Redline360 Mishimoto Radiators
6Jun/1450

What are Coilovers and Coilovers vs Springs Explained

what-are-coilovers-vs-springs

What are coilovers?
By definition, a "coilover" is short for "coil spring over shock". All this means is you have a coil spring literally sitting over your shock or strut. Other suspension systems such as leaf springs, keep the shock and spring separate. When discussing performance suspensions, people refer to coilovers as suspension systems that are height adjustable and include both the shocks and the springs, usually pre-assembled, paired perfectly for each other and ready to be bolted on.

See the various brands of coilovers.

Coilovers vs Springs
Before we get into more detail on coilovers, we wanted to explain the difference between coilovers and lowering springs. Many of our customers are undecided on which route they want to go with their suspension. Some just want to lower their car, while others want the ability to adjust the height, while others want even more flexibility with rebound and compression adjustments on their shocks. Lowering springs simply let you lower the car, but do not offer you any adjustments. Lowering springs have a pre-set amount of drop, and you buy the springs based on the amount of drop that you are looking for. You can use them with factory shocks, if your factory shocks are still in good shape or your car is new, or with a performance shock. The problem many people run into is that they buy one brand of springs and one brand of shocks, and they are not always a good match for one another. The springs might be too stiff for the shocks, or the shocks too stiff for the springs and you run into a condition that your car is low and "feels" like it handles better, but in fact actually handles worse than stock. Happens all the time. This is why when it comes to coilovers vs lowering springs, if budget allows, we always recommend to go with the coilovers.

So then there's the question of - well, which coilovers do I buy? Which coilovers are the best for my car? Are cheap coilovers as good as expensive coilovers? What's the difference between cheap coilovers and expensive coilovers? Am I just paying for the name? All very good questions, and we hear it often enough here at Redline360, that we decided to write a blog post about it.

Coilovers
Coilovers come in all shapes and sizes. Everything from sleeve type coilovers, to full bodied race coilovers with separate oil canisters for the ultimate adjust-ability and performance.

Here are some of the most popular types of coilovers:

Coilover Sleeves
Coilover Sleeves are essentially one step above lowering springs. These are height adjustable, and come at an entry level price. Some customers really like that they can pick their springs rates and length of the springs.

  • Price: Lowest
  • Includes Shocks: No
  • Height Adjustable: Yes
  • Works with Stock Shocks: Yes, but not recommended
  • Camber Kit: Not Included
  • Top Mounts: Usually Included
  • Example: Ground Control, Megan Racing Slip Over

Non Shock Adjustable Coilovers
Non shock adjustable coilovers are considered entry level. These coilovers come with shocks and are height adjustable, but you are not able to adjust the stiffness, compression or rebound of the shocks. Depending on application, most are pre-assembled and include top mounts, and are ready to be installed. Excellent choice for those who want to lower their car, have ability to adjust the amount of lowering, and want something reliable.

Shock Adjustable Coilovers
Shock adjustable coilovers are like the non shock above, except they have better shocks that you can set to really dial in your suspension. Many of these are our most popular selling coilover, and allow people to soften the ride for daily driving, or stiffen it up for track use.

Shock Adjustable Coilovers with Camber Kit
These coilovers are the best balanced suspension upgrade, and include height adjustable coilovers with adjustable shocks, and front camber kit (sometimes also rear camber kits are included). So this way, not only are you getting a full suspension setup, but you don't need to buy a separate camber kit.

Are all coilovers made the same?
We get many customers asking us why some coilovers are so much more expensive than others. Some coilovers on the market are dirt cheap, and while this is good for the consumer to have a variety of options, you need to be careful when it comes to coilovers. Keep in mind that coilovers are one of the most important suspension components, and safety and performance need to always be a concern. Cheap coilovers are typically built with the worst materials, and while they do provide you the same functionality, they do not offer you the same longevity, performance or safety of a quality coilover. If you are not sure what's right for you, ask below, or send us an email and we can help guide you to the right setup for you, depending on your needs and budget. Sometimes if the budget doesn't allow for a quality coilover, it might be best to wait until you can save, or you might just have to go with a completely different setup.

