and Nitro 2 for the rear, because of others who have used them with great outcomes. So will go with the Street Pref shocks in rear now hearing it from you as well.

I sit 32.5 and 34. Looking for a resting height of between 31.5-32 for front & rear after a drop. So right in the ball park from what you have recommended.
At this point I would really like to not mess with anything else such as modifying the uppers if I can--except to replace bushings. I have heard this is possible with OEM parts-yes?

So guess that makes my list as---Belltech combo, 1" rear spacer and a DJM rear sway bar. As you mentioned as long as I do not go lower than 1.5 up front I will be fine w/o an arm mod. (Only looking to do .75-1 drop up front.)--but will be nice to have the adjustability if I change my mind in future. :biggrin: Oh and will get some poly bushings for the front sway bar.

The SS Springs will drop the Voy about .75 by themselves--Do the instructions say what spacer to use on the struts to have a stock SS height?

I know this thing will never handle like a sports car-LOL-but look forward to a great stance and tighter more confident feel on the road.
Again, thank you for the response. Looking forward to completing this between now and March, so she's ready for her trip overseas.

Now if I can only talk my wife into spending the $$ on some 20" SS rims! :biggrin: She loves the look of them, so maybe it'll happen! :yes:
 

Chickenhawk

Member
Dec 6, 2011
782
At those speeds I would suggest the best upgrade you can do is to spend some money on advanced skill driving courses, plus have a REAL good understanding of vehicle dynamics and vehicle balance. (You can tell the good driving courses because they will talk about a concept called the traction "circle" and explain why it is only theoretically a circle but is more like a flattened oblong in actual practice.)

Our Trailblazers have quite a bit of designed-in understeer because this is the safest way from Grandma to navigate the streets. If she overcooks a corner, the front end tends to break loose first, Grandma panics, takes her foot off the gas and the truck regains traction (hopefully) and stops heading for the guardrail.

For more advanced drivers, a neutral car is better because it maximizes traction at both ends. There are several ways to achieve this, but one of the first ways is to play with tire pressures to change vehicle balance slightly.

Every tire has a maximum highway traction pressure which for a P-rated tire is usually about 80 to 90% of the maximum PSI as listed on the sidewall. This means on my Michelin LTX M/S tires, the max. pressure (cold) is 44 PSI, so my maximum traction is at 35 to 40 PSI. I want to keep my fronts at maximum, plus at the high end of the scale to prevent tuck-under while cornering, so I run my fronts at 40 PSI. My rears can be aired down a bit for a more comfortable ride so I keep them at the low end of the max. traction scale at 35 PSI. (Thankfully my 04 doesn't have tire pressure sensors, and leaves it up to the operator to know their tire pressures and check them for themselves.)

So, back to autobahns. I would use only the best tires you could afford and keep the pressures up to 90% of the max. pressure listed on the front, and 80% of the max pressure listed on the rears. (If you carry a heavy load, you will need to up your rear pressures a bit but no one drives 80 MPH+ with a heavy load in the back anyway!)

Tire pressures only affect balance in small ways. To achieve greater gains, one should look at the front/rear roll stiffness and compare it to the factory balance. Knowing the GM engineers design in understeer, and knowing that one can reduce understeer (or increase oversteer) by stiffening the rear roll stiffness, and one can reduce oversteer (or increase understeer) by stiffening the front roll stiffness, this means is that a stiffer aftermarket rear sway bar is an excellent idea. Do not touch the front bar; it is fine like it is. As you know, good rear sway bars such as the Hotchkis also come with replacement bushings for the front as well as a stiffer rear bar, and this leads to a noticeable improvement in balance for a knowledgeable driver.

(I always get a kick out of some kid who wants to rice up his car or truck and immediately orders stiffer bars front AND rear without understanding anything about vehicle dynamics. They get an evil-handling car that rides like crap and knocks the tooth fillings out of the very few and dwindling number of ladies who will ever ride in it with them ... which is pretty much the opposite of what they were hoping to achieve.)

Now, to the brakes. There are many differing views on brake pads and rotors, but understand that many aftermarket brake rotors are often sold just because they look cool. That is fine for most people but you need the best brakes you can possibly afford and this means to avoid ANY cross-drilled rotors. Premium slotted rotors are the ones you should be using. While cross-drilled rotors look cool and are fine for most drivers, they actually perform slightly worse than solid rotors simply because they actually have less brake swept area to clamp the pads against.

