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Buying used coilovers is generally okay. But there are many parts you need to inspect and even more things you need to know before doing so. If you are looking to just lower your car and have basic improvement handling, then new lowering springs could be a better choice. Or entry point coilovers that are new, if you have more budget.
That being said, let’s go through everything you need to know before you look for used coilovers. After reading this article, you should be able to decide whether you want to proceed with used coilovers. And if you do, at least know what to inspect.
12 Things To Know When Buying Used Coilovers
1. Warranty Is Not Transferred
No matter how “new” the used coilovers are, the warranty will not be transferred. Coilovers warranty are attached to the initial owner. There really isn’t much you can do here. So be aware if the owner mentions how new the coilovers are and how they are still under warranty.
I personally think this is a big downside. Coilovers from reputable brands often come with lifetime warranty or million mile warranty. To lose that kind of warranty is definitely a bummer. Especially considering that coilovers could just be the hardest working component in your car.
2. Ensure No Damages / Corrosions
After the warranty topic, this is obviously the most important topic. You need to inspect the coilovers to make sure there are no damaged or corroded (rusted) parts. This topic alone can make up an entire blog post.
Which is exactly why I will be referring you to another article dedicated just for this. This post would be too long otherwise. I still have so many points to share with you 🙂 Check out this post from TEIN USA on What To Look For When Buying Used Coilovers?
3. Ensure No Missing Parts
You need to make sure there are no missing parts in the coilovers. At best you might be missing rubber bushings that allow metal to metal contact – causing wear and tear and clunking noises. At the worst, you could be missing key components that won’t even allow you to install the coilovers!
I won’t list the springs or shocks as things you should inspect. There’s no way you would miss these… Though, it would be very interesting if you somehow do!
That said, refer to the image below on some of the common things that could be missing (I place an indicator besides the items that are often missing). You could also inspect the used coilovers by comparing it against an image of new coilovers. Anything missing?
4. Winter Climate Promotes Rust And Corrosion
Winter will forever be coilovers’ worst enemy – because they promote rust, that could seize up your coilovers or even destroy them.
This happens because during winter, the water / moisture on the road contains a lot of salt. And if you don’t already know, salt water can make metal rust very quickly.
The point is, when buying used coilovers, you need to ask the owner where he lives or drives. If he lives in an area with heavy winter or has just gone through winter, then the coilovers will most likely come in contact with salt water already.
The only way to maintain coilovers during winter is to regularly clean them or protect them with coilover covers. When buying coilovers, it’s a good idea to at least sound like you know what you are talking about. Ask them intelligent questions, so they get intimidated and won’t fool you.
Here’s another article I have about maintaining coilovers. Read and understand them before speaking to any coilover owners. How Do You Maintain Coilovers? (6 Tips)
5. More Adjustability Means More Expensive
There are multiple types to coilovers and not all of them cost the same. Typically, the more adjustable they are, the more expensive they become.
For instance, entry level coilovers that only let you change ride height are cheaper than professional coilovers that let you change ride height, rebound and dampening.
You have to identify what used coilover brand and model you are buying and then compare it with the original price. Is the price drop substantial? If not, I wouldn’t really go for used coilovers. Why should you?
6. Make Sure They Are Still Adjustable
The whole point of buying coilovers is the adjustability. Some coilover threads are so old, rusted and seized up that you can’t even adjust them anymore. Make sure your used coilovers are not like this.
The owner may put on some anti seizing before showing you and can prove that it’s still adjustable. You should inspect the coilover threads. Do they look fine? Or do they look rusted, damaged and rough.
I would personally run away if the coilover threads are in bad condition.
7. Get To Know How The Coilovers Were Used
It’s important to know if the coilovers were abused or if they were just used for daily driving. If the owner mentions that he goes tracking or drifting, then you could be sure that the coilovers have been working real hard.
This should be okay if coupled with regular maintenance by the owner. But even so, I would be less inclined to buy the coilovers. Who knows what other abuse the owner has done to the coilovers?
Not to be a stereotype, but just looking for your best interest 🙂
8. Get To Know Why The Owner Is Selling It
Also important to know why the coilovers are being sold. I know none of the owners would be stupid enough and tell you the full truth. But hey, it’s free to ask. And you could even observe the owner’s body language while he gives you his answer.
9. No Way To Know The Actual Mile Usage
You can never tell how long the coilovers have been used. And believe me 8/10 the mileage you see in the coilovers description is not accurate. The only way to somehow guesstimate is to see the car mileage.
200K driving miles? The coilovers have probably worked hard! If you really want to know the mileage of the coilovers, you could see the purchase date of the coilovers and the purchase date of the car and then calculate from there.
Not sure if the owner would provide you with all the info though!
10. New Set Is Always Recommended
Lastly, a new set of car parts is always recommended. If you are too broke for the new coilovers, take a look at lowering springs instead. I am pretty sure it’s enough if you are driving a daily and want that lowered aggressive look.
If you still insist on getting coilovers instead, then take a look at the entry-level coilovers. Buying used car parts should only be done if you know the previous owner or if you are super experienced and you know everything there is to inspect.
Alternatives To Used Coilovers
New Entry Level Coilovers
Entry level coilovers only allow you to adjust ride height. Good ones like the KW V1 cost around $1,400. This is a thousand dollars cheaper than the KW V3 ($2,400) which provides you adjustable rebound and dampening.
For $1,500, I would go for a new KW V1 than used KW V3 any day of the week. If you are interested in buying new coilovers, I have an article here where I walk you through on all the things you should look at.
Give it a read if you are interested. Best Coilovers: Which To Buy And What To Look For?
Lowering springs provide you with a lowered ride height while still being comfortable to drive. It only replaces your stock springs – you don’t have to change the shocks. I would say this is most suitable if you are driving a daily.
Good lowering springs cost about $250. That’s considerably cheaper than the coilovers – even the entry-level ones. I suggest you give lowering springs a look if you are tight on budget.
I cover what you should look for when purchasing lowering springs in this article. Also give it a read, if you are interested. Best Lowering Springs: Which To Buy And What To Look For?