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26 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone

Don't post often in here, but rest assured I am a regular reader, and have taken some excellent advice from some of you lot, so I'm hoping I can contribute something back to you all in this thread, by laying out my problem, and offering some potential solutions, and then inviting any of you to stick your two cents in if needed:

Here is my lovely Mini, Myrtle. She's an early LCI N18 engined Cooper S with the hypersport bodykit, March 2010, just over 120,000 miles. She's my daily driver, has been down to South of France/Italy, over to Amsterdam, up to John O Groats, and everywhere in between. Yes she has a lot of miles, but that's what cars are for right? I don't believe that spending money on a nice car means you don't drive it, that's just nonsense to me, the more I love my car, the more I want to drive it everywhere.

Most of the initial mods were cosmetic, colour coding light rings, black out the belt line; then I moved inside, Harman Kardon speaker upgrades (OEM of course), sound-deadening, black leather Recaro Sportster CS (from a JCW) and an android touchscreen headunit.

Performance wise, Airtec front mount intercooler, NGK Plugs, Akrapovic Cat/downpipe, AEM intake, and a stage 2 map to 245Bhp/396NM. SHe's a beast. I don't run the performance map much, as the clutch will die a death, but on stock map she's putting out 211Bhp/295NM and is still a LOT of fun. Averaging 35-40mpg even with all of the above in place.

Now on to the fun stuff....

I have been hearing a rattle from the suspension for a little under a year now. It began following a rather fun jolly down to Monaco for the F1 in May last year, where I cooked my brakes, tested my wits, and ran through a brand new set of GoodYear Eagles all in two weeks. Since then I have been managing the situation, planning carefully how i sort this out. I see myself as having a few options:

1. Replace OEM shocks with similar all round - Bilstein B4/KYB Excel-G - approx £250-300 including new bump stops
2. Coilovers - anything from £300-£3000, you get what you pay for

and finally:

3. Realise that no matter what shocks/springs i have, the REAL problem is not going to be fixed by having BILSTEIN or KW written on fancy new hardware, it will come by understanding the real causes of the noise.

So, I have extensively tested all components. I recently upgraded my front top mounts to fixed camber plates with a pillowball joint, and in the process tested my front shocks. A little compliant, but certainly not "broken" or "dead" and I felt comfortable putting them back in. Some of the noise has gone, due to worn top mounts, but been replaced by hearing softer noises coming from elsewhere, things getting interesting now.

I have taken off and reseated all antiroll bar links, front and back. I have new bushes for the ARB/Sway bar front and back, but not the long tools needed to do this without removing the subframe at either end. I have checked the bushes for compliance, and not seen any movement, even really pulling on the sway bar with the end links disconnected, there is little movement, and I don't believe they are the source of the problem.

Finally, I moved on to the other main points of failure, front wishbone/control arm, ball joints, and rear bushing. At the rear, the rear trailing arm front bushing and lower/upper control arm mounts/bushes; and here is where the real problem is found I believe. Just replacing shocks is not going to fix these underlying issues, and the rattles are coming from the bushings and ball joints, i'm 100% certain of it.

I plan to replace the front control arms with brand new ones, with new ball joints and a new rear bracket with bush pre-installed. I plan to replace this bushing with a powerflex polyurethane bush, possibly even the caster adjusted set, and clean up the entire front wheel well, new ARB drop links and bushes all in one go. If budget allows, then new Bilstein B4s will also be installed at this point.

At the rear, I plan to replace the trailing arm front bushes, thicker JCW ARB (18.5mm?), new ARB drop links and bushes, tidy/clean up entire area, and then replace lower control arms with an adjustable set, giving me full control over camber front and rear.

I foresee the front end being a whole weekend job, and the rears being a couple of hours, mostly due to having to lower the subframe in order to get the ARB out, and better access to the ARB mounting bolts.

I'm fairly confident that all of this will translate to an "as-new" feel to the suspension, whilst also tightening up the steering response, improving the ride, and with a little camber, caster and rear ARB stiffness should reduce my understeer, give me way more confidence when pushing around corners, and most of all take the frustrating "where is that damn noise coming from" thought out of my head, so I can start smiling again as I thunder up the Stelvio pass this summer.

Whilst I'm doing all this work, are there any other recommendations anyone has? Is it worth also doing the lower engine mount bushes in Polyurethane at the same time? What else can be done to get her performing the way she should, bearing in mind, that cost is definitely a concern. I want a Porsche Killer, but I can't afford to buy a Porche to do it!!


2,279 Posts
Hi everyone

I see myself as having a few options:

1. Replace OEM shocks with similar all round - Bilstein B4/KYB Excel-G - approx £250-300 including new bump stops
2. Coilovers - anything from £300-£3000, you get what you pay for
Interesting post. Those are some great journeys. Clearly you know what you are doing. Please post more often:big_grin:

My 2p on suspension mods, as in springs and dampers.
I'm an R53 not an R56 person but I think the principles are broadly the same.
I researched numbers of different makes of coilovers by riding in cars variously equipped. So I've been in cars with BC, GAZ, MeisterR CRD+, AP, ST, KW V1, KW V2.

