Coilovers Vs. Air Suspension: Which Is Best For You?

May 5, 2022

It's the age-old argument on every single car Facebook group or forum, and the thing that divides friend groups - air suspension vs. coilovers. Both have grown to be some of the most popular mods you can do to your car, but which one is best?

We've had the pleasure of dabbling with many different coilover setups and running air suspension kits on multiple vehicles, and while we can't tell you straight up what you want (that's up to you, after all), we can give you enough knowledge so that you can confidently make the right purchasing decision for your car build. So, let's get into it!

 

Table Of Contents:

-Top Features and Cost of Car Coilover Systems

-What Benefits Do Coilovers Provide?

-What Are The Best Aftermarket Car Coilover Brands?

-What Are Swift Springs?

-Everything You Need to Know About Air Suspension Systems

-Are Air Suspension Systems Really That Hard to Install?

-Can You Run An Air Suspension In the Winter?

-Tips For Getting The Best Ride Quality and Comfort From Air Suspension

-Cons of Running Air Suspension Kits On Your Car

-What Are The Best Air Suspension Brands?

 


Shop Aftermarket Car Suspension Kits at Fitment Industries


Top Features and Cost of Car Coilover Systems

We'll start with the basics of coilovers - a lot of people will pick up a set with the main goal of lowering their car to achieve better fitment, transform the look of it, and get rid of that monster truck wheel gap. But coilovers are designed to do so much more than just that.

A lot of times, air suspension kits get a lot of flack for how expensive they are, but people don't realize how many sets of coilovers are out there that actually are more expensive than an AirLift 3P, for example. This is for good reason, though - there's a lot more that goes down than just your car.


Read More: Are Expensive Coilovers Worth It For Your Car Build?


What Benefits Do Coilovers Provide?

With coilovers, you get the ability to adjust ring rates, compression, rebound, damping and more to literally dial your car in to do exactly what you need it to. This isn't just for hard parking at shows - it's for launching your car at the drag strip, being able to take corners that much faster, and taking your car and being able to do a reverse entry at 120 mph. Sorry, we'll calm down.

The world of coilovers is gigantic these days, and with brands like BC Racing, you're going to see everything from their BR coilover line that starts at $1100, to five other lineups going all the way to the ZR, starting at $2800. Each part of the lineup will serve a specific purpose and give you more adjustability the higher you move up the ladder, and this is true for most big suspension brands like Fortune Auto, KW, ST, etc.

The biggest benefit of coilovers is having all of these options and having all them being reliable - plus, coilover installation is generally pretty simple, as anyone and their buddies can do it in a day. Once they're in the car and your alignment's done, you're good to go, no questions asked. Coilovers aren't going to pop on you, and it's not the end of the world if you have a fuse go out - you also don't have to think about your lines freezing for any reason. All in all, it's just less maintenance with coilovers than a typical air suspension setup.

Also, for anyone just looking to dump their car as close as possible to the ground, you can get a set of coilovers for much cheaper than most air suspension kits.

2021 Subaru WRX with Fortune Auto coilovers installed

What Are The Best Aftermarket Car Coilover Brands?

If you're looking at getting your first set of coilovers or even upgrading to some new ones, we'll give you a couple recommendations to help in your search.

Fortune Auto 500

Fortune Auto 500s are great coilovers that are slightly more expensive than usual - they start at around $1500 - but they're definitely a favorite of ours. They have a huge range of adjustability to lower your car, adjustable camera plates on top and adjustable damping. The ride quality has felt amazing even with your car an inch off the ground, and all of these coilovers are hand-built and completely rebuildable so you can use them for years to come.

BC Racing BR Series

Another great coilover that we talked about earlier is the BC BR series - this is BC's entry level coilover, but it's perfect for anyone that daily drives their car or does some spirited driving on the weekends. They offer tambour plates and adjustable damping, and on both of these, you also get the option to upgrade the swift springs for $300.

What Are Swift Springs?

