Street Performance & Racing FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions. Also, check out QA1's YouTube channel for tech, product and company videos!
- How many adjustments do QA1 shocks have?
- How do I adjust the ride quality of my shocks?
- Are QA1 drag racing and street performance shocks rebuildable?
- What does QA1 offer for Mustang II suspensions?
- I want to put coil-overs on the front end of my muscle car. Does QA1 offer anything for me?
- I am running exactly the same set-up as the track champion. I have driven his car and it is much faster than mine. What's wrong with my car?
- Does raising the spring seat increase spring rate?
- Is there a difference between shock ride height and chassis ride height?
- Can I evaluate a shock by hand, or is a dyno required?
- Will QA1 assist me in determining which product to use for my application?
- What is spring rate?
- 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?
- What maintenance do I need to perform on my rod ends to keep them operating properly?
- What rod end is best for my application?
- How tight should the nut be on stud top shocks?
- How do anti-hop bars help my suspension?
- What's a good starting point for valve settings on QA1 Drag "R" Series shocks?
- What are important procedures when checking or setting your front suspension?
- How do I measure my car's ride height?
- What are important suspension measurements to record?
- Is your suspension travel correct?
- What is wheel hop and how can I reduce or eliminate it?
- What are other important suspension setup areas to inspect?
- What are ways to make sure my shocks last through the cold winter?
- Where should I mount my rear shocks for drag racing?
- How should I tow my racecar without causing premature shock wear?
- Should I use polyurethane bushings or spherical bearings for my shock mounts?
- How can I prevent wear on my ball joints?
- What can I do to prevent my tires from spinning at the drag stip?
- What are some easy, beginning of the season suspension areas to inspect?
- Where should I mount the T-bar when installing QA1 GM Pro Coil Systems?
- What's an important aspect to know before purchasing coil-over springs?
- What is unsprung weight?
How many adjustments do QA1 shocks have?
QA1 single adjustable shocks have eighteen clicks of adjustment. Double adjustable shocks have eighteen clicks of independent rebound adjustment and eighteen clicks of independent compression adjustment for a total of 324 valving combinations.
How do I adjust the ride quality of my shocks?
Simply by turning the knob(s) located near the bottom of the shock.
Are QA1 drag racing and street performance shocks rebuildable?
Yes. You can have the QA1 factory or one of our authorized service centers rebuild them.
What does QA1 offer for Mustang II suspensions?
QA1 offers three Mustang II front end coil-over conversion systems, with a choice of double adjustable, single adjustable or chrome plated steel non-adjustable shocks. Front coil-over conversion systems include (2) shocks, (2) springs and all mounting hardware. In addition, non-coil-over adjustable stock replacement shocks are also available for Mustang II applications.
I want to put coil-overs on the front end of my muscle car. Does QA1 offer anything for me?
Yes, QA1 offers several variations of its Pro Coil® System, engineered specifically for muscle car applications. Pro Coil® Systems include a choice of double adjustable, single adjustable, drag race "R" series or stock-appearing steel non-adjustable shocks. These kits include (2) shocks, (2) springs and all mounting hardware.
I am running exactly the same set-up as the track champion. I have driven his car and it is much faster than mine. What's wrong with my car?
It is quite possible that there is nothing actually wrong with your car. Building two cars exactly alike does not happen very often. There can be variances in chassis rigidity that make each car react differently to the same set-up. For instance, a chassis with a lot of flex in it may need more spring rate to compensate for the flex in the chassis. There can also be minor differences in geometry that you may not have thought about. You may be running a different wheel and tire combination, or the spring and shock mounts may be at different locations. You will need to keep experimenting with your set-up to find the right combination for your car.
Does raising the spring seat increase spring rate?
No. Once the weight of the car is set down on the shock and spring combination, raising and lowering the spring seat will only serve to change the shocks eye-to-eye measurement and also the car ride height. The compressed length of the spring at that point will not change unless it has something more than the weight of the car to work against, such as the shock is topped out or bottomed out.
Is there a difference between shock ride height and chassis ride height?
Yes. Chassis ride height in racing will have to do with class regulations and chassis set up for weight transfer and distribution. In the street world it often comes down to the look. Does it have the stance to make it "cool"? Shock ride height is a specified range that is measured from mounting point to mounting point that the shock is designed to work within under normal operating conditions. This measurement is taken or set with the chassis ride set where it needs to be for the specific application. It is designed to allow the shock enough travel in both directions so that the shock will not top or bottom out.
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 shock dyno is necessary for any evaluation.
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. 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 or damaged/altered in any way are not eligible for return.
What is spring rate?
Spring rate refers to the amount of weight that is needed to compress a spring one inch. If the rate of the spring is linear, its rate is not affected by the load that is put on the spring. For example, say you have a 200 lb. per inch spring - it will compress 1" when a 200 lb. load is placed onto the spring. If another 200 lbs. is put onto the spring, the spring will compress another inch. At this point the load on the spring is 400 lbs. The rate of the spring, however, remains constant at 200 lbs. per inch.
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.
What maintenance do I need to perform 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.
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.
How tight should the nut be on stud top shocks?
