Lowering KE1x Front using KE2x parts

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--Philbey 23:15, 21 May 2008 (EST)

This article is not all my work, it has been pieced together with info divulged from regular contributors such as camerondownunder, ROL-110 and Felix. I've done an upgrade based on what I pieced together from digging through, but most of the info comes Scotts post: http://www.rollaclub.com/board/index.php?showtopic=7435&hl=lower


So lets begin with a little explanation of KE1x front ends: They have Macpherson struts, a typical integrated coil spring/shock absorber combination. BUT they also have a leaf spring that runs through the front engine crossmember that connects to the lower wishbones.

Its apparent that the leaf spring takes the bulk of the car's front weight (~50%), and the coil springs a little less (~25% each). This should create a progressive spring rate effect, like those fancy race springs!

Because the front springs are quite short and soft, shorter springs (ie Superlows etc) and cutting out coils leaves your spring perches very close together and will likely clash under hard cornering. But there is a nice solution to get an easy inch out of your suspension.

Shopping List

All you need to get your hands on are: - Upper spring perches from a KE20 corolla

- Ring Spacers, 15mm internal diameter, 21mm external diameter, 8mm tall

Thats it. I got the spring perches with KE20 Springs and strut tops for less than 20 bucks at a wrecker. The ring spacers I got made by a mate, he knocked them up in less than 20 minutes on a lathe. There are other items you can use, I will explain later.

Here is a diagram of a KE1x strut (most of it) to assist those who aren't too familiar:

1. Strut top, the 3 studs are what poke through your strut tower, accessed from under the bonnet

2. Upper Spring perch "top hat". This is a KE1x strut, which have 2 piece upper spring perches.

3. Upper spring perch "hat brim". The other portion of the upper spring perch.

4. Shock absorber rod, also known as the bit that goes in and out......

5. Strut body.

6. Lower Spring Perch, welded to the strut body.

Ke1x assy no spring numbered.JPG

Note - spring is removed in this pic.


I'll skip the bit on how to pull the strut out of the car, thats fairly self explanatory. Unbolt things and pull it out. Hurt self, swear, etc.

Once the strut assembly is on the bench, you'll have to get the spring out. Like we mentioned earlier, its quite a soft spring, and you will be able to grab it with your hand and compress it enough to pop the bottom end off the perch:

Spring off 1.JPG

Once this is done you just need to wind the coil down off as far as you can get it:

Spring off 2.JPG

Now comes what can usually be a tricky task, undoing the large nut at the top of the strut that holds the upper perch and the strut top onto the shock. I used a piece of old bike tyre tube wrapped around the shaft with multigrips. Hit this with a rattlegun and its all done. This same method should work with a vice and a ratchet too.

Rubber and multigrips.JPG

All apart:


NOTE You don't necessarily need to wind the spring off, you can get the multigrips on the shaft while its in place, but its a handy trick for the future.

Now we can look at the spring perches side by side for a good idea of what this change will do. In the following pictures, the KE20 upper spring perch is on the left and the KE10 on the right. First thing you'll notice is that the KE10 item is made in 2 pieces, (items 2 and 3) whereas the KE20 is a single piece.

Top comparison.JPG

The difference in height is clearly visible. What this means is that your body will sit lower by that 30 or so millimetres. The 5mm and 12 mm are the next problem. These collars are designed to sit up inside the strut top (item 1) against the bearing that allows the strut to rotate for steering. The 7mm difference between the KE20 item and the KE10 item mean that the new KE20 item will not mate with the bearing and you wont be able to steer.

To get around this, we need a spacer to make up that 7mm. This is the item I listed earlier, but I used an 8mm thick one just to be sure. Scott (ROL-110) just chopped the collar off the original KE10 item and welded it on. My spacer wasnt welded, I just slid it on over the shaft and bolted it all up.

Spacer (black) sitting in the strut top before sliding onto the shock shaft.

Spacer fitted.JPG

This is the assembly fitted back together. Even with that extra millimetre on the spacer, the gap between the upper perch and the strut top is tight.

New top in place.JPG

Wrap Up

Thats essentially it. Bolt it all back together, taking care to align the ends of the springs in the recesses in the spring perches, and bolt it back together as you found it.

As mentioned in a post, you must use the KE1x Strut top, the KE20 items have a different bolt pattern and hence wont fit. In my mind, it was easier to use a simple spacer rather than try redrilling holes and upsetting geometry.

Now you have a lower car without messing too much with spring lengths and suspension travel (although I need to investigate if shock stroke has been affected).

In the future, I plan to build on this modification by putting in stiffer coil springs and removing the front leaf spring, so watch this space.

Once again, credit must be given to those whose information helped me to do this mod. I did a lot of digging and reading and its hard to name them all.

Article by Philbey

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