Redline Motive

What is the best suspension setup? Lowering springs or coilovers?

What is the best suspension setup? Lowering springs or coilovers?

Our customers have a lot of great questions when it comes to suspension setups and what is the best. We’re going to take some time to explain to you our opinions on what setups we like, what setups we don’t like, and what we recommend. If you have any questions about our article, or have something to add, please use the form below.

I want to lower my car, what’s the best and cheapest way?
There are many different ways that you can lower your car. The methods to lower a car can vary from completely free to outrageously expensive, and many different options in between. Below we will touch on the various methods, and keep in mind that this won’t work for every car, as every setup might be different from the factory. Below we try to discuss various ways to lower your car from the cheapest to most expensive.

    Can I cut my stock springs?
    One of the old and wrong ways to lower a car for free, is to simply cut the springs a few coils. We definitely don’t recommend to cut your stock springs, or even aftermarket performance lowering springs, because you are ruining the geometry of the spring, and also there is a high chance that the car won’t sit even. This method is simply to lower the car at the expense of ride, performance, and safety. We do not recommend this.

    Can I use lowering springs with my stock shocks?
    We get this question the most out of any other suspension question. Customers always want to know if they are ok with getting lowering springs and keeping their stock shocks. This is definitely a way to lower the car with aftermarket springs, and keep cost down since you are not also buying performance or aftermarket shocks and struts. If you have a new car, then yes, we would say that if you simply get a good set of lowering springs, your stock shocks will last a while. The more you lower your car on the stock shocks, the more you lower the life expectancy of the shocks. For something like a TEIN HTech Lowering Spring that only lowers your car a little bit, and has a soft spring rate, your stock shocks will last a long time. At the same time, if you have say an older Honda Civic, and you buy something like a TEIN STech Lowering Spring, then your shocks will probably not last very long, depending on their condition before. If you don’t mind the labor charges, or do the work yourself, then you can always try to go with your stock shocks, and only replace them when they blow. This setup will allow you to have a better handling car, but won’t be as good as a good set of lowering springs with aftermarket shocks.

    What performance shocks should I get with my lowering springs?
    The best scenario would be to buy performance shocks along with your lowering springs. You want to ensure that you buy the type of performance shocks that you need to get the most from your lowering springs. There are two main types of aftermarket shocks available. There is a performance shock that is non adjustable, so it works like your factory shock, but is able to take being lowered or take competition racing abuse. The other type of performance shock is an adjustable kind where you can set the desired stiffness of the shock. The adjustable shocks are more expensive, and offer a much greater range of settings. For example, if you set the rear shocks stiffer than the front shocks, you can get rid of some understeer. In order to properly setup your shocks, you would need to have access to an autox or road course so you can really get a feel for the car. Most people will get enough benefit from non adjustable shocks, especially if they do not intend on adjusting the shock and strut stiffness.

    What if I forget about all of this, and just get a coilover kit?
    Coilover kits range from a little less than the price of buying 4 seperate shocks plus lowering springs, to outrageously expensive. With coilover kits you generally get what you pay for. The benefits of a coilover kit is that it comes with shocks that are designed to be lowered. You can also adjust the amount of lowering, so you can lower the car as much or as little as you want, as long as the coilover supports the range (most support at least 1 inch, and a max of 3-4 inches). Since the setup is designed to work together, you don’t need to worry about the shocks being too stiff for the springs, or the springs being too stiff for the shocks. Everything is ready to go. A setup like this would be our recommendation. The lower end coilover kits are typically enough for most people, and they offer the ability to lower the vehicle as desired, but usually do not have the ability to stiffen the shocks. It’s a preference you need to make to decide which how much adjustment you need with your suspension. The more adjustment the coilover kit has, and the least of it you use, the more possibility that you are not getting the most out of it, and could be out-handled by a car with an inferior setup.

