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Dropzone Suspension

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Dropzone Suspension performance springs and gas strut review.

Overview

While looking for a cost effective alternative to a recently installed, but horribly planned coil-over suspension on my 1999 Honda Civic, I came across a company named Dropzone Suspension out of Miami Florida. They offer performance shock, strut and spring combinations at very reasonable prices. Going by the usual premonition that reasonably priced means a somewhat iffy product I was a little hesitant at first. Especially looking back on the coil-over fiasco which just turned out to be a huge waste of money in a very short amount of time. After some careful consideration and research, I decided to give them a try.

Transaction

After placing my order on-line at cbwheels.com, I was pleased to received my shipment tracking number by e-mail the next day, and very pleased to receive the package within four. The shipment was well packaged and double boxed with no damage to any parts on arrival.

Contents

Ordered were two rear and two front struts along with four performance springs. I was pleased to find the rear springs have a very soft first stage. What this means is that during normal driving the first stage (small coils) stay completely compressed, relying on the second stage to support the weight of the car.

During quick maneuvers however, such as braking while turning or quick position changes in a slalom which would cause the car's body weight to roll off one back tire, these coils expand to take up the full travel of the shock and maintain tire pressure on the ground utilizing all four tires for better traction. This is a common problem with coil-over springs, which can actually become fully unsprung during hard turns, leaving one tire or another with no weight at all on the ground--no weight means no traction.


Assembly and Installation

I rate this task a difficulty of about 7 out of 10 because of the fact that special tools are required to remove the stock springs. It is, however, a fairly simple and straight forward install with a little mechanical knowledge and common sense. For me, removal of the old shocks, struts and springs was easy because I had previously installed a coil-over suspension. The removal of OEM springs can get a bit tricky and dangerous without the proper tools and knowledge. The way the OEM shock and struts are assembled, even with the shock/strut fully extended, there is still over a thousand pounds compressing the spring. If you were to remove the top of the spring in this current state, all of this energy would released at once, taking with it anything in its way. To accomplish this task, the use of a spring compressor is needed. A spring compressor is used to compress the spring and lock it in a compressed state so the top of shock/strut assembly can be removed with the spring staying compressed.

It then is used to uncompress the spring slowly. Although there are various 'less elegant' ways to accomplish the same task, I will not go into them, as I don't want to be responsible for lost body parts. The spring compressor would also be needed if reinstalling the OEM springs by compressing the spring prior to installation on the strut. However, since the performance springs (when fully uncompressed) are just slightly higher then the extended strut, they are easily compressed enough by hand to install the top and get the retaining nut started on the strut shaft. Take note though, that unlike some coil-over springs, these springs still do fill the entire strut when fully extended, leaving no gap which can cause poor handling characteristics.

I chose to start with the rear struts and springs first. After removing the old shock assembly, I disassembled it, taking note of all the parts. Some of them are used to assemble the new strut and spring such as the top seat, center bump stop and some other various hardware. It is a very straight forward assembly, and very good instructions were supplied. I did, however, modify the bump stop which keeps the strut rod from bottoming out within itself. Normally the stop, which goes around the strut rod, is about 4 inches long. I shortened this to two inches to give the strut more room to travel while still protecting it from bottoming out. I did encounter a problem when installing the new strut, however. The nut that holds the bolt in place through the bottom of the strut is welded to the OEM strut and none were supplied with the new. I found though that this bolt is the same size and thread type as the OEM strut top retainer nut. The new struts came with their own retaining nuts so the OEM nut was used to secure the bottom of the new strut in place, averting a trip to the auto parts store.

Removal and installation of the front strut and spring assembly is much like the rear, though with some small mounting differences. I found the removal and installation of the strut easier when the ball joint connecting the upper A-arm to the hub assembly is removed. This allows more room to work when removing the old strut and installing the new. I also modified the front bump stop to a height of about one inch. A few minor problems encountered with the new front strut were the addition of brake line mounting brackets attached to the new strut which go unused on a 99 - 00 Civic. These brackets present a clearance issue with the inner fender when the strut is fully compressed. This was easily remedied by simply bending the metal mounting bracket to a slightly different position.

Total removal and installation time for me was slightly under four hours. With a buddy or a lift you should be able to bang this out in half that time.


Results and Testing

A quick trip down a rough road and an impromptu slalom in an empty parking lot quickly laid to rest any doubts about the quality vs. cost of this suspension package. The car performed flawlessly at all tasks with minimal body roll while still providing a satisfactory ride on rough roads, even at speeds greater then 100mph (closed circuit.... of course! ... right). I would recommend Dropzone Suspension components to anyone looking to improve the look and performance of their car. From ease of installation, to great performance at a great price, these guys got it right.