The other thing you will need is a lot of common sense to understand when you can drive a high-center-of-gravity truck at higher speeds and when you shouldn't. As you probably know, German autobahns tend to be pretty safe because of an abundance of common sense. Passing lanes are used for passing (imagine that!) and people don't think it is a slight on their driving ability to get passed by another car. On the other hand, there are areas prone to sudden clouds of dense fog appearing without notice that can cause MASSIVE and fatal chain collisions. (All the proper and safe following distances in the world don't matter any more if the vehicle in front of you makes an abrupt sudden stop because they have slammed in to a stationary object!)

So ... watch for fog; get good tires and brakes; upgrade your rear sway bar; take some good advanced driving courses ... and have fun. Lucky dog!
 
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NORCAL SS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
165
D-V_Envoy said:
Thank you Tony! Saw your email as well.
Budget--I was hoping for 400-600 for everything else I need. But a little more will be cool to make sure I have what I need to do it the right way the first time. Looks like a little over $700 for what you're recommending.

I had looked at the Belltech SP and Nitro 2 for the rear, because of others who have used them with great outcomes. So will go with the Street Pref shocks in rear now hearing it from you as well.

I sit 32.5 and 34. Looking for a resting height of between 31.5-32 for front & rear after a drop. So right in the ball park from what you have recommended.
At this point I would really like to not mess with anything else such as modifying the uppers if I can--except to replace bushings. I have heard this is possible with OEM parts-yes?

So guess that makes my list as---Belltech combo, 1" rear spacer and a DJM rear sway bar. As you mentioned as long as I do not go lower than 1.5 up front I will be fine w/o an arm mod. (Only looking to do .75-1 drop up front.)--but will be nice to have the adjustability if I change my mind in future. :biggrin: Oh and will get some poly bushings for the front sway bar.

The SS Springs will drop the Voy about .75 by themselves--Do the instructions say what spacer to use on the struts to have a stock SS height?

I know this thing will never handle like a sports car-LOL-but look forward to a great stance and tighter more confident feel on the road.
Again, thank you for the response. Looking forward to completing this between now and March, so she's ready for her trip overseas.

Now if I can only talk my wife into spending the $$ on some 20" SS rims! :biggrin: She loves the look of them, so maybe it'll happen! :yes:


the tbss springs lower 1/2 inch at most on all the trucks ive done. That being said i would do the front tbss springs and use a 16mm spacer on both drop struts and in rear use the 1 inch spacer set up, You wont need my modified djm arms and total for that set up would be $520 shipped from me. MAKE SURE TO LOOK AT YOUR STOCK UPPER A ARM BUSHINGS NOW BECAUSE MANY OF THEM ARE CRACKED AND HAVE MOVEMENT ON THE TRUCKS I DO!!

At that point if you can do it deff. get the rear djm swaybar. 235 shipped and will make that truck handle so much better.

Trust me i've been doing these trucks for over 8 years and done countless set ups on both of my TBSS's I won't put up things not needed.

btw i have set up about 25 trucks where the guys are stationed in Germany and all have been very happy with the set ups I set them up with.
 

SSilveronyxx

Member
Dec 6, 2011
46
NORCAL SS said:
I think on his model he doesn't have the rear bags and like on our tbss site going from the bags to the belltech coilsprings and belltech shocks is a great improvement. Your set up hopefully shipping today from belltech.

:duh: COMPLETELY missed the fact that he said 'Voy! I'm used to being on your site Tony and assuming everyone is an SS:biggrin:
 

D-V_Envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 6, 2011
51
SSilveronyxx said:
What they said (anti-sway bar links and bushings), lower the rear airbags, the panhard bar (mine was slightly bent when I pulled it out and replaced it with a Spohn-so you know its crap under stress), performance brake pads, and better tires than those RS-A's (especially if it's wet), HID lights...and a GoPro cam!:biggrin:

HIDs are Coming! Have the fogs with HIDs and in one night of driving the wife looked over at me and said: "so when you doing the lows & highs?" LOL God I LOVE HER!

Just put new tires on the 17" rims a few months ago--Toyo Proxes StII, 255/60-- love them so far. Once i get some 20" rims I'll improve the footprint even more. :wink:

thx for the response!
 

D-V_Envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 6, 2011
51
Chickenhawk said:
DELETED some of your response to save space--but GREAT info--THANK YOU!

So, back to autobahns. I would use only the best tires you could afford and keep the pressures up to 90% of the max. pressure listed on the front, and 80% of the max pressure listed on the rears. (If you carry a heavy load, you will need to up your rear pressures a bit but no one drives 80 MPH+ with a heavy load in the back anyway!)

