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STRUT BRACE FACTS
Let us first say it is not our intention to demean the product of another manufacturer. We point out certain major and minor differences for comparison purposes only. This will help the reader establish a set of values for products of dissimilar materials, features, designs, assembly quality and prices. Among the many great things about the USA is that we all have choices when it come to buying products and there should be room for all the merchants who wish to play in the game, all price and quality levels to fill the needs of various incomes and high end quality products that offer much better quality and performance. The market tells us the real economy models do little if anything to improve the rigidity of the chassis but as long as the buyer understands this before the purchase, it is perfectly alright, he's buying "price." Unfortunately, too often these purchases are made with the customer expecting good results which he may not receive. Naturally, we claim our Strong-Struts are "better" than the products of our competitors. We have yet to meet a manufacturer of products who claims his products are inferior to the others but we do have some solid reasons for making our claim.
In this case, we need to ask ourselves what "better" means and that takes us to the question of why we purchase a strut brace in the first place, what is its function and what is it supposed to do? The function of a strut brace is to reinforce and add rigidity to the chassis. There are many benefits to increased chassis rigidity and that is why manufacturers strive for rigidity, as far as production costs will allow, at the point of manufacturing. Rigidity imparts a "solid feeling" to the chassis that is perceived by the driver as "well made" and "high quality." Installation of a suitable strut brace when a vehicle is new or used vehicle helps to maintain the original structural integrity of the vehicle over time and miles. This translates to "still feels new" when the miles rack up. Automotive engineers agree that increasing chassis rigidity imparts quicker and more responsive steering as a result of reduced chassis flex. Almost every racing car has chassis braces added or built in as original equipment for the benefits this rigidity imparts. Adding a strut brace to your family SUV or sedan will not make it into a race car but most drivers can perceive and appreciate the added rigidity assuming that a good quality strut brace is selected for installation, but it will not necessarily make your car faster.
The only valid and scientific method of measuring the effectiveness of a
strut brace is to measure chassis rigidity before and after installation of a
given brand of strut brace. The equipment that accomplishes
this costs many millions of dollars and the car manufacturers are the only ones
who are able to afford this equipment. Testing of chassis rigidity and methods
to improve it are routine exercises at their R&D sites. Chassis rigidity is
measured in units of Hertz in the USA and Newton Meters in Europe, these are
highly scientific calculations.
So, this begs the question, if you need expensive equipment to measure chassis rigidity, how can we claim our Strong-Strut brand is superior? From a purely scientific standpoint, we don't make such a claim.. However, some of it is simply common sense as so many things in this world are, and some of it are basic engineering principles. For example, if the strut brace is not rigid itself, as in "pivoting joints", how can it add to the rigidity of the chassis ? A strut brace is subjected to various stresses placed upon it and since its purpose is to reinforce structural members of the vehicle it is added to, heft, girth, material, design and quality of execution all come into play. In addition, for strictly cosmetic purposes, it is an added benefit if it is well finished and attractive although this has no bearing on function. Have you ever seen an industrial crane made of Pot metal ? Of course not, and we don't have to be engineers to figure that out. The same common sense applies to many products including strut braces. The materials, design and build quality must combine to resist the forces applied against it, just like the industrial crane.
The majority of strut braces we are aware of, even many leading brands, have major flaws of one kind or another that fail to fill the basic characteristics of a product that is designed to reinforce a vehicle chassis. Here is a list of items not recommended for an effective strut brace: Any component that is not absolutely rigid, detracts in some measure from the intended function of the strut brace. Some brands of strut braces include almost every one of these undesirable features. Some high end brands contain two or more of these flaws.
1) thin shock tower plates of soft, stamped
materials (allows flex and movement)
2) thin hollow tubes that make up the cross bar (lacks the strength required to do the job)
3) multiple bends and angles of the cross bar (each bend or angle imparts a weakness and point of flex to the brace)
4) pivot points where the cross bar attaches to the shock tower rings. (this is 10 year old technology and negates any improvement the strut brace may otherwise have) As the chassis twists and flexes from side to side, the pivot points simply allow the strut brace to "float" with the movement rather that stop it.
5) small diameter hardware, a structure is only as strong as its weakest component. You could have a cross bar of solid 2 inch thick steel but if it attaches to the rings with a 1/4 inch bolt, its only as strong as the quarter inch bolt.
6) lack of reasonable heft and girth (assuming reasonably priced materials, not "super alloys)
7) both cosmetic and functional, some strut braces look like they were manufactured from old lawn chairs and provide little if any rigidity. We refer to these as "feel good" accessories. They do nothing, but the owner feels good about his new accessory. These are usually the economy models, and, others that sell anywhere from $150 to $250. Any improvement in actual rigidity realized from these economy models is a result of the owners imagination and expectation.
8) And finally, appearance, if that is important to any individual buyer and we find in most cases it is. Without exception, the economy models all appear cheaply made because they are. The moderately priced brands $250 to $350, appear more substantial to the casual observer and in some cases they are better. The quality brands running anywhere from $350 to $1600 are obvious showpieces of quality, function, design and execution. Yes, there is a $1695 strut brace for the BMW M5, an AC Schnitzer model. No, it's not made of solid gold, its 6061 T6 alloy just like the Strong-Strut, here is a picture of it.
AC Schnitzer strut brace for BMW M5
Remember, if the product contains a lot of items on the "not recommended" list it will probably fail in its basic purpose, or perform only marginally, the customer may have purchased nothing more than a "feel good" ornament. At Strong-Strut, we could easily turn out an economy model at the same price or less than our competitors. However, our mission at Strong-Strut is Quality and performance. These attributes come at a higher price.
With regard to chrome plating, any buyer should be aware there are different quality levels of chrome plating. The cheapest is called, “flash and go” and the name aptly describes the process. After cleaning, it gets one quick dip and its finished. Any chrome plating job on a strut brace that costs less than $200 is definitely nothing more than a quick dipping process. Cheap plating will fog over time, pit and peel, especially if it spends any time around salt air. We could get $200 plating jobs on the Strong-Strut and reduce the price of that option by $100 but we would be deceiving our customers and eventually would be getting many complaints and a bad reputation. Dealings like that are not part of our mission. If you read the customer testimonials on our web page, you will see many references on how we conduct our business, the level of our customer service, and our unconditional lifetime guarantee. You don't get into good plating until you reach the $250 range and up. Our "restoration grade, or "show quality" at $300 is the best available. Restoration grade is what you would specify if you were restoring a classic, vintage automobile, the very best available, a triple plating operation following extensive machine buffing with several grit compounds.
Our point is, things are not necessarily what they seem to be on the surface and we’re passing along some inside information here that you won’t get from other manufacturers. You may be planning to spend your hard earned money for an accessory and you want to avoid making what might prove to be a mistake at some future time. There is hardly any product that someone can't make a little cheaper and sell for less, these usually fail to be bargains in the long run.
An interesting and true
story >>>>>>>> following the investigation after the sinking of the
Titanic, it was discovered the quality of the steel used in the hull was
defective and the thousands of rivets were also substandard. If these materials
had been up to standards, the ship would have withstood the glancing impact and
would not have sank. A prime example why the use of quality materials in
manufacturing is important.
Below: triple chrome plated Strong-Strut on the owner’s 07 BMW ///M Roadster. Pictures of the two powder finishes are available here from our home page