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Purpose: To connect left and right sides of the chassis on an automobile. The result is less chassis flex, hence an improvement in handling. Do they work? You betcha! In fast, long, flat corners I feel and see slightly less lean. The car responds slightly better to steering input and I can go a bit faster into corners with a higher sense of confidence.
Before starting, we need the right part numbers and it is the same for either the front or rear STB... it is GM part #12456148 (and yes, it originally is a Buick part!). When I received my struts, they were a bit scratched and the finish was not as nice as I wanted them to be.
Before starting the install, I bought some fine sand paper (1000 grit) and hi-temperature black gloss paint. I cleaned off all dirt, dust and grease from both bars and sanded them smooth before a final cleaning. Looking into my engine compartment, I noticed that if I decided to paint the STB's gloss black, it wouldn't match the 2 lateral braces that tilt in from the shock towers to the radiator supports, so off they came for cleaning and painting as well.
I gave the 4 items (the 2 STB's and 2 front lateral braces) 2 coats of paint and let dry over a period of 2 days. The installation of the lateral braces was a simple matter as they had 3 bolts each attaching them to the car. I did not paint any bolts for a bit of contrast.
Installation procedure for the rear STB:
Besides the lateral braces, these were the next easiest to install. Before the sanding and painting process, I widened out one of the slots on each side of one STB's by about 1/4 inch and then cleaned, deburred and painted the piece before installing. This is really a bolt-on mod as all I did was remove one bolt off of each of the strut towers (the ones closest to the center) and placed the painted bar on top and bolted it down. They were cinched down to 40 ft/lbs. The job took a full 10 minutes to do! A small warning: I have information from at least two people who have broken or damaged the bolts while tightening down to 40ft/lbs. I personally have had NO problems in the many times that I took mine off, however I would suggest that you use caution when tightening the bolts. As a suggestion, start at a lower torque spec setting for a few days (how about starting at 25ft/lbs), and check often to see if the bar or bolts come loose. If so, increase your torque by an additional 5 ft/lbs until they sit properly and do not loosen.
Installation procedure for the front STB:
The front STB took some work and about 1 hour to install. I started by taping off the area with ordinary paper tape where the brace would be installed to facilitate marking the holes easier. I really took my time measuring and centering the brace before any marking or drilling was done. Once satisfied that it was as close to being centered as my capabilities permitted, the holes were marked and a punch was used to make a dimple through the tape into the metal for easier starting of the drilling process.
For the drilling, I used 2 bits per hole, starting off with a smaller bit to make the initial hole and then completing the job by drilling with the final sized bit needed to pass the bolt through the hole. During all drilling and filing, I had a strong shopvac near the hole sucking in any metal chips that came free. One additional step for my '99 was required. This was the displacement of the wire harness that comes near the driver-side strut. There is a metal screw that is tapped into the metal. There is another bolt to which the displaced harness can be attached to approximately 2-3 inches lower. The original bolt was cut down and filed flat.
Before installation, the area that was filed down and all bolt holes (there should be 4 holes) are all deburred and painted to prevent future corrosion Once the paint is dried, simply push the bolts up through the wheel well from underneath, place the STB on top of the bolts and cinch down to 40 ft/lbs. Do this slowly because you do not want to mar the newly coated STB bar's paint job. To complete the job, I installed the 2 lateral braces with their fresh coat of paint. A small warning: I have information from at least two people who have broken or damaged the bolts while tightening down to 40ft/lbs. I personally have had NO problems in the many times that I took mine off, however I would suggest that you use caution when tightening the bolts. As a suggestion, start at a lower torque spec setting for a few days (how about starting at 25ft/lbs), and check often to see if the bar or bolts come loose. If so, increase your torque by an additional 5 ft/lbs until they sit properly and do not loosen.
Special note: This job can easily be done by one person, but I must say that my father helped me out a LOT. The second pair of hands, eyes and the extra advice made this job all the more professional looking because of him (not to mention that most of the tools used were his)... Thanks dad!
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