Bilstien B4
Fitted these to my 2011 Volvo C30 1.6D last year because at 100k odd miles reckoned the original OE ones would be rather tired. Supposedly 'OE' but I think Bilstein are being a bit coy. They are fantastic, transformed the car. Clearly it is not a racing car - but they are actually the Ford Focus platform as Ford owned Volvo at the time. So for a diggedy dog truck along diesel it surprising how good the handling is and the degree you can chuck it about.
So I thought about them for my 2005 R53 MCS, also 100k miles odd and horrifically bouncy. But I found there was only one part number for the whole Gen1 range, R50, R52, R53. And I couldn't see how a shock that was designed to work for the springing on an R50 MINI One AND an R53 with Sports Suspension +. Given that damping is supposed to be matched to spring rate. On that basis I abandoned the idea.

Acceptable Bottom End Coilovers
I went for APs for the moment. Got a used set with 7k miles for £280. I went for them for a number of reasons.
  • They are actually made by KW Automotive (they do three price points, KW, ST and AP) who I respect.
  • They are in my view the least expensive coilovers that have been properly engineered and work.
  • They provide very decent handling but on the broken roads we suffer are much more comfortable than any of the other makes I tried. I think that is to an extent because they are sprung progressively rather than linear (at the front).
Top of The Range Coilovers
For the fast road munching journeys you make I reckon there are two makes that are right up there. They both cost about £2,000 a set. I have not been in a car with them fitted but their reputation is huge.
The holly grail seems to be Öhlins. Everything I've ever read about them waxes lyrical about the combination of comfort and handling. They employ a technolgy they call DFV. See here:
Pharmaceutical cheap viagra online - Ohlins Road and Track Coilovers
It is pretty much the same as the FSD technology that KONI use in their FSD shock, but in a coilover.
The others are MeisterR GT1. Relatively 'cheap' at only £1,495!!
Have a look at this long and detailed review on MiniTorque by Allblack in Portugal.
Meister R Gt1 Long-term Review
And on MeisterR's site.

Many of the MT boys who track their MINIs have MeisterR ZETA CRD+, their less expensive range. They are onto their second group buy in less than a year. One of the upsides for me is that MeisterR are based in Essex - so you can actually pick up a phone and talk to them about your specific requirements, which they will accomodate. And get them repaired. And changed. For sensible money. Helpful folk.
Having said that GAZ are the same. They make to order and you can discuss and specify the spring rates you want. They are excellent coilovers. My problem with them is I'm not technically capable enough to be able to specify what I want at the spring rate level.

One of the first things I did was fit a Whiteline 19mm 3 way adjustable rear ARB/sway bar. Before doing anything about the bouncy knackered OE suspension. Dramatic improvement. Wicked turn-in, almost no body roll. The other dramatic improvement I found was replacing the OE rubber with the Powerflex poly bushes in the front lower arms.

I currently have new standard OE front top mounts but will replace them with Silver Project adjustable top mounts as my front camber isn't right.

27 Posts
Suspension knocks at low speeds are usually caused by drop links or arb bushes. To test them we do it in two ways.

Car on a 4 post ramp so its level and the normal suspension weight is on the car. try and move the links up and down/side to side. The smallest amount of play will cause an awful noise.

On a two post ramp with the wheels off yu can sometimes detect play in bushes/links if they are quite worn.

As you plan to just about change everything I'm sure the noise will go, however you won't really ever know what it was!

We recomend fitting genuine drop links, as they usually last around 50-60K miles.

26 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Hi all

So i finally found out what the knocking was... such a stupid problem after all..

I bought and replaced the lower front control arms, and added poly bushes and got them professionally fitted, along with Silver Project front camber plates. Also at the rear, did the trailing arm poly bush inserts, and....

the noise was still there.

I then, one day, with the radio off, windows open, and a mate in the passenger seat listening, heard that the noise stops when brakes were applied, so i checked, and lo and behold, it was unsprung mass vibrating. I hadn't added any copper slip to the Ferodo DS2500 pads I put on, and they were rattling over bumps in the road. Such a simple fix, cost me £5 from Halfords for a pot of the grease, and about 30 minutes to sort, just took the pads out, cleaned and greased the guide pins, and put it all back together.

With the new control arms, bushings, and properly greased calipers, she now handles like a supercar, even if the control arms weren't strictly necessary.


Once I had done all this, I was over in Spa Francorchamps at the beginning of June to work with my racing team (running a Mosler MT900 an absolute BEAST) and thought while I was there and while Myrtle was running so well, I'd jolly on to the Nordschleife and have a go... what an amazing roller coaster that is! Did two laps, one on 4th June and one on 5th, not really pushing to the limit, but certainly the fastest I've ever driven her, and so glad for all the upgrades I've done. Brakes didn't fade and were nice and solid even coming from 200Kph down to 50Kph at Flugplatz, and really now it's just highlighting that my shocks really need replacing.

I'm going with Bilstein B4's, as I really can't afford a proper coilover setup, and although B8's would be nicer, they're more than twice the price.

So i intend to put on the B4s, new bump stops front and rear, trim the front bump stops a little, and add some extra/packers at the rear. This is all ahead of rear control arms and anti roll bar over the next winter.

Acid test will be another lap of the Nurburgring on my way down to Marseilles in South France in August (my girlfriend is from that part of the world) and I'll post back how she was on the new shocks and bump stops.

For anyone interested, I did record my laps, here are some YouTube links:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Happy motoring!
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