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View Full Version : Tokico Shock and Strut Problems



jpetillo
10-01-2005, 11:13 AM
I have a completely stock '89 SC. Recently, at 90 K miles, I swapped the original worn out shocks and struts for a new set of Illumina II Tokico shocks and struts. With the stockers, the suspension was a bit boaty over heaves in the road, and it was stiff as a rock when the electronic damping came on.

After first putting on the new Tokicos, they felt even more boaty than the old stockers, and I felt no difference at all when the electronic damping turned on. The solonoids are properly engaged in the shocks, and they are rotating when I turn the switch on from the inside.

To stiffen them up, I then rotated the electronic adjusters in the shocks 1/2 turn in the direction to stiffen the damping, then put the solenoids back on. It did stiffen the damping slightly (I feel every little bump in the road), but it still boats over heave-like bumps - like you feel when you need new shocks. It still does nothing when the solenoids kick in.

The car simply couldn't handle worse. The rear end dips onto the outer tire as I go into an off-ramp a slight bit hot, and does nothing to inspire confidence. The old stokers were much better.

It feels like there's no low speed damping in the shocks, just high speed. I'm not talking about the car going low or high speed, but the shock movement velocity. So it's stiff over sharp bumps all the time and boaty over low shallow bumps - and feels like I need new shocks!

Has anyone had a similar experience? Is there a way to set the adjusters before I put the solenoids over the top to know I'm starting at the right place? I know the Tokicos aren't the number one choice, but they can't be this bad. I must have them set up wrong.

Thanks

LJGriggs
10-01-2005, 12:49 PM
Did you change the springs when you changed the shocks? If not, that could be a contributing factor to the floating. I installed the Tokico Illumina II shocks with the matching springs a few years back and haven't had any problems. They are a little soft in the automatic setting, but I always use the firm-ride. Shocks will help to dampen the "bounce", but they won't correct issues with worn out springs.

XR7 Dave
10-01-2005, 05:59 PM
This is not an entirely uncommon complaint with the Tokico Illuminas. I bought a set for our XR7 about 10 years ago. I did not like them from day one for the exact same reasons that you have listed and made the retailer who installed them take them back off. I since bought Koni's and have been happy ever since.

It is amazing what a quality shock can do for the car. The Koni's, while not cockpit adjustable, are firm yet not harsh. They do not float at any speeds, and they do not require frequent adjustment. It just doesn't feel like the same car. The XR7 with the Koni's rides hands down better than any other SC I've ever ridden in. I soaks up small bumps such that I hear them more than feel them (I have wide low profile 17 tires also) yet does not float, pitch or dive.

But as to your original question, it is possible that you got a dud set of shocks, but it is not likely that you have installed them incorrectly. The ARC system checks itself and if the adjusters do not rotate properly then the light flashes (when in auto mode) letting you know that one of them is stuck. I don't believe you can install the actuators incorrectly.

Flip
10-01-2005, 06:50 PM
I just installed a set of Tokico Illuminas IIs in my 93 last April and have had great success with them. Car is lowered 1 but it rides nice on the regular setting and can really tell a difference on the firm setting. They were the last item of a complete suspension rework front to back. I guess it is possible that you got a bad shock or two but all four seems unlikely. You might want to check the springs also. Have you called Tokico about it?

jpetillo
10-01-2005, 10:17 PM
Did you change the springs when you changed the shocks? If not, that could be a contributing factor to the floating. I installed the Tokico Illumina II shocks with the matching springs a few years back and haven't had any problems. They are a little soft in the automatic setting, but I always use the firm-ride. Shocks will help to dampen the "bounce", but they won't correct issues with worn out springs.

Thanks for the reponse. No I didn't change the springs. I realize that stiffer springs require less damping, and have been thinking the same thing as you suggest that these shocks were designed with stiffer springs in mind. They shouildn't adverttise them as stock replacements that are 30%(?) stiffer.

jpetillo
10-01-2005, 10:23 PM
This is not an entirely uncommon complaint with the Tokico Illuminas. I bought a set for our XR7 about 10 years ago. I did not like them from day one for the exact same reasons that you have listed and made the retailer who installed them take them back off. I since bought Koni's and have been happy ever since.

