Circle Track FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions. Also, check out QA1's YouTube channel for tech, product and company videos!

In the QA1 part numbers, which is first – compression or rebound?

Compression first, then rebound.

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If I have a split rate shock such as 3-5 and I turn the shock 180 degrees, will the shock then be a 5-3?

No, it makes no difference if the shock is mounted upright or upside down. The only way you can change your valving is through internally changing the deflective discs or otherwise physically adjusting the valving.

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What is the difference between a monotube and twin tube shock?

Monotube shocks utilize a single tube cylinder, with the piston rod moving through it. With this design, the cylinder surrounding the piston rod is completely submerged with oil. At the base of the cylinder, a diving piston separates high pressure nitrogen gas from the oil. The small chamber of gas under the dividing piston keeps a positive pressure on the oil, forcing the piston rod to full extension.

A twin tube shock utilizes two tube cylinders. The outer tube is the body of the shock. The inner tube, also known as the compression tube, supports the piston assembly. Throughout the compression stroke, some oil is forced through the base valve out into the outer chamber. The gas bag is compressed through the compression stroke. During rebound, oil is replenished back into the compression tube from the outer chamber. This design can withstand some body damage and still function properly. This design is user friendly to rebuild, because there is not high gas pressure.

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Can service parts be purchased from QA1?

Yes. Service parts for racer revalveable and rebuildable shocks are available at reasonable prices.

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Can QA1 shocks be run upside down?

Yes. All QA1 circle track shocks, except for stock mount, can be run upside down, upright and at all angles in between.

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What valving would I have to order so that the shock will be easily revalveable when I get it into my own hands?

With revalveable QA1 circle track shocks, you can purchase any of the valving codes and revalve them as you please with the QA1 Tuning Kit. The Tuning Kit allows you to change your valvings for both compression and rebound.

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Is it really reasonable to revalve shocks between qualifying and running my heat or feature races?

You bet it is. Once you have revalved the shocks a couple of times you will have no problem changing you valving in 10 minutes or less.

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What can a driver do to keep the dirt and debris out of the shocks?

Most QA1 shocks include a wiper to help prevent most dirt and debris from entering the shock. If needed, you can also purchase either a cloth cover that almost looks like a sock, or some accordion-style tubing and zip tie it to the shock right by each eyelet. These steps will further assist in keeping the dirt and other debris away from the piston rod.

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Can I evaluate a shock by hand, or is a dyno required?

It is impossible to accurately evaluate a shock through stroking it by hand. The shocks perform much differently on a race car when the piston velocity is much quicker than they do when you are stroking them by hand. It is important to evaluate the shocks at low, medium and high piston velocities to have an indication of how the shocks will affect handling. Therefore, a dynometer is necessary for any evaluation.

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Will QA1 assist me in determining which product to use for my application?

We are always glad to assist you in making your product selection. The QA1 technical support staff is very experienced and knowledgeable about QA1 products and their use. When requested, we will use information supplied by you to assist you in determining which QA1 product is best suited to your application. However, the final decision as to part selection and the correct installation and usage of the product is yours. Please call for assistance if a QA1 product does not appear to fit your application – there is always the possibility that another part will work better. Parts that have been installed, damaged, altered or forced in any way are not eligible for return.

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The PTFE liner in my three piece rod ends always pounds out when I run my car on dirt, leaving the rod end loose. What can I do to avoid this?

PTFE "pounding out" on dirt applications is a common problem. It occurs because the PTFE fabric liner and the three piece design of these rod ends are not engineered to withstand the introduction of sand, dirt, etc. QA1 has addressed this problem with the Endura series rod ends, engineered specifically for racing applications. This series of rod ends includes a self-lubricating, maintenance-free PTFE/Nylon injection-molded liner, and is constructed in such a manner that it is nearly impossible for the liner to ever "pound out." These rod ends are offered in aluminum (over 10% lighter than traditional three-piece aluminum rod ends), carbon steel, heat-treated chromoly steel and chrome plated chromoly steel.

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What maintenance do I need to performance on my rod ends to keep them operating properly?

Most rod ends are designed to be relatively maintenance-free. For metal-to-metal rod ends, a thin layer of grease applied occasionally to the ball will assist in extending the life of these products. Rod ends that are PTFE lined are self-lubricating and are designed to be relatively maintenance-free.

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What rod end is best for my application?

