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Discussion Starter #1
Having posted a thread listing 2 of the main faults with my GT 3.2 I decided to put my money where my mouth was, and after some help from the forum and speaking to Chris at Gazzella I decided to go ahead and purchase some uprated dampers and front break pads.

As I don't go on track days I wasn't looking for a suspension setup that would be suited to a smooth race track, but at setup that would be more at home on your average 'A' or 'B' road. I wanted to concentrate on addressing the poor dampers and hopefully get away with keeping the stock springs, so after speaking to Chris at Gazzella I was seriously considering buying the Koni 'Yellow' top adjustable dampers. They didn't lower the car very much but enabled me to play around with harshness of the dampers. Apparently the softest setting was equivalent to the standard GT suspension. But after a quick glance in the boot of the GT it occurred to me that there would be no way of gaining access to the top mounts inside the boot to adjust the rear dampers once installed, meaning that adjustable suspension on the GT was a bit of a waste of time (correct me if I'm wrong). So non-adjustable suspension it had to be and the latest FSD dampers from Koni seemed a worthy alternative after all has been written in this forum and elsewhere on the net about them.

The other area I wanted to improve was the brakes. The Brembos were a big disappointment to me and I knew I had to get better pads to get the best out of them so after considering Pagid blues (which some have said are a bit harsh on the discs) and the Ferodo DS2500's (£152+vat expensive!) I decided to go for a pad that was 30% cheaper, Tarox Rallye+ 401's and as I don't do track days all I was after was some better brake feel and bite.

I went ahead and checked around on the net for the best deals, initially Gazzella seemed competitive but after checking a few other websites, Awesome Gti came up trumps with the cheapest set of Koni FSD's at £424.18 inc vat and delivery which was by far the cheapest I had found. They could also supply the Tarox pads for £95+vat which was also the cheapest I'd found. So £535.80 all in seemed a good deal for new shocks and pads.

Next was finding a garage to get this lot fitted and since I live in Edinburgh I had 3 main options Arnold Clark main dealer, Edward Labinjoh Alfa Specialist and McLennan’s Garage also an Alfa specialists. I had previously asked at Arnold Clark how much they charged to fit front pads on the Brembo calipers and they seemed to think they were a pain in the arse to fit so quoted me a whopping £250 including standard pads!! :cheese: Considering that the pads cost about £76 from a dealer that meant they were charging £174 just to fit them, they also quoted £129 inc vat for fitting each damper a total of £690 to fit 4 dampers and the front pads.:tut: Next stop was Edward Labinjoh who is based in the city centre and they quoted £50+vat for fitting the pads and £380+vat for the dampers a total of £505.25. McLennan’s though, were by far the cheapest and I also got to speak to Stuart who displayed quite a knowledge of working on Alfa Romeo suspension. He suggested getting a full 4 wheel alignment done after fitting the shocks which costs £52+vat. His quote, to fit the front pads, 4 dampers and 4 wheel alignment was £256+vat which came to £300.80p :wow: an absolute bargain in my view, which roughly works out at £50 for each damper and £50 to fit the front pads.

The GT is booked in next week to have the work done so I shall be posting my opinions once I have been out for a good drive...
 

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It'll be very interesting to hear your opinion on the dampers, I will be holding on to my GT for a bit longer it seems, I may look at this route for me, my AD setup is harsh, always has been and I've never been convinced it was 100% right anyway, rear damping rate wasn't enough, now after 44k on them the car has deteriorated, I'd be looking at a more stock setup, see if I can get the GT to handle well without shaking my man-boobs off :lol:
 

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Typically the rear Koni yellow'adjustables are left on soft setting and only the front adjusted to remove the 'bounce' in the suspension when going over speed humps. I would have gone for the new FSD when I got my Koni yellows but they were not available!!!.
 

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Typically the rear Koni yellow'adjustables are left on soft setting and only the front adjusted to remove the 'bounce' in the suspension when going over speed humps. I would have gone for the new FSD when I got my Koni yellows but they were not available!!!.
^^^ ditto. i fitted KONI Sports, but really like them (3rd set in 3 cars). FSD's were only just being released locally when i bought them, but not for the GT at that time, so wasn't going to wait.

no regrets with the Sports; hopefully your FSD's are even better.

also interested to hear your thoughts of the pads once you get them installed.

:)
 

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£174 sterling just for fitting front pads - thats outrageous from Arnold Clark!!! Perhaps worthy of a complaint to Alfa UK??
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Uno problemo

Well 2 problems actually. I was expecting to be collecting my GT with new shocks and front pads on Monday but Stuart McLennan phoned to tell me some bad news. Firstly, one of the Koni dampers (n/s front) had discharged all of its fluid as soon as they had set the car down on the ground. Stuart took down the details of the supplier (Awesome GTi) from me and took it upon himself to arrange for a replacement damper to be sent out. Unfortunately it looks likely to be a 2-3 week for the new front pair (they only send them out in pairs) to arrive. So it looks like I will have to wait a little longer to see if the FSD dampers are any good. This is quite worrying that a brand new Koni damper should fail like that so I will be keeping an eye on them to check for any further leaks.

