APtuned Blog

13Apr/1241

Coilovers vs Springs – What are coilovers and what’s better?

We get asked this question a lot. There are many ways to modify and upgrade your suspension, and the two best ways would be to add lowering springs or a coilover system. The two are very different and there are many factors that determine what would be best for you. Some considerations would be comfort vs performance, longevity, adjust-ability and price. Some customers also do not want to lower their car, but just want to tighten up the suspension and give them added adjustability.

What are coilovers?
When springs are made, they are made into coils, that allow them to compress and retract. Coilovers simply refer to coiled springs that go over a shock. People have referred to adjustable coilovers that allow you to lower your car to your desired height simply as coilovers.

See examples of coilovers here:

Blackworks Coilovers
BLOX Coilovers
D2 Racing RS Coilovers
Drop Engineering Coilovers
Function & Form Coilovers
Ground Control Coilovers
KSport Coilover Kit
Megan Racing Coilover Kits
Progress Coilovers
Skunk2 Pro S Coilovers
TEIN Coilovers
Yonaka Coilovers

What are the different ways to adjust height with coilovers?
There are two basic ways that manufactures build their coilover systems. One is where you literally need to turn a spring perch to compress the spring against the top hat, which lowers the vehicle. The problem with this is that you are applying pre-load to your springs, so they are already destined to lose handling performance. The other way is when the manufacture threads the actual shock body, so you are expanding or compressing the actual length of the shock that the coilover is a part of. This doesn't affect the compression of the spring, and is a much better way to adjust the height. One benefit to the spring perch type is that you can adjust and fine tune your height without having to take the lower part of your suspension apart.

How low can coilovers lower my car?
This all depends on the brand of the coilovers and depends on your specific car or truck. Most coilovers lower at least half an inch even at their highest setting. The range is usually 3-4 inches and while most cars are lowered around 2 inches, some people who want to take their car to a show, like to lower their car even more to give it a very low, yet not very drivable look. So basically, most coilover systems lower your car more than you need. Some coilovers do allow you to raise your car or truck, for things like rally cross or baja, but those are specifically labeled as for off roading and raising your car.

Full Bodied Coilovers
When someone refers to coilovers, usually they mean the coilover system that comes complete with shocks. This is the most expensive and complete kit and comes with everything. Depending on the car or truck, these usually also come with pillowball top mouts or just brand new aluminum top mounts, and are ready to bolt on. This means you don't need to take your old shock and spring apart to reuse any parts. These coilovers even come with new bump stops specifically designed for the lowered car.

The benefit to these is that they are complete. With sleeve type coilovers (which are described below), you do not get shocks with them, because they are designed to be used with aftermarket performance shocks. The shocks with the true coilover system come set to take the abuse of a lowered car, higher spring rates, and competition use. Unlike weak stock shocks, these will last long and are designed to work with the coilover spring rates.

Sleeve Type Coilovers
The Sleeve type is designed to be less expensive, but give you the flexibility to use the shocks of your choice. Many customers go with an adjustable performance shock such as the Koni Yellows, Tokico Illumina, or non adjustable Skunk2 Sport Shocks. Many of our customers decide to use these with their stock shocks, which we can not recommend. While the shocks might last for a while before they blow out, the shocks aren't designed to be used on a lowered vehicle and usually balance out any handling gains from the sleeve coilover. The exceptions would be cars that come with performance shocks from the factory, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, Subaru WRX STi and various others.

Drag Coilovers
For those who strictly drag race, there are a few manufactures that make drag coilovers such as BLOX Racing and Progress. These come in either only the rear set, or all 4. However, the rears are set exceptionally stiff to keep the car from shifting weight to the rear wheels during launch. This is usually used on front wheel drive cars that want to keep the front wheels planted to the ground as much as possible to maintain traction.

What about lowering springs?
Some people just want to lower their car, and not worry about adjustability, cost and a stiffer ride. For those, there are companies that make lowering springs. Lowering springs work just like your factory spring except they are anywhere from half an inch to 2.5" or more lower than stock. They have a higher spring rate, and are usually designed to be used with stock shocks, so the spring rates are usually not aggressive. We always recommend a performance shock to go with lowering springs to make sure you get the maximum benefit and only have to do the labor once.

