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Tofu Shop Owner
781 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK... for all of you that didn't know this was coming, here's a setup for you. If you know what's going on, you can skip this next paragraph and get to the juicy stuff. :D Enjoy!

Random Thoughts has developed a Rear Strut Brace for all the generations of Altimas... although I have yet to see this thing on a 3rd-Gen. There is one in Thurznite's car, and one in my car. I believe there is one in Ry's car as well. At the initial fitting, we tested the car a bit under normal street conditions, and I was unable to discern a difference... but I agreed that this needed some on-track test time. How convenient!!! I had some track-time scheduled for November 24 at Willow Springs. So, after a retard crashed his almost-new S2000, and a couple of people blowing up their engines (More on this in the West-Siyeeed section of Get-Local), hailstorms, fat-ass-raindrops that could blast holes through paper (I tested this), I survived to bring you the following report from Willow Springs...

For preliminary information, here's my setup:
  • 1999 (2nd Gen) Automatic (Blame my Mom for this one... she would not let me teach her to drive manual, but she insisted that she be able to drive my car in case of emergencies).
  • Engine is completely stock :eek:, save my Ghetto Ram-Air CAI (I have a review about on the Ghetto-CAI and standing water in this thread too)
  • 17x7" Rims with +35mm Offset
  • 225/45ZR17 Michelin Pilot Sports
  • Ground Control Adjustable Coil-Over Setup with custom spring rates.
  • Front Spring Rate 300 lb/in on a 8" Coil.
  • Rear Spring Rate 275 lb/in on a 7" Coil.
  • 2" Tire-to-Fender gap in Front (About 3 of my fingers for you technical types: Index, Middle, and Ring).
  • 1.5" Tire-to-Fender gap in Rear (About 2 fingers: Index & Middle).
  • KYB GR-2 Struts all around.
  • Stillen Front Strut Brace with all available pre-load. (Read no slack)
  • Stillen Front Camber Plates (Set to -1.0 degrees camber)
  • Genuine Philips HIDs... not really important for suspension modding, but I just like to tell/show people that I have HID's. :D

I decided that it would be easier to do the first runs on the track with the RSTB installed, because the way I operate, I really notice things when they do stuff, and then I take them out... like I recently experienced with the replacement of my 225/45ZR17 Michelin Pilot Sports with the stock 195/65R15 General Touring tires (yes, they're not even Z Rated, and yet General can call them "Touring" tires... go figure :rolleyes:). So here's the results.

Those of you that have driven my car at its full potential (Thurznite Only... Ry and a Maxima dude drove a retarded version wearing the 195/65R15's), know that my car is a highly capable touring car and fairly-easy-to-drive-fast. So at the track, I thought it handled very predictably, as usual (Read: The RSTB did not do anything spectacular or noticeable to improve the handling characteristics of my car). For comparison, when I put on the Stillen FSTB, the change was very noticeable, and when I didn't have the strut brace in for one of the AutoX's (because of the Sentra Camber Plates that the retarded Techs at Pann installed), I noticed the change, and the lack of rigidity up front. Now onto the interesting stuff... the runs without the Strut Brace.

When I opened the trunk, I noticed that the hinges squeaked. My guess is that the strut brace had something to do with that... As per Random Thoughts' promise, the strut brace was still snug in its perch, with no evidence of slippage during the race sessions. So for those of you that are worried about the "Shower-Curtain-Rod" design, it does provide enough force to keep the rod stationary, even at high lateral loads, as well as high lateral and longitudinal weight-transfers. But you're all asking "BUT DOES IT WORK!!!???" Well, as I mentioned before, upon installation, the RSTB did not make a very large initial impression, like the Stillen FTSB did. I thought, OK. It's a REAR strut brace, so I might notice its absence more than I noticed its presence.

During the runs without the rear strut brace, I DID notice a little bit more play in the rear, and a little slower lateral weight-transfer, but I also noticed that the passive rear-steering system (Super-Toe-Control for the uninitiated. :D) participated more in the turns... Compared to having the brace in, the lack of the brace felt like a perfect oversteer-limit turn every time. The car rotated almost like a mid-engine rear-drive car... save for the understeer if I goosed the throttle... but throttle-lift oversteer limits were more predictable, and full-throttle understeer-limits were more predictable. Needless to say, being the Oversteer-worshipper that I am, I left the brace in the pit area for the rest of the day.

