Prognostications and other thoughts

Friday, December 17, 2004

A forum for ideas

Hopefully, this will become a place for ideas and sharing of those ideas.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Audi anti-roll bar installation

My 76,000 mile Audi is now a new car. Here's the link to the official product: http://www.h-sport.com/cgi-bin/EDCstore.pl?user_action=detail&catalogno=22822 Requirements: For the most part, I love the ride of my A6, and I've gotten older and less reckless so I have begun to favor "commuting smoothness" over crazy fast mountain roads like Highway 84 in nearby La Honda. But it's handling is definitely a step down from the '98 A4 Avant/Sport I used to have. In a nutshell, this car has a lot of body lean which is exacerbated by the ESP. But I don't want to drop my car any lower than it is; I hate bottoming out or scraping driveways; this meant not changing the springs. But swaybars theoretically help reduce body roll while not compromising ride quality.

Specs:
I ordered the H-Sport Anti Roll bars from Tire Rack; $392. Paid another $200 to have them installed.
- The new front bar is 35mm (~1 3/4") and weighs 11 lbs 15 oz. The stock front bar is 32mm (~1 1/4") and weighs 15 lbs.
- The new rear bar is 22mm (~7/8") and weighs 6 lbs 12 oz. The stock rear bar is 16mm (~5/8") and weighs 5 lbs 1 oz and it looks puny.
Hotchkis lists rate increase as: Front: +60% Rear: +98% & +132% (there are two settings; I have mine on the "softer" version) So we've reduced weight by about 3 lbs. Not bad. The hotchkis bars have a nice glossy finish and the mounts feature zerk fittings for easy lubing. Nice touch.

The results:
My first "experiment" was a 270 degree turn. In the past, I would have expected the car to lean then progressively understeer with the ESP kicking in to rub off speed (not very elegant and sometimes very clumsy feeling). This time, the car was much flatter and I thought the rear end would come around; from understeer to oversteer! And the ESP didn't come on at all. This was a bit alarming as I'm used to just mashing the throttle through turns and sort of plowing through. Initially, I was admittedly a bit spooked. Once I got used to it, I suddenly found myself grinning. It's as if there is more power now; because the car doesn't lean as much and start rubbing off speed/power with earlier understeer, it feels much more powerful. You can enter turns and truly accelerate through them; it's startling to exit an off ramp at 80 mph with virtually no drama. Previously, the car would sort of lean/ "get an edge" and if the ESP kicks in, it really took the fun out of it. Now, you just floor it and go. Wow. I am totally impressed. This is a different car now.

Complaints? Doing simple u-turns at big throttle now elicits pretty loud tire screech; something I haven't really heard in a while. Same with agressive cornering. The car is definitely "different" now. I already go through tires every 15,000 miles or so and opted for Bridgestone 750's (330 tread wear) to extend the life a bit. But maybe some stickier summer tires will be in the future...Also, there seems to be a bit of an increase in bump sensitivity; the car has this weird balance of the typically soft, if not springy, ride, now coupled with a bit more chatter over uneven surfaces. Bottom line: if you want to experiment with improving your handling but not adversely affecting ride quality, this is the most cost effective solution in my opinion. Highly recommended!
H-Sport link