Coilovers are a great upgrade for any car to make it handle better and look more aggressive. Unfortunately, all coilovers are not created equal and some can be extremely uncomfortable. In this article, we’ll talk about what makes a coilover comfortable and how you can make even the most unbearably stiff coilovers tolerable.
Why Are Coilovers Not Comfortable?
The main reason coilovers are uncomfortable is that they don’t have a very good dampening system. Without getting too technical, all the driver feels is a big jolt when going over bumps. Some suspensions, especially those found on daily driven cars, rely more on comfort than performance. These suspensions use softer spring rates and softer valving to give a much smoother ride over all types of roads .
If You’ve Decided To Use Coilovers For Your Daily Driver Then you’re already compromising by giving up some comfort, but it’s possible to have both performance and comfort. If you know what you’re doing then it is very simple to upgrade your suspension dampening to be on par with an expensive coilover setup.
How To Make Coilovers Comfortable?
When making even the most rigid coilovers tolerable for daily driving, you need to prioritize comfort over handling. A big part of this is choosing the right spring rates and dampening system. Springs come in 3 main varieties: soft, moderate and stiff. If you want your car to be comfortable with your setup (see below), you’ll usually go for soft or moderate springs with normal dampening. Again, I cannot stress enough that if you don’t plan on tracking or autocrossing your car at all, go ahead and get gently used factory springs from any Sedan. I don’t recommend going lower than 1″ drop (unless its OEM) since it will be too low for comfort.
What Coilovers Are Comfortable?
This depends on how low you go with your setup, but most coilovers are comfortable if they are set up to isolate impacts well. The cheapest way to achieve this is by getting factory springs that isolate small bumps well and then upgrading the dampening system. If you already have stiffer aftermarket springs, I recommend getting separate lowering springs so you can lower it as little as possible without compromising handling or ride quality. You also need to make sure your struts/shocks are in good shape because worn out struts will turn even the most comfy suspension into a bone shaking experience!
5 Best Ways to make coiler comfortable:
Don’t go for super low setups unless you plan on tracking your car. Upgrade dampening by getting separate lowering springs and monotube or double adjustable shocks/struts if possible. Don’t get coilover sleeves if you get aftermarket struts. Get swaybars to reduce body lean. Change your rear anti-roll bar to stiffer aftermarket one (if available). Swap rear factory springs with aftermarket ones that are softer or at least 1″ shorter than stock ones! Add helper coils if possible, but don’t go over 25% Increased preload to the front tires (helps make it more stable)
Keep in mind that you can’t cheap out on coilovers because cheap ones are not designed to take hard impacts which means your car will bounce all over the road. That’s why I highly recommend getting aftermarket dampening system. You can get them for around $500 or even cheaper on eBay if you know where to look. If you plan on autocrossing or tracking your car, go ahead and get performance springs, but if you want a good budget setup I suggest getting factory soft/moderate springs with separate lowering shocks/struts (see below).
1) Factory Suspension:
If you own a sedan like me then this is great solution since many sedans come stock with 4-6″ of suspension travel. This means the car will probably not bottom out on most roads even if you go with 1″ drop or more! Sedans are great candidates for coilovers since they can handle a lot of abuse unlike other cars that usually have short factory springs and dampening. Since I didn’t want to upgrade my shocks/struts just yet, I simply went with JDM Sport Cup Kit which give me increased spring rates but almost the same comfort as stock suspension.
2) Aftermarket Suspension:
If you decide to install aftermarket coilovers, I strongly recommend getting separate lowering springs so you can adjust how low your car goes without compromising handling or ride quality. You also need to make sure your struts/shocks are in good shape because worn out struts will turn even the most comfy suspension into a bone shaking experience!
3) Aftermarket Lowering Springs
There are many different aftermarket lowering springs available. I tested what the car liked the most so keep in mind that this is just my opinion and not facts! As you probably know, there are mainly two types of suspension setups – linear (soft initial spring rate) and progressive (stiffer initial spring rate). When it comes to stock springs, they usually have linear spring rates which means your car will bounce all over the road if you hit a pothole or go over speed bumps fast. This kind of ride makes it uncomfortable for daily driving but great for corner carving.
Aftermarket lowering springs usually have linear spring rates so they are great for daily driving which is why I didn’t want to upgrade my shocks/struts until I wore out the aftermarket springs.
Also since linear rate springs don’t provide enough support in corners, some people install helper coils or progressive rate springs to get better handling without paying $800 per corner.
4) Monotube Shocks or Double Adjustable
When you decide to upgrade dampening system, it’s important to keep in mind that every car responds different when it comes to custom suspension geometry and damper tuning since all cars behave differently. That’s why there are two main types of dampers – monotube and double adjustable (also known as a bypass).
Monotube is one-piece design which provides better performance by reducing oil foaming and aeration. This results in improved dampening response during spirited driving, improved ride quality on uneven surfaces, and increased fade resistance over the life of the damper. On the other hand, double adjustable dampers are separated into two chambers (high speed/low speed) which allows you to tune your car for different types of roads or conditions. You can adjust low speed compression while high speed settings affect rebound simultaneously.
This double adjustable “bypass” system makes it easy to dial in ideal suspension setup but requires more time for tuning since there are many factors that need to be considered. Keep in that if you decide to go with monotube shocks, you will need to upgrade coilover springs since they work best with monotube dampers.
My personal opinion is that single adjustable dampers are more suited for street driving because you can’t make as much adjustments as double adjustable ones yet they still offer great ride characteristics. It’s also possible to tune monotubes but it requires a lot of time and money so I just went with OEM replacement damper by Tanabe – Sustec Pro S-OC(Soft/Hard).
5) Performance Brakes
Yes, brakes! One of the most important parts of your car not only determines how well your car stops but also affects ride quality over rough surfaces as as how soon your tires wear out each time you brake. When I purchased my car, there were no issues with brakes except for the fact that the rotors were warped so I decided to replace them with EBC Yellow Stuff brake pads and slotted rotors.
The combination of lowering springs, OEM replacement dampers and upgraded brake pads resulted in a huge difference in overall handling. The car feels much more stable at high speeds and body roll is reduced significantly. Even though I didn’t upgrade my tires yet, the stock 225/45 R17 Michelin Pilot Super Sport have been holding up very well which shows that suspension geometry is definitely an important part of your vehicle!