There is a common debate among car enthusiasts about whether lowering springs or coilovers are the better option for lowering and improving a car's suspension. Both options have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and the choice ultimately depends on an individual's specific needs and preferences.
Lowering springs are springs that are shorter and stiffer than the original springs on a car. These springs are designed to lower the car's ride height, giving it a more aggressive and sporty look. Lowering springs also improve the car's handling by reducing body roll and increasing stability.
One of the main benefits of lowering springs is that they are relatively affordable compared to coilovers. They are also easy to install and do not require any special tools or expertise. However, the main drawback of lowering springs is that they do not offer as much adjustability as coilovers. With lowering springs, the only way to adjust the suspension is to change the springs themselves, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
Lowering Spring Pros:
- Price: A set of lowering springs up front cost less than coilovers. Many sets can be purchased for around $100 to $400, which is a fraction of what quality coilovers kits cost.
- Simple: Installing a set of lowering springs is easy for most applications. You’ll need a spring compressor to do it safely, but once they are on they are done. No need to adjust and fine tune, install and go.
- Ride Quality: Lowering springs typically have stiffer rates than the stock springs they replace, however, they’re usually pretty comfortable for a daily driver. They are still progressive springs so they will be less harsh than a coilover. They will be sportier than stock, but not as stiff as coilovers.
Lowering spring Cons:
- No adjustability: One major drawback for lowering springs is adjustability with lowering springs. If they drop your car by one inch, then that’s it. If you want to go lower, then you’ll have to find another set that offers more drop.
- Retaining old parts: While cheaper lowering springs do only replace the spring in your suspension. So that means the other parts will be old and may need replaced as well. Shocks, bushings, shock mounts. All those items are wear items and may need to be replaced at the same time increasing cost.
- Shortened life: Since the lowering springs lower by reducing spring length the shock will be compressed more at static height. This means it will be operating outside its normal zone. This can lead to internal damage from the shock bottoming out and increasing wear leading to it blowing out faster. This will mean over time the ride can become bouncier and require replacement of the shocks more often.
Coilovers, on the other hand, are a type of suspension system that combines the spring and shock absorber into one adjustable unit. This allows for more precise adjustment of the suspension, including the ride height, spring preload, and often damping. Coilovers also tend to be more durable and have a longer lifespan than lowering springs.
The main benefit of coilovers is their adjustability, which allows for a more personalized suspension setup. This is particularly useful for drivers who frequently participate in track events or who need to fine-tune their suspension for different driving conditions. There is also a greater ability for really low ride heights which allows for much more aggressive stance.
In terms of performance, coilovers generally offer a more significant improvement over stock suspension than lowering springs. However, this comes at a higher cost and may not be necessary for all drivers. Coilovers are generally stiffer than a lowering spring. This means a rougher ride some may find uncomfortable for daily driving. Higher priced kits often come with damping adjustments can and be fine tuned to make comfortable enough for daily use, while also allowing them to be stiff enough for when you want to drive more aggressive on or off a track. Longevity wise a coilover may last longer than a lowering spring due to being designed to operate at lowered ride heights and the springs being matched to the valving of the shock.
Cost, Most sets of coilovers cost around $650 to $3,000 depending on the quality, brand, application, and adjustment capabilities, so be prepared to spend good money. This cost will give you in most cases completely new shocks, shock mounts, and springs. So they are more expensive up front, but may be a good choice if you need to replace your original shocks and mounts at the same time. Lowering springs plus shocks and mounts can oftentimes cost as much or more than a set of good budget coilovers.
- Fully adjustable height most of the time separate of spring adjustment
- Adjustable valving offering compression and rebound (aka stiffness)
- The camber can be adjusted on some coilover setups with camber plates
- Fully replaces a shock and spring setup with all new parts
- Price, good kits aren't cheap, and cheap kits aren't good. To get a quality kit that will give you the best ride quality and longevity will cost more money. Budget at least $700-$1000 to get a good budget quality kit.
- Stiffness, coilovers are stiffer, but they have to be to increase performance and offer the lowering ability they do. Find kits that offer damping adjustments so you can fine tune the ride quality.
- Maintenance, Coilover kits are not set it and forget it. Coilovers need to be cleaned, lubricated, tightened, and inspected regularly. A neglected coilover kit will become noisy, clunky, and hard to adjust. Regular maintenance is a must!
Ultimately, the choice between lowering springs and coilovers depends on an individual's specific needs and preferences. For those looking for an affordable and easy way to lower and improve their car's suspension, lowering springs may be the way to go. For those willing to spend more for greater adjustability, the best in performance, coilovers may be the better option.