Get the Right Altitude for Your Ride: Adjustable Coilover Suspensions, Shocks and Springs
Looking good that's what we all want. Looking good while doing it good: that's the ultimate auto euphoria. I am going to attempt to explain the ups and downs, and the differences between stationary coilover suspensions, and adjustable coilover suspensions.
Let's break down the performance suspension for the newcomer. For your car to perform better you need it to turn better. For your car to go faster, you need it launch faster. Well new shocks/struts and springs are the first step to this enhanced performance.
As you bring down the stance of your ride, or lower it, the center of gravity lowers also. This means you can throw the car into the turn at a higher speed. Think of a Ford Explorer taking horseshoe turn at 75 mph, the vehicle body would roll, and the top-heavy center of gravity would probably make the vehicle flip. Now take the same turn, in a Corvette at the same speed, no where near the body roll, and more likely the vehicle will follow the path around the bend like a toy slot car on a track.
Now image your ride, let's say its a 1994 Honda Civic. Minus better tires and wheels, at stock ride height, it would probably roll similar to the Explorer, not flip but you would have to slow down. Lower that same Civic using Adjustable Coilovers, 3 inches lower, and try that horseshoe bend. It will act more like the Vette.
There are two ways to do this performance upgrade; you could install lowering springs, which are coil springs that are engineered to bring the ride height of the vehicle down and replace the factory springs, or Adjustable Coilovers which are essentially the same, but you can adjust the height of your vehicle.
There are also two basic shock/spring set ups. For example, on older vehicles and some late-model trucks, the shock/spring type is where the shock is mounted in a separate location from the spring on the same axle. In this type of suspension about your only option, with out major modifications, is to use lowering springs, which are not adjustable, but these are just as effective for performance. These types of springs are also referred to as stationary springs.
Newer model cars and trucks usually have what's known as a McPherson strut. This is were the spring is mounted over the shock, in other words “the COIL is mounted OVER the shock”. Hence Coilovers. When these are adjustable, the coil spring mounting block, is physically screwed up or down the shock to provide the desired ride height.
In addition to being able to add or reduce height of your vehicle, you can also adjust for different track conditions, or weather conditions. Anytime you change the springs whether tohelp with tightening the rest of the body roll.
DropAutoParts.com has a great selection of D2 Racing coilovers and lowering springs for just about any application. Just make sure and do your research for the best option for your situation. Air ride is always an option, but that's for another article all together.