With over 5,000 sizes, styles and materials in QA1 rod ends to choose from, QA1 offers a rod end for virtually every application. However, for nearly all performance racing applications, QA1 strongly recommends the Endura series rod ends. These rod ends are engineered specifically for the rigors of performance racing and are the only rod ends designed to withstand dirt, sand, grit and other debris that commonly come into contact with racing vehicles. The Endura series is self-lubricating, self-sealing and maintenance-free. These rod ends have all the advantages of metal-to-metal rod ends when encountering heavy shock loads, while also enjoying the advanced wear characteristics of three-piece rod ends. They are available in aluminum, heat-treated chromoly steel, polished chromoly steel and carbon steel. The QA1 aluminum Endura series rod ends are over 10% lighter than traditional three-piece aluminum units, and also have greater tensile strength due to increased cross-sectional thickness in the rod end body. If you need assistance with your particular application, please call the QA1 technical support line at 952.985.5675.

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Looking to increase forward bite?

In the dirt circle track market the last few years, the trend has been to use an excessive amount of right front rebound. This trend helps the car steer more positively, especially through the center of the corner. However, on short and slippery stop-and-go styles of tracks, an excessive amount of right front rebound will hinder forward traction because it will prohibit front to rear weight transfer. It is best to use just enough shock rebound to allow the car to turn through the center, but not so much as to completely eliminate weight transfer. Remember, even with today’s 4-link suspensions, on extremely slippery tracks, weight transfer is important!

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What are a few commonly overlooked, easy suspension fixes?

In all types of racing, shocks are often the first to be blamed for suspension ailments. By looking deeper, however; we can fix many simple mistakes that are costing you at the track. Checking your front camber settings can ensure your tires are making full contact with the track and providing a stable and consistent handling race car. A good way to verify your caster/camber settings are correct is to look at photographs of your car through a corner and also by using a tire probe immediately after a run. The tire needs to be completely in contact with the track throughout the corner, and not placing the entire force on just the outside edge of the tire. See the image below that illustrates this. In racing applications, body roll dramatically effects your caster/camber settings. As your chassis goes in to roll, the car gains camber, and the track counteracts this with banking. Ensuring your suspension is gaining enough camber to still maintain good tire-to-track contact is important.In addition to checking your caster/camber settings, our longer studded ball joints can assist you in achieving more camber gain throughout your suspension’s travel, thus giving you better contact through the corners.

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What is a "tie-down" and "easy-up" shock?

In circle track racing, “tie-down shock” and “easy-up shock” are two common terms used to describe valving characteristics of a shock. A “tie-down shock” is used to describe a shock that has stiffer rebound settings than compression settings. This term is widely used when describing a 4-link dirt modified right front shock. An “easy-up shock” is a common term used to describe a shock with stiff compression and soft rebound. This term is widely used when describing a 4-link dirt modified left rear or left front shock. When someone is trying to describe a shock and uses one of these terms, it’s best to ask which valving they are actually describing. A 3-5 is considered a tie-down while a 3-12 is also considered a tie-down. As you can see, this term can describe two very different shocks! Here’s an example: A 7-3 valved right front street shock is considered an “easy-up shock” and a 3-5 valved left rear street shock is considered a “tie-down shock.”

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What are important suspension measurements to record?

For any type of racecar, it’s a good idea to keep a log book to keep track of important settings. Important suspension settings to keep track of include: shock valve settings, spring rate, ride height, trailing arm/four link settings, alignment settings, car weight, and sway bar adjustments. Other important settings include: track and weather conditions, tire pressure, lap times, lane position, 60’ times, average reaction time, MPH, and weight percentages. With this important information, you can analyze your car’s performance by referring to previously recorded data. Having this information will help you get to the bottom of what really affects your car’s performance and will help you make adjustments for improvement.

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How should I tune my shocks for different types of tracks?

On both dirt and asphalt cars, it’s a good idea to fine tune your shocks based on the type of track you’re running. Here are some recommendations. Flat Tracks: On an asphalt car, utilizing slightly stiffer rebound on the left side, while softening the rebound on the right side, will generally enhance the handling of the car. On a dirt car, do the opposite – use softer rebound on the left side and stiffer rebound on the right side. Short Tracks: When changing to a shorter track, softer valvings all around usually will improve handling for dirt and asphalt cars. High Banked Tracks: Stiffer valvings will improve handling on both dirt and asphalt cars on tracks with a higher degree of banking.

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What are recommendations for shock maintenance?

