When it comes to enhancing the performance of your vehicle, there are several modifications you can consider, from engine upgrades to aerodynamic improvements. However, one often overlooked aspect of vehicle performance is the suspension system. Performance coilovers are a game-changing component that can transform your car’s handling, responsiveness, and overall driving experience. That being said, let’s dive deep into the world of performance coilovers, exploring what they are, how they work, and why they are essential for any driving enthusiast.
Understanding The Basics
Before we delve into the realm of coilovers, it’s important to grasp the fundamental concept of coilovers. At its core, a coilover is a suspension system component that combines a shock absorber and a coil spring into a single unit. The primary purpose of a coilover is to control the vertical motion of the wheel in response to variations in the road surface, providing a smooth and stable ride.
A typical coilover kit consists of several key components:
Coil Spring: This is the part of the assembly responsible for supporting the vehicle’s weight and providing a degree of flexibility to absorb shocks from the road.
Shock Absorber: The shock absorber, also known as a damper, controls the movement of the spring by dissipating kinetic energy generated from the wheel’s up-and-down motion. It prevents excessive bouncing and maintains tire-to-road contact.
Adjustable Perch: Many performance coilovers come with an adjustable perch that allows you to fine-tune the ride height and preload of the coil spring. This adjustability is crucial for optimizing your suspension setup.
Upper Mount and Bearing Plate: These components connect the coilover to the vehicle’s chassis, enabling the coilover to pivot and rotate as the wheel moves up and down. They also provide a mounting point for the coilover assembly.
Lower Mount: The lower mount connects the coilover to the wheel hub, allowing it to pivot and respond to the road’s irregularities.
Performance coilovers, as the name suggests, are designed with performance in mind. They offer greater adjustability, and improved damping characteristics, and often come with stiffer springs compared to stock suspensions. These qualities make them a favourite among driving enthusiasts and competitive racers.
The Advantages of Performance Coilovers
Now that we have a foundational understanding of coilovers, let’s explore the advantages of upgrading to performance coilovers:
Enhanced Handling: Performance coilovers provide superior control over your vehicle’s suspension. By adjusting settings like ride height, damping, and spring rates, you can fine-tune your car’s handling characteristics to suit your driving style and preferences. This leads to better cornering, reduced body roll, and improved overall stability.
Customization: One of the most significant benefits of performance coilovers is their adjustability. You can customize your suspension to meet specific performance goals. Whether you’re looking for a stiffer setup for track days or a more comfortable ride for daily commuting, performance coilovers allow you to tailor your suspension system accordingly.
Improved Ride Quality: Contrary to the belief that coilovers always result in a harsh ride, many high-quality performance coilovers provide excellent ride quality when properly set up. With adjustable damping settings, you can strike a balance between sporty handling and comfort, making them suitable for both spirited driving and daily use.
Increased Traction: A well-tuned suspension system enhances tire-to-road contact, which translates to improved traction. Whether you’re accelerating out of a corner or braking hard, performance coilovers help ensure that your tires maintain maximum grip with the road surface.
Better Weight Distribution: Performance coilovers can be used to fine-tune your vehicle’s weight distribution, which can be crucial for achieving optimal balance and control. This is especially beneficial for rear-wheel-drive sports cars, where a well-balanced setup can significantly improve handling.
Reduced Body Roll: Excessive body roll during cornering can compromise your vehicle’s stability and cornering performance. Performance coilovers with stiffer spring rates and adjustable damping settings can effectively reduce body roll, providing a more precise and controlled driving experience.
Choosing the Right Performance Coilovers
Selecting the right set of aftermarket coilovers for your vehicle is a crucial decision. Here are some factors to consider when making your choice:
Vehicle Type: Performance coilovers are designed for various vehicle types, from compact sports cars to heavy-duty trucks. Ensure that the coilovers you choose are compatible with your vehicle’s make and model.
Intended Use: Consider your primary use for the vehicle. Are you primarily driving on the street, participating in track events, or engaging in off-road adventures? The intended use will influence the type of coilovers you need.
Adjustability: Evaluate the level of adjustability offered by the coilovers. Some models allow you to adjust ride height, damping, and other settings. The more adjustable the coilovers are, the more you can fine-tune your suspension to your liking.
Spring Rates: Coilovers with different spring rates are available. Stiffer springs provide a sportier feel and better handling, while softer springs can offer more comfort. Choose the spring rates that align with your performance goals.
Budget: Performance coilovers come in various price ranges. It’s essential to set a budget and explore options within that range. Keep in mind that high-quality coilovers can be a worthwhile investment in your vehicle’s performance.
Brand and Reputation: Research different brands and read reviews to identify reputable manufacturers known for producing reliable and high-performance coilovers.
Installation: Consider whether you have the technical skills and tools to install the coilovers yourself or if professional installation is required. Proper installation is crucial for safety and performance.
Maintaining Your Performance Coilovers
Once you’ve chosen and installed your aftermarket coilovers, it’s essential to maintain them for long-lasting performance. Regular maintenance can include the following:
Periodic Inspections: Regularly inspect your coilovers for signs of wear, damage, or leaks. Pay attention to the shock absorbers and springs.
Alignment: After adjusting your coilovers, get a professional alignment to ensure that your vehicle’s wheels are properly aligned for optimal handling and tire wear.
Cleaning: Keep the coilovers and surrounding components clean and free from debris or contaminants that can cause premature wear.
Lubrication: Lubricate any moving parts as recommended by the manufacturer to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation.
Re-tuning: If you change your vehicle’s use or preferences, consider re-tuning your coilovers to match your new requirements.
Performance coilovers are a transformative component that can elevate your vehicle’s performance, handling, and overall driving experience. With the ability to fine-tune your suspension to meet specific goals, you have the power to tailor your car’s behaviour to your liking, whether you’re a spirited driver or a track enthusiast.
Before making the leap into aftermarket coilovers, research and choose the right set for your vehicle type, intended use, and budget. Remember that proper maintenance is key to preserving the performance and longevity of your coilovers, ensuring that you enjoy their benefits for many miles and driving adventures to come. So, if you’re passionate about optimizing your vehicle’s performance, performance coilovers are an essential upgrade that can’t be ignored