So it's the little things that matter most, huh? Whether it's true or not, I'm unsure. But when it comes to suspension, there is certainly a case to be made. It's a common misconception that all one needs are new shocks, sway bars, a Panhard bar, and so on, and their car is ready to take the high seas straight to the track. This is where the problem lies, however. All those components do work, and drastically improve handling by stabilizing unwanted suspension movement. Whether it's made to stabilize lateral, forward, or an up-and-down motion, aftermarket suspension components are made to keep the car tight and straight. Although the new suspension parts are doing just that, the bushings in those parts might not be.
Factory OEM bushings are designed for highway cruising, not dipping into a corner at accelerated speeds or taking on loads of torque. Because of this, the bushings crush under pressure, which decreases handling and performance. Even though the new suspension parts are doing exactly what they are designed to do, the rubber bushings can't quite keep up with the demands of the car, and you suffer. Many suspension companies sell their products (considering these products require bushings) with polyurethane bushings already installed to fix the problem. But when it comes to control arm bushings, motor mounts, torque arm mounts, and parts you don't plan on replacing, the only way to compensate is to install the polyurethane bushings yourself.
Energy Suspension in San Clemente, California, has the cure for the inadequate rubber bushings. Throughout its two decades of polyurethane bushing development, HYPER-FLEX technology has been applied to nearly all aspects of the Chevy market. What exactly is HYPER-FLEX? Its Energy Suspension's technically advanced chemical formulation performance polyurethane that has been granted nine U.S. patents. The HYPER-FLEX polyurethane product is much more durable, performance-oriented, and longer lasting than rubber components used on cars, trucks, SUVs, and the like. The bushings can also withstand oils, atmospheric conditions such as ozone, smog, road salt, chemicals, and other contaminants that can destroy and breakdown rubber bushings over time.
HYPER-FLEX bushings are also designed for each specific application. Because some parts need to be stiffer and some softer, Energy designs each bushing with the correct durometer, which is firmness or softness. From front to back, Energy has designed a bushing to replace the OEM rubber bushings on just about all Chevy cars and trucks. Whether it's a control arm bushing, a trailing arm, a Panhard bar, an end link, a leaf-spring pad, or a body mount. If there's an OEM bushing, there's a good chance Energy has one, as well.
To get an in-depth look and feel for the Energy HYPER-FLEX polyurethane touch, we took a Fourth-Gen Camaro down to the facility in San Clemente. The Camaro is already outfitted with new sway bars, a torque arm, shocks, coilovers, a Panhard bar, and trailing arms that all have polyurethane bushings installed. For that reason, we're not going to replace the existing polyurethane bushings with new ones; keep in mind, though, that Energy does have bushings available that will replace those applications. Although a good majority of the suspension components do have polyurethane, one major aspect still riding on OEM rubber is the front control arms.
The Energy HYPER-FLEX bushings for control arms are designed to drastically improve handling, sharpen steering response and overall vehicle control. All of Energy's control arm bushings are full-floating and non-binding. This aspect is especially important in terms of lowered vehicles that have altered suspension geometry. The Energy bushings help keep your vehicle aligned because lowered vehicles place more stress and suspension load on the vehicle that the softer rubber bushings can't accommodate. In the case of Energy's bushings, the durometer of the polyurethane counteracts the stress of a lowered vehicle and keeps the suspension more upright and aligned.
In the rear of the car, the polyurethane bushings are designed to help control wheelhop, reduce shudder during braking, and increase cornering control, too. Essentially, all of the Energy Suspension HYPER-FLEX bushings act the same way. They're designed to pick up where the OEM rubber let off, and take the performance and durability aspect to the next level. In a case where metal is used with the bushings, such as a motor mount, the metal is zinc-plated for long-lasting life.
One might still think, how big of a difference can a polyurethane bushing make over a rubber bushing? Well, here's my story. When I pulled up to Energy my car was LOW, I mean low as in the wheel tucked up in the wheelwell at all times. I knew the frontend would be apart, and this would be the perfect time to raise up my coilovers 3/4 of an inch, which would have set the wheelwell right at the top of the tire. After the install was finished and the car was raised 3/4 inch, I pulled off the lift to find that my wheelwells were now nearly an inch above the tires.
The new bushings were so stiff that my car no longer sagged to the ground, and that was only my initial visual impression. Once I got in and drove off, it took no more than 200 feet to feel the difference. When I pulled out of the driveway, I could immediately tell the suspension was tight and much more performance-oriented. That thought was only amplified when I nailed it and dove into a hard turn. No joke, it was as if I took a bite out of an orange and then turned around and ate a banana. It was that different, and all for the better.