Everyone that has done a swift spring upgrade swears by it. If you don't know what swift springs are, they were founded in Tokyo in 1997, the same year Mike Tyson bit that guy's ear off. Anyway - swift springs are made of a super strong alloy that allows them to use a thinner diameter of wire.

There are two benefits of this - first, the spring itself is way lighter, and second, it also makes a bigger gap between the coils which allows for a bigger stroke in the spring. This means that it doesn't bottom out as fast as coils that use the thicker-diameter wire spring. Also, by using this alloy, the springs will last way longer in general.

2020 Acura RDX running AccuAir air suspension kit

Everything You Need to Know About Air Suspension Systems

So that's a quick crash course on coilovers, but we still need to talk about air suspension. We totally get it if you're still a static dude - after all, bags are for groceries. But we've seen great performance and a whole lot of convenience out of some of the air suspension kits that we've installed on our own builds. Speed bump? Just air up. Driveway that for some reason is on an 85 degree angle? AIr up. Filling up with gas? Air out, and so on.

Are Air Suspension Systems Really That Hard to Install?

There are a ton of misconceptions about air suspension, and we've made a few videos about that, but we'll touch on a few here. First, air installation isn't that bad - a few buddies in the garage is really all it takes. If you've installed coilovers and an aftermarket radio, you can get an air suspension installed easily. Airlift and AccuAir both include color install books with lots of pictures, and they're extremely helpful.

Now, just because the installation isn't that bad doesn't mean that you should whip through it. Install is everything for air suspension, and is going to be the reason why you either love it or hate it in the long run. Make sure your lines are ran correctly - no pinches, no rubbing on anything. Make sure you use lots of plumber's tape with your fittings as well, and double check by spraying all of them with soapy water to see if you have any leaks.

Can You Run An Air Suspension In the Winter?

Moving forward, yes, air suspension kits can be run in winter too. We're not sure how this rumor started or why half of the car scene thinks this, but with a little bit of maintenance - including putting airbrake antifreeze in your tank and airing it out a couple times to cycle it, and having a water trap in your system - you'll be perfectly fine. Semi trucks and ambulances both run air suspension, so we promise that you won't have an issue if you do everything right the first time.


Read More: Can You Run Bags In The Winter?


Tips For Getting The Best Ride Quality and Comfort From Air Suspension

The last thing we want to touch on here is that you can't drive hard on an air kit. There's plenty of adjustability with air, and it's right at your fingertips - putting a few more PSI in your pags will stiffen them up and also raise your car. Once there, then you can beat it up, and you'll be good. AirLift as a company has been around since 1949, and knows exactly how to make a durable bag for your car - it can handle what you give it.

Cons of Running Air Suspension Kits On Your Car

Now to touch on a few of the cons with air suspension, starting with pricing. We wouldn't go in piece by piece if you're building an air kit, and it just makes way more sense to buy one that will come with everything you need. That'll start right around $3200, which is a lot of cash. Luckily, we offer 0% financing on all suspension kits in our inventory so you can make payments instead of just dropping that much on the spot.

That works around the pricing a little bit, but we get it if it's not everyone's thing either. Another con is the chance of getting stranded - if you miss something on the install, realize you're running the wrong size wheel and it's rubbing on the bag, then the bag pops and ruptures, then you're stuck on the side of the road. That's why we can't stress enough how important the install is.

What Are The Best Air Suspension Brands?

That's basically it - air suspension kits ride really nice when you have them dialed in correctly, they can be driven hard, and you don't need to destroy your car while driving it. Some brands to look out for here include AirLift, AccuAir, and Universal Air. AirLift is definitely the most common of the bunch, but they don't make kits for every single car. What's nice is that air suspension kits are interchangeable, so you can use management and struts from different manufacturers and still get some good value.


Check out Coilovers and Air Suspension Kits on the best builds in our gallery!


Shop Coilovers and Air Suspension Kits At Fitment Industries

Both Coilovers and Air Suspension kits bring a lot of benefits and value to the table for you as a driver, and we offer choices from top brands for both types right here in our inventory, complete with financing, free shipping and quick delivery. Let us know what you're running or give us a shout if we can help you find the right kit for your needs!

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