NTPOG Tein Type HA Coil-Over Review

Author: Marcus Taylor

Product Overview

Kit includes all necessary hardware including:
- Pillowball (spherical bearing) upper mounts (4)
- Standardized Springs (4):
      Front Spring Rate: 12.0 Kg/mm (~670 lb/in)
      Rear Spring Rate: 8.0 Kg/mm (~450 lb/in)
- Helper Springs (4)
- Type HA Dampers (4):
      16 setting adjustable stiffness
      Threaded for ride height adjustability

Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

A big part of this expense was shipping & handling costs. Since you have to pay for freight from Japan, the cost goes up quickly. If I recall correctly, I could've ordered this kit for about $1300 from Tein and then paid another $380 for freight from the factory, but it turned out to be easier (and probably quicker) to order them from Bozz Performance ($1725, shipped). I may have just been lucky on this one, though. Rumor has it that most people were having to wait well over a month when they ordered their Teins. I ordered mine on September 27, 2000 and they were sitting at my apartment about a week and a half later. When I first inquired at Bozz, they said they had just received 80 sets of Teins (for various cars). I thought it over for a couple of days, and when I called back (2 days later) they had already sold all of the Prelude sets. However, they said they had 15 more on the way from Japan, but 14 were already paid for. I had them put my name on the last set, and 2 weeks later, I was installing them in my garage.

Installation Impressions
Well... just pulling the kit from the box, I could tell everything was high quality. (And it's a good thing, considering the price!). The pillowball upper mounts were a pricey addition to this kit, but they definitely paid for themselves upon installation. Since I had the pillowball upper mounts, I was able to pre-assemble the whole kit, and I didn't have to disassemble the stock assembly. This meant that I didn't have to worry about any disfiguring encounters with a compressed spring (since the height is adjustable on the Teins, and since there is a low tension 'helper spring', you don't have to compress the spring to put the Tein assembly together).

The biggest complication came from the fact that I don't read Japanese (and all of the instructions were written in Japanese). Fortunately, it was fairly easy to install using the pictures included in the instructions and the NTPOG How-To page on installing aftermarket springs. The only other info that I used on the Tein instructions were the torque values (which I think I had to convert from metric).

Warning: Heed the advice of the NTPOG page and get the right tool to separate the ball-joint. My brother brought his 'pickle-fork' ball-joint separator, and we attempted to use that. It worked fine on the left side, but we tried for over a half hour trying to get the right side off, with no luck, and ended up tearing the boot. Finally, we gave in and went to Pep Boys to get the right tool for $16.95, and ten minutes later had accomplished what should have been a simple task of separating the ball joint.

Everything else went smoothly. Total installation time (by amateurs): 2 hours 45 minutes. Including 30 minutes of fruitless effort working on the right rear ball-joint, and a 15 minute trip to Pep Boys. However, this doesn't include the 30 minutes, or so, that I spent 'pre-assembling' the kit before we even put the car up on the jack.

Performance Impressions
Don't buy this kit if comfort is your highest priority. Don't buy this kit if you don't want to know about every imperfection in the road. Don't buy this kit if you don't want to hear some extra clunks and that funny 'squishing' sound (like a Slinky or something) that the dampers make when they are compressed. And PLEASE DON'T buy this kit if you just want to lower your car because it looks cool (by the way, I only lowered my car about 1 inch).

However, if you want ultimate performance from a standardized kit, then I would highly recommend the Teins. If you really know what you are doing, you could probably mix & match components to come up with a comparable setup for less money, but if you want a simple solution with components that are already matched to work together (and to work with your car) then this is the kit for you. The high spring rate helps keep the car incredibly flat around corners, almost eliminates squat during acceleration and also reduces dive during braking. The adjustability of the dampers helps maximize comfort for street driving, but also allows you to go 'no-holds-barred' for performance at the track. With 1 being the firmest, and 16 being the softest, I am currently using 12 at all 4 corners for the street and 6 for the track. This has seemed to be a good setup so far.

Yes, I saw all of the pictures on the web, and Yes, I am concerned that my Teins will end up rusting also. But I definitely do not regret buying them. I've had them installed about 6 months now, and I just got up under there to look at them. I thought I saw some signs of rust at the last autocross, so I cleaned them off and put some WD-40 on them (and also lowered the car another 1/4" at all corners, in an attempt to get some more negative camber for autocrossing). They still look as good as new. I figure I'll clean them at least once every 3-4 months and coat them with a fresh coat of WD-40 just as preventive maintenance. And if the threads still begin to rust, maybe I'll just order a full new set of dampers instead of having them rebuilt in another couple of years.

One final warning: With this setup and my Neuspeed 25mm Rear anti-sway bar, it is extremely easy to induce lift-throttle oversteer. Add the following ingredients: A Prelude with the aforementioned setup, a parking lot with wet pavement, a little bit too much speed, some definite over-confidence, and some lift-throttle oversteer, and you end up with me hoping that I don't have to get hectic to avoid that parked van that I'm sliding towards (sideways). Happy ending: I slid to a stop two parking spaces before I got to the van, and I was even between the lines, although a little bit crooked. "Yeah, I meant to do that." :)

Do what I say, not what I do: "Drive safely!"

For comments or questions, e-mail me.

This page last updated 4/3/01.