Do I need to cut my bump stops?
Anytime you are lowering your car with lowering springs, we always recommend for you to cut your bump stops. The reason is that the bump stops are designed for the stock height, so you need to at least cut your bumpstops in half. If you do not, you run the risk of “riding on the bump stop” which means your shock is always compressed down far enough that its resting on the bump stop. This is very bad for safety as well as performance. If you are dramatically lowering your car, we recommend to cut your bump stop even more, but at no time do we recommend to not have a bump stop at all.

Should I get sway bars?
Sway bars are a great way to increase the handling of your car. Depending on the stiffness of the sway bar, they can also give you a harsher ride, and can cause some squeeks due the polyurethane bushings they come with. However, for those who demand the best handling, sway bars can help. Most cars come with a front sway bar stock, and not always with a rear sway bar. This is because they are designed to make the car understeer, which is safer for the average driver. In this case, the addition of an aftermarket performance rear sway bar is usually enough to make the car much more neutral, or give it oversteer. For every driver, they like the setup to be a little different, so determine what works best for you and get sway bars to match. Sway bars are available in different thicknesses and many are hollow to decrease weight.

Are strut bars worth the money?
The newer a car is the less you need a strut tower brace, or strut tower bar, or also known as just a strut bar. A strut bar is simply a bar that ties together your strut towers in your engine bay, or in your trunk. The purpose is to keep the car more stiff during turns to keep the car handling crisp and clean. For older cars that have a lot of chassis flex, we recommend a strut bar, but recommend a strut bar that has the least flex possible. If the strut bar flexes then it defeats the purpose. Many newer cars come with strut bars from the factory, and for those that do, there is no need to upgrade except for appearance purposes.

When do I need a camber kit?
As the name implies, a camber kit is designed to fix the negative or positive camber when lowering your car, or adding new wheels. When a car is lowered a lot from the factory settings, the negative camber can wear out your tires, and decrease contact patch with your tires, which hurts handling. We recommend that if you are going to buy a camber kit that you take your car to an alignment shop and have them adjust the camber kit for you so that it’s within your race spec. Tell them how much negative camber you want, or have them give you recommendations, and set it with the camber kit. Camber kits are available for both the front and rear, and are highly recommended with any suspension setup. Sometimes camber kits are simply bolts that space out your suspension to adjust camber. Bolts are a much cheaper way to do this, and this doesn’t work for every car.

Is negative camber a good thing or a bad thing?
Negative camber is good for handling, but you need the right amount of negative camber. If you have too much, you are losing contact patch with the tire and the road, which can help performance and eat your tires quickly. We recommend to have your car checked by a local alignment shop for specs they recommend depending on your racing or driving style.

What is oversteer?
Oversteer is when you are making a turn either left or right, and the back end of the car begins to slide out. This is a lot more difficult to control than understeer, which is why most new cars come with severe understeer from the factory.

You can also have power oversteer that is caused by a car being rear wheel drive or rwd, and having the tires spin during the turn causing your rear end to slide. This is also known as a drift or drifting.

What is understeer?
Understeer is when you are making a turn either left or right, and the front end of the car is sliding straight, or not turning. Manufactures of cars belive this is safer than oversteer because if you are taking a turn too fast for your suspension, and the car understeers and just plows forward, you can simply let off the gas, and hit the brakes.

Do I need new lower control arms?
For cars that do not come with a rear sway bar from the factory, you might not be able to add a sway bar unless if you add LCAs or Lower Control Arms that allow you to use sway bar end links to add a sway bar to your suspension setup. If you already have a rear sway bar, then adding a new aftermarket lower control arm could decrease weight.

Categories: Featured Stories, Suspension Tags:

  1. tony
    April 13th, 2010 at 18:37 | #1

    When I lower my car on coilovers 1.5in front and 1.25in rear, why is the passenger side about an inch lower? What is the correct lowering spec?

  2. Gary
    November 19th, 2010 at 10:19 | #2

    Hi I have a stock 1970 chevelle SS 396 big block car, I want to change the suspension front and rear. Now for the front I want to use Global West but I don’t know what to do, go with a coilover set up or just keep the stock spring set up. The rear will be Global West also but I need to get the front done first. Global West has the suspension for either set up but which is best and what is the difference Thanks Gary

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