There are several ways to alter your vehicle’s suspension, and the right solution for your neighbor with the same vehicle as you may not be the right solution for you. For instance, the guy who wants to Rallycross his Audi Quattro is going to have a radically different setup than the guy taking his car to a “stanced” car meet. There’s no one-size-fits-all “right” answer – like wearing the right clothing to the right occasion, you need to set up your suspension to do whatever you plan to do with the car.
Does the handling of your car leave you wanting more? Is your ride begging to be slammed or stanced? Upgrading your Suspension offers some of the best bang-for-your buck in enhancing the performance of your vehicle.
What are Lowering Springs and Sport Springs? What’s the difference?
Lowering Springs (or “Drop Springs“, as they’re sometimes called) as the name implies, were created for the express purpose of lowering the ride height of your vehicle by a set amount, typically with retaining some degree of comfort in mind but these springs put aesthetics first. Lowering springs replace your OEM springs to lower your vehicle’s ride height. Sport Springs, on the other hand are typically more conservative than lowering springs in the amount of drop and aim to improve handling more than aesthetics, focused on improving the vehicle’s ride and handling characteristics.
Sport Springs are ideal when you want to improve handling without resorting to a more expensive coilover setup. Sport Springs or Lowering Springs should be paired with a lowering shock that can compensate for the reduction in ride height to best retain ride quality. If you want a comfortable daily driver with a conservative drop, Sport Springs/Lowering Springs are probably the best choice for you. If you want your car’s suspension to stay relatively close to stock, Sport Springs are the right choice for you. If you’re on a budget and coilovers seem out of reach, lowering or sport springs are, relatively speaking much less expensive than coilovers and more attainable.
What is Cutting Springs?
Another method of lowering vehicles is cutting springs, which means cutting a certain amount of coil off of a spring, however this is best left to professionals as improperly cutting the springs will cause your car to ride rough and cause serious damage to other components. 99.9% of the time, it is a bad idea. Cutting the springs will severely compromise the ride of your vehicle and can cause dangerous “motorboating”, the spring can crack and fail or can even jump out of the spring seat, among other issues.
What are Coilovers?
A Coilover, or Coil-Spring-Over-Strut is a shock absorber with a coil spring surrounding the shock, which are assembled as a unit before they’re installed in a vehicle, as opposed to on many vehicles where the spring and strut are separate. Coilovers typically allow the greatest drop in ride height and are the best solution if “maximum handling performance” is the goal of your build.
Most aftermarket coilovers are adjusted using a threaded spring perch to lower ride height, and typically have knobs to adjust damping, also called “stiffness”.While they are typically more expensive than lowering springs, this is not to say that coilovers are not just for track racing – they have excellent street and stance applications as well. There are two types of coilover – a full coilover and slip-on coilovers. Full-coilovers are matched up with a shock from the factory, whereas slip on coilovers are really just adjustable coil springs. Not all coilover brands are created equal – be wary of lesser devices from no-name manufacturers as they may not perform or ride as well as a quality coilover. ModBargains only offers coilovers from quality manufacturers such as CKS
If you want to drastically lower your car statically, want superior handling performance or just want the ability to “dial in” or adjust your suspension, Coilovers are probably the best choice for you.
Can I raise my suspension with Coilovers?
No. While specialty “lifted” RALLY coilovers that do not lower the car exist for off-road and rally-cross applications, and lift-kits exist for the purpose of increasing ground clearance, this is not what the majority of coilovers are designed to do.
Do I have to buy Camber/Caster Plates to use coilovers?
No. While Camber/Caster plates do really allow you to “dial in” your suspension, you do NOT need them in order to run coilovers – in fact, most applications are just fine without them. Unless you really need 5 degrees of negative camber, you do NOT need Camber Caster plates.
What is Air Bag Suspension / Air Suspension?
Air Bag Suspension is a type of suspension that is powered by an air pump or compressor. It is also often referred to as “Air Ride Suspension” or that a car is “Bagged” or “On Bags“, which differs from hydraulic systems. The compressor pumps the air into a flexible bellows, which inflates and raises the chassis of your car from the axle. If you want to be as low as possible when you park at a show and have the car really tuck the wheels into the fenders, Air Suspension is for you. If you have a big heavy car and desire an extremely smooth ride, air ride suspension is for you. If you have a classic Musclecar you’re Resto-Modding and you want it to handle well, an Air Ride System such as the one offered by Ride-Tech is probably right for you.
