Curing 5th Gen Camaro Wheel Hop
All the horsepower in the world will not make your car faster if it can not transfer that power to the pavement. 5th generation Camaro owners, especially those with cars that are extensively modified, are quickly learning this due to the dreaded “wheel hop”. Wheel hop is a violent and potentially damaging condition that typically occurs when the car is launched aggressively and feels like the rear tires were replaced with jack hammers. Very simply, it is just a rapid and repeated loss and recovery of traction.
When your car begins to accelerate various bushings and suspension/chassis components flex. Under normal driving conditions this flexing is negligible but when the car is launched aggressively the deflection causes significant toe changes which reduce the contact patch of the rear tires. This leads to a reduction in traction and momentary wheel slippage which alleviates the toe changes and allows the rear tires to regrip. The vicious circle then continues as the suddenly improved traction again results in flexing thus causing toe changes and leading to wheel slippage.
Getting rid of wheel hop is pretty straightforward for most Camaro owners. By upgrading the components known to be responsible for the flexing with stronger/stiffer aftermarket units you will lock the rear suspension geometry in place and significantly improve grip and performance. The top three components you will want to focus on are:
1) Rear cradle bushings- The rear cradle is the structural member that the entire rear suspension and drivetrain are built on. It is essentially the foundation of the rear of your car. You can use polyurethane bushings to limit the movement of the rear cradle or go with a solid bushing to lock it in place. Solid is a scary word when it comes to suspension but with the rear cradle you can get away with it, even on daily driver applications.
2) Rear trailing arms- We have found that a good set of rear cradle bushings and rear trailing arms are many times all it takes to cure wheel hop for the average bolt on car. These aftermarket components are often lighter than the OEM units they replace and allow the rear suspension to respond more quickly and keep the rear tires in contact with the pavement, thus increasing traction. They are also stronger and replace the stock mushy rubber bushings with stiffer polyurethane units that reduce flexing under load. Ensure that the rear trailing arms you are looking at include the outer bushings. If not, order them separately.
3) Toe rods- While the rear trailing arms are being installed it is a great opportunity to also upgrade the toe rods. Toe rods are responsible for maintaining toes settings of the rear wheels. Replacing the stock stamped steel rods and mushy rubber bushings with a stronger unit with polyurethane bushings further reduce flexing and improve grip, launch stability, and braking performance.
Two other components you might also want to consider, especially if you like hitting the 1/4 mile, are:
1) Inner rear upper control arm bushings- When launching and shifting aggressively these bushings have a lot of leverage placed on them. Because of that the soft stock bushings flex severely permitting the rear spindles to counter rotate. By upgrading these bushings you will further decrease movement of the rear wheels and have more consistent and predictable load transmission to the rear tires.
2) Rear differential bushings- These units reduce movement of the differential contributing to an overall reduction in drivetrain deflection. This will get more horsepower to the pavement more quickly. You do have to be cautious when looking at rear differential bushings. The harder you go the more likely you are to see increased NVH (noise, vibration, harmonics). It is a good idea to consult with a professional on these.