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© Peter Ogden, 2007

Strut Brace Installation

Front strut brace After 13 years, the stock suspension is getting rather tired, though it must be said, even in its current form, the 180SX still handles very well (better than many new cars). As I am contemplating competing in some motorkhana's, I would like to make some improvements to the suspension, like replacing dampers, springs and sway bars, but at between $1,000 to $2,000 to do it right, it will have to wait until a little (errr, much) later.

At the cheaper end of the scale, strut braces are supposed to provide some improvement to the handling of a car. The theory is that the brace stops the suspension mount points from moving relative to each other, thus limiting camber changes under load. I must admit to initially being a little sceptical regarding this. From my admittedly meager knowledge of structural engineering (I only completed the first year of an engineering degree), I doubted that adding a beam across the car at the towers would have much effect, especially as the brackets are not rigidly attached to the bar. Anyway, a deal came up on a pair of strut braces that was too good to pass up and besides, I think they look rather cool!

Strut bracket Installation is rather straight forward. First remove the nuts from the top of the strut, then place the bracket over the studs, re-install the nuts and tighten. Do the same with the other side, then adjust the bolts in the bar to the length required, tighten the lock nuts and install the bar. There should not be any tension or compression on the bar at rest. The purpose of a strut brace is to only hold the strut towers where they are, not pull them in or push them out.

Rear strut brace The rear brace is installed in the exact same way, though, being inside the car, you will need to remove two dress covers off the rear strut towers to access them. Removal and re-installation of the nuts is a little fiddly without removing the entire trim, but can be done with a little patience.

Taking the car for a run afterward, I was quite surprised that there is an immediately obvious difference (even if only minor). The car has much more solid feel to it. Also, a few rattles and groans that the car had previously were now no longer evident (bonus!). All in all, a very satisfying result for something that I really didn't expect to make much difference beyond good looks.