Koni Adjustable Dampers
Recently I had the opportunity to install and test some Koni Adjustable Dampers for the 2003+ Tiburon. Heading over to our famous moderator Quint’s house to install these in his garage, we expected this install to take us a few hours. We had installed a set of Eibach lowering springs before without much trouble so we figured this would be a similar experience. We turned out to be a bit wrong....
We started by loosening all the lug nuts on the wheels and struts. We then jacked the car up to place jack stands under the front.
After removing everything necessary to get the strut out we then drilled out the bottom of the strut to release any gas that was built up inside. After releasing the pressure we used a hacksaw to cut the top of the strut off, making way for the Koni insert to slide inside. This part was very tedious and took the longest out of the whole install. If I had to do the install again I would definitely purchase a cutting wheel which would have made the cutting a whole lot easier.
Once the old strut was drained, we filed the inside edge to remove any sharp points that were left from the cutting.
The hole previously drilled on the bottom of the strut to release pressure was then widened to allow the insert to be bolted down.
A rubber boot is then placed over the edge of the old strut to prevent dirt from entering the old strut chamber. The Koni insert was then hammered into the old strut and bolted down. The completed strut is then reassembled with the car the same way it was removed.
We couldn't wait to test out the new dampers. We put them on the stiffest setting and took the car for a test drive. We felt every single bump in the road. These things were stiff! The car had almost no bounce when going over dips and bumps. On the stiffest setting the Konis made the car feel like a race car. Although this new stock car feel was a neat effect I received this information from Lee Grimes of Koni regarding the stiffness settings:
I took the time to test out the dampers on their softest setting for a recent trip I took a crossed country. On their softest setting these dampers perform much like stock. I couldn't tell much different at all so these dampers certainly have an excellent range of adjustability for those who are worried about the car being too stiff or too soft.Please remember that the softest setting and lower end of the adjustment range is where the shocks were actually developed to be used through most of their life. We develop the dampers at full soft to give a target ride and handling quality for a generally stock car or for a car where the owner has concerns about not wanting to make it over aggressive. For a stock car, we normally recommend that a customer install the dampers in the full soft position to sample the ride and handling balance that we felt was a good package. Remember that a Koni at full soft is already still a performance damper and has been developed even at the softest setting to solve issues that the stock dampers could not deal with. After trying that as a baseline, they are welcome to adjust anywhere they want but normally will not go too far from that point for quite some time in normal driving.
The original theory for adjustable shocks is actually to compensate for wear over time. Although we have a lot of low friction and wear reduction parts inside, it is a mechanical device that does a lot of work so it is subject to wear over time. We make the parts so that for normal to more aggressive performance street use, you will still be in the lower end of the adjustment range so in 40,000-60,000+ miles when you notice that the car is not quite as crisp as it was when the dampers were brand new, you can just add an extra adjustment of 1/4 to 1/2 turn and thus freshen them up a bit to compensate for wear. This way over their lifetime you should easily get 100,000+ miles of use with the dampers still being very capable. Non-adjustable shocks or adjustable ones with a narrow adjustment range (almost all other adjustables on the
market) will wear out much quicker than a Koni and need replacement much sooner. The other advantage of the large adjustment range is that you can have is tuned in the low to mid part of the adjustment range for normal performance street use but then turn them up quite a bit higher if you want to go run an autocross, track day, etc. where you want to make the car much more aggressive and use the adjustment to tune the understeer/oversteer balance of the car for a particular goal. Then when the day is done, you can go back to your street adjustment for the drive home.
If the dampers are being used on a street car with aftermarket street performance springs, then we normally recommend an initial adjustment between about 1/2 and 1 full turn from the minimum setting to add a bit more force to balance with the performance springs, other upgrades, and more aggressive driving preferences. The Konis generally are twice as firm at the max. setting as they are at the min. setting so the adjustment range is very large and much larger than any other shock brand in the market. Just because the damper can be made very aggressive does not mean that that is the best setting for normal use. Even though the car may feel extremely sporty like a slot car, it may often be overdamped for normal use and ride quality and some handling will suffer. Lots of guys say "I don't care what it rides like. I like it really firm" but that point of view usually comes from people who have not previously had the opportunity to drive on really good suspension that does not have to be harsh to be good. Firm is good, harsh is bad and there really is a difference. Once you have the "good stuff" and if you have interest in it, you can pretty quickly become more discerning on what your car does and develop your own preferences. It can be related to drinking wine. To someone who drinks wine rarely, they may or may not like it and not be able to tell the differences. But once you try sampling a bit, then you can refine your own preferences for what you like and make your own decisions to what you need. We are not trying to make you a wine snob or shock snob, just that the better (and often more expensive) stuff really can be better than the entry level stuff and someone who is interested in it can get more from it and tune it to their own preferences.
The one major downfall was the install process. The install could have been made a whole lot easier if better documentation was provided. I was told that the documentation has no words and only illustrations because it is distributed in several countries and it was recommended I download more complete instructions from Konis website. I downloaded the instructions from (http://www.koni-na.com/pdf/boltstrut.pdf), but these still only provided part of the install procedure and left me confused on some areas of the install.
The only other thing I didn't like about the Konis was their lack of adjustability. Although this wasn't the fault of Koni, it still limits the drivers possibility of a quick adjustment. The front can be adjusted quickly if the engine covers are left off, however to adjust the rear you have to get to the rear strut tower which involves removing the plastic covers and rear seatbelts on each side of the car.
This is an excellent product that I can definitely recommend! I've been very happy with the new dampers and was impressed with how much they can help handling once adjusted correctly.
Excellent adjustability range
Greatly improve handling and stiffness in suspension
Built to last a long time
Not quickly adjustable