I would like to take this opportunely to say how superb McLennan’s Garage have been over this. They have had to re-fit the original front dampers so the car isn't off the road until the replacement dampers arrive. Stuart has also offered to fit the new front dampers free of charge when they arrive! This has helped turn a potentially disastrous (and expensive) situation into just an inconvenient one, thanks to what I consider to be the perfect Alfa garage with the kind of customer service you would never even come close to with your average main dealer.

Well that was problem number one.

Problem number two: I had asked McLennan’s Garage to give me a second opinion on a knocking noise coming from the n/s front particularly when maneuvering at low speed while they had the car up on the ramps. Arnold Clark the main (and only) Alfa dealer in Edinburgh had dismissed this as just a very slightly worn lower wishbone ball joint that may be making this noise but wasn't actually a problem and would keep an eye on it as it wasn't deemed bad enough to be replaced. But McLennan's Garage came up with a totally different explanation, and one that anyone with a pair of eyes should have spotted. Where the trackrod end hooks onto the steering arm, the nut underneath that holds everything in place was at the point where a few more turns and it would have dropped off! This meant that the knocking noise was the trackrod end moving around in the steering arm and inevitably would have come free when the nut eventually dropped off, leaving me with front wheels pointing in opposite directions, maybe even causing a serious accident!

I cannot believe that Arnold Clark has missed this obvious and very dangerous problem. This has also caused the inside tread of the tyre to wear almost to the point of being illegal. The GT is going into Arnold Clark for a new trackrod end tomorrow and I will be writing a letter to them to highlight their incompetence.

Fortunately, I can report that the Tarox pads have greatly improved the bite of the brakes and is now a linear action, the harder I press the pedal the quicker the car the car stops, where as before the bite of the standard pads didn't seem to improve that harder I pressed the pedal. I haven't had a chance to put them fully to the test yet, because until the steering is 100% I am taking it easy.

I will keep you informed of Arnold Clarks response to my letter of complaint I will be sending out.
 

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Thats a shame to hear about that on the FSDs, I am about to buy them for our 4 wheel jelly mobile (Stilo) as its needs some and I'd like to see how they work on that car before going the more normal route on my GT as I want more comfort for the daily grind even if it is at the expense of outright performance.

Interesting little report of the FSD here

http://www.tirerack.com/suspension/tests/koni_fsd.jsp

versus stock, koni yellows (on soft) and FSDs.

Having had Koni before on my Coupe when new the rear fully soft was pretty hard and I barely knocked up the fronts either so these FSD could be pretty good.
 

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Of course we don't know what the life span of FSDs are, my old Konis went soft in less than a year but at least I had the option to knock them up a notch (not that I bothered I just sold it :lol: )

Will the FSD still perform well after 20k? The biggest flaw of my AD setup IMO is that its not adjustable so I can't notch up the dampers to cut out some of the bounce, will these have that problem, I suspect not as these are probably based on the right car in the first place.

It has always been my suspicion in the case of my AD kit that as it wasn't perfect from day one, its good but there are some ride quality issues with the rear end, I reckon they probably based the GT kit on the 147 not taking into account the differing weight bias hence spring/damper combo not 100% and why I got the rear end movement from day one, still loads better than a stock Alfa :D.
 

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But McLennan's Garage came up with a totally different explanation, and one that anyone with a pair of eyes should have spotted. Where the trackrod end hooks onto the steering arm, the nut underneath that holds everything in place was at the point where a few more turns and it would have dropped off! This meant that the knocking noise was the trackrod end moving around in the steering arm and inevitably would have come free when the nut eventually dropped off, leaving me with front wheels pointing in opposite directions, maybe even causing a serious accident!
whoa, that sounds dodgy! glad it was picked up. i would have thought there was a retaining 'pin' (split pin or similar) holding such a nut in place. hmmm.

good luck with the FSDs; i hope it's sorted quickly. so much for quality control! but surely that can't be common.

so are FSD's not adjustable like the Sport dampers?

:)
 

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Totally ridicules that Arnold Clark would charge you £174 for fitting the front pads - its a 30min job max :mad: - the Brembos have got to be the easiest brakes in the world to work on - the pads are only held in place by a pair of pins. Not surprising that AC couldn't find the fault with your suspension.