For those of you that were contemplating buying one of these braces, you need to really ask yourself how often you're going to encounter track conditions. Under normal street-driving conditions, given my existing suspension setup, I did not notice any improvement in handling. True, it IS a relative bargain, but you have to ask yourself DO YOU REALLY NEED THIS? If you don't plan to visit the race-tracks, I don't recommend you buy one. You would probably have more fun if you used the 60 bucks at a strip club. There's a lot of Washingtons for tips-in-panties and tips-in-cleavage there, and maybe even a lap-dance or two.

For those of you Touring-Car race-fans, the question you need to ask yourself is "DO I LIKE Super-Toe-Control?". If you say that you like the passive rear-steering system (as I do), then you will conclude that you do not need one. If you feel that the rear-wheels of a front-drive car should just follow without a mind of their own, you will want one of these braces. Think of them as similar in concept to the HICAS defeat-braces that Stillen sells. HICAS and Super HICAS is the rear steering system that Nissan put on some later 300ZX's. This brace will make the rear-steering on Altimas (at least 2nd Gens) kick in much later. I'm not exactlysure why the brace it does this, but but this was my on-track impression.

For the show-scene, being almost a generic brand (no offense to Random Thoughts), I doubt the show-cars would want one of these because it wouldn't earn you very many points... but that's up to you... and the judges. I don't completely understand the show-car scene, and I don't understand why some cars win and others don't, so I won't say anything more. :D

Home-Depot Ram-Air CAI vs Standing Water under Race Conditions
Here's my setup, the stock airbox is still there, but the resonator box and the short intake track are gone. In their place, is a stock-diameter pipe that runs from the stock filter-box, down through the fender, to the driver-side fog-light hole. Ram-Air CAI. :D

As I have noted before, under normal street-driving conditions, I didn't notice anything. But push the needle to the high-side of 80 mph, and the Ram-Air effect is very noticeable. Throttle-response is much more immediate, and the engine revs a little lower. For comparison: In top gear with the OD on, my car used to rev at about 3750 rpm at 100 mph. Now at 100mph, it revs around 3500 to 3550 rpm. Saves some gas-mileage if you like running on the high-side of the legal limit for long distances.

On the track, towards the end of the day, it started raining... and raining hard. Standing water on the track about 8" deep. Racing continued. At first, I was a little worried, so I started by avoiding the standing water completely. On subsequent laps, as I learned that the CAI didn't suck in water, I gradually took different lines that took me deeper and deeper into the standing water. I eventually ran right through the deepest part of the puddle with my driver-front tire (the CAI comes out on the driver-side fog-light hole). I took all 8 inches of that monster and guess what!!?? NO HYDRO LOCK!!! :D Wait... that last sentence didn't sound right. Skip that 8-inch monster part. The filter itself was a little (read barely) damp, but that happens all the time when it rains and when the air is cold and humid.

So for those of you with concerns about the CAI or Ram-Air CAI sucking in water, I did not have any problems with 8 inches of standing water... but then again, I WAS going about 80 mph when I hit the puddle... Oh well.

Hope this was an informative thread, tune in next time for... for... I don't know yet... but I'll figure something out. :D


U13 Drifter
548 Posts
good man, very informative. and btw, super toe control has given me quite a scare a few times at the limit, lol but it's nice to have a rear end that's not "dead"

546 Posts
Super toe control kicks ass! I love it! Feels like the car is going into oversteer but never does :D I guess I can live without the RSTB.

master of the 5th speed
55 Posts
i call bullshit, i call bullshit!!! u were doing 80mph going thru 8" of water!?!?!?!?!? aight dog, i'm just messing with ya. i had my doubts about the brace anyway. i'm going up there with u to the next event tho.

1,323 Posts
nice nice run. so how were u compared to the other drivers and their cars? any pics or videos?
I don't think 1st gens have STC...just searched the net and only 1 source mentioned it. So I'll hafta come up with my own verdict for 1st gens.
I'll talk to you more about your experience later.

348 Posts
1st gens do have the super toe control. I like it too. We had a discussion a while back on rstbs. I thought we did not need one anyway because the structure behind the rear seat & rear deck ties that area together. IMO a rstb is a waste of time & money. Thanks for the write up. Tommy
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