....

Now, to the brakes. There are many differing views on brake pads and rotors, but understand that many aftermarket brake rotors are often sold just because they look cool. That is fine for most people but you need the best brakes you can possibly afford and this means to avoid ANY cross-drilled rotors. Premium slotted rotors are the ones you should be using. While cross-drilled rotors look cool and are fine for most drivers, they actually perform slightly worse than solid rotors simply because they actually have less brake swept area to clamp the pads against.

The other thing you will need is a lot of common sense to understand when you can drive a high-center-of-gravity truck at higher speeds and when you shouldn't. As you probably know, German autobahns tend to be pretty safe because of an abundance of common sense. Passing lanes are used for passing (imagine that!) and people don't think it is a slight on their driving ability to get passed by another car. On the other hand, there are areas prone to sudden clouds of dense fog appearing without notice that can cause MASSIVE and fatal chain collisions. (All the proper and safe following distances in the world don't matter any more if the vehicle in front of you makes an abrupt sudden stop because they have slammed in to a stationary object!)

So ... watch for fog; get good tires and brakes; upgrade your rear sway bar; take some good advanced driving courses ... and have fun. Lucky dog!

GREAT response--thank you for taking time.

I'm a week away from being around 4 decades, so an all out crazy azz speed demon I am not. (not to say age has ANYTHING to do with it.) HAHA but you are so right in everything you said about driving skill and I will actually look into that when I get there.

I am a little "anal" on tire pressure so it's stay 90% most of the time. :smile: I concur about slotted brake pads...never liked the idea of holes in the rotors.
Sure I wish it handled more like a sports car with a V8 or European V12, but it's a SUV and I know better...well most of the time. :wink: Had a buddy just come back from there and said the best was driving in the Alps for the amazing views. i want that and want to feel like I will not roll off a corner. LOL So good driving skills and common sense are a must.

Again thank you for taking the time to response and as I do this I'll share the work and one there the driving experience.
 

D-V_Envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 6, 2011
51
NORCAL SS said:
the tbss springs lower 1/2 inch at most on all the trucks ive done. That being said i would do the front tbss springs and use a 16mm spacer on both drop struts and in rear use the 1 inch spacer set up, You wont need my modified djm arms and total for that set up would be $520 shipped from me. MAKE SURE TO LOOK AT YOUR STOCK UPPER A ARM BUSHINGS NOW BECAUSE MANY OF THEM ARE CRACKED AND HAVE MOVEMENT ON THE TRUCKS I DO!!

At that point if you can do it deff. get the rear djm swaybar. 235 shipped and will make that truck handle so much better.

Trust me i've been doing these trucks for over 8 years and done countless set ups on both of my TBSS's I won't put up things not needed.

btw i have set up about 25 trucks where the guys are stationed in Germany and all have been very happy with the set ups I set them up with.


Great! thanks again for taking time to explain things to me and give me your recommendation. I'm sure with 95k those upper bushings will be ready to change out. Will do as much as I can with replacing bushings and such while I have it a part.

Look forward to chatting more with you as I purchase and do this upgrade. Plus to provide feedback of how it rides once we get there.
 

NORCAL SS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
165
D-V_Envoy said:
GREAT response--thank you for taking time.

I'm a week away from being around 4 decades, so an all out crazy azz speed demon I am not. (not to say age has ANYTHING to do with it.) HAHA but you are so right in everything you said about driving skill and I will actually look into that when I get there.

I am a little "anal" on tire pressure so it's stay 90% most of the time. :smile: I concur about slotted brake pads...never liked the idea of holes in the rotors.
Sure I wish it handled more like a sports car with a V8 or European V12, but it's a SUV and I know better...well most of the time. :wink: Had a buddy just come back from there and said the best was driving in the Alps for the amazing views. i want that and want to feel like I will not roll off a corner. LOL So good driving skills and common sense are a must.

Again thank you for taking the time to response and as I do this I'll share the work and one there the driving experience.


no prob anytime.
 

Chickenhawk

Member
Dec 6, 2011
782
Thanks! Let us know how it goes.

I am pretty anal about optimizing the handling of my vehicles. (I test new police cars on race tracks as part of what my wife laughingly refers to as a "living.")

Tony also knows his stuff. I have the Hotchkis bar and love it, but would seriously consider his suggestion of a DJM if I didn't already have the Hotchkis. (I might anyway.)