It is amazing what a quality shock can do for the car. The Koni's, while not cockpit adjustable, are firm yet not harsh. They do not float at any speeds, and they do not require frequent adjustment. It just doesn't feel like the same car. The XR7 with the Koni's rides hands down better than any other SC I've ever ridden in. I soaks up small bumps such that I hear them more than feel them (I have wide low profile 17 tires also) yet does not float, pitch or dive.

But as to your original question, it is possible that you got a dud set of shocks, but it is not likely that you have installed them incorrectly. The ARC system checks itself and if the adjusters do not rotate properly then the light flashes (when in auto mode) letting you know that one of them is stuck. I don't believe you can install the actuators incorrectly.

It's good to know that I'm not going nuts - seeing that you had the same experience. I knew the Tokicos weren't as well liked as the Kinos, but I went for the ARC controlled shocks. It was a mistake. I wished I went with the Konis the second I drive the car with the Tokicos. You have helped confirm that.

I put the rears in myself, but paid handsomely for the fronts to be installed. So switching to the Konis will be painful financially. I think I should talk with Tokico about them.

Thanks for the input.

jpetillo
10-01-2005, 10:32 PM
I just installed a set of Tokico Illuminas IIs in my 93 last April and have had great success with them. Car is lowered 1 but it rides nice on the regular setting and can really tell a difference on the firm setting. They were the last item of a complete suspension rework front to back. I guess it is possible that you got a bad shock or two but all four seems unlikely. You might want to check the springs also. Have you called Tokico about it?

Agreed, I need to talk with Tokico. The car seems evenly balanced from left to right and front to back. The front will slowly bounce as well as the back. So, either they are all bad or not. I agree that it seems unlikely that I have 4 bad shiocks.

I feel absolutely nothing when the ARC is engaged. I checked them all for proper installation, and they are on right. That's why I was wondering it there's a way to know that the adjusters are rotated into the right place to start. For example, do you rotate them until they hit a stop, then rotate them in the opposite direction for so many turns, then install tha ARC? I just made that procedure up, but mine simply seem to not be close that I wonder if something like that it the problem.

But between you and LJGriggs, you seem to be happy with the shocks, but with different springs. My stock springs may have sagged over the years, but the spring rate should have stayed the same, which is what matters. Your spring rates must be much higher.

Thanks for the help - yes, I'll call Tokico.

XR7 Dave
10-01-2005, 11:01 PM
I bought the Tokico springs and shocks at the same time so they were both brand new. I also have the Tokico shocks with Eibach springs on my other car (I bought it that way) and I don't like it either. It's not so bad but I have bought Koni's to replace those as well. I feel a difference between soft and firm in that car but somehow the shocks are harsh and floaty at the same time.

My personal opinion is that the Tokico's have too much compression dampening and not enough rebound control. Perhaps with the right springs they will work well.

I've ridden in Flip's car recently and I can testify that his SC drives very nicely. I don't know how to explain the differences in how the cars ride, but it's not your (or my) imagination.

Birdman93
10-02-2005, 06:03 AM
I have Illumina IIs on my 95-they seem to work just fine-for now. The car will be receiving a complete suspension rebuild soon, and I'm not sure if I will use the Illuminas or not.

fast Ed
10-02-2005, 10:08 AM
Illumina 2s worked well in my car for about 40,000 miles, then got pretty soft. I had them on the firm setting about 90% of the time. Car got to the point where it was very floaty over large dips in the highway.

Changed to Konis, I agree with David's assessment. Great shocks, wish I had gone with them in the first place.


cheers
Ed N.

T-bird4vr
10-02-2005, 01:10 PM
I'm really enjoying my s/t springs, but I wish I had some koni's inthere as well.

jpetillo
10-02-2005, 02:08 PM
Guys,

I appreciate all the input, and the new replies from Dave, Birdman, Ed & T-Bird4vr. It's all very helpful.

From what I gathered from all this is that the Tokicos are simply underdampled for shallow bumps (insufficient low speed damping, as us motorcycle guys would say), but with stiffer springs they can be acceptable.

