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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK- as i have seen the light and have decided to keep my 9000 2.3T auto for another couple of years- i am going to do some preventative/extraordinary servicing and replacements to make the car last longer etc

Can anyone recommend a brand or type of Dampers other than the official Saab units- ( purely cos i guess they will be more expensive?) as the car's rear end does get a bit floaty at high speeds. ( it does get used for some serious load carrying) I am planning to do all four corners and get the tracking done all round.

The Fox
 

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Everyone here raves about Koni's. I've been in one car (Gassy's) that had Koni's fitted and I have to say that ride and roadholding were superb.

Personally, I am considering either Koni's or Bilsteins with matched springs. Since I can't fit them myself it will be down to the options provided by the garage I chose, and PRICE is a driving factor for me!
 

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I love the Konis. The good thing is that they are adjustable. Not that you want to toy with them all the time, but if you don't like the initial settings, you're not stuck with the choice of either throwing them away or living with it.

I have had the Konis set up on my Aero for a very comfortable ride with very good control. I don't know how much this was down to the Abbott springs, but both the ride and the handling were better than the standard Aero suspension.

They can cover a range from far too soft to tooth-rattling, so should suit everyone. I now have them set very stiff for track driving and the car handles as if it's on rails.
 

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TheFox,

a couple of points:

Suspension is the most important part of any car. It is the only part of the car that you use every minute that you drive, unlike power upgrades for example which you probably use for no more than a few minutes per drive, if that. The point I am trying to make is that if you get the suspension wrong, you will regret it on a daily basis.

If you look at the mathematics of suspension design (it's pretty much common sense too), it is apparent that the spring constant and the damping constant need to be matched (i.e. strong springs need heavy damping). You should therefore be rather wary of changing one without the other, unless the original setup is mismatched, which Saab's isn't (the standard units are, I believe, high pressure Sachs, and last for intergalactic mileages. I still have mine, if anyone is in dire need).

Adjustable dampers: as far as I know, most adjustable dampers available for cars are adjustable in bump (compression) damping only, the rebound (extension) damping is set in the design. This is unlike motorcycles, which, being much more sensitive (and having dire consequences), are often provided with both adjustable bump and rebound damping. The important point here is that Bilstein (as an example) tend to make stiffer springs and dampers than Koni/Sachs etc. Whilst you might argue that the soft end of the adjustment scale on a Bilstein is within the adjustment scale of a Koni, this is only the bump damping. The rebound damping will ALWAYS be greater, and you'll have to live with it.

The standard Saab suspension, in my opinion, suffers from too much body roll, and strange squidginess due to the soft wishbone bushes (as discussed ad nauseam in these pages). In order to reduce body roll, the primary change is to increase the spring constant (stiffness). If you shorten the springs as well, you will lower the centre of mass, which will help further. Then you need to change the damping to match the springs. One without the other is no good.

Manufacturers differences: well once again, in my opinion, manufacturers designs are biased to their home markets. Germany tends to have smooth roads with constant radius bends, Bilstein designs accordingly, i.e. strong springs and correspondingly "stiff" dampers. In the UK, this leads to a bone jarring ride, loss of tooth fillings/false teeth etc etc. Bilstein's suspensions have been known to lead to cracked VW Golf windscreens as the body flexes due to the stiffness and limited travel of the suspension.

Economics: changing the dampers is quite a bit of work. If you get front strut inserts, you need to accurately cut the tops off the existing struts. At the rear the damper/anti roll bar lower bolt may well be seized. So if you are going to do or pay for this work, not changing the springs at the same time is a bit short sighted, as well as the compromising the suspension performance.

Choosing a supplier: as mentioned above, the overiding aim here is not necessarily to get absolutely the best choice, but being certain that what you get is a big improvement, rather than a mistake. I chose Abbott springs with Koni dampers because I was pretty sure that it would be a big improvement. The fact that Abbott have their own springs made further suggested that they should be better than springs available from the usual sources. That I was paying someone else to do the work (rare for me, caused by pressure in the day job) was further reason why a mistake had to be avoided. As the rear dampers can only be adjusted off the car, Abbott's recommendation of damper settings was also valuable, as subsequent changes would cost time or money. I also got their anti roll bar bushes.

My experience so far: body roll is much reduced, steering response much improved. I would not want to go much lower as I occassionally catch the front as it is, and there is not that much clearance above the wheels (Note: you can't use snow chains anymore!!!) I would not want to go much stiffer as it's my every day car - I have other things for track day fun. All in all, a pretty good compromise with no real weak points.

This is not supposed to sound like an Abbott advert (you could easily find Konis elsewhere!!), and other combinations might be just as good for other people, but if you follow what some people have done successfully, you won't go far wrong.

P.S. Make sure you check the tracking at installation, and after a couple of thousand miles when everything has settled down. I forgot the latter, and my tyres are unhappy.
 

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Good advice, Mark.

I know Koni made a big thing about the fact that their dampers are adjustable for both bump and rebound, although I can't find a reference at the moment. I know it to be true, though, from experience of adjusting the rear Konis on my Aero, which as you rightly point out, need to be adjusted off the car.

I must agree that I had great confidence in the Abbott solution, given that the springs were designed with the Koni dampers in mind. I could have saved some money by buying the Konis elsewhere, but I'd still have had a combination that was designed to work together.

I also liked being able to ask Abbott for recommended settings. However, I did find that after 10K miles or so the suspension felt rather underdamped and choppy, and turning the Konis up another 1/2 turn smoothed everything out nicely.

Your comment about an "Abbott advert" - well, why not? You can buy springs anywhere, and dampers too, but with Abbott you're buying Saab tuning expertise. You know the spring and damper combination has been extensively tested on your model. If you want advice in setting them up, Abbott has sound advice based on a lot of experience.

When you mentioned body roll, I was convinced you were going to recommend stiffening the anti-roll bars. That seems to be the standard answer on the US boards. They don't seem to want to hear that just because it reduces body roll, a stiff anti-roll bar doesn't necessarily improve handling. It might make you and your passengers feel slightly safer, but lifting a wheel off the road to level the car isn't a perfect solution to my mind.
 

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BillJ,

If you are right about "double adjustable" Konis, and I assume you are, I'm even more glad that I bought them.

As for stiffening anti roll bars - I did enough three wheeled cornering in Mark 1 Golfs (should that be Golves??)!

What settings would you have your Konis on if you used it only for daily road use?
 

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Originally posted by Mark B:
[qb]What settings would you have your Konis on if you used it only for daily road use? [/qb][/b]
I found one full turn was nice. It felt well-damped but not harsh. At two turns (I think), it feels rock-hard on the road, especially after driving my CSE for a few days.
 

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Mark B,

I agree entirely about making sure that springs and dampers are matched but FWIW and of interest to others I can report that on my last CS I changed the standard springs for lowered PI ones whilst retaining the standard shocks, with very positive results- but I had also had my front shocks replaced as they were weeping and the rear ones checked.

Subsequently, because the suspension tended to bottom out at the rear (I often carried enough equipment to run at pretty near max kerbweight
) I changed back to standard springs at the rear without any problems (except for having my headlights re-aligned of course!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Its never easy is it
Looking at the prices on the AR site- and i think 4x springs and dampers would be over £1k.

Anyone suggest a cheaper "fix" ? Would it be worth just replacing the rear components ?
 

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Anyone any recent experience of Spax dampers? They were very common a few years ago and they seem to be still around. When I used them on my uprated Morris Minor they were convenient in that the adjustment screw was turned by a screwdriver while on the car. Seems more convenient than Koni's if you're going on and off track.
 
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