When it comes to optimizing your vehicle’s suspension system for superior performance and handling, coilovers have gained immense popularity. They offer a range of advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional spring and shock combinations.
Suspension on our classic Camaros, Chevelle’s, Nova’s, and Monte Carlo’s all relied on a coil spring with a shock inside for the front. The rear was either a coil spring with an externally mounted shock or a leaf spring and shock combo. These setups are tried and true – but coilover suspension is a buzzword that indicates performance. Are they better?
Coilover suspension is a unified system that combines a coil spring and a shock absorber into a single, cohesive unit. The coilover assembly replaces the separate spring and shock absorber setup commonly found in traditional suspensions. These units are adjustable, allowing you to fine-tune various suspension parameters, such as ride height, damping, and rebound.
Adjustability: One of the most significant advantages of coilovers is their adjustability. You can fine-tune your suspension to suit your specific driving needs, whether it’s daily commuting, spirited driving, or track racing. Adjusting the ride height, damping, and rebound can have a profound impact on your vehicle’s handling characteristics. Most coilover shocks have built-in adjusters to fine-tune dampening and rebound characteristics.
Improved Handling: Coilovers can significantly enhance your vehicle’s cornering ability, reducing body roll and improving traction. This improvement in handling is especially noticeable during aggressive driving and on challenging terrains.
Optimized Ride Height: Coilovers allow you to precisely adjust your vehicle’s ride height. Lowering the car’s center of gravity can improve aerodynamics and reduce drag, leading to enhanced overall performance.
Diverse Applications: Coilovers are widely used in various types of vehicles, from performance cars to trucks and even off-road vehicles. Their adaptability makes them a versatile choice for suspension enthusiasts.
Reduced Unsprung Weight: Because coilovers integrate the spring and shock absorber into one unit, they typically weigh less than a conventional spring and shock setup, reducing unsprung weight, leading to better tire contact with the road.
Cost: Coilovers can be more expensive than traditional springs and shock absorbers. The initial investment and maintenance costs may deter some potential users.
Installation: Proper installation and adjustment of coilovers can require technical expertise, making it essential to consult with professionals or dedicated enthusiasts.
Maintenance: Coilovers may require more frequent maintenance than traditional setups. This includes periodic inspections, lubrication, and adjustments to maintain optimal performance.
Customization: Coilovers offer extensive customization options compared to traditional suspensions. You can tailor your coilover setup to precisely match your driving preferences and vehicle requirements.
Performance: For those seeking enhanced performance, coilovers are often the preferred choice. The adjustability and potential improvements in handling and cornering make them suitable for performance-oriented applications.
Daily Driving: Traditional spring and shock combinations can provide a smoother, more comfortable ride for daily commuting. They are often more forgiving on uneven road surfaces.
Cost: If you’re on a budget, traditional suspensions may be more cost-effective. Coilovers can be significantly pricier, making them a less attractive option for some.
In order for it to be a true coilover, the spring and shock have to be combined and self-contained. That means usually a double-shear style mount at the top and bottom. On a Chevelle for example, that would require cutting out the top of the spring pocket and welding in mounts.
Luckily, the aftermarket has given us the best of both worlds with hybrid coilovers. These work like a coilover on the bottom, but a traditional shock and spring at the top. On the bottom the spring rides on the adjusters that are threaded onto the shock body. On the top though, the spring opens up and rides in the spring pocket like a stock spring. This allows the ease of ride height adjustment, but the installation is even easier than a traditional setup.
Coilover suspensions offer extensive adjustability and enhanced handling for enthusiasts looking to fine-tune their vehicle’s performance. While they come at a higher cost and may require more maintenance, the advantages they offer make them a compelling choice for those seeking the utmost in customization and control over their driving experience. For daily driving and budget-conscious consumers, traditional spring and shock combinations remain a comfortable and economical alternative. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to individual preferences, driving style, and the intended use of the vehicle.
If you need help choosing between coilovers or coil and shocks, give our friendly techs a call at (203) 235-1200, and be sure to hop on SS396.com for all your coilover needs!