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Gran Touring vs. Dynaride suspension


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Can anyone out there tell me specifically what components are in the Gran Touring suspension package that aren't found in the Dynaride (standard) package? Other than it being a "firmer" ride I haven't been able to find out what makes it that way. I'm talking '96 PA Ultra, although the Gran Touring is used on other years models, and I'd like to know if I can upgrade to the Gran Touring suspension without a ton of expense and trouble.

Thanks for any information.

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Dynaride was a terminology for a suspension "system" of sorts similar in concept to what later became the North Star System for Cadillac--but without the electronics. A key player in the Dynaride setup was what they called "Deflected Disc Valving" in the struts (i.e., shock absorber parts of the suspension). Such technology had been used in motorcycle forks for many years prior to that and would allow the engineers to fine tune the ride to be soft when it needed to be yet firmer when it needed to be in a fashion better than the traditionally spring loaded valving. Also included in the Dynaride mix was GM's new way to test/design the seat cushions in the vehicle to further filter out road vibrations and such. Therefore, a system that wasn't just fancy struts but a more comprehensive package that included many components from the road to the occupant (at least that's what the sales literature mentioned).

When the Gran Touring Suspension was ordered, it included different struts that were not Dynaride. Stiffer springs were also typically added along with larger sway bars (front and rear) PLUS more aggressive higher performance tires.

At the present time, if you buy any aftermarket struts or strut cartridges, they will probably be normal replacement items and be somewhere between the standard suspension and optional suspension in "control". You can also add the larger sway bars to your vehicle without much trouble. Some people have had good things to say for the KYB items for those cars.

Depending on what your orientations are, adding a stiffer (and more performance oriented) tire will probably firm up the ride by themselves. The decreased compliance in the tire itself (compared to the standard Generals or UniRoyals) can also result in the struts acting stiffer too. Adding the sway bars or increasing their size or using polyurethane mounting hardware (on the bars and the link bolts that attach them to the control arms/struts) might also aid in making the struts thinking they need to be stiffer.

On the current cars, the upgrade suspensions typically do not include stiffer struts, but just stiffer springs, larger sway bars, and performance oriented tires. It's all a calibrated mix, but then more recent base suspension calilbrations have been more firm than in the past also. There is also more sharing of strut part numbers between the various car lines also.

Hope that helps explain what the differences might be.

NTX5467

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Thanks, NTX5467, for the reply. Your information is very helpful. One question, though. What is the KYB that you spoke of? I'm not familiar with that.

Also, Sears told me that their Monroe replacement listing for struts showed no difference whether the car had Gran Touring or Dynaride. Evidently there isn't a component factor there.

This car has 215-60-16 Michelin Roadhandler T Plus tires on it now, so perhaps part of the Gran Touring stuff is already in place.

I tried to reply to your e-mail address privately, but it kept bouncing as invalid.

Again, thank you very much for your help.

Anonymous,

RB Held

East Sandwich, Mass.

rbheld@gis.net

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KYB is a brand of aftermarket replacement gas shock/struts. Probably more performance oriented than other mainstream brands, but still moderately priced. Seems like they are "mid-pressure" gas shocks/struts whereas most of the mainstream products will be low pressure and Bilsteins being the high pressure variations. Anything Monroe sells will be considered mainstream replacements as their high performance items are very specialized in applications.

If the car had the upgrade suspension on it, it probably had some type of Goodyear Eagle tire from the factory. Might not have been speed rated, but still a more aggressive construction, tread design, and performance characteristics. The Sears Roadhandler you describe would be more "normal" performance tire and probably has a little more performance than the base tire of the base suspension from when the car was new, but not to the level of a Goodyear Eagle GT or RS-A, for example.

When I checked the GM Parts database on those struts today, they were the same for the regular and upgrade suspensions in '96. I was thinking the original DynaRide designation came out more toward the later '80s or early '90s. Several years after it appeared, it might still have been on the window sticker but I don't recall it being mentioned anywhere else except possibly in the sales literature. On the parts side of things, we deal with option codes instead of sales nomenclatures so you most probably will not find any DynaRide references in the parts books (GM or otherwise). In essence, it was the standard suspension designation with a special name that could be used for marketing purposes (i.e., "Only Buick has DynaRide suspension"). As I mentioned, when the suspension was upgraded, it lost the DynaRide designation.

On most late model GM passenger cars, the option code designation for the base suspension calibration is "FE1" as found on the option label in the luggage compartment (on the bottom side of the deck lid or on the spare tire cover under the mat). FE2, FE3, and F41 are designations for the upgrade suspension calibrations.

Not sure why the email bounced as I got one from the gentleman on the frame swap post today.

