Hard or Soft
I have always been a fan of the Intrax spring and stock struts as far as suspension goes on these cars. I believe it gives the best overall ride and lowered stance appearance out of all of the lowering spring options. Beyond that if you have a car with the stock ECS system installed it takes it a step further as long as the ECS system is operational. Most people don’t realize how sophisticated the stock ECS system really is.
The stock ECS system is a way to control the dampening effect of the struts. The stock system itself has two modes, Tour and Sport. Sport mode sets the struts into a hard dampening mode made for high speed driving and cornering. The tour mode is actually a computer controlled, automatic adjustment system that changes the damping into three modes based on the driving environment. There are 4 different environments that it monitors, Anti-driving, Anti-squatting, Pitch/bounce control and Bad road conditions. Here is a quick breakdown of those conditions.
- Anti-driving – When you stop it will tighten up the front strut dampening to prevent the car nose diving.
- Anti-squatting – When you accelerate it will tighten up the rear struts to prevent the rear of the car squatting.
- Pitch/Bounce – Sets the struts to hard mode if it sees excessive bouncing in the struts.
- Bad Road – Sets the struts to medium mode if it sees fine bouncing in the struts.
Leaving the car in Tour mode when just driving around will give you the best ride using the computerized switching mode based on conditions and when you’re hitting those mountain roads just flip it over to Sport mode and tighten everything up.
Some years ago an idea came into a members head about expanding the functionality of the stock ECS system that would allow a person to select one of the three modes and leave it there. The system would also show the status of each strut and has a built in test mode that tests each strut and mode. Eventually plans were made to expand on the existing auto switching mode and functionality by adding in an anti-roll monitor also. I worked with them a bit and did initial testing of the version 1 system which is what I have and am running now. I prefer to manually switch between the modes myself, with my usually driving with the system in Medium mode.
The system comes with a plug-n-play replacement control box where you remove your old controller and plug in the new one. This out of the box solution uses the stock ECS buttons on ECS lights on the dash. I opted for the expanded control and LED’s. The modes are now controlled by a rotary knob to select each mode and the test mode. There are 4 RGB leds that show the status of each strut in it’s mode and fault status.
Since I was running manual seats at the time I chose to install the control and led in the spot where the seat controls would go. I fashioned up an insert with the knob in the middle and the leds surrounding it to indicate each strut location. I had to extend the wiring to reach all the way back to the stock ECS controller location. Since this was low voltage I used an old USB extension cable as it had the number of wires I ended in the bundle. With the LED’s bundled around the switch and some hot glue to hold it all it fit perfectly into the spot. Later down the road I designed a bezel that would hold the leds and switch and fit into the active aero bezel in the center console. This is a 3d printed part and the design can be found here -> https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3015776
I love the fact that I can switch between the 3 default modes on the fly now. Right when the unit turns on it does a quick self test to ensure it can communicate with all of the struts which will tell you right off the bat if there is a problem. The self test mode tests each strut independently. It tests each mode and lets you know if something fails. Now you don’t have to spend hours troubleshooting to figure out which strut is causing the ECS light to permanently flash in your face.
The controller itself is made by Renegade Tech Works. As of the writing of this article he is no longer producing them that I know of. He did open source the code and plans if you want to build your own. All information about the controller including documentation and videos can be found on his website here -> http://www.renegadetechworks.com/
Below is the demo video from the version 3 controller showing all of the functionality and features that he has built into the newer unit. It is quite amazing what can really be done with the stock ECS system these days considering it’s technology that is almost 30 years old.