Cusco Lower Tie Bar Install & Review
For the install of the Cusco bar you're going to need:
- some way to lift your car up
- a screwdriver (to remove the snaps holding the plastics in)
- 19mm (3/4" will also fit) socket
- socket wrench with a long handle (or a bar to put over the handle to extend it- you'll see why later)
- anything else you might need to remove a rim (optional, read on to find out why!)
- elbow grease
Some things that might also help are:
- jack stands (STRONGLY recommended! Tighter steering isn't worth risking your head)
- wheel ramps
- lock-tite (or any kind of thread-lock material)
- did I mention elbow grease?
First step is to jack the car up as high as you can. The higher you can jack the car up, the easier it will be to work under the car.
Pull off the plastic cover under the passenger side of the car, and pull away all the plastic around the lower suspension areas. The bolts that you'll be working on will be plainly visible if you pulled the right pieces away. The bigger plastic peices don't need to be completely removed, but it might help lower frustration later. I didn't, and I did fine.
So now your car is up, and the plastic pieces underneath are gone. We're going to pull the bolts out now (your wheels NEED to be off the ground, e.g. no upward pressure on the lower arms!). You'll soon notice that the bolts are in there tight. Break out the elbow grease, and try as hard as you can. I found the drivers side on mine could go fairly well (I used a two foot breaker bar to loosen it so I had plenty of leverage). The passenger side was a bit trickier since I didn't have a short socket that would fit on my breaker bar (all I had was my puny socket wrench, and I was doing pull-ups under the car trying to loosen the bolt with that). The socket I was using was a thin-wall Gorilla 3/4 socket for lug nuts, which is quite long. If you'll notice, there's engine a couple inches back from the bolt.
To get at this bolt I took off the passenger rim and attached my socket wrench to the bolt, then slid the bar to my jack over the socket (i now have over 4 feet of leverage, the bolt couldn't resist!). You could probably do this with the drivers side also, although I haven't tried it.
The Cusco bar isn't symmetric: the low point starts closer to the driver side than the passenger side. Under the car, you'll notice this fits nicely around the transmission (I'm fairly sure it's the transmission). Line up the bar and push the bolts through (you may have to push up on the lower arms for the holes to line up - it shouldn't be that difficult). Although I didn't do this, I'm tempted to go back and put some lock-tite on the thread so they don't loosen up over time. If you don't, keep an eye on it (you're under there for oil changes anyway), I haven't heard about anyone's bolts loosening, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Screw the bolts on all the way and you're almost done.
Actually, you can be completely done if you want. Some people say that if there isn't pressure on the lower arms the bar will settle incorrectly and damage something-or-other. I decided to follow the advice of those people (better safe than sorry) and drive my car up a ramp and then tighten the bolts under pressure.
If you don't want to listen to the rumors, go ahead and tighten them up as far as you can.
Now replace the plastics. You'll notice a spot where it looks like if you cut just right, the bar would fit nicely under the plastics. Cut a couple inches of material out (cut too little at first, then remove more if necessary). I cut with most of the fasteners for the plastic already attached, this allowed me to get a good fit and placement for the cuts.
Drop the car, clean up your tools, put beer in the fridge (should already be there!), and test it out. Post-install
I noticed minor changes in the handling of the car. The centering force of the steering wheel seems stronger, giving the feel of tighter steering. I haven't had the chance to test any of my suspension parts out at any auto-crosses, so I don't have any idea how it changed handling. You'll definitely feel the difference in the steering wheel in turns and over bumps though. And for under $100, it's a great excuse to get to know your car better. If you see any corrections or have any suggestions drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org