Bilstein on '97 LS400

LEXUSA

New Member
Well I finally got an LS, a dark green '97 , Coach Edition, 119,000 miles, dreamy. Brand new Firestone FR710 all season tires are not helping with my experience, a bit noisy and floaty. They will need to go but I also would like to firm up the ride and get rid of some wheel to fender gap.

My experience with Bilstein, when they get the valving right, has been positive, I like the firm controlled yet luxurious damping typical of German cars with adequate travel. Bilstein HD's are the only I have found available and are described as valved to work with OE spring rate. I'd ASSume they could handle a bit more spring rate if I installed lowering springs.

I've found some positive comments here for Bilsteins but not real reviews. Is there a thread I've missed or can anyone comment on their set up?

Does the OE LS400 shock use a bump stop on the shaft or is it unnecessary with so much travel available? Would a bump stop be needed if lowering 1" or so? I'm much more familiar with Mazda Miata suspension which has lots less travel and is easy to get wrong. Bump stops are considered part of the suspension as it will use them frequently depending on spring rate and ride height.
 

Spinnetti

Member
Well I finally got an LS, a dark green '97 , Coach Edition, 119,000 miles, dreamy. Brand new Firestone FR710 all season tires are not helping with my experience, a bit noisy and floaty. They will need to go but I also would like to firm up the ride and get rid of some wheel to fender gap.

My experience with Bilstein, when they get the valving right, has been positive, I like the firm controlled yet luxurious damping typical of German cars with adequate travel. Bilstein HD's are the only I have found available and are described as valved to work with OE spring rate. I'd ASSume they could handle a bit more spring rate if I installed lowering springs.

I've found some positive comments here for Bilsteins but not real reviews. Is there a thread I've missed or can anyone comment on their set up?

Does the OE LS400 shock use a bump stop on the shaft or is it unnecessary with so much travel available? Would a bump stop be needed if lowering 1" or so? I'm much more familiar with Mazda Miata suspension which has lots less travel and is easy to get wrong. Bump stops are considered part of the suspension as it will use them frequently depending on spring rate and ride height.
Keep the stops. Lowering an inch is no problem. Its easy in fact, to put any spring rate you want with a coilover kit and some standard 8" race springs - I like Eibach or Rockwell, but have an uber cheap $30 full kit of adjusters/springs off ebay on my LS - also have the Bilsteins, but they are pretty tired. Suspension on the LS is great, but you can't lower it a ton without screwing things up - I went as low as practical keeping ground clearance and handling and still have quite a gap. My Audi is a ton lower with almost zero gap, but that's just how the Japanese cars are built.
 

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LEXUSA

New Member
Thanks for the info. LS400 race car. Awesome. What does it weigh in race form?

If my alignment is good and I lower the car an inch front and rear, will I need to get it aligned again? Do y'all just go with the OEM alignment specs or are there some preferred numbers to hit?

I also have a '96 Miata and suspension is an intense subject on most Forums, it's very easy to get wrong. So many combinations of different parts to consider, it's information overload.
 

Spinnetti

Member
Thanks for the info. LS400 race car. Awesome. What does it weigh in race form?

If my alignment is good and I lower the car an inch front and rear, will I need to get it aligned again? Do y'all just go with the OEM alignment specs or are there some preferred numbers to hit?

I also have a '96 Miata and suspension is an intense subject on most Forums, it's very easy to get wrong. So many combinations of different parts to consider, it's information overload.
IIRC I'm at 3200 with a full tank of gas.... If you change ride height, you really should have the alignment checked. I just do it at home, but have cross checked my work several times and do just as good as a shop. Alignment depends on what you want. I want to (and do) fling it into the corners like a Miata :) Stock alignment is fine for the street. I used higher relative spring rate in the rear, and more negative camber all around as well as wheel and tire size stagger to get the balance like I want. Since most of the tracks in the US run clockwise, an asymetric setup works with a bit more camber in the left front than any of the other wheels, and a bit more positive caster than stock. I also corner weight it, sometimes with a bit of weight jacking to get a little load off the left front. It really handles fantastic, much to my surprise (I also have a "real" race car - a full out AE86). None of this matters for the street. Cut a coil or two in the stock springs with an abrasive cut off wheel (not torch) and you should be fine with stock alignment (front will drop more than rear most likely for a given amount of spring cut). Cutting the springs does make it slightly stiffer which is a good thing.
 

LEXUSA

New Member
I finally got the Bilsteins and H&R springs on and an alignment. I like the ride height but it's very firm, firmer than I wanted. Maybe Bilstein valved these with more compression damping to compensate for the lower spring perch groove and to give a firmer feel with just OE springs.

I may try the OE springs with the perch clip on the lower groove. This will be lower than stock but not as low as the H&R provide.

If I like the ride better with the OE springs I will probably get sleeves and collars so I can get back to the ride height I want.

How much ride height can I change without needing to re-align?
 

LEXUSA

New Member
Dear Diary,

I let 4psi of pressure out of each tire so I'm at 36psi and the ride is much better. I'll stick with the H&R springs for now.
I have just balanced tires and an alignment but get a vibration at speeds over 60mph. Wheel bearing? It did this before the new wheels, tires, lower ball joints, shocks, springs and alignment too so it's gotta be something I haven't messed with yet, no?

I'll write more tomorrow and just hope Lextreme gets unlocked so all the other members can re populate this now quiet webtown.
 
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