Unless a call to Tokico reveals some unknown secret, I have three options, new springs, new shocks/struts, or live with it. Well, living it makes the car no fun to drive. I have to drive more slowly than with the worn out stockers or risk losing the rear end in an exit ramp.

I'll let you know what happens.

Regards

Flip
10-02-2005, 03:38 PM
I feel absolutely nothing when the ARC is engaged. I checked them all for proper installation, and they are on right. That's why I was wondering it there's a way to know that the adjusters are rotated into the right place to start. For example, do you rotate them until they hit a stop, then rotate them in the opposite direction for so many turns, then install tha ARC? I just made that procedure up, but mine simply seem to not be close that I wonder if something like that it the problem.


Not sure what exactly your talking about here. But the ARC should just snap onto the top of the shock. They have no adjustment that I know of.

You know one thing you could do is buy some new springs and Konis have the front struts/springs mounted and change them out yourself (to save some $$) and then sell your Tokicos here or on ebay. If you do it soon I bet you would get at least of you money back. That is if you can afford it. I know you already have $$ invested. It should be an enjoyable drive. I know it must be horrible to spend that kind of $$ and have a crappy ride.

jpetillo
10-02-2005, 08:58 PM
Not sure what exactly your talking about here. But the ARC should just snap onto the top of the shock. They have no adjustment that I know of.

Yes, the ARC just snaps on, but I can rotate the adjusters on the shock clockwise or counterclockwise 180 degrees before snapping on the ARC. The question is whether they were in the proper location whern the ARCs were installed - or if it matters because they may repeat the damping adjustment cycle every 180 or 360 degrees. Tokico can answer that for me.


You know one thing you could do is buy some new springs and Konis have the front struts/springs mounted and change them out yourself (to save some $$) and then sell your Tokicos here or on ebay. If you do it soon I bet you would get at least of you money back. That is if you can afford it. I know you already have $$ invested. It should be an enjoyable drive. I know it must be horrible to spend that kind of $$ and have a crappy ride.

Flip, I think this is a good idea. I can install the struts myself if the springs are installed on the struts, and the rear shocks are really easy to swap out. Yes it was horrible spending the money for a crappy ride. But, it's horrible driving it the way it is now.

Conan56
10-02-2005, 09:05 PM
I think If you were Using a Linear Rate Spring with those Tokicos You would be much happier I have A set Of Tokicos with a Set Of Voglants on one Of my SCs and I actually Liek the ride better then the My other SC that has
Eibachs and Koni adj The Eibachs are Like the factory spring (both progressive rate) They feel Floaty Until you enter a turn and Compress the smaller coils of the spring. Then It starts to tighten Up

The Voglandts and Tokicos feel Firm Under all conditions in my experience

jpetillo
10-02-2005, 09:15 PM
I think If you were Using a Linear Rate Spring with those Tokicos You would be much happier I have A set Of Tokicos with a Set Of Voglants on one Of my SCs and I actually Liek the ride better then the My other SC that has
Eibachs and Koni adj The Eibachs are Like the factory spring (both progressive rate) They feel Floaty Until you enter a turn and Compress the smaller coils of the spring. Then It starts to tighten Up

The Voglandts and Tokicos feel Firm Under all conditions in my experience

Hmm, that's interesting. I can see that a linear spring would help with weak low speed damping like these Tokicos seem to have.

Thanks for the input - I'll keep this in mind.

XR7 Dave
10-02-2005, 09:34 PM
I just drove a car today that has a brand new set of Tokico springs and shocks. I have 2 comments. 1) you can barely tell the difference between firm and soft. If fact I couldn't tell the difference but the owner tells me that you can tell on rough roads. 2) The car drove really nice. I actually liked it. Not as much as my Koni's mind you, but this car drove a lot like recall Flip's car riding.

So, I think my conclusion is that the shocks should be used with matching springs.

XR7 Dave
10-02-2005, 09:38 PM
I would also note that Tokico did make a change in the design of their springs at some point. My original set that I bought was in 1996 and they are progressive much like the OE springs. Now as I understand it Tokico's springs are linear rate which makes total sense when you think about it.