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Honda Civic Skunk2 Suspension Upgrade

 

Project Honda Civic EJ: Skunk2 Suspension Upgrades Part 2 

By Annie Sam

Photos by Joe Lu

While Chuck Johnson goes to town on the internals of Project EJ Honda Civic, let's bring our attention back to the suspension modifications that we had lined up from Skunk2. You can find the first part of this insallment here where we talked about the Skunk2 Pro-C coilovers. For the weekend warrior, the following easy to install bolt on parts are a must-have. After all, bang for the buck, these upgrades not only improve suspension handling, they can potentially save you money by reducing abnormal tire wear depending on how you set the car up.

Let's start with the front of the car and move our way towards the rear. So why would someone even need a camber kit? Camber kits help correct the camber angle of the wheel when you lower your car.

 


Honda Civic Suspension Diagram
In this diagram you can see that when your car is lowered, the knuckle is forced upwards, due to the shorter upper contol arm moving through a tighter arc than the lower arm, pulling the wheel inwards at the top. This is what gives you a lot of negative camber. Although some negative camber is good for handling as it helps keep the tires contact patch flat on the road under hard cornering, too much of it causes excess and uneven tire wear.

 

This is what hellaflush guys call hella cool, although in most ricer cases, it is hella unfunctional. With a front camber kit, the upper control arms allow for adjustment at the top of the knuckle, pushing it back out and reducing negative camber to a more functional angle. Theoretically, you could set your camber to 0 degrees for maximum tire wear, but that wouldn't be any fun for handling now, would it?

Originally I had installed an Ingalls adjustable front upper control arm to adjust my camber, and after hundreds of thousands of miles - the bushings and ball joints were shot. 

Honda Civic Skunk2 Suspension Upgrade
Out with the old... in with the new!  Note the heavily worn rubber bushings on the old camber arms after over 100,000 miles of hard use.

Although replacing my front camber kit with a new set of Ingalls arms was an option, after some research, we opted for the Skunk2 camber kit which has a better design. The Ingalls design is pretty standard when it comes to aftermarket camber kits for the Civic and don't get me wrong, they get the job done. 

Honda Civic Skunk2 Suspension Upgrade

The Skunk 2 arms are a well made part with a lot of adjustment.  Look how big the adjusment window is in this picture!  The arms are gusseted and have deep section stampings for strength.

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Comments
thewheelman
thewheelmanlink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 5:31 AM
The material for the ball joint mount on the Skunk2 upper control arms looks dangerously thin. I like the design of the Ingalls arms better - the PITA factor could be easily corrected with a little fabrication.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 7:10 AM
The Skunk arms are boxed at the top and the metal is actually thicker. They are used on many race cars, a lot of HC cars use them as well as Grand Am and WC cars.

So more adjustment range, stronger ball joint with more articulation, better bushings and you would still choose a worse arm that you have to fab on? I am not sure that the adjustment issue is so easily solved either.
Alkaline707
Alkaline707link
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 9:09 AM
How much negative camber do you plan on running since this is going to be a daily driven car? Or are you going to run different amounts of camber at the track and for street use?
Blue8g
Blue8glink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 9:44 AM
Skunk2 bushings are known to perish, very, very quickly.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 10:39 AM
Track setting are going to be more negative than street settings.

What is very very quickly in quantitative terms? In any case they are serviceable and are a new improved design. I find it hard to believe that urethane constrained in one degree of freedom movement is going to wear a lot faster than rubber in shear.

Urethane can wear faster in high misalignment multi directional movement than rubber but this is not the case.

http://cms.skunk2.com/id/468/A-Better-LCA-Bushing/
OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 10:57 AM
I had essentially these exact same camber arms on my old Honda (had to adapt CRX suspension parts for a 2nd gen Integra, back then no one made anything for the DA). I put 40k miles on the retrofitted setup. Most of those miles were driven really hard. I was young. They lasted through me learning how to drive at the limit. Plenty of offs, plenty of jarring shitty surfaces too. The friend that owns that car now, within the last week or so, JUST replaced the CRX specific modified Sk2 arms with DA specific ones they just released. He ran them for another 20k miles before replacement so that's 60k total miles of hard use and not one failure or issue and they weren't even designed to go into the car they were on.

This setup is going to rock hardcore. This project makes me miss my old Honda.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 1:36 PM
I just checked on this matter with Skunk 2 and they acknowledge that the old bushings had problems but the new design bushings have had only had 1-2 warranty claims in the past 2 years since they were introduced.
HAR
HARlink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 5:53 PM
We are using Skunk 2 adjustable upper control arms on our MPTCC Acura TSX and they are working very well for us. bushings are holding up fine.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 6:31 PM
I think the design on those lower trailing arms seem a bit overkill BUT I love overkill, especially with the weight savings on these. Good stuff Annie, I'm looking forward to the suspension finale to see how it all comes together!
JDMized
JDMizedlink
Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:12 AM
Those UCA are beefy. I know because I've been running those on my car now. They have about 40,000 miles on them and the bushings are still in good condition. Good stuff.
OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:32 PM
Are those items listed at the end the complete list of the final parts?
Do you not think you would gain anything by running "traction bars" (radius arm and front subframe replacement)? Like these: http://www.full-race.com/store/traction-bars/