A commonly overlooked maintenance item on racecars are the shock absorbers. We recommend cleaning the piston rod to help prevent dirt and debris from contaminating the shock and also clean and lubricate the bearings in each end. After every few races, and especially after racing on rough track conditions, it’s also a good idea to remove the shocks from the car and compress them by hand to feel for any sticky or dead spots. A little maintenance in the shop goes a long way on the track and like the saying goes, "races are won and lost in the shop."

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What are important tips to remember on race day?

Race day can be hectic, so here are a few simple yet important procedures to remember when setting your front suspension. Set the air pressure in your tires, make sure the car is level and set the ride heights. If you have adjustable shocks, soften the rebound and compression. Then, bounce the front of the car and let the suspension settle. Consistency is important, so make sure to bounce the car the same amount after each change. If you plan to set the front end with the driver in the car, make sure to do so each time you set the front end. Also, don’t forget to adjust your caster and camber settings, bump steer settings and toe-in/toe-out. It’s important to follow each step and remember, consistency is key.

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Is it best to scale a circle track car with the shocks connected or disconnected?

While many drivers believe it’s best to disconnect the shocks when scaling, we recommend to scale the car exactly how it will be raced. A monotube shock’s rod force will alter the scaling numbers, so adjustments to the setup may be necessary. It’s also a good idea, in the case of stiff rebound or compression shocks, to give the car enough time to “settle” after making adjustments before scaling so that scale numbers are not thrown off.

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Is your suspension travel correct?

Having correct shock travel is very important for any race car. Bottoming out or fully extending a shock can hurt forward drive, consistency and even damage the shock itself. Let’s look at the right front of an independent front suspension for dirt racing as an example. If the right front of your race car primarily goes into compression, it’s important to allow as much travel as the factory control arm will allow to maximize weight transfer, chassis roll and chassis hike to help forward bite. To determine ideal placement or verify that you are maximizing your travel, first remove the spring and shock. Then, place a floor jack under the front control arm and raise the control arm until it has bottomed out on the frame. Next, install the shock, it should be between 1/4 inch and 2 inches from fully compressed. If it isn’t, modify your shock mounts to achieve this. In addition, verify that you have clearance for the outer tie rod, as you may have to install a pre-bent tube and rod end for more clearance. By taking these steps, you’ll feel better knowing that your suspension travel is correct and won’t be damaging any of your components.

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What are other important suspension setup areas to inspect?

In any type of racing, when most of us think about suspension, we think of just shocks and springs. It can sometimes be easy to overlook other critical and equally important suspension components such as rod ends, ball joints, steering linkages, brackets, etc. Similar to shocks and springs, when these components become loose, worn out or improperly aligned, it’s not only unsafe, it can also greatly affect your car’s overall performance and put you behind the competition. It’s a good idea to regularly inspect these suspension components throughout the season, and especially now during the off season when you have more time to inspect and make any adjustments or improvements. Inspecting and cleaning ball joints and rod ends, correcting alignment angles, and replacing tie rod ends are all good places to start when checking important suspension components. Many of these parts are relatively inexpensive and easy to diagnose at home or by a chassis or alignment shop. Checking out these suspension components will not only save you time and money during racing season, but you’ll be putting yourself another step ahead of the competition.

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What are ways to make sure my shocks last through the cold winter?

If your winters are anything like the ones we experience here in Lakeville, MN, you know just how cold it can get. If you have a racecar or a summer car and don’t plan to have your shocks rebuilt in the cold winter months, we recommend keeping your shocks in a warm environment. The constant hot and cold temperatures that shocks can see during the winter is tough on the seals and o-rings inside the shocks and can cause wear. By keeping them warm during the winter, your shocks will thank you in the spring time!

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How should I tow my racecar without causing premature shock wear?

While towing your racecar, the suspension is continuously working during the entire trip to the track and back home. All the bumps, pot holes or uneven pavement your towing vehicle feels, your racecar feels even on the trailer. Especially when towing long distance, this causes more stress and wear on the shocks and can lead to the shocks wearing out faster. Check your shocks after a tow and you may be surprised how warm they are! To help eliminate premature shock and suspension wear, always tie your vehicle down in a manner that minimizes vehicle bouncing. Most of us generally wrap our tie down straps around the axle housing and front suspension, but this isn’t strapping the suspension down. One way to help prevent the shocks from doing any unnecessary work is to always strap the body or chassis directly to the trailer. This causes the body to move with the trailer, rather than independently and will help lessen the stress that falls to your racecar’s suspension.

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Should I use polyurethane bushings or spherical bearings for my shock mounts?