See examples of lowering springs here:

Blackworks Lowering Springs
D2 Racing Lowering Springs
Eibach Lowering Springs
H&R Lowering Springs
KSport GT Lowering Springs
TEIN STech Lowering Springs

Will my wheels rub?
Wheels rubbing is a bit problem for those with aftermarket wheels, tires and suspensions. Some people roll their fenders and that solves the problem. For others it doesn't. If you are rubbing now, you need to either raise your car, or get stiffer springs so you do not rub when going over bumps. If you need a suspension to help you keep from rubbing, we suggest a full coilover system, or a quality sleeve coilover with adjustable shocks. Make sure the spring rates are stiff enough to keep your fenders from rubbing, but not so stiff that you hit your head on the roof over each bump.

Will I need a camber kit?
We recommend a camber kit any time you lower your car or truck. Some of the better full coilover systems come with adjustable pillowball mounts which are the mounts that are on top of the coilover system that bolt into your chassis. They act as a camber kit. In order for the coilover to come with an adjustable pillowball mount, your car or truck would need to have the room for this, and also the coilover would need to be one of the higher end systems as this adds cost to the kit. We recommend camber kits such as the Megan Racing Camber Kit, Buddy Club Camber Kit and Skunk2 Camber Kit.

How do these suspensions stack up?
We are ranking these in order of handling performance. The farther down you go in the list, the better the performance:

- Lowering Springs with Stock Shocks ($)
- Lowering Springs with Performance Non Adjustable Shocks ($$)
- Lowering Springs with Performance Adjustable Shocks ($$$)
- Sleeve Type Coilovers with Performance Non Adjustable Shocks ($$)
- Sleeve Type Coilovers with Performance Adjustable Shocks ($$$)
- Full Body Coilover Kit ($$$-$$$$)

With so many options, brands, and features, it can be daunting to buy the suspension you want. Decide what you want now, and also in the future, and buy the parts you need to get you to that point.

If you have any questions, we can help you determine the best suspension for you. You can either send us an email or post your questions and comments below.


Comments (41) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I have a 2005 rsx type s and i want to lower it a little under 2″ the cheapest way possible without damaging the suspension. what would you recommend ?

  2. I have a 01′ Mustang cobra and im looking to build the suspensión up to run in the corners with Rsx’s and cars like that. What can i do and what would work best on my car?

  3. I have 95 Acura Integra SE & I want to lower it 1.5. What’s a good inexpensive way to do it?

  4. i have a 2000 acura 3.2 tl i want to lower it 1.5 what is the best suspension for me without damaging my suspension and keeping a smooth as a ride as possible. please email back

  5. I have a 08 altima sedan I have a gtr bodykit , on 20 inch rims my tires dont rubb but my front bumper hits everything…they told me my only option is to get 22 in rims . so I was thinking about coilovers but majority are to lower your car..whats my best option

    • There are some coil overs you can look into to raise your car, like the ones for rally cars that might be enough to keep your bumper from hitting anything. Shop around

  6. I have an integra 1996 I want to know what kind of suspension should I go with to get a really smooth ride when going over bumps and cracks? What brand would you recommend for my 1996 integra? Thank you and please respond back ASAP.

  7. I have a 2005 dodge neon that doesnt feel as firm on the roads as I would like. What is the most inexpensive way to give that firm yet still smooth feel?

  8. I have a scion frs. I want to lower my car, but at the same time keep the factory
    Handling. All I want is to lower the ride and want everything to feel the same.
    This is my daily car. Im not planning to track it often, just ride on the streets.
    So, what type is parts should be consider?

    • Sleeve type Coilovers for your situation in particular. Since you want to keep your stock handling but want to just lower it, check out Andy’s Auto sport.com…I recommend skunk2 (brand) sleeve type Coilovers

    • Get TRD Lowering springs for sure.

  9. How do I know if it’s already a full coilover system that includes the pillowball mounts? And where can I find this for my 93 integra ls

    • You will see them attached to the coilover, you are suppose to mount the pillowball mount; They have bolts, onto you chassis.

  10. I have 1993 Mazda rx7 and I have tein coilover but I want something better and not as noisy

  11. I gotta 96 integra rs. I had just bought it couple days ago & suspension is horrible its super bouncy. Im looking to build from the ground up. Whats the best advice anyone could give me on how to go about fixing my suspension. Springs? Shocks? Coilover kit? Im looking for the best way to fix it up. Keep it an everyday car but also be able to hold its own on meets.

