T.J. UberDork
April 8, 2012 9:46 a.m.

I didn't put learn me in the thread title, but that's what this is.

My WRX is too cushy. It pitches fore and aft under braking and acceleration. The body roll seems a bit absurd after driving my MSM for the past 7 years. I am not going to drop the money on a set of coil overs - just not interested in spending over a grand on this. I am thinking that maybe a set of new springs that will lower the car a bit will do the trick. The issue I have is that there seems to be an awful lot of choices out there and I have no idea what is good and what is junk when it comes to Subie aftermarket parts.

What is the most cost-effective way to drop my ride height by maybe an inch and stiffen my ride?

sachilles Dork
April 8, 2012 10:43 a.m.

Perhaps pick up some take off springs and top hats from an sti if they are compatible. I know the strut is not compatible, but the springs and top hats should work(but confirm on your own). Definitely do the tophats, as the stock ones will really soften up over time. The front is pretty much the same as the previous years. I have H&R springs in my subaru hillclimb car. They are the right combo of being stiffer, but still being soft enough for the rough stuff we encounter.

T.J. UberDork
April 8, 2012 9:06 p.m.

I bet there are some stock STI pieces on Craigslist from someone who upgraded. Good idea.

irish44j SuperDork
April 8, 2012 9:24 p.m.

Depends on what your budget is.

I've spent the last three years researching and testing other peoples' cars, and trying out a few suspension setups and think I've found the perfect one for my '09 (basically same stock setup as yours, with minor differences).

The dirty secret about the STi springs is that they are BARELY stiffer than your stock springs. They just have slightly better valving on the dampers and sit about 1/2" lower (yeah, I've tried them). They don't improve the car's handling or ride at all. The STi has other features that do that (including bigger sways among other things).

In my opinion, the best setup for a reasonable daily driver ride PLUS firm enough is:

  1. Racecomp Yellow springs + Racecomp/Bilstein Cups. They sell this as a combo set. It costs about as much as a cheap coilover, but with much more streetability and reliability. I have 40k miles on my setup so far and drive it daily, autocross it, use it in snow, etc.

Springs are 330# front and rear, and they had Bilstein tune the dampers specifically to these springs, so everything about the setup is perfectly matched. They're compliant enough to make DD duty (even on crappy roads) decent, but firm enough for the track. And they lower about 1" up front and 1/2 to 1" in the rear (there are three circlip settings on the rear shock).

I HIGHLY recommend. Again, not cheap (I got in on an introl deal and was one of the intial testers for RCE), but WELL worth it. I've had half a dozen locals come to drive my car to try them out and at least 4 or 5 of them ended up buying them for their own 08+ WRXs. That's saying alot I think.

  1. Some larger sways, but not too large. I'm running a mid-sized Cobb front sway, and a mid-sized (adjustable) Perrin rear. I can't remember the sizes specifically, but they were the "middle" of the available sizes. There are other options out there but don't go huge. It's not needed.

  2. Perrin SLS. It's an insert for the rear subframe bushings. Easy to install, cheap, and really tightens up the rear end. Almost like adding a bigger sway.

Those are my top three, I have some other stuff done but nothing too extreme. I would say the RCE springs/dampers is the BEST thing I've done to this car, hands-down.

Oh, and since your control arms are a bit different than mine, using the 08-10 racecomp front struts lets you get about 1* more negative camber up front than I can get on my car.

Let me know if you have any other questions, I'll try to answer. There's about a 50-page thread on the RCE setup on NASIOC with alot of discussion if you have a few dozen hours to kill. But the general word is that 90% of the people who have them, love them I'd say.

irish44j SuperDork
April 8, 2012 9:28 p.m.

so basically, for about $1500 or so, your car will handle far better than a stock STi.

a couple other notes:

  • if you put on any lowering springs with your stock dampers, they'll blow in short order.
  • the only other good aftermarket damper option for the 08+ WRX is Konis. They're cheaper than Bilsteins but they're inserts, so you have to hack up your stock struts. Also several people I know think they don't match up well to most of the available aftermarket spring rates out there for street use.
  • Most WRX lowering springs are a lower rate. H&R, EIbach, etc. If you put them on, you won't firm up your body roll much. You'll just sit lower.

I'm not a Subaru Guru, but I think I have one of the best set-up cars for street/autocross mixed use of the 08+ crew of the people who are NOT using coilovers, having driven alot of these cars and having had people drive mine.

So take my advice for what it's worth......just as much as anyone else's!

T.J. UberDork
April 12, 2012 8:50 p.m.

Thanks for the info. I've only ventured over to NASIOC once and read a several page thread where a guy was worried about the proper break in procedure because he wanted his o-rings to seal right. Didn't want to follow the owner's manual, but figured the o-rings would seal better if the just always pushed the car hard from the get go and tried to be in the boost as much as he could. After 28 posts not a single person even commented that piston rings and o-rings are not the same thing. I haven't been back since nor have I even signed up there.

I guess what I am saying is that I value your opinion way more than random posts on the 50 page thread. Although if I decided to drop $1500 I would read that thread first.

The setup you described sounds like what I want. I was hoping to get something cheaper than that, but I understand you get what you pay for. Interesting about the lowering springs with stock dampers. I will cross that off my list as an option.

irish44j SuperDork
April 12, 2012 9:31 p.m.

Yeah, there's alot of chaff in the NASIOC thread. I've posted in there here and there, but mostly during the development phase. I also did a "review thread" of my current setup someplace on NASIOC (if you search under my username you shoudl be able to find it), but it essentially says what I said above.

The upside is that the Bilsteins have lifetime warranty and can be rebuilt if needed. And really you have no other damper options for your car other than stock, bilstein (RCE), or Koni. Konis are somewhat cheaper, so you can go that direction with STi springs for about half the price of my setup, if budget is more of a concern.

I'll also note that a few guys had their RCE Bilsteins re-valved slightly softer to what they better thought matched the rate of the springs, and have been happy with it. For me, I've been pleased with the regular setup. RCE spent a week at the Bilstein testing shop zeroing everything in and did a good job at it. The setup is more valved toward high-speed damping and has a relatively stiff spring, so it is a bit bumpy at low speeds on, for instance, hardpacked snow ruts. But it really has a solid feel to it on highways, even on rough sections.

I know you're not big on NASIOC, but might be worth registering and posting in the local/regional section where you are to ask if anyone who has this setup would give you a test ride/drive. As I've said, I've done it several times for perfect strangers so I'm betting others would as well. People always like to show off things that they think are good :)

HiTempguy SuperDork
April 12, 2012 10:15 p.m.

KW variant 1's, or if you want to go even cheaper, the non-stainless ST version. By far, the best ride/handling bang for the buck no questions asked.

I'm sure you could jimmy-rig something cheaper, but for straight off the shelf no-nonsense, ST's are the way to go.

ProDarwin SuperDork
April 12, 2012 11:01 p.m.

RCE yellows + dampers + bigger front bar = win

On the other hand, by the time you spend the coin to accomplish this, you can buy KW V1s or even piece together a Koni+GC setup with rates and ride-heights of your choosing.

Gimp Dork
April 13, 2012 7:45 a.m.

Mine is built for DS autocross, so consider that.

The front bar helped, but the "floaty" feeling went away with just the addition of Konis. YMMV

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