Your comments
So what setup do you have on your car? What setup are you looking to get? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments (50) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I recently added 20″ wheels and chrome rims to my 97′ Toyota Camry. I need a suggestion for a good suspension system. My biggest concern is safety. I don’t want to damage the wheel wells and want a smooth ride. Should I go with the coilovers? Or should I get shocks and struts. If so, please give me a specific reference.

    • Toyota Camry + 20″ rims (facepalm)
      This is a car for gramma to drive to the walmart. Go get a normal car, don’t waste your money on this shit

  2. I have a 99 mustang and im mainly just looking for a smoother ride and ive been playing with the idea of coil overs vs springs and shocks/struts

  3. hi – I read your article ” what are coilovers & coilovers vs springs explained” you kindly offered to help recommend solution. I own a Porsche Cayenne, 2008 6cyl model and although standard setup is ok – it’s far from great. I’d like the car to handle & drive better, improve centre of gravity , comfort and cosmetically improve appearance by lowering approx 3″ or thereabouts
    Thoughts?

    Thank u

    • I recently purchased a 98 e36 323, Im looking to lower my ride just about 1 inch to get rid of the massive front gap.. Every since i went to 18 inch wheels ive been getting alot of rubbing inside the wheel well.. I currently have stock suspension obviously, but i was wondering if i upgraded to a lower and stiffer ride would that help? Im currently looking at Street Edge adjustable coilovers for Bmw but it dont come with rear springs. could i just add my stock rear springs since i dont need to lower the rear of the car? i have already rolled my fenders but still get rubbing in the back.

  4. are cx racing or megan coilovers good?

  5. Hello,
    I have a 2013 BOSS and wanted to lower it with springs but being a novice at this, I need some guidance and any help is appreciated. The article on Coilover vs springs is great but would love to hear from you as well. I do drive the care on weekends and do take it on track yearly (not to often as it is not cheap), so please guide me as what are my best options.

    Regards, Danny

  6. For just street use and better than stock handling /lowering…BC,XYZ,H&R coilovers are all excellent…upgrade to swift 60mm springs for even a better response.this is for improved handling, not Track/Race use….for advanced handling on the track etc KW-V3 etc are the way to go plus 3 times the price.

    Note:do not use big sway bars with stiff springs/coilovers…many make this mistake but it’s not worth it…big sways are only good with soft springs.

    One of the best cars on the Track is the Nissan GTR and use 17mm sways but stiff coils/shocks and handles like a dream…so keep your stock sway bars…get amazing coilovers…street use…i recommend XYZ,BC & H&R…everything else…start with KW-V3s and up.

  7. Hi. I’m planning to change my car’s (RSX type-s 2002) suspension. My budget is below 400/500. Do you recommend me to use coilovers with that budget? I want it to lower my car and make it stiffer. I found a coilover brand ‘Race Ready’ for $360. I’m not familiar with that brand so I’m not sure if it’s good. Do you have any recommendations for what suspension/coilovers I should use for that price (below 400/500)?

  8. Hi guys,

    I have a opel / vauxhall corsa D 2012 1.4 L

    I want to lower my ride without sacrificing comfort.. Is it possible ?

  9. What kind should I purchase. And what brand.
    2006 dodge charger r/t

  10. I have a 2013 Honda Accord Sport
    And I’m ready to buy 20 inch rims and want to lower the car …

    Problem is I have one shop telling me H & R lowering springs is better for a smoother non rubbing ride than coil overs..

    Then I have a different shop telling me
    D2 coil overs are the best way to go…

    All I really want is the look and a smooth
    non bumpy ride and longevity without having to worry about problems in the future ….

    Question is… do I choose springs or coil overs? (Money not being an issue) just want what’s best….I don’t race I don’t do shows
    I simply just like the look and smoothness
    Not looking to drop it pass 2 inches either

    what brand would u suggest for both options for my 2013 Honda Accord Sport?
    (But I’m leaning towards coil overs)
    Are D2 the best ? Or does it even matter?
    Need advise ASAP please. I’m ready to buy…

  11. I have a 2004 Volvo wagon, 2.4T, 155,000K. I need to replace my rear stocks with the with coil-over shock. Years ago Sears made what was called a Booster Shock, and was installed on my 87 Grand Prix with a Chevy 305. Is there any one out there that has installed a coil-over on a 2004 Volvo Wagon 2.5T, which brand did you use and what were the results? I have not come across any Volvo suspension articles that have been modified for a 2004.