If you install the bar yourself, I am not sure about removing a rear control arm on a lowered truck, but on mine (with the lowest factory spring they make) I could muscle my bar past the frame and the differential without removing the control arm. I had to use very strong vice-grips and a big wrench on the end links though because they were very hard to remove.
 

NORCAL SS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
165
when truck is off ground and rear end hanging you can put the swaybar between lower a arm and frame and spin it and goes right in.
 

D-V_Envoy

Original poster
Member
Dec 6, 2011
51
Thank you to everyone who has replied.
Great info and it has/will help me as I get this drop/upgrade complete in the next month or so.
No longer just excited about heading to Europe, but excited and can't wait to do this mod to the Voy.
I'll do pics and post about it as I go through it.
Thx again!
 

ScarabEpic22

Member
Nov 20, 2011
728
NORCAL SS said:
when truck is off ground and rear end hanging you can put the swaybar between lower a arm and frame and spin it and goes right in.

Yep you can, installed and removed the Hotchkis, DJM, and stock rear bars on my 02 and SS at least a few times. The first time I installed the Hotckis I dropped a rear LCA, not needed though.

Dave, your truck is going to be great when you get it done bud!:cool:
 

Pittdawg

Member
Dec 5, 2011
538
D-V_Envoy said:
Thank you Tony! Saw your email as well.
Budget--I was hoping for 400-600 for everything else I need. But a little more will be cool to make sure I have what I need to do it the right way the first time. Looks like a little over $700 for what you're recommending.

I had looked at the Belltech SP and Nitro 2 for the rear, because of others who have used them with great outcomes. So will go with the Street Pref shocks in rear now hearing it from you as well.

I sit 32.5 and 34. Looking for a resting height of between 31.5-32 for front & rear after a drop. So right in the ball park from what you have recommended.
At this point I would really like to not mess with anything else such as modifying the uppers if I can--except to replace bushings. I have heard this is possible with OEM parts-yes?

So guess that makes my list as---Belltech combo, 1" rear spacer and a DJM rear sway bar. As you mentioned as long as I do not go lower than 1.5 up front I will be fine w/o an arm mod. (Only looking to do .75-1 drop up front.)--but will be nice to have the adjustability if I change my mind in future. :biggrin: Oh and will get some poly bushings for the front sway bar.

The SS Springs will drop the Voy about .75 by themselves--Do the instructions say what spacer to use on the struts to have a stock SS height?

I know this thing will never handle like a sports car-LOL-but look forward to a great stance and tighter more confident feel on the road.
Again, thank you for the response. Looking forward to completing this between now and March, so she's ready for her trip overseas.

Now if I can only talk my wife into spending the $$ on some 20" SS rims! :biggrin: She loves the look of them, so maybe it'll happen! :yes:

I personally do not like the raked look at all, fortunately, for some reason, my Voy sits almost perfectly even. If you want to get rid of the rake without lowering too much, just install front ss springs and rear 3 inch tahoe lowering springs. This should take you from your 32.5 in the front to just a shade under 32 in the front and from 34 in the back to about 32.5 in the back. Throw on a DJM rear sway bar with new rear bushings and call it a day.
 

Blacktrails

Member
Dec 8, 2011
34
D-V_Envoy said:
HIDs are Coming! Have the fogs with HIDs and in one night of driving the wife looked over at me and said: "so when you doing the lows & highs?" LOL God I LOVE HER!

Just put new tires on the 17" rims a few months ago--Toyo Proxes StII, 255/60-- love them so far. Once i get some 20" rims I'll improve the footprint even more. :wink:

thx for the response!

A few things about driving here in Germany. You wont see those speeds too much. Once in a while sure but usually traffic is to backed up to do more than 120 KPH. While I think that suspension upgrades are great, if you don't get to it before moving here it wont hurt you to bad so don't feel rushed.

HIDs are my favorite mod by far. I had all 3 lights with HIDs. But, bring your halogen bulbs. Unless your running 4300k HIDs, chanses are you will fail inspection. But don't worry, just put them back in when you pass ;-).

They are real picky about tires. By mid November you are required to have snow tires on. They will do random checks and if you don't have the snow tires, they pull your registration and will park the truck there until you get it towed.

No matter what though you will love Germany. I'm currently living in southern Bravaria and it's beautiful. I was told they have hard winters but we still have no snow, plus I'm from Maine so a hard winter here is an easy winter for me.

Sent from my LG-P500 using Tapatalk
 

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