Suspension Basics 101: Springs, Shocks, Coilovers, or Bags

Sweet ride brah, but it needs more low…

You’ve probably heard that one too many times. Now the question remains which route to take?

Springs ($200-$400):

Upgrading springs is the most cost effective way to properly lower your vehicle and get improved handling characteristics. Springs have had a bad rep for blowing your OEM shocks prematurely (lol), and there is some truth in that depending on the springs you purchase. Springs that lower 2 or more inches or who have spring rates extremely different from OEM specs fall in this category and should be used with caution (or in conjunction with appropriate shocks).

However, a few brands (Swift, H&R, Eibach, etc) take OEM specifications into account and design springs to work in conjunction with OEM shocks. These springs tend to have mild drops (around 1 inch) and tend to have spring rates near stock. These are great options if you want to lower your vehicle for improved performance without a need to upgrade much else.

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Shocks ($300-$800):

Shocks typically are something we recommend with upgraded springs. On the lower end you typically get slight improvements in dampening to keep up with higher spring rates. You should also not really expect a drop with upgraded shocks (in most cases though there may be a minimal change in ride height).

On the higher end of shocks you can expect greatly improved dampening characteristics even adjustable dampening setting. These high-end shocks are so good that they provide better characteristics than many sub $1500 coilovers. So typically speaking, if you aren’t partial to a fixed ride height and don’t want to have a no worry suspension setup then shocks and springs may be the way to go.

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Coilovers ($600+):

Lets start off with the largest coilover misconception: if you have coilovers you don’t necessary have to lower your vehicle. In most cases, coilovers can actually be set to OEM ride height. So what’s the point? For lower end coilovers, ride height seems to be the desire. In this day and age you can purchase a set of sub $800 coilovers to simply adjust how low you are. Coilovers for lowering sake somewhat defeat their true purpose, but to each his own.

A decent set of street and track coilovers will set you back about $1500. These typically have ride height adjustment separate from dampening. And if used with proper setting will provide greatly improved suspension performance and also give the vehicle a nice adjustable drop. From there on you have track coilovers that can run up thousands of dollars.

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Air Suspension ($2000+):

Air suspension or bags has by far the highest starting price, and for good reason. Bags are just that, bags that are filled with compressed air and serve as the vehicles spring. Generally an air suspension setup comes with compressors and a tank, which allows you to freely change the pressure within those bags to adjust for height or performance needs. If you have the money this is the best setup for lowering your vehicle, as you are able to sit your car on the ground when parked and easily raise it when you need to drive.

This will also provide the most comfortable ride, you’re driving on air. And though not commonly practiced due to all the weight, you can somewhat setup your air suspension for a performance setup for improved handling and performance.

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