Prius Chassis Stiffening Plate.
Purchase through Prius Chat. After hearing all the great reviews on the BT Tech Chassis Stiffening Plate (I haven't heard a SINGLE comment that was not glowing), I had to try one out for myself. The idea is that this thick aluminum plate reduces the flex of the chassis as compared to the thinner steel brace that comes from the factory. At $160, I was expecting the plate to be made of Titanium. It IS advertised as being made of excellent-quality (6061 T6) aluminum, however. The plate is a beautiful thing, but does NOT appear to be Hard Anodized as advertised. I'm all but positive that it is Type II anodize. Hard Anodize is Type III, cannot easily be scratched, and is not shiny. The part I received is shiny and very easy to scratch.
First I rolled the rear wheels (in EV mode, natch) onto some low-profile
ramps. Didn't really need to, but it gives more room, and I could take pictures
without hurting myself.
Everything you need for the job. 6mm hex driver (for new brace), torque wrench
with proper adapter, ratchet with 12mm socket (for factory brace.)
First remove the stock brace with the 12mm socket. Couldn't be more simple.
How cool is it to work on a totally clean car?! I could eat off this brace!
Both products side-by-side.
The new brace bolted (24 ft-pounds) into place.
And the verdict? Well, I performed a totally unscientific blind test on my wife (she still doesn't know, so shhhh!). And I can confirm exactly one thing: That the placebo effect is alive and well. I told her (and showed her some of the glowing PriusChat reviews) about this chassis stiffener. After I had been out in the driveway for 15 minutes fooling with the ramps and the car, I told her the brace was installed. She drove the car. Presto. The car felt "more refined" she reported when she returned from her short drive. The secret surprise? For this part of the test, I had only removed the factory brace, and installed NOTHING. At this point the car was ala carte.
Onto stage 2 of the test... I next installed the BT plate and I told her I'd gone back to the "old" brace to see if she could feel the difference. I was informed that indeed, the ride was not as good. "More wiggly." I didn't have the fun of trying it blind myself... but I can tell you that for me personally, I think I notice a difference in "feel." The difference is nothing I'd call profound; about the same difference I noticed when I went from 38psi to 44psi in the tires. If forced to come up with a specific change in handling, I think that the car now seems to want to follow pavement irregularities more. What I'd call a slight dead-spot wander that I don't think used to exist.
The Prius handled reasonably well and felt good with the factory brace. It handles reasonably well and feels pretty good after installing the new brace. I guess I'm not as big a believer as some of the other more outspoken PriusChat members who claim that the new brace now allows them to safely double their speed on familiar roads ??? It looks good, and certainly doesn't make the ride any worse!