I know it's mainly for wheelhop in drag racing, but the space it makes up front for access from underneath is worth double it's weight (since it weighs so much less than the subframe and arms its replacing, I gotta add some extra worth on top right? lol).
I don't know if this is a problem on your model Honda, but these bars also allowed me drop the motor in with the custom one piece header already bolted to it. (which you cannot even run an equal length, one piece header at all in a DA with a factory front subframe, 4-1 OEM ITR headers wont even fit.)
They also reduce another squishy, most likely cracking rubber part from the front end of the car and as you can see by Full-Race's offerings, spherical bearings.
Caster adjustability is added as well.
I got mine when they were about 300 dollars and even less beefy than the current offerings are today.
I hope my excitement isn't showing through too much. :)
circuitsports
circuitsportslink
Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:56 PM
Made it taiwan for race use only - blah blah blah. This whole article is fraught with lies - save you money ? no I have to spend money - improve handling ? how, they can't possibly. At least with the SPC joints they are offset which offers roll center correction and fender clearance for bigger wheels.
circuitsports
circuitsportslink
Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:59 PM
And I have been burned by these pieces of crap before when I had one wheel go 4.5 degrees of negative camber and pull out an axle on my civic around the Cali infield. The only way to ensure that doeskin happen is to adjust them and weld them. I've met plenty of other people that have had issues with them as well even a few guys bend the crappy steel they use.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, October 29, 2011 12:00 AM
OMG- If done correctly those bars could help. Done badly they could induce bumpsteer and add anti in the wrong direction. It's hard to tell from pictures. Geoff at Full Race is a smart guys and a good ME and I don't think he would make something bad.

Someone else might so beware.
econobox
econoboxlink
Saturday, October 29, 2011 12:58 AM
@OMG
You failed to hide your excitement ;-)
That is interesting, traction bars for road racing. Sadly I have no experiences with traction bars so I won't comment.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:20 AM
Circuitsports- Does it say race use only in the text of this story or even imply that? Adjustable arms not possibly improve handling? What suspension setup rock do you hide under? Being able to set your camber is CRITICAL in getting a car to stick in the turns.

Is made in Taiwan bad? Taiwan makes plenty of good things. A lot of OEM's make their parts there in many high end industries.

I know of plenty of real race cars in real professional racing not to mention scores in club racing such as NASA HC that use these exact same upper control arms without a single issue.

Looking at the SPC upper arm, it has a plus, adjustable caster. The range of camber adjustment is slightly less and the adjustment engagement in each degree of freedom looks to be less so it is probably at least equally as prone to slip as the Skunk 2 part.

Sure the ball joint is thicker and mounted higher with perhaps a longer shank, in the exact wrong direction for roll center correction in this car.

It lowers the roll center which is already too low in a lowered Civic due to the shortness of the upper link and moves the lateral instant center closer in which is also bad. This increases the roll couple and induces a jacking moment around the IC under lateral load, all bad. The arm also has less clearance in the shock tower.

Note this is not a problem with the SPC arm unless the car is lowered a lot, too much. The SPC part seems to be a decent piece but it is not a totally superior part.

The design of the SPC part doesn't seem particularly stronger than the Skunk2 part either and it has soft rubber bushings.

I also don't see how increasing your negative camber can cause your axle to pull out. It is more likely to push the axle in the opposite direction.

Before you call us liars you should at least have an understanding of what you are talking about.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:25 AM
Econobox- The location of the arms control the amount of anti dive or anti lift in the system. In a FWD car in my opinion it would be best if they are located in plane with the ground. That way the torque reaction of the wheels would not generate much lift or jacking effect under braking or throttle. To much Anti in the geometry can also induce wheel hop, the very thing these bars are trying to prevent.

It is also very important that they are in geometric alignment with the LCA and tie rod so they don't induce bumpsteer.

It is good that they can be used to ad more caster in the system

So these can greatly help or greatly hurt how the car handles, it is very important that they are designed correctly.
econobox
econoboxlink
Monday, October 31, 2011 9:44 AM
That is a good explanation for it.

I'm curious if anyone, particularly Honda challenge cars run these bars for those possible improvements with noticeable success.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 4:04 PM
I personally don't know of any.
Sean Klingelhoefer
Sean Klingelhoeferlink
Sunday, November 13, 2011 9:45 PM
"In this diagram you can see that when your car is lowered, the knuckle is forced upwards, due to the shorter upper contol arm moving through a tighter arc than the lower arm, pulling the wheel inwards at the top."

Technically this isn't true. The knuckle isn't being forced upward - it's mechanically attached to the hub therefore it's staying in exactly the same place, but rather the body of the car is moving downward, taking the inner mounting points of the UCA down with it. This obviously creates a more extreme upward angle on the UCA and pulls the top of the knuckle in-board adding negative camber. But the knuckle isn't being forced upward. I just found it funny that you have the brake rotor in green which is "not moving" then the knuckle is in red "moving upward" when in reality they are one solid component and should both be green.
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