Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby Tremelune [OP] » September 24th 2016, 1:49am

I have a 2005 Astro AWD passenger van. It is a two-bench passenger van that rarely sees much cargo or many passengers. It mostly sees bumpy and potholed highways and I'm trying to get it to ride as smoothly and quietly as I can...hopefully without steering too much like a boat.

I'm hoping a new set of shocks will make the bumps and potholes less jarring, but from what I've read the shocks that are on there (Monroe Sensatracs) are supposed to be pretty smooth already. They seem pretty shot, but when shocks wear, I thought they just got softer, so I'm afraid that just changing the shocks might not be enough to achieve my goals. The springs seem to be in good shape (the van does not sag or bottom, anyway), though they might be overly stiff for the majority of the driving of my unloaded van. Does anyone ever put softer springs than stock in these cars?

These days I see a lot of people revalving shocks digressively or regressively to obtain the same smooth ride over bumps with less squat, dive, and roll. Has anyone bothered with this in our vans? I'd love to put on the best set of modern shocks I can for road driving, even if it winds up costing more.

Based in part on this thread, my plan was to get a set of KYB KG5480 Gas-A-Just for the front and KYB KG5459 for the rear, though I'm wondering if there is something better out there. KYB describers them as "firmer" than a stock ride, and I don't think that's the way I'd like to go. Second thought was to go with KYB 344266 GR-2 / Excel-G up front and KYB 344082 in the rear, but is seems like they're just the cheapest shocks KYB could make that perform as well as stock Astro shocks (not great). Bilstein seems to sell its "B6 HD" shocks for these vans, but they're old tech, and I fear they'll be too stiff for little gain. Couldn't find much info on the Sachs "Super Touring" suckers...

I've read a bunch of threads and the available options are dizzying, and peoples goals vary greatly, so I figured I'd just start my own thread. Thoughts on going the extra mile and dollar to get the best driving van I can?

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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby Tremelune [OP] » September 24th 2016, 5:48pm

Here is a thread selling Koni adjustable shocks (8240-1055). It also mentions that they fit '84-2003 vans...That seems like a weird range. I thought 2003-2005 years were identical for these cars.

I'm not sure Koni sells these anymore, and they don't seem all that adjustable...
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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby WimpTech » September 24th 2016, 6:59pm

We've taken this particular hill before...
viewtopic.php?f=40&t=97162&hilit=+shocks

Also search rockauto.com
http://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/chev ... orber,7556
Look in the "original ride quality" section, Delco's a good bet.
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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby Tremelune [OP] » September 24th 2016, 7:26pm

I appreciate the links. That thread can be summed up by the first response:

"Probably too subjective to really compare, esp from different people. Not only that but people tend to like what 'they' bought. Then you have the, I have been riding on crappy shocks for the last 30,000miles and any new shocks feel 10million times better then the non-shock they were used to. In addition, there are very few people that have tried side by side comparisons of new shocks, usually it's a once and done deal for the next 60,000 - 200,000miles."

While accurate, I'm not yet willing to accept it as the conclusion of my research. I can buy some OEM parts and have it drive like a new 20-year-old van, but with the advancement of suspension technology in the last 20 years (progressive spring rates, digressive/regressive valving, Bilstein's COB pistons/valves), I'm sure there's a way to obtain a ride that is smoother on rough roads and better at handling weight transfer than what Chevy ever put on these cars. The question is what it would cost in time and money for the results obtained.

Attempting a modern coilover setup seems prohibitive (particularly on an AWD), but I would be willing to have Bilstein revalve a set of their shocks to better suit my needs if I thought it would hep significantly.

Likely, I'll just wind up buying the ACDelcos, but I'd rather go into it with some data before spending hours under the car.
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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby Tremelune [OP] » September 24th 2016, 7:34pm

Random 2010 info from Bilstein (spot the typo):

B6 - Comfort (C) Shocks & Struts
Bilstein B6 Comfort gas pressure shocks and struts are for the driver who wants maximum ride comfort, with the virtual elimination of "bottoming out" and vehicle sway. These shocks generally maintain and, in many cases, enhance a vehcile's original ride qualities while increasing road-handling and overall stability. (yellow paint, steel body)
B6 - Heavy Duty (HD) Shocks & Struts
Bilstein B6 Heavy Duty monotube gas pressure shocks and struts are the ideal choice for most vehicles, including full-size sedans, SUVs and trucks. These shocks provide improved handling and stability, without sacrificing ride comfort. They offer super damping ability that makes them ideal for the driver who demands superior performance, while maintaining an exceptional street ride. (yellow paint, steel body)


I've read that "the Bilsteins" ride a little harsher than stock on these vans, but people rarely mention what model shock they're referring to or what setup they're comparing to. I wonder if the non-HD B6 shocks are available for these vans...They don't seem to make them anymore.
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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby Tremelune [OP] » September 24th 2016, 8:27pm

This Bilstein page lists the following info for their B6 4600 (which seems to be the Comfort model, as opposed to the 4600 HD/Performance model):

Front (AWD)
Part Number: 24-021364
Old Part Number: F4-B46-2136-H0

Rear
Part Number: 24-010474
Old Part Number: F4-B46-1047-H0

There is a different part for the RWD front (Part Number: 24-011044, Old Part Number: F4-B46-1104-H0) that appears to be the "Performance" model...It looks different than the other front shocks, so I assume it really is a different shock as opposed to just inconsistent marketing copy.
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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby esc » September 24th 2016, 8:44pm

I just put a set of the KYB gas-a-just shocks on my '03 a couple of days ago. They are definitely firmer than the worn out shocks. There was a small but noticeable increase in harshness over the factory shocks with 140,000 miles on them. If you are looking for a smoother ride than worn out factory shocks, you may not want these.

The motion control is much better, like night and day...but again, that is in comparison to old worn out shocks. I suspect that the KYB's are better than most shocks in their price range, for motion control. But as previously mentioned, I can only directly compare them to worn out shocks...which isn't really that informative.
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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby Mmusicman » September 24th 2016, 9:11pm

"Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride".... "smoothest" and "tightest" may be contradictory.
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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby Tremelune [OP] » September 24th 2016, 11:21pm

@esc That is a helpful and qualified assessment.

@Mmusicman Yeah...I realize that optimizations for smoothness over bumps directly contradict optimizations for motion control...I couldn't think of a good word that fit well in the title. I was hoping to convey the idea that, while there must be a compromise between the two performance characteristics, some suspensions offer less of a compromise than others. Well, the compromise just shifts to cost, I guess.

There's no way to optimize for everything by reading stuff on the Internet—eventually you gotta see for yourself. I might take a piecemeal, iterative approach by going with a best-guess set of quality set of "comfort" shocks, and if they ride well enough but don't corner well enough...maybe give a rear swaybar a go or something.

I find it helpful to think out loud and compile links and information, and maybe someone stumbles on this thread with similar needs in the future.
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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby WimpTech » September 24th 2016, 11:34pm

Tremelune wrote:I appreciate the links. That thread can be summed up by the first response:

"Probably too subjective to really compare, esp from different people....


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Re: Obtaining the smoothest, tightest 2nd gen AWD ride

Postby AstroWill » September 28th 2016, 6:39am

"Probably too subjective to really compare, esp from different people. Not only that but people tend to like what 'they' bought. Then you have the, I have been riding on crappy shocks for the last 30,000miles and any new shocks feel 10million times better then the non-shock they were used to. In addition, there are very few people that have tried side by side comparisons of new shocks, usually it's a once and done deal for the next 60,000 - 200,000miles."


Sounds like that guy knows what he is talking about ;)

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