Tech Check Dodge Neon R/T Owners: Your Suspension Recommendations
By Brian Ferrari
Jul 19, 2004, 17:13
For those of you out there with R/T Neons, this article is intended to provide you with a simple and effective mod list of suspension components to make your R/T out handle a 911.
WHEELS AND TIRES
The first thing you should always do is move to a better wheel/tire package. Nothing will enhance handling more than a good set of tires and lightweight rims, so spend the money here first. For the Neon, recommendations usually center around a 15" rim, but I doubt this car will be a full time racer and it would be nice to have something a little bigger than 15". Therefore I recommend 16 x 7" rims for the car (17's are just too heavy for this small car and underpowered motor IMO), with the optimal tire size being 205/45's in whichever brand you prefer for your needs. I run Yokohama A520's in 225/45 R16 size on my stock Prelude SH rims, the price was right and the performance is very good for this level of tire. Wet traction is equal to stock, while dry traction is MUCH improved (and this tire does come in your size).
SPRINGS AND SHOCKS
Your '98 R/T suspension is actually a pretty good setup for the average driver, combining some decently stiff springs with stiffer than standard shocks and sway bars front and rear. The R/T also had taller front bump stops for a further increase in spring rate over the standard setup under high amounts of suspension compression. Your spring rates and sway bar sizes are as follows...
Front Spring: 150 lbs/in Rear Spring: 120 lbs/in Front Sway Bar: 22 mm Rear Sway Bar: 16 mm
Now there are a ton of different options for aftermarket setups, but I know how difficult it can be to pick the right one. Honestly, unless you are planning to see some real racing use with this car, I just recommend a set of Eibach Pro Kit springs and Koni Yellow shocks. This setup is going to run you about $600-800 dollars (not sure of exact pricing for your model), which is pretty reasonable when you get right down to it. And nothing on the market will work better than the Koni adjustable struts (adjustable in rebound only, but well setup in compression stiffness already), for the money they are hard to beat for performance, reliability and adjustable ride quality. The part number for Eibach Pro Kit springs for you car is #2815.140 (sorry, couldn't find the spring rates for the Eibach setup). The part numbers for the Koni Yellows are as follows... Front: 8741-1327 SP2 Rear: 8741-1328 SP2
Additionally, you may want to decrease the stock levels of body roll with stiffer anti-sway bars. One thing to note though is that although sway bars do limit body roll, they do not automatically mean a better handling car (the best two things they can do is limit understeer and increase driver confidence, but understeer isn't too bad a problem on the Neon R/T). There is a new thread explaining sway bars ( http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbu...p?threadid=2008 ), make sure to read that if you want to understand what I mean here. At any rate, Eibach also has a nice sway bar set for the car that really kills body roll and decreases understeer to the point the car should be dead neutral (NOTE: this means you need to know how to drive the car well to ensure you never spin), the package part number is #2815.320 and sway bar sizing is 24mm front and 21mm rear.
And lastly, the all-important concept of alignment. While camber should be kept somewhere around .5-1.5 degrees negative on the front, try to keep the rear wheels very near to 0 degrees camber. However, If you get the sway bars and notice to much eagerness to rotate, you can dial some of that out with negative camber in the rear (leave the front setting alone). Toe should also be kept at zero in the rear, while a bit of toe-in at front is probably best (sorry, I'm not that familiar with your car's alignment settings. I keep hearing 1/16" in toe-in at front though, so I would try that first if and when you start experimenting with the alignment. Eibach also sells alignment kits for adjusting camber, though the Koni's are supposed to have slotted brackets up front allowing camber adjustability (how nice of them ).
With all this to think about, the next thing is to get a budget for purchasing if you don't already have some good money available. The first purchase should definitely be the tires and wheels, while the springs and shocks come next. Sway bars would be a last addition to this package, something I would only add if the body roll is excessive, the understeer is harmful to handling, or you simply want the car to feel like it's on rails.