  12. I have a 1981 BMW 320i I am looking to put coilovers on. Have been challenged finding a product that will work. Can you please advise on what would work. Thanks

  13. I’m looking to get some coilovers for my commuter. It currently has some lowering coilovers I believe. It makes my commutes pretty uncomfortable by scraping a lot and being too bouncy(not for me). I’m looking for something with a reasonable height but especially something with a much more smooth, comfortable, and maybe a little sporty of a ride. What should I look into? What brands?

  14. I have a 1953 Ford F100 that we are building for the street. When finished I hope to drive it for a couple of years & then turn it over to my grandson who will 16 in 3& half years. So I am looking for a Safe truck to drive every day. We’re going to put a stock 302 engine in it with an automatic transmission. I want disk brakes on the front and I’m going to run stock drum brakes on the back. I would like to truck to sit about 2 inches lower than stock. We plan on running stock 16 inch wheels with a standard size tire. I think I want rack and pinion steering with power steering, but I’m open to suggestions. I hope I’ve given you enough information to give me some good guidance and type of suspension system that will fit my truck best. Sincerely Gordon and Jacob Pittsenbarger

  15. Great write up! Wondering if you wouldn’t mind helping me out also.

    2007 BMW 323i (E90), with a non-sport suspension. No longer on runflats (I believe OEM suspension is tuned for RFTs).

    Looking for a smooth/comfortable ride, but not really looking to lower the car. Have oversized wheels/tires so pretty much no room for a drop out back, and maybe 0.5″ in front.
    I don’t track or race the car, but enjoy a spirited drive on occasion, but this is my daily driver (in winter also), so comfort is important.

    Any suggestions? Someone suggested a Broadway Static custom setup. Are you familiar with that brand? Have any other thoughts/suggestions?

    Thanks!!

  16. Hi I have a 97 honda prelude I whant to change my stock suspension I’m looking to have a smooth and stiff ride its my everyday driving machine but I don’t know what kind of suspension I should pick for a honda prelude please any suggestions?

  17. Howdy,

    I have been tasked with a job that is out of the norm for a Challenger build. The task is to take a 2014 Challenger and make it resemble the green one from the movie Fast and Furious 7, without cutting the car.

    My plan thus far is to get a lift kit for the car normally used to put 28″ rims on it, and instead use an smaller wheel and larger all-terrain tires. This part has been simple to figure out. My concern is in the handling and overall stance of the car, once this is done.

    The kit states that it will work with the stock shocks and struts. However, I know from experience with lifted trucks this will not give him the best ride quality and drivability.

    I know there are a lot of coil over kits for these cars, but they all only lower ride height, this is not what the owner is after. I am curious about a stock length strut and shock that have adjustable valving, along with a coil over sleeve kit for this car. In my thinking this would allow for the suspension to be tuned for his driving style and adjust for the appropriate stance. I would also run a shock extender in the rear to keep the shock in it’s preferred travel length, so it works optimally.

    This car will be driven daily, played with often and taken to car shows. The owner wants the car to handle and be as fun to drive as it is stock, however I want to make it better.

    If you could please point me to the parts I am looking for would be great. This project would be simple if it was lifting a 4WD pickup, but we’re is the fun in that.

    Thanks,
    Jesse

  18. Have a 2006 Chrysler 300 SRT8.
    Budget:1500 or less
    Want to replace my air suspension with coilovers, what do you suggest. Looking for a smooth ride. I have 22inch rims rn not sure if this matters. Have been recommended BC coilovers but I’m blindfolded when it comes to this. Anyways thank you in advance and hope you can help me out.

  19. 2010 MazdaSpeed
    Budget: 1300 and less
    Current setup: H&R Springs on stock struts
    Its my daily driver. I am stuck as far what to do… get a new suspension (coilovers) or go with the springs i have right now and grab some adjustable struts probably Corksport. Really confused as to the difference between stiff and smooth ride. Im guess i would want a smooth comfortable setup since its my everyday car. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  20. I have a 1990 honda civic and i want to install new suspension but not too sure what direction to go. I was looking into buying skunk2 sport shocks and lowering springs but i started to read the articles on the difference between coilovers and lowering springs etc. And i noticed it said that going with the lowering springs wouldn’t really be a good choice because they are non adjustable.. i want to lower my car but i don’t want to be stuck with something that makes the car too low and end up with poor results. so i continued to read through and seen the differences between all of the suspension setups and decided to go a different route. Can someone guide me towards a setup that will result in a nice, low stance, something that can be adjusted and still have good functionable performance; also reliable? Im thinking of going with Shock Adjustable Coilovers with Camber Kit? any suggestions, thanks.

