Before you pick out a suspension, you have to consider what you want out of it. Do you want mild lowering and a near factory ride? Do you want to have freedom to change your ride height to your exact specifications? Do you want your dampers to be adjustable? These are all things you should take into account, along with the most important factor, your budget. A set of lowering springs and replacement dampers can be one of the cheaper routes, but if you want sportier dampening you’ll have to shell out for some upgraded dampers. If you want height adjustability and more aggressive dampening you’ll want to consider coilovers, some of which also include multiple levels of dampening adjustment. If you’re going for a pure show car just get a cheaper coilover kit that will let you lower the car to your desired level. If you’re building more of a hybrid fun/show car we have some other great options for you to consider.
Lowering springs are one of the simplest mods you can do on your car that makes a world of difference. Lowering springs are shorter and stiffer than factory springs which brings the whole body of the car closer to the ground. Cars in general look a bit ridiculous with factory suspension. Factory ride height is determined by the manufacturer to meet the needs of the average consumer meaning compliance with all bumps, dips, and irregularities that might be faced in day to day driving. Obviously one of the first things we should do is fix this affront to the otherwise gorgeous body of the E46 M3. Even basic lowering springs will make a huge difference in the look of your car, and if you’ve just spent all your money on wheels then these are a great budget option for you.
The Eibach Pro Kit is for people who just want a reasonable amount of lowering and sportier handling. The ride is firm but still comfortable so your car will look and feel a whole lot better without giving you anxiety every time you go near a steep driveway or a speed bump.
The H&R Sport Spring Kit, along the same lines of the Eibach Pro Kit these are simple springs designed to just lower your car and firm up the ride. You may be wondering why we included both but Eibach and H&R springs are tailored towards different people. The Eibach kits are generally a bit softer and more comfortable. On the other hand the H&R kits will give you better handling and responsiveness. All depends on what you’re looking for.
If your shocks haven’t been changed recently then you are probably driving around on blown shocks. Here’s an easy way to tell:
1. Walk up to one corner of your parked car, near one of the wheels.
2. Start bouncing the car up and down with your hand, pushing down in a rhythm on either the front or rear fenders where you can get the best leverage.
3. Once you have the car bouncing up and down at a distance of more than a few inches, let go and let the car settle itself.
If the car settles itself quickly in about a bounce and a half then your shocks are still ok. If it takes more than that your shocks are on their way out or have completely blown. If that is the case we recommend replacing your shocks. New factory shocks will work fine, or if you want a bit of a sporty upgrade we recommend something like the Koni Yellow Adjustable Shocks or similar. Shocks like these are designed to be used with aftermarket springs and will work with them better than the factory dampers.
If you’re looking to have a bit more control over your ride height than with lowering springs, consider coilovers. Coilovers are nice because you get both springs and shocks in the kit, and you get the ability to finely tune your ride height via adjustable spring perches or shock bodies. Of course the more you spend on coilovers the more little features you get, we’ll try to make sure you leave with an understanding of what each “tier” of coilover offers.
Solo-Werks S1 Coilovers are like a basic In-N-Out Hamburger (for those not familiar with In-N-Out insert your favorite burger place). Are they the best thing on the menu? No, of course not. Are you gonna enjoy them anyways? You’re damn right you will. Solo-Werks Coilovers are height adjustable, have E46 M3 specific spring and damper rates, and that’s pretty much it. However, if you’re paying less than the price of lowering springs+shocks for a full coilover kit, are you gonna care? Probably not. Be aware that these coilovers are tuned more for comfort, if you’re looking to carve canyons or attend the occasional track day maybe consider one of our other options.
Note: this kit utilizes Gold Zinc Plated Housings so they are corrosion resistant but are not suitable for areas where you will be encountering salted roads. If you will be driving your vehicle on such roads we suggest a stainless steel coilover kit.
If the Solo-Werks Coilovers are your Hamburger, the BC Racing Coilovers are your Cheeseburger (again, pick a burger place you’re familiar with) they’re the same base, but with that little bit extra. With these coilovers you get a ton of fun features at a still reasonable price. The usual height adjustability is present, but it is joined by damping adjustment knobs, pillow ball mounts, and front camber plates. These are great for the enthusiast who wants a decent coilover at a good price with some fun bonus features. Hell if you’re in the mood for it you can even get custom spring rates or substitute in some swift springs while ordering. Customization is one of the main draws of BC coilovers.
Note: this kit utilizes Painted Aluminum Housings so they are corrosion resistant but are not suitable for areas where you will be encountering salted roads. If you will be driving your vehicle on such roads we suggest a stainless steel coilover kit.
In keeping with our burger analogy, KW V3 coilovers are like a Double-Double. Same ingredients, but more satisfying. With the Variant 3s you get height adjustability and separate rebound/compression damping adjustability. You might be thinking to yourself “wait but BC came with camber plates.” Yes, you are correct, but KW doesn’t care about throwing in extra features like that to entice buyers. Instead they focus on putting out a high quality suspension, and they succeed. KW coilovers are a cut above the rest, from their use of Stainless Steel shock bodies for extreme corrosion resistance, to the quality of their springs and dampers. Of course it’s hard to take the word of a disembodied voice on the internet, but if you are able to, try to find someone with KW Coilovers and take a ride with them. You’ll see what we mean.
If you want KW quality but are intimidated by fiddling with both compression and rebound separately KW also offers the Variant 2 coilovers which have fixed compression and adjustable rebound. If you don’t care about either or are going “what the heck are rebound and compression?”, the Variant 1 coilovers are height adjustable only with fixed damping. As the factory settings are selected after extensive driving and stress testing this is honestly your best choice unless you really enjoy tinkering.
Note from the author: I personally have KW V3 Coilovers on my own vehicle. While it is very nice to have so much control over my ride quality and handling I would have probably chosen a V2 or V1 if they were available for my vehicle. For people like me who like to tinker, that sort of freedom is a curse in a way because I’m never 100% satisfied with a setting. If that sounds like you, heed my warning, trust in the KW engineers.
Suspension…(page 4) – Current
- Engine Bay