NTX5467

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One thing I have noticed is that most Ultra's have Grand Touring suspention and 16" wheels. My 95 has Dynaride and 15" wheels with the sealer tires that Buick likes to use. The top of the Struts have a 2 wire electrical terminal at all 4 corners. I too would like to have a firmer ride, so are replacement sturts "wired" also? We got this car when it had 22K on it and I have always thought it had too soft a ride.

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I have seen a lot of Ultras, even supercharged ones (as the first few years did not have the supercharger option), with regular tires (even whitewalls) and wire wheel covers. I suspect to a particular group of buyers, having the top of the line Buick means having whitewalls and wire wheel covers (nothing wrong with that at all!!) and the whitewalls typically were the self-sealing Uniroyals (another option). But, when the Gran Touring suspension was ordered it deleted the whitewalls, wire wheel covers, and self-sealing tires in one feld swoop in favor of higher performance (Eagle GT+4 all season performance radials in many cases) tires and alloy wheels. A lot of what was ordered for dealer stock probably could have been influenced by the particular district sales rep from Buick or a dealer's market area demographics.

I have seen some references to electronic struts in the Buick parts database, but have not encountered any vehicles with them in our shop--other than Cadillacs. In earlier times, Buick did offer some electronic struts on the Skylark back in the middle '80s. At that time, they were very pricey to replace so I somewhat doubt many were replaced with similar items but the more common and less expensive items.

If there's not some sort of suspension "ride selector switch" or a means to program such (probably covered in the service manual or owner's manual), it could be that whatever changes in the internal resistance are programmed into the body control module. In some situations, as in the Corvettes, there were several tiers of resistance that were speed related and happened automatically with no driver input. I might need to chase down a factory service manual to find out about these things.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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NTX5467.

I have the original stiker and it or the owner manual do not say anything about electronic suspention. Your are right about the whitewall sealer tires they were an option. We have 57k on the car now, and I have been thing about replaceing the wheels and tire from 15" 70 series to comperabe 16" 60's with a wheel style simular to later model Ultra's

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Electronic Control Ride & Handling was option code FX3. The system has a control module (that looks like it might be mounted between two of the lateral beams on the front cradle) and an accelerometer that is mounted adjacent to it. The accelerometer would measure accelleration/decelleration plus lateral "g" forces also. The same option code goes back in to the earlier '90s and later '80s also. Some of the same modules and such on the Buick Park Avenues also fit early '90s Cadillacs.

They might use the accelerometer to measure speed (as the G Analyst does instead of using input from the ECM or BCM sensors) but the fact it also measures lateral forces leads me to believe that in the event of a sudden turning or stopping maneuver (as in active accident avoidance situations) it will also firm up the struts on one side/end of the car to make the car handle better in that situation--similar to what the current stability controls do but the earlier FX3 system would not have brake intervention as the current systems do (other than what the existing ABS would already be doing on the earlier system).

The electronic front struts (option code FX3) for a '96 Park Avenue retail for over $500.00 each.

As with the Gran Touring Suspension option package, the FX3 suspension package could have been part of another option group instead of being a free-standing option, therefore, it might not be listed individually on the window sticker but the FX3 code would be on the Service Parts Information Label in the trunk. Whatever suspension the vehicle has will have its respective option code on the label in the trunk so it is pretty easy to find out what is on the car that way.

Hope this helps . . .

NTX5467

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Regarding the Gran Touring Suspension, as OEM equipped from the factory for the years 1997 to present, I also had a question about the various components, so that I could consider suspension part upgrades. My vehicle is a 1997 Park Avenue Ultra, with the Gran Touring suspension.

I had the Buick dealer's Parts Desk research all the suspension components by Part Number, including the springs, bushings, shocks/struts, and anti-roll bar. He reported that virtually all part numbers are identical for all model years 1997 to current for all suspension components. Furthermore, virtually the only difference between a GT and standard Park Avenue suspension is that a stiffer anti-rollbar is specified for the GT suspension. Strangely enough, some car testers report a much stiffer ride for the GT vs. the standard suspension, but its all in their heads- they are the same. Only when turning at speed, would a difference occur.

Also, I researched all the after market shock/strut makers, and only Monroe offers a replacement unit- none of the others have any, including Bilstein, KYB, Koni, or Gabriel.

I have found that various tires do create a major difference, due to sidewall stiffness- Michelin's MGT "Green" tire, creates a hard ride.

Finally, located a tire company that uses the latest tire balancer that adjusts for "road force", which is variations in stiffness around the circumference of the tire. BMW recommends such a balancer and it makes quite a difference in smoothness.

