Re­new­ing your Mini’s vi­tal sus­pen­sion com­po­nents pays div­i­dends for ride qual­ity, and is a rel­a­tively sim­ple DIY job.

Mini Magazine - - Contents -

A worn dry sus­pen­sion set-up can make your Mini a chore to drive. Fit new rub­ber springs and dampers with our guide.

It’s tes­ta­ment to the late Alex Moulton that his com­pact rub­ber-sprung sus­pen­sion de­sign for the Mini is still a firm favourite to­day. Over the years there have been many at­tempts to im­prove upon it, in­clud­ing coilovers, coil spring re­place­ments and Moulton’s Hy­dro­las­tic set-up, but rub­ber springs are still the most pop­u­lar so­lu­tion.

The sys­tem is gen­er­ally re­li­able, but the springs – some­time called ‘dough­nuts’, or er­ro­neously ‘cones’ – don’t last for­ever. Over time the rub­ber de­te­ri­o­rates and the springs can ef­fec­tively col­lapse into noth­ing more than a large bump stop, cre­at­ing a harsh ride re­gard­less of damper per­for­mance. Later cars were fit­ted with softer rub­ber springs in an ef­fort to make the car more re­fined, but the knock-on ef­fect was pre­ma­ture col­lapse com­pared to the older types.

Re­place­ment is the only rem­edy for worn rub­ber springs, and there’s a wide va­ri­ety of types on the mar­ket. These range from more com­fort­able op­tions like Mini Sport’s Smooth Ride, through to com­pe­ti­tion-spec items. Some, in­clud­ing the Smootha Ride and com­pe­ti­tion ver­sions, are taller than stock ones and re­quire ad­justable trum­pets to main­tain a sen­si­ble ride height. The orig­i­nal Rip­speed brand name, Hi-Lo, has largely be­come the generic name for such trum­pets, al­though Mini Sport sells its own ver­sion as the Ad­justa Ride. Ad­justable trum­pets al­low the ride height to be tweaked as you de­sire, but bear in mind that al­ter­ing the height af­fects sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try, so you’ll need to get this checked and al­tered if you make changes.

Fit­ting new springs presents a great op­por­tu­nity to change the dampers too. Af­ter a while a Mini’s stan­dard dampers will wear out, which will be­come ev­i­dent by a bouncier ride as they fail to do their job of ar­rest­ing the os­cil­lat­ing ef­fect of the rub­ber­sprung sus­pen­sion. Again, var­i­ous op­tions are avail­able, but we’ve al­ways been fans of Kayaba (KYB) Gas-A-Just units for road use. If you plan on run­ning your car low, you may need shorter dampers to cope – spe­cial­ist ven­dors should be able to ad­vise.

Re­plac­ing the springs and dampers yourself is a lengthy job, but should be in the scope of a home me­chanic. Spe­cial­ist tools will be re­quired, in par­tic­u­lar a cone com­pres­sion tool (£18-£45), which must be used to safely re­move the front sus­pen­sion cones and springs, and a torque wrench to en­sure fix­ings are cor­rectly torqued back up af­ter re-fit­ting. Pre-1976 springs had a fine, 1/2-inch UNF im­pe­rial thread and post-’76 ones had a coarser, 14mm Met­ric thread. The cheaper tools only cater for the Met­ric thread, so make sure you have the right one to avoid the headache of cross-thread­ing. Here’s the process, step-by-step.

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