Bit disturbing to here about the FSD's - I have Bilstein dampers and they have been great :D
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the link sandys, very encouraging to hear that FSD's do exactly what it says on the box! Its fair to say that the rear end of my car could well be out performing the front without me even noticing it...hope to get the front FSD's fitted soon so I can tell!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Motty156, I'm getting the replacement front pair fitted on Friday so will update next week
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Whilst waiting for the new front pair of Koni FSDs to arrive I wrote to Arnold Clarke about the trackrod end and n/s front tyre that had worn prematurely due to this fault. I suggested that they, out of a gesture of goodwill, replace the tyre free of charge as well as replacing the track rod end.

Arnold Clarke got in touch and agreed that this was a serious issue and they would replace the n/s front tyre for free, and as I wanted to change from Michelin Pilots to Pirelli Pzero Neros, they also agreed to fit a new o/s front tyre at a discounted rate of £120 (this tyre, 225-40 18inch is about £135 from blackcircles.com fitted so this was a very good deal). Arnold Clarke have responded very well to my complaint and have been very efficient in dealing with the problem. When I went to collect the GT Arnold Clarke only charged me £113 for the tyre which was cost+Vat, they didn’t charge me for fitting either. The difference between the Michelins and the Pirellis is marked. The Neros improve ride comfort and offer better grip, how much of this is down to them being new, I wouldn’t like to say, but I can’t believe the Michelins are a more expensive tyre.

That was early last week. On Friday the GT was back at McLennan's Garage to have the replacement front FSDs, 4 wheel alignment and also braided brake lines fitted. Unfortunately the brake lines supplied direct from Goodridge were for a GTV and it turns out that they will have to make some up especially as they don’t stock them for a GT, McLennan’s have provided Goodridge with the correct pipe lengths, so they even may add them to their stock list.

The half hour drive back from the garage was a pleasant surprise.

I have been driving around for the last 2 weeks with standard dampers on the front and the new Koni FSDs on the rear and I couldn’t really tell any difference, so it shows how isolated from the rear wheels a driver is in normal driving as now the front FSDs have been fitted, the whole car feels different.

Comfort:
The standard dampers made the car feel very unsettled and over normal roads (normal being patch-worked with repairs and rippled surfaces) would have the car wobbling and bobbing around, and any potholes would send massive crashes through the chassis leaving me slightly stunned and also concerned as to whether I had just lost a wheel!

With the FSDs fitted, the car feels more rigid, well planted and stays level on braking and accelerating, what you’d expect from uprated dampers. Comfort wise the FSDs soak up road imperfections better, pot holes and broken tarmac are noticeable but are not felt with the same crash through the chassis. The car still feels slightly unsettled on ripply, uneven tarmac, but overall ride quality is smoother.

Handling:
I took the GT out to one of my favourite ‘A’ roads on Sunday afternoon, the A70 from Edinburgh was the original road that showed up the limitations of the GT’s setup. Stability on this type of road with bumps and uneven/inconsistent camber, sharp crests on fast straights is very very good. Before I’d have been backing off the accelerator after going over a crest at speed as the car would feel flouty and unstable, but the FSDs now stop the GT’s mass from creating a weightless moment before the car sits back down on the suspension causing instability which really hammered my confidence. The FSDs keep the car hunkered down at all times and I can’t remember any nervous moments at all. Throw the car into a tight bend and roll has almost disappeared, which means corner grip is better (this will also be down to the new Neros) and steering feel and turn in are improved as well.

The 4 wheel alignment carried out at McLennan’s showed that 5 out of the 6 settings (Total Toe, Toe L+R, Camber L+R, Cross Camber) for the front wheels (5 out of 7 for the rear) were outside of the tolerances. Arnold Clarke had fitted the new track rod end last Monday and said they had really struggled getting the tracking etc right. It seems like they must have just given up as the n/s ‘Toe’ setting was -5.3 and the tolerance is between -0.6 and -1.8. McLennan’s corrected this to -1.1 which is midway between the tolerances and how it should have been from Arnold Clarke. Now the front and rear wheels are correctly aligned, the steering feels 100% improved, like a brand new car, tighter and more direct.

So all is good and I would definitely recommend fitting Koni FSDs. 4 wheel alignment is a must and upgrading the front pads (brake lines will have to wait) to anyone that owns a GT 3.2. It is now the car I had hoped for when I first purchased it back in October, albeit with a couple a squeaks and rattles here and there, I can put up with them for now. But don’t forget that the new front tyres, new n/s track rod end and 4 wheel alignment have undoubtedly improved things as well, so unfortunately this hasn’t turned out to be a straight forward comparison with old and new dampers after all.

One thing I have noticed is that the GT is now about ½” higher at the front (it now clears speed bumps with ease!!). I was hoping that it would settle over the weekend, but it hasn’t, so I will be asking McLennan’s to take a look at it when it goes back to have the brake lines fitted. I’m hoping there is something they can adjust, otherwise it looks like Koni may have got some dimensions wrong!!
 
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