It’s important that the nut on stud top shocks are correctly tightened. If the nut is too tight, it can cause premature wear and binding in the suspension. If it’s too loose, there won’t be enough thread to install the jam nut, which could potentially cause the shock to fall out of place. We recommend that the nut on stud top shocks be tightened until the bushing is the same diameter as the steel washer. This will help to ensure all mounting hardware is tight enough to hold the shock in place.When tightening or loosening the nut, we do not recommend using an impact gun, as it has the potential to break the stud or unscrew the piston from the piston rod. The piston rod is machined with "flats" allowing it to be held with a wrench while tightening or loosening the nut.
How do anti-hop bars help my suspension?
Anti-hop bars are simple, yet effective suspension pieces that can help improve your drag car’s traction, but can be sometimes overlooked. On most General Motors vehicles equipped with factory four link rear suspension, anti-hop bars re-locate the upper control arm mounting points to change the angle of your rear suspension. This simple, bolt-on traction product will help accomplish a couple of things: improve chassis reaction, increase traction (giving you more forward bite), and help eliminate wheel hop.
What's a good starting point for valve settings on QA1 Drag "R" Series shocks?
QA1's “R” series shocks are designed for the racer who wants a modern day adjustable 90/10 racing shock. We recommend to have your valve settings at 4-6 to begin with. If the car doesn’t hook up (spin the tires), a lower setting such as 2-4 will help promote more weight transfer, ultimately providing more traction.
What are important procedures when checking or setting your front suspension?
There are several important settings to remember when checking or setting up your front suspension. First, set your air pressure, 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. Consistency is important, so make sure to bounce the same amount after each change. If you plan to set the front end with the driver in the car, make sure that you do it with the driver in the car each time you set the front end. Now you are ready to use your caster camber gauge. Once your caster and camber is set, you can focus on setting your bump steer. The final step is to set your Toe. It’s important to follow each step and remember, consistency is key.
How do I measure my car's ride height?
Measuring your race car’s ride height is an important step in the overall suspension setup. Here’s what we recommend: compressed and extended mounting lengths are measured from the center of the loops to the shock/stud shoulders. If the measurements are taken from mounting surface to mounting surface, subtract 5/8” for each shaft/stud end. The preferred measurement in most cases is taken with the car sitting on the ground ready to go. If setting up the chassis for the first time, simulate the approximate ride height before measuring. In most cases, we recommend the shock to be half-way compressed at ride height to ensure adequate compression and rebound travel.
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.
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.
What is wheel hop and how can I reduce or eliminate it?
Wheel hop is the uncontrolled bouncing of the rear tires on the road or track surface and can greatly affect your car’s overall performance and handling. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to remedy this issue. Replacing worn and deteriorated trailing arm bushings, sway bar bushings and shocks are good places to start. Switching to tubular trailing arms is another way to reduce wheel hop, as it minimizes deflection common to the factory stamped steel trailing arms. Also, adding a rear sway bar or increasing the stiffness of the existing sway bar can help control and reduce wheel hop. For vehicles equipped with factory four link suspensions like GM A & G body vehicles, QA1 manufactures “Anti-Hop Bars” to help eliminate wheel hop. These suggestions will help eliminate wheel hop and give you more control over your suspension.
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.
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!
Where should I mount my rear shocks for drag racing?
In drag racing, the mounting location of your rear shocks can play an important role in your car’s performance. Some racers mount their rear shocks in stock locations, some behind the axle and some even mount them at an angle. On vehicles set up for hard core drag racing, shocks and springs generally work best if they’re located behind the axle and in a straight up and down position. Shocks mounted behind the axle allow for quicker access for tuning adjustments, provide the most travel and allow ample room for larger tires. Racers also won’t have to worry about excessive side load on shocks or running them at a higher rate if they’re mounted straight up and down. It’s also a good idea to have your shocks spread out as wide as possible for stability, while still allowing enough room for tire clearance.
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.
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.
How can I prevent wear on my ball joints?
In this day and age in 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.
What can I do to prevent my tires from spinning at the drag strip?
It’s important to have traction the entire way down the track when at the drag strip, especially at the starting line. But sometimes, your tires can spin without any traction as soon as you launch. There could be several reasons for this, but taking a look at your shock settings is one of the easiest and best places to start looking when making changes to your car. To help gain traction at launch, we suggest adjusting your rear shocks by turning the extension setting knob counterclockwise to a softer setting. This will allow the shocks to operate with less resistance, meaning there is more downward force applied to the tires, making them plant harder and allowing them to hook-up and gain more traction. On the compression side, we suggest starting with a firmer setting by turning the knob clockwise – this will help make sure your tires stay firmly planted on the ground. It’s always a good idea to inspect the track, especially the starting line, before you race. A bald or poorly prepped starting line requires a softer shock extension setting to gain more traction like mentioned above, and a well prepped starting line means you can run with a stiffer extension setting to give you quicker vehicle reaction times.
What are some easy, beginning-of-the-season suspension areas to inspect?
As the 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.
Where should I mount the T-bar when installing QA1 GM Pro Coil Systems?
We commonly receive questions about proper mounting points for our GM Pro Coil systems. The front Pro Coil kits utilize a specially designed conical shaped spring that fits into the factory upper spring pocket on the frame and onto the QA1 coil-over shock at the bottom. With these kits, we recommend mounting the T-bar on the top side of the lower control arm, rather than on the underside, like the factory shock mount. Mounting the T-bar on the top side of the control arm puts the load on the T-bar and the control arm rather than on the two shock mounting bolts, helping to distribute the weight of the car.
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.
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.