High quality coilovers are considered as good as it gets when it comes to fast-road suspension. While you can achieve impressive results with lowering springs on their own, or a combination of lowering springs and sports dampers, they are always going to be more limited in terms of what they will do.
Springs and sports dampers sold as separate components must physically match up to the original components and this means that they can only change how the car functions so much.
You can do much, much more when the suspension is being offered as a matched set, and here are just five excellent reasons why you should opt to fit coilovers:
1. Coilovers can go lower than lowering springs
The most immediate and obvious difference with a coilover is how low you can make the car. Lowering springs tend to bottom-out at about 45mm lowering. Coilovers on the other hand, typically offer up to about 65mm lowering. On some cars you can go even lower.
This is only achievable because the new springs and dampers are designed as a pair and can be much lower and firmer than the originals, and the spring seats can be located differently.
If you want that ultra-low, slammed look you’ve basically got a choice of coilovers or air. We’ll talk about the pluses and minuses of air in a later blog, but for now, as we talked about in our car handling blog, lowering your car reduces body roll in corners which is a big benefit to handling.
2. Coilovers offer great adjustability
Fitting almost any coilover will allow you to precisely adjust the height of your car either for stance or for corner-weights. Depending on what coilover you go for, you may also have adjustable damping to play with for that extra level of control over how your car handles. This can range from a single adjuster knob to four, depending on the sophistication of the coilover.
Some sophisticated coilovers allow you to adjust the damping settings from inside the car at the push of a button or even with an app on your phone.
Some coilovers come with adjustable top-mounts which allow you to fine-tune the caster or camber (the angles the wheels sit at) on the car either for improved handling or for more impressive visuals.
Where adjustability is on offer, you’re gaining a lot of very exact control over how your car handles so either you or a professional can fine-tune your car for the exact handling you want. Here at Demon Tweeks we have a fitting centre experienced in setting up modified suspension and a Hunter four wheel alignment machine ideal for lowered cars.
There are plenty of good road coilovers that come with fixed damping. This just means they’re coming from the manufacturer with a set-up they have found to work well for most drivers. When you’re talking about some of the best suspension engineers in the business, tuning a set-up on the Nordschleife, this is often a very good set-up for most purposes.
3. A more controlled ride
A big part of the reason why coilovers are top of the tree, is that you can get some seriously well developed and set-up dampers in them.
While you can see big improvements to your cars handling with sports dampers, coilovers tend to be bigger which gives them the chance to offer a very smooth well controlled ride. A common description of the ride of good quality coilovers is “firm, but not harsh”. This means that while the rates on the dampers may be higher, they feel very even and well controlled.
Having a wider piston-rod allows for more precise control over damping. More surface area means more exact control over the feel of the dampers.
You may also get the option of monotubes which, as the name suggests, is a damper built in a single tube. These do have some big advantages if a car is being driven hard for sustained periods, as on a track. Because the oil and gas are kept separate inside the damper, you don’t get foaming which harms damper performance. For road use a well set-up twin-tube often works very well indeed and does offer some big advantages in terms of durability, so it isn’t a straight-forward choice.
Coilovers also tend to represent a better quality, more sophisticated damper than many of the units which are sold separately, as long as you steer clear of entry level price pointed products.
4. Coilovers come as a complete package
A coilover is coming as a complete suspension set. That means the spring and the damper have been developed together to work as a single unit and you can get coilovers that offer a very different ride to the stock suspension.
While separate springs and dampers can offer big improvements, the best set-up is often going to be one that was designed to work together as a complete, matched, and harmonised set-up.
Changing out the whole set-up allows for big changes to the characteristics of the car’s suspension. Everything from specially designed comfort suspension, to race ready set-ups are available for many models of vehicle.
5. Coilovers are track day ready
If you’re starting to venture on track, you’ve probably already given coilovers some thought. The ability to corner-weight your car, or fine-tune your suspension for the specific track being driven on are both big pluses.
Most coilovers will offer improvements for light track use and at the high end you can upgrade all the way to purpose designed track use coilovers like KW’s Clubsport, Ohlins Road And Track, Bilstein’s Clubsport, and Eibach’s Multi-Pro ranges all come with very durable, sophisticated damper set-ups designed for use on track or on the road.
Brands such as Tein also offer specific suspension designed for use on drift cars.