Air Bag Suspension is often used in place of conventional springs in super heavy duty applications like trucks and buses, but has become common in automotive use as well. The primary advantage of air bag suspension is that it’s actively adjustable- meaning you could scrape the pavement down the street no problem, then when you see a pothole or speed bump, air up the suspension and glide over it. This allows for much lower stationary ride height (ideal for shows) or for daily driver use of an extremely-low car. Many modern systems even incorporate a computer that controls the ride for both improved handling and ride quality. Additionally, airbag suspension has the added benefit of an extremely smooth ride, as you are literally riding on a cushion of air. The first factory-air-suspension car was built in 1957 and though air suspension is relatively rare, many cars with air suspension are produced today, including such marques as: Maybach, Rolls Royce, Lexus, Jeep, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Audi, Subaru, Volkswagen, Lincoln and even Ford. For the smoothest ride and the lowest possible height when parked, air suspension is an ideal solution.
If your vehicle is Factory-Equipped with an Air Suspension System, you can lower your car using an Electronic Lowering System, such as the ones offered by Vogtland, or KPE in the case of Cadillac/GM Magnetic Ride systems.
And one more related, but popular question:
What are sway bars? What do anti-sway bars do?
Well, first off – “sway bars“, “anti-roll bars” and “anti-sway bars” are all the same thing, sort of like how “pants” and “trousers” or “color” and “colour” mean the same thing. Sway bars are among the best things you can do for your car as far as bang-for-the-buck performance is concerned. The Sway Bars help reduce body roll during fast cornering or over irregularities in the surface of the road. Aftermarket sway bars also typically include new sway bar mount bushings to ensure that overly-soft OEM bushings do not interfere with the new sway bar.
The sway bar itself connects the left and right wheels on axle together through short lever arms (sway bar endlinks) linked by a torsion spring (the sway bar itself). A sway bar increases the roll stiffness of your suspension. While most sway bars have set spring rates, some are adjustable by increasing or decreasing the length of the lever arms (sway bar endlinks). Some BMW models, like newer 7-series even feature an active sway bar that can be adjusted automatically in real-time by an onboard computer, reducing body lean in turns while improving rough-road ride quality.
What Suspension Brands does ModBargains offer?
Wondering where to buy Bilstein Shocks? Can’t find the H&R Suspension Sport Springs you want? We offer the finest brands in handling performance including H&R Suspension, CKS Suspension, Cusco, Eibach, Koni Suspension, KW Suspension, ST Suspension, Rogue Engineering, Whiteline and more, and have a full line of upgrades including sway bars, chassis bracing and other specialty parts unique to the suspension of your vehicle. We have a full line of products from each manufacturer, from Bilstein PSS10s to KW Street Comfort coilovers. Our Modification Experts have the knowledge and talent to set you up with the best suspension for you – if you just want to lower the car or make more serious alterations to the handling characteristics of your vehicle, we can recommend the best options for you.
Can ModBargains Install My Suspension?
Yes, we sure can. From fitting coilovers or airbags to just replacing blown shocks, we can do it. If you’re local to Southern California, we’re located in La Habra, CA, just 15 minutes away from world-famous Disneyland. We’re not your average automotive repair shop- we specialize in installing aftermarket suspension products that other shops just can’t handle. We can install coilovers, lowering springs or even air suspension if you want to ‘bag your car.
Give us a call today at (714)582-3330 to upgrade your BMW Suspension, or chat online to request a quote and set up an appointment.
Hopefully this piece has given you a better idea how to upgrade the suspension in your vehicle and helped you decide on one method over the other and steered you clear of potential folly. If you’re still unsure or need further guidance, you can always speak to a Modification Expert online at ModBargains.com or by calling 714-582-3330. If you’re ready to upgrade the suspension of your vehicle, you can get the best prices and service at ModBargains – and we carry the finest names in the automotive aftermarket. Check out our full selection of Suspension parts at ModBargains.com – of if you don’t see what you’re looking for, give us a holler and we can probably get it for you.
Story by Nicholas Gregson
Lede Photo Doug Johnson, The Driven Lifestyle