First post of 2018! We’re jumping straight into action this year with the Echo and MR2. I’ve decided this year I will be committing the Echo to the 2018 CAMS Interclub Supersprint Championship and be fixing the MR2 by June and do a shakedown before MR2 Australia Trackday Challenge & H-Nationals, Round 2 at Winton sometime around September and enter the MR2 in the ‘special’ class 😉

With 1st round coming so soon and I’m getting a bit more serious with racing and John Moe needs a bit more of a serious upgrade. Starting with the suspension specifically, ‘ springs‘. Felt like spring rate on the current setup is no longer desired, too soft & car felt very “crashy” and also got sick of the stancenation height as the underbrace kept scraping everything so it was time to raise the car back to sensible heights

So begins hours of countless research of what brand springs, types of springs, how to choose spring rates, etc. I ultimately chose Swift Springs because of the following as listed (same as on their site):

  1. The most consistent spring rate throughout the stroke
  2. The largest amount of stroke
  3. The highest durability against loss of spring height
  4. The lightest in weight

I’ve spent hours on forums reading reviews and find that Swift Springs are the best ones. The biggest selling factor was it was the most consistent one throughout its stroke and has the most travel as shown on a couple of spring dynos compared to other springs (Source) and they are comfortable springs even at higher rates compared to the original springs that it’s replaced (Google it), perfect for the daily track hack.

Next was choosing the spring, I initially had no idea how to find the right sized spring until I stumbled into one of the BC Racing websites in how to read/interpret their springs. (They have too many, please consolidate your US websites BC Racing!)

This is how to read the markings on their springs. (S-Barrel & Linear Springs)

SbarSprings640

62– Refers to the I.D. of the spring on both sides
180 Refers to the static length of the spring in mm
08 refers to the spring rate in Kgf/mm

Swift Springs make all types of ID (Internal Diameter) sizes and ID65 (65mm) can be used instead. (The US guys can get ID62 Swift Spring specifically made due BC Racing partnership)

I shopped around on Yahoo Japan to find some 2nd hand springs and shopping for other things. It took a couple weeks to find the correct spring with the desired height and spring rate.

Old crummy springs

Fast forward a week after purchasing everything I needed through Jauce.com and I’m with Steven from Yez Racing at his place to do the spring swap and rear bushing install.

Yay box of goodies from Japan

Before we did the spring install we spent hours trying to beat out the outer casing of the rear bush to use a gear puller to push out the rear bush as shown in the Energy Suspension instructions. We gave up after 3 hours and smashing our fingers numerous times with a sledgehammer & claw hammer. I’ll re-visit this later with an air hammer.

The items in the box that were used were:

Swift Spring Thrustsheets – Part Number: 544202
Swift Spring Coilover spring set, F:8kg & R:7kg

The rest of the stuff in the box will be revealed later 😉

The front springs were 8kg springs (228.0mm/9 inch) and the rear springs were 7kg (178.0mm/7 inch).

(For anyone with Yaris/Vitz who would like to change their rear springs with adjustable height shocks & adjustable spring perch I would recommend their 152.0mm/6inch spring instead, I’ve maxed out on the lowest setting for the spring perch & shock and cannot go any lower without removing the perch which I don’t because I want to pre-load the spring)

Swapping springs is easy as shown in this helpful BC Racing video.

Swapping springs when the coilover out is easy but doing with the coilover installed is a nightmare on an Echo because it’s exactly the same process as installing coilovers as it requires you to almost dismantle the whole car.

Jacked up

The rear end is a very simple process of undoing the rear nuts holding the shocks and dropping the axle and letting the springs fall out, swap rubber mounts onto the new spring and re-placing onto the spring perch. I also screwed the spring seat and spring lock collars back in which was taken out before.

New spring in

Front-end requires removing the wipers, plastic shield, wiper motor, the metal bracket which holds the wiper motor to access the top strut nuts.

Accessible strut tops
“Toyota Echo/Vitz the official car where the manufacturer doesn’t want you to modify” – Mr Regular from RCR

If you got double camber bolts in the strut now is the time to use a marker to mark them so you can re-align them back to where they were initially prior to taking them out.

Photo Credit: BC Racing NA – Exploded Coilover diagram

Next, loosen the lower spring seat and spring lock ring with your C-spanners to relieve the pre-load of the spring. Otherwise if you undo the topnut the spring & tophat/camber plate will probably fly with such force it would probably kill you.

Thanks Steven for saving my ass on the 2nd coilover as I was tired and bothered re-installing the 1st coilover and repositioning the camber bolt I almost undid one with an impact gun without relieving the spring pre-load on the 2nd coilover.

Coilover more like just Over. I’ll go sit in a corner for that joke.

Now we can install the thrust sheets, this is to stop the spring from binding and making clunking noises when it rotates as it compresses from load, vibrations and when you steer. Basically enables the spring to spin freely on the plastic spring seats and enable a smoother operating spring. (For everyone else running coilovers on all 4 corners you’ll need 2 sets of the thrust sheets kits as each kit is for 2 springs)

Nylon sheet first then metal sheet on top of it

Then install the spring onto the coilover and if you’ve done it right it should look like this.

Photo Credit: Swift Springs Japan – Thrust Sheet Install diagram

Transfer the rubber coil isolators from the old spring to the new one. This will reduce friction from the spring compressing and dampen some noise.

Installed and setting spring pre-load with spring isolator installed as shown

Pre-loading the spring is simply done tightening the collars by hand until you cannot tighten it by hand anymore then pull out the C-spanners and turn spring seat collar about 3mm-5mm up from the lower spring locking collar. (The C-spanner will fit in between the gap). Then lock the lower spring locking collar against the spring seat collar and you’re done! (Refer to the video above or this https://youtu.be/HlqOA35NmAw)

Re-install the wiper, drop the car, measure the car’s height and make adjustments as needed to the desired height in this instance raise the car by 15mm and you should be done.

Back to monster truck/rally height

Do a light test drive first to make sure everything is in good order then go ham to test it again if you didn’t die on the light test drive to make sure it’s all good then go get a wheel alignment (highly recommended).

Initial impressions, it’s actually more comfortable surprisingly even with the 2kg spring rate increase it’s not crashy anymore and the car doesn’t sound like it’s going to break when hitting bumps and speed humps. Driving down to Canberra (250kms) was a more pleasant experience.

I’ll give an update on the springs after more driving & tracking for them to “settle”. Stay tuned for more!

Springing Back to Action – Imgur Gallery

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