Let me guess – you want to lower your ride and improve the handling. You heard coilovers can do just this. But they will make your ride super uncomfortable. Oh no! Is it possible to equip coilovers but still have a smooth ride?
Honestly, I would say not really. You can’t have it both ways with coilovers. As long as you equip coilovers, your ride quality will definitely reduce. But hey! Coilovers are adjustable right? Could you adjust them so the ride quality is still acceptable?
The answer is yes 🙂 That’s what I will cover in this article. I will also share my recommendations on what you should buy – depending on your situation. So read on.
Recap: Why Are Coilovers Not Comfortable?
To understand how to adjust the coilovers for comfort, we must first understand why coilovers are uncomfortable in the first place?
The whole point of coilovers is to improve car handling. Manufacturers know this very well – which is why they design coilovers only with handling in mind (and not comfort!).
Unfortunately for us, ride quality and handling never go hand in hand. If you want a great cornering, then your car will be stiff and uncomfortable. If you want a great ride quality, then your car will suck at cornering – every time you take a corner, the entire car body will roll heavily to one side.
Think minivans or SUVs that are tall – you won’t feel the bumps or potholes on the road. But can you attack a corner at high speed? I don’t think so.
The whole purpose of coilovers is to ensure your car is stable and that tires always have good traction on the road. They accomplish these by doing the following:
- Lower your car height. Lowered cars have a lower center of gravity. Which means they will not roll as much when you take a corner. Which also means you can attack those corners at a high speed! 🙂
- Increasing stiffness compression and rebound. Cars with stiff compression and rebound will get back into positions much quickly when they go through bumps or body rolls. Which means you can begin accelerating much earlier after every corner.
All these modifications by coilovers are great for handling but they will make your car ride horrible. You will feel every little pothole and imperfections on the road. Coilover manufacturers know this but they built it for handling! That’s why new coilovers always come with very stiff settings.
As the driver, you may get used to it – because you now have great handling that you can enjoy. But your passengers though? Yeah, they are gonna hate your car. That means you parents, girlfriends, crushes will complain about your car 24/7 – not a fun experience, trust me.
This is why we must somehow adjust the coilovers to have a decent ride at least. Let’s cover all the ways now.
Ways To Make Coilovers Comfortable
1. Get Coilovers With The Right Spring Rates
I would say the biggest impact to ride quality is spring rates. For a decent ride, you don’t want a spring rate that’s too high – 280 front / 160 rear is recommended. This is a great balance for handling and ride quality. You don’t need this exact number, but find a coilover with spring rates close to these.
Spring rates are not adjustable. So you need to make sure your chosen coilovers have the right spring rates. If you already bought coilovers with spring rates that are too stiff, then there’s nothing you can do. Except for continuing to the next point!
By the way, if you don’t already know, spring rates define how much force is needed to compress the spring on your coilovers. Higher spring rates mean you need more force to compress the spring.
This is not ideal for ride quality. Because you want the springs to compress as much as possible when you go through bumps. This way you will not feel the bump when you drive. So make sure you get a low enough spring rate if you want a decent ride. 280/160 is my recommendation.
2. Increase The Ride Height
If you want a decent ride, you cannot have your car too low. There will be less distance for the spring to compress – making your ride very stiff. Not only that, the lower your car, the harder it will be to drive around on the streets.
Think of speed bumps and driveways. You will have difficulty going through them without scratching your car bumpers or skirts – not a very pleasant experience.
I recommend you to ride at about 13.5” all around. Your car will have the aggressive looks and will most likely not scrape speed bumps and driveways. I say most likely because I can’t really tell how high the speed bumps are in your area! But 13.5” should be good… You still have to drive carefully though!
3. Softer Compression & Rebound
- Rebound Control – How fast weight moves away from your tires
- Compression Control – How fast weight moves towards your tires
For a smooth ride, you need to soften both the compression and rebound on your coilovers. Fortunately, this should not be that difficult. Coilovers that provide these adjustability will also include a knob that you can just turn for adjustment.
Note that not all coilovers come with adjustable compression and rebound. Those that do are usually much more expensive. If your coilovers don’t provide this adjustability, then there’s nothing you can do here.
4. Preload Does Not Impact Ride Quality
This is not a way to improve your ride quality. But I just want to point out that decreasing or increasing preload will not impact ride quality.
Preload is how much the spring in your coilover is pre-compressed. Out of the box, your coilovers should already have a preload from the manufacturer.
I suggest you don’t adjust that if you are not sure what you are doing. Preload is necessary for your car suspension to work. It pushes your car tires down so they have good traction on the road. Adjusting preload will not impact ride quality.
What About Lowering Springs Instead?
Now that I have discussed all the ways you could do to make your coilovers more comfortable, it’s time to stop and ask yourself – why do you really want the coilovers for?
If all you look for is a lowered car and a decent improvement in handling, then lowering spring is good enough. They are way cheaper, lower your car, improve handling and still ride comfortably – not as comfortable as stock but definitely daily drivable.
A great lowering spring costs about $250, whereas a decent (not great) coilovers easily starts at $1,000. That’s a pretty hefty difference if all you want is a lowered car and improved handling.
Fine, you may also want the adjustability in height ride – ride the car higher during winter and lower during the summer. I still think $1,000 is a little too much for that. Not to mention, everytime you adjust the height, you need to realign the tires. Quite a hassle.
If you still insist on going for the coilovers, then I recommend you to check out the coilovers by KW. They have been around for a while and are quite reputable in the suspension business.
Specifically the KW V1. V1 stands for Variant 1 – it’s their entry model for coilovers. It’s the perfect balance for improved handling and ride quality. Though variant 1, being the entry model only allows you to adjust the ride height.
I have an article here discussing what you should look for when purchasing coilovers. Best Coilovers: Which To Purchase And What To Look For?
If you are interested in lowering springs instead, then check out the Eibach Pro Kit Springs. I also have another article where I discuss what you should look for when purchasing lowering springs. Best Lowering Springs: Which To Purchase And What To Look For?
Either way, you should never purchase cheap coilovers or lowering springs. They are the hardest working component in your car and should not be neglected. If you are tight on budget, a good lowering spring is always always better than a cheap eBay coilovers. Always.