In addition to the 4-piece bearing kit, we have added aÂ 2-piece kit. Read more here:Â Fastline Compliance Bushing Update: New 2-piece kit supersedes 4-piece kit
The compliance bushings in later model Acura and Honda vehicles were part of an innovative design to handle suspension movement. Despite being unconventional, the system worked well at softening road inputs while effectively keeping the control arm attached to the car. unfortunately, the compliance bushings wear prematurely and crack, causing sloppy handling and excess vibration. The issue plagues TSX and TL divers alike, with many TL drivers reporting failures within 60,000 miles.
Pro Car Innovations has an awesome solution for replacing these bushings with a more durable spherical bearing. The bearing is a rigid mounting point rather than a flexy rubber one, which has the promise not only of longer life but also of greatly enhanced road feel. Fastline Performance was quick to adopt this part as one of their own, recognizing the great benefit for performance and longevity that is so direly needed, especially on the 04-08 TL chassis.
We took the opportunity to install a set of these bearings in our very own HTSpec TSX last weekend. Getting the arm out of the car is not as difficult as one might think. There is a 14mm nut holding the sway bar link on, then a ball joint where the steering upright attaches, and three other attachment points with conventional bolts. While it can be tricky to get the right tool to fit the locations and do the removal, nothing really special is required to remove the arm.
The bushings in our TSX were not in especially bad condition, but they are well worn after 120,000 miles and a couple of track days and spirited road trips.
The first step in changing the bushings is removing the arm from the car. This is actually a pretty simple task. With only 3-4 main fasteners to have to deal with, which are all straightforward except the ball joint. Rather than put it in words, check out this very fast and simple method for removing the ball joint painlessly!
Once the arm is out, the bushing/bearing swap needs to happen. For what has the initial impression of being a bit of a pain to do (the bushings must be pressed out and the bearings pressed in) it turned out to be quite a simple job. Part of the reason for this was using a special tool for pressing the parts in and out by hand. Coupled with a trusty electric impact gun, the job was a breeze.
The kit comes with two compliance bearings with mounting spacers, as well as two other bearings that fit in the rearward subframe mounting locations. We elected to only install the compliance bearings at this time for two reasons: 1) The stock bushings at the rearward lower control arm mounting location were still in good condition, and 2) while we had a great tool for the larger bushing we had no such arrangement for the other bushing. So, we will do this one later understanding that the compliance bearing was the most major part of the job here.
Some install notes that were brought up by some early responders to online discussions. With regard to binding, there is no such concern. We found that the arms reach a limit of travel from the chassis mounting well before the bearings find a travel limit. Bearings can be noisy, however, we have found these bearings to be of very high quality and are play- and noise-free, at least in their new state.
The largest concern seems to be about corrosion. These are in an area susceptible to corrosive elements, however, we do need to cite that 95% or more of the component is not ferrous and therefore will not rust. The one item where rust can happen is the bearing race itself which if ever needs to be replaced is fairly simple and inexpensive to accomplish. While acknowledging there could be a concern down the road, corrosion is bad for cars PERIOD and we anticipate there being a greater issue removing the rest of the suspension bolts to do such a job than the need for the job really coming up in the first place. Of course, the best defense is offense, so we recommend liberally lubing the bearing from time to time to create a protective layer against the elements.
With the bearing in the arms and the arms in the car, I set off on a test drive. I was unable to feel much of a difference at low speeds in the neighborhood. Partly because our roads are fairly smooth here but mostly for the reason that the Innovate Mounts holding the engine in place transmit much vibration of their own. Initially, the system feels pretty standard.
Down the road a bit, some bumps were encountered with did send a noticeable shock through the front end. Botts dots and possibly small animals will be felt more than before. I imagine if you live in an area with rougher roads, you will need to be understanding that there is a tradeoff of more road input. It depends largely on the quality of roads, your quality of experience. Then again if you make a sport of avoiding such road imperfections, your skills will be greatly enhanced with the bearings in place.
Off to higher speed turns! Traveling at speeds in excess of 50-60 mph can make turning a little nervous feeling. With the standard car, there is a certain amount of smoothness needed to confidently turn the car, since there is a little delay between when you turn the wheel and when the car turns. This is due to the compliance bushings flexing under load. With the FLP/PCI bearings installed there is no such flex. Nor is there a disconcerting wiggle the nose does when hitting a bump mid-corner. The control is greatly enhanced as you can almost feel the tread-blocks taking up the stress of hanging on for dear life.
I must say, this upgrade, if it is one you might be putting off for fear that it will be one that makes you unhappy for any reason, I think you are possibly cheating yourself out of a great experience. I shudder to think of those who will appreciate the benefits of the Fastline Performance Compliance Bearings yet will never realize them due to risk aversion. These parts are innovative, durable, functional, and fully backed by Heeltoe Automotive. What more could you ask for?
Update 11/12/12: After spending some more time driving with these bearings in, my love for them has only grown. There is a very direct feel from my fingers to the road. When you are on the verge of breaking traction you can almost feel the tires gripping the road, and you can modulate the power very finely. This, of course, is enhanced with the polyurethane Innovative Mounts. however, I am finding the negative feedback from bumps was really overstated in the original writing above. While there are bumps that come up and jolt the front end, I am starting to think this has more to do with my suspension than the bearings. I am considering changing my suspension out soon to experiment with this.