Tech Corner: Subframe Connectors are a Worthy Investment

Tech Corner - Though welding skills range from basic to advanced, we are going to label this mini-series as Advanced because our hope is to build your knowledge to a point that, with some practice, you can feel confident tackling more detailed projects.Some of the hottest performance muscle cars are built on the unibody platform. Firebirds, Camaros, Mustangs, and just about anything Mopar are all built with subframes, rather than full frames. Count on some major advantages to this setup, even if there are a few downfalls. The biggest setback, by far, is that the only thing connecting the frame rails are the floor boards. Because of this, as the vehicle moves, the body can twist and torque. It might only be a small amount, but it can still put a damper on performance. Adding in a set of subframe connectors is a sure-fire way to stiffen up the chassis and help prevent loss in performance.

Weld-In vs Bolt-In

There are two styles of subframe connectors. The most trusted among consumers is the weld-in type. When looking into connectors like these, there are a few things to keep in mind. You may be required to cut the floor boards, or subframe rails, depending on the brand and application. It sounds like a hassle, but the ends justify the means. This will keep the subframe tucked up to the body as tightly as possible, improving rigidity. Of course, welding is on the agenda too. Though these types of subframes do require a longer install time, it still shouldn’t take much longer than a day’s worth of work to wrap it up.

Bolt-in connectors are viewed as less effective, as they aren’t completely mated to the vehicle’s chassis. Some people feel that there’s still room for flex because welds aren’t used. Bolt-ins, however, are easier to install and are even more affordable in some cases. These factors make it the desirable choice for many. Obviously, the subframes will have to be modified in order to run bolts through them, but nothing will have to be cut apart. Once the subframes are mounted with fasteners, it’s okay to take the extra step and weld them into place if you’re skeptical of how the bolts will do the job.

Easy Performance Mod

The actual shape of a subframe connector can make a big difference. Commonly, they’re found in a square design. These may look more natural to the vehicle, but they have some shortcomings in comparison to their tubular counterparts. Round tubing is a lot more resistant to twisting and contorting than angular designs. If the option is available to the application, going tubular is a no-brainer.

Stiffening up the chassis can help increase handling and traction, as the forces at work will have a harder time manipulating the body. Now, you might think you can whip up a set of subframe connectors in a weekend’s time if you put your mind to it. You’re right. But at the end of the day, the investment in time spent and materials gathered may be greatly outweighed by the convenience of letting companies like QA1 or Hotchkis do the leg work.

Always Room for Improvement

The unibody platform is still in use today and is even more commonly found in production than body-on-frame designs. It has come a long way over the years, but even late model muscle cars can benefit from this upgrade. In fact, just about any kind of vehicle that will be built up for performance is going to be well aided with a reinforced chassis. Subframe connectors are easy to install and the investment is minimal. Just like any other speed part, prices vary on application but it won’t run much more than a few hundred bucks and a couple of hours in the garage. Once they’re in, the only thing left to do is tear up some blacktop.

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