  21. recently put 19” on my 2007 bmw 328i convertible and it looks a little high. i dont know which coilovers to get. i want to be able to adjust them from inside the car with a switch. any suggestions?

  22. Good morning,
    I have a 71 Camaro with a big block 496 and 5 speed manual. I would like to freshen up my front and rear suspension and would like to go with tubular A arms and coilovers. Would like to know what you would recommend? The car will be driven mostly on the street and occasionally on the track.
    Thanks,
    Lorne

  23. I have 2008 Subaru WRX and i am waiting to get a better suspension system for my car. I don’t want to lower much at all. Maybe just level it out a bit while getting better handling. I don’t want to camber my wheels or anything like that. What set should I get without breaking the bank? Budget around $1000 wouldn’t like to spend more than that but if it’s needed then it’s needed.

  24. Hi.i have a 2005 golf 1.wat kind of suspension and coilovers can i put.also have 17 inch rims tyres.and price to meet my pocket.thanks

  25. Have a 04 accord. Was thinking about installing raceland coilovers, are they any good? The price ain’t that bad

  26. We have a 15 Challenger R/T. I want to raise the front 1″ for looks only. It’s a driver, 80 to 100 a week. What do you recommend?

  27. Hello, I have 2014 GMC Terrain would like to have it lowered. Been researching coilover appears to be best option for 2″ by 3″drop. Need advice on best system safety wise and performance streetcar driving: Thanks Harvey

  28. I have a 1967 Malibu and in process of narrowing a truck 12 bolt. I have a modified small block with a TH350. It currently has coil springs on rear. I want to drive on street and dragstrip. What coilovers do I need? Or that you would recommend? I’m on a budget but I want some that will work correctly for my application. I am using 10″ tires on rear. Going to use 3.90 or 4.10 gears. Also installing an 8 point roll cage. Battery in trunk. Thanks ahead for any help I can get. Bill

  29. You have great information regarding lowering a vehicle. Although is there any information in regards to lifting a vehicle for off-roading/rally? I am in search for information about suspensions, coilovers, and Springs to lift my WRX 2014 hatchback. Hope to hear back

  30. I have a 2007 PORSCHE 911 997.1 TT Tiptronic. I have installed the BILSTEIN DampTronic coilovers all around.
    I find the stock BILSTEIN DampTronic spring very stiff for my city use (MUMBAI, INDIA). I am interested in upgrading both the springs on the BILSTEIN’s to SWIFT coiler springs. My usage is mainly street driving (with bad road conditions) and occasional high speed driving on the freeway.hWhat i am looking is better street ride when driving in the city in “COMFORT” mode and GOOD control when doing a high speed freeway run and canyon drives.

    What can you offer in the SWIFT range please.

  31. Hello. I drive an 08 lancer gt and im looking to get a coilover kit but was hoping to get an answer on whats best for me. I just moved to a town with bumpy dirt roads and im only seeing street racing. I dont want to lower my car too much do to where i live so whats best for my car? 1200 spending limit i want something that will help the car workbetter in these conditions but keep it smooth. Thank you for the help

  32. I have a 2006 Honda Ridgeline with aftermarket wheels, CEC 22″ Tire size 265/40/22 I would like to close wheel well gap as much as possible, no more than I Should, for appearance purposes. Can you recommend the correct brand and type of coil over shock, that would definitely be applicable without any negative issues for this truck? Does this eliminate the existence of stock spring? I’m due to replace shocks, but would like to know if I can or should make this change, prior to replacing stock shocks, with same gap in wheel well. I also need a referral to an expert in these matters for installation, within 20 miles of Arcadia Ca.

  33. Have an ’07 Versa with 17s and Tein lowering springs. If I switch to coilovers, what are some good brands? Types? Is the height easy to adjust?