  12. Also what would be best to do as of now that my car is really low just to keep my car running safely running without eating it from the ground up… As im trying to save up to fix it up.

  13. I have an 84 monte carlo ss wondering if it would be better to go with coil over springs all around or should I replace the original springs and shocks?

  14. I have a coupe ’10 ford focus on 20 inch black rims, I wanna drop it so the ride’ll look better. any ideas?

  15. I have a 2013 subaru wrx. I want to lower my car, but I also want to keep the factory
    handling. This is my daily car.
    do you recommend a coil over or just lowering springs

  16. I have an 03′ 350z, and I want to lower it by at most 2 inches. What do I need? If I get the Tein full coilover system, do I need anything else? Some people are saying Id have to get a camber kit..

  17. I have a 01 eclipse gt that was already lowered when I bought it. Idk if its on springs or coilovers but if I wanted to keep the original handling of the car what should I get ? What type of Coilovers ?

  18. I have a 2012 honda civic si and would like to lower my car but still have a smooth ride without the bounce affect while driving…

  19. I have an Honda Prelude 93 4th Gen. Wich is the best brand for full coilover system? What about D2 racing or Megan Raring?. I like them. Thank you vey much.

  20. I have a 2013 corolla I’ve been modifying recently, just threw some 19 in tenzo r rims on it but I have a huge wheel gap and I wantto lower the car anyway. I want it hella noticeable but I don’t want to scrape. The lowering kit toyota sells for my car isn’t low enough, so does anybody have any suggestions?

  21. I have a 2013 STI hatchback and want a full bodied coil over system. I’m looking forward to adding sway bars as well. Fortune 500 makes a good set and I just don’t know whats the correct spring rate. Please help!
    FYI I enjoy a car that handles very well and I don’t take long trips.

    thanks

  22. Would you need a camber kit for springs only?

  23. What is a good coilover set up for the 07 m35 x infinti awd

  24. i have a scion tc i lower 2″ do i need to cut the bump stop in the front?

  25. to whom it may concern,
    i drive a 2011 accord sedan v6. plan to put a 19 inch diameter wheel, 8.5 wide front w 35 mm offset, tire spec of 245/40/19 ; and 19 inch w 9.5 wide wheel w 40 mm offset, tire spec of 275/35/19. it is an everday use car and just want to fill in the gap maybe leaving 1-2 fingers. what is the right thing to do? coilovers vs lower springs? don’t want rubbing issues nor very bumpy ride. need your expert advice. thanks.

  26. 03 Acura tL. What would be best for da roads in NYC
    Stocks & springs or coil system ?

  27. I have a 2006 mazda 6 and I wanna go lower, but I don’t wanna ruin my suspension. Yet I want that edge look but without spending so much. What’s the best way to go?!

  28. I have a 2000 Audi a6 Quattro twin turbo. It’s a four wheel drive so will lowering springs or coil overs affect it at all? And which would be best for me?

  29. Alright, here it comes. I picked up a mazda protege 2001 3 days ago. It’s my work mule. I’m in montreal ( 4 months thick snow and 8 months abysmal potholes ) and am thinking of setting the suspenssion right for the job. It has to be efficient and within reasonable budget limits for the intended use of the car. I just need to get to the job in traffic ( sharp raction ), but nothing backbreaking ( almost off-road type of terrain in the pothole season. Yes, mid-city on big and small streets alike, especially those where you drive 45mph ). Nothing wallet-breaking, that’s reserved for my 97′ 9000 aero. The only exception is if it’s compatible with a 84 fiero.

    Alex

  30. I have a 2008 Honda Accord 2.4 executive Euro, and im looking to lower my car to go with the 18″ Vossen rims (with a 40mm profile tyre). I’m stuck on deciding between coilovers or a drop kit. Its mainly just for show rather than performance. The car has standard suspension at the moment, so the drive soft and smooth. I would like to retain as much of the drive quality as possible. What (coilovers or a lowering kit) would you suggest i install? As well as what brands would be best. Any advice would be much appreciated!!

  31. I have an 03 eclipse and i cut my suspension to lower my car and when i make right turnà it s rubbing against the fender i believe what can i do to fix this propertly but still keep the same appeal and have a smooth driving experience?


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