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As we've mentioned previously on a tire balance post, there are a couple of balancers on the market that can do Road Force Variation measurements (and instruct on possible ways to attempt to decrease it with repositioning the tire on the wheel) are part of GM's dealer shop equipment requirements. I suspect that not many tire stores will have them for obvious reasons, but GM dealers which are "tire brand neutral" of sorts will have to have them to adequately address tire vibrations issues on new vehicles under the GM warranty. We've even had some Michelins that have failed.

As I discovered with Pirelli P77s on my '77 Camaro (w/WS6 upgrades), they rode nicely with the KONIs but I also could not get the KONIs adjusted "up" enough to get them to feel "right" either. When I got a set of BFG Radial T/As back on there (after two sets of P77s), only then did the "gutsy" feel come back. Something in the rubber and construction of the Pirellis obviously were filtering too much out compared to the BFGs.

Since model year 2000, GM has standardized their chassis components more than in the past, especially with struts/shocks on the cars. Intrigues had the same front/rear struts as Grand Prixs (which have only one f/r set of struts regardless of whether it's an SE, GT, or GTP), for example. Similar with other platform families too.

If the struts are the same, sway bars only vary in a few mm or from tubular to solid, that only leaves tires and springs as the other calibration areas. In some cases, the only difference in an FE1 and FE2 calibration would be a different tire on the vehicle (i.e., General with the FE1 on a Buick and Goodyear Eagle LS on a Grand Prix), for example.

The one area that seems to be most ambiguous is the spring area itself. There are still label codes/numbers on the springs and codes on the SPID label in the trunk, but how they typically relate to stiffness are not listed, only how they relate to one another in the "rated load" consideration in the GM Parts spring chart. There might be something out there that lists each spring part number and its ride rate and rated load, but I haven't seen any evidence of it.

Therefore, the stiffer tire (higher performance capabilities) and the different spring rates (which also interact with vehicle weight) can probably affect the accelerations the pistons on the struts "see" as the vehicle moves down the road. A stiffer spring would be expected to put higher accelerations (+ & -) on the piston/valving against the oil in the strut/shock than a softer one would, I suspect, as it would see more and quicker movements that it would need to control. Therefore, the same strut could kick into the firmer calibrations sooner with stiffer tires and springs than with a softer tire/spring combination (at least that's the best explanation I have come up with).

In prior times, it was easier to figure out what was stiff and what wasn't, but with everything now being firmer than in the past, the base suspension is what the previous "handling" suspension used to be, just not with the higher performance tires.

As for aftermarket struts and such for Buicks, sometimes you have to look for Pontiac stuff to get the higher performance items (when the same GM part fits both). The KONI website does not list things for the current Grand Prix but other websites and magazines say they are out there and are necessary when using lowering springs on those cars, for example. Other "car parts" websites might not list all applications either--at least that's my experience. Being that Buicks of recent times have not been classed as performance vehicles, whereas Pontiacs have, that's where the bulk of performance information tends to exist (even thought both makes share many chassis components and dimensions).

Also, GM used to list the sway bar specs in the parts database, but that has only begun to happen again in the past few years. But, with the advent of tubular sway bars, that issue is typically not addressed in the parts database except in a few cases. Therefore, picking the largest bar might result in it not being the stiffest one either. It's like the chassis calibration people did their "thing" with each make and model and did not want anyone tampering with what they did.

The other thing is that as the Gran Touring Suspension could be listed as a "free standing option", it was usually paired with a more encompassing option package on many Buicks and could have even been standard equipment on some models. Note, the first Ultras did not have the Gran Touring suspension as standard equipment, even with the supercharged motor. Therefore, you usually have to look for the instrument panel nameplate, if there is one.

There are probably more crossbreed capabilities in struts, sway bar sizings, and spring combinations in the various GM platforms than are evident in the GM parts database. There are some insignificant "changes" that will generate a different GM part number for an item compared to another "like" item. Drilling one hole in the same stamping or casting will generate a different part number, for example, when both parts will fit the same application.

I've been looking in the GM Parts database to try to figure out what makes an Aurora handle and have a different "character" on the road than a Bonneville or Park Avenue of the same model year, for example. Similar with the GM W-platform cars too.

Along in about '98, CAR AND DRIVER magazine did a track test of a Regal, Intrigue, and Grand Prix with each division's upgrade suspension package (when available). Each had a little different character and feel, but the track times and skid pad figures were so close it was unreal--although different driving skills were needed. I do know that a '98 Regal LS with the Gran Touring suspension is a much more firm and stable car than the current similar vehicle. The struts are different than what are currently used too. I mention that for reference purposes.

In some ways, you have to break the "code" to figure out what's going on and how to enhance it--just like reconfiguring a computer program. Not quite like it was in the '70s!

Enjoy and thanks for your time!

NTX5467

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