  34. Just picked up a 1978 vette. The car needs some new suspension, front and rear. Trying to decide wish way to go. Coil overs? Leaf or composite fir rear…can aaanyone help? Tnx

  35. I own a 2005 toyota corolla S which currently stands on 18” rims…i would like advice in which direction to go in terms of a suspension upgrade…im thinking to go to coilovers but im uncertain which brand is best… i seek to lower my car but even more so, i seek comfort….i would like some assistance please

  36. Good evening, the purpose of this mail first is to congratulate them for their website which is very complete and explanatory, secondly request your advice: buy a ford mustang 2107, and you have heard that coilovers improve stability and grip On the road, I clarify that I do not dedicate myself to car racing, I just need the fun of driving on the road and feeling comfort in the city. I do not want to buy cheap and not very expensive. What is your recommendation?
    I await your prompt reply
    Best regards
    Rogelio Monroy

  37. Hey guys, good morning. What kind of Shock Adjustable Coilovers with Camber Kit can I install on a Nissan Teana J32 2008 model with the 2.5 engine?

  38. Hey I have a stage 2 2007 sti, I am looking to add aftermarket coilovers. I am wondering which ones are the best upgrade for daily driving, that also offer a good increase in performance.

    Thank you!

  39. I have a stock Honda accord 1999. What i need to do is to make the front and rear the same level

  40. Hey i have a run x rsi 2003 model pre face lift…i want to know the best coil over setup for my car..please

  41. I have a 2014 Charger SE with 20″ wheels and commute on a winding mountain road. I want to eliminate some bump steer and vehicle roll but dont want to heavily compromise ride comfort. I was looking into the MOPAR performance springs or the MOPAR coil-over lowering kit as well as an upgraded anti-sway bar kit. Trying to stay MOPAR from a resale point of view but not at the cost of added expense and inferior products if thats the case. Any thoughts or advice?

  42. I have 2012 chevy malibu lt. Have 20 in rims, looking to get coilovers. After your reading this article I think the shock adjustable coilovers is what’s best, since this is my daily car. Is this what you would suggest??

  43. All you idiots asking the same question……your answer is simple, adjustable coilovers. If you want that sporty feel go coilovers. If your a cheap cunt with really bumpy roads fo spring + strut. Holy crap everyones running 20s……guess your all ricers ffs…..tyre walls people tyre walls

  44. Someone knowledgeable enough to help?
    I have a 2003 Lincoln Town Car that is going to be my sleeper/cruiser after I’m done with it. I was to lower it a little, also want adjustable dampening/rebound valves for either more sporty times or for a road trip. I would like good build quality, willing to pay a medium to high price tag. Just put 2015 mustang wheels w/ 40 profile tires. Gonna be a beast. Thanks for any help offered.

  45. HI REDLINE
    BRILLIAINT SITE. I HAVE AN E39 5.28 , I WANT TO TAKE IT ON THE NURBURGHRING SO NEED COMFORT FOR THE DRIVE THERE AND ADJUST FOR THE TRACK , WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST.

  46. Hi,
    I have a 1993 WRX JDM and currently live in Japan.
    I plan to import the car when i move back to the states and would like to try out rallycross in the future, and maybe hit up a few tracks here and there.

    I’m about to have a kid in March of 2018, and would like to get a suspension that is soft enough for a newborn to ride along in, and not get thrown around like crazy, but be adjustable for some gravel/track use.

    I’m not looking to spend thousands of US Dollars, but i’m willing to put in some cash for a good suspension that will fit this idea if its possible please let me know.

    the ability to adjust ride hight is cool, but if i cant whatever, as long as it does its job.

  47. Hello,
    I am interested in improving my handling on my 1972 Cougar XR7. It kind of floats at the moment. What would you suggest? It is primarily a weekend cruise show car but on occasion will take it for some fun dragging. looking at new shocks but not sure what shape are my springs. Should I opt for coilovers instead? Would anti-sway bars front and back be a good idea too?
    Thanks,
    Mike

  48. I have a 2005 Honda CR-V, I want to lower it about 2”-3”, I am leaning towards a coilovers setup but unsure what is a trustworthy brand for just appearances and comfortable ride (better than stock) while possibly improving handling, and also having everything I’ll need to complete the install so it can go right for alignment and not worry about reliability or camber/weird tire wear..


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