Many times, shocks are offered with either polyurethane bushings or spherical bearings for mounting use. But which is best for your driving style? While polyurethane and spherical bearings are both suitable for several applications, it’s helpful to know how each will affect your car. Polyurethane bushings will provide noise and vibration isolation making them a good choice for street cars. Whereas spherical bearings are typically used on race cars where noise and vibration really isn’t a concern, when higher misalignment is needed, or on heavier vehicles with stiffer spring rates. Also, remember to routinely check your suspension set-up to make sure all your components are operating the way they should. Any extra travel, components not tightened enough, etc., can cause unnecessary wear on your shock mount bushings or spherical bearings.

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How can I prevent wear on my ball joints?

In this day and age in circle track racing, you should be using some type of low-friction ball joint, not just for the low-friction advantage, but for the strength, too. To keep these ball joints in great shape, it’s important to periodically check your ball joints for “play” or any up and down movement of the stud. To do this, simply jack the car up and put it on jack stands. With the tire/wheel still on the car, simply lift up on the tire (or the hub if the tire/wheel is removed) from underneath and feel for any type of movement. If the ball joint pre-load is set too loose, you will feel a very slight movement or clunk. To tighten the pre-load on a QA1 ball joint, simply use our ball joint tool kit to loosen the outer jam nut. Once the jam nut is loosened, use the Allen Hex Key to tighten the inner torque nut. Usually, the ball joint will only need about 1/16 of a turn to remove the play. Once that’s done, using the tool kit, jam the torque nut and jam nut together and you’re finished! This simple check should be done several times throughout the season, especially after any extremely rough tracks or hard contact in the front end. This will ensure a tight-feeling front end and prevent any undesirable front end movement.

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What are some easy, beginning of the season suspension areas to inspect?

As the 2014 racing season gets under way, it’s the perfect time to make sure your suspension components are all operating properly. Some of the most important items to inspect include your ball joints, rod ends and shocks. A bound up rod end or shock eyelet bearing or a bent ball joint can cause weeks of car setup frustration. Starting out the year right will make for a much more enjoyable season! Additionally, if any of these components become loose, worn out or improperly aligned, it’s not only unsafe, it can also greatly affect your car’s overall performance and put you behind the competition. Inspecting and cleaning ball joints and rod ends and correcting alignment angles are good places to start when checking important suspension areas. Many of these parts are easy to diagnose at home or by a chassis or alignment shop. Remember to regularly inspect these components throughout the season as well, as it will save you time and money during racing season.

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What's an important aspect to know before purchasing coil-over springs?

Know your numbers! When looking for a set of coil-over springs for your vehicle, it’s a good idea to have the actual weight of your vehicle, rather than a guess or description. Knowing the true weight of your vehicle will make it easier to pinpoint the spring rate that makes the most sense to maximize your vehicle’s ride and performance. While scaling the vehicle, make sure to get not only the overall weight, but also scale the vehicle to find the weight distribution. Meaning, weigh the front of the car separately, and weigh the back of the car separately. Generally, the front spring rate doesn’t depend on the rear weight of the vehicle, and vice versa. Several factors should be considered when purchasing a set of coil-over springs, such as the intended use of the vehicle, but just knowing the weight of the car is a great place to start. If you don’t have a set of scales at home, local shipping centers, recycling centers or truck weigh stations many times are the next best place to scale the car.

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What is unsprung weight?

Unsprung weight is the weight of all components not supported by the springs such as wheels, tires, brakes and the axle housing and should be taken into consideration for many aspects of your car’s handling and performance. However, it’s especially important from the stand point of selecting coil-over spring rates, since the corner weights of the vehicle typically include unsprung weight. Unsprung weight should especially be taken into consideration on lighter vehicles since the unsprung weight can make up a larger percentage of the total weight of the car. If you select a spring rate without knowing your unsprung weight, it could likely result in purchasing a spring that is too stiff. If you’re referencing the QA1 spring chart as you’re weighing your car, the unsprung weight does not need to be subtracted from the corner weight of the car since the chart already has that factored in. Knowing the unsprung weight will help you in selecting the correct spring rate and will result in a better performing and handling car.

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Shock Bearing Ends

Why is it important to maintain your shock ends?

Do your shock ends look like the picture on the left or the one on the right? It’s important to keep the spherical bearings on your shocks clean and lubricated. A dirty bearing is more likely to bind up which can cause suspension bind and inconsistent handling. We recommend visually inspecting your shock ends after each race and a thorough cleaning and lubrication after every 3 – 5 nights of racing

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