Types of Coilovers
January 10, 2020
Today we will be going over the different types of coilovers and giving you all of the information possible on them.
Coilovers for Racing
Coilovers are a form of static suspension that is a very popular way to adjust the various attributes of said suspension of your vehicle; they were originally invented for racing purposes. On the track, coilovers are excellent for adjusting various components of the suspension based on the track they are used on; racing teams will use coilovers for this very purpose to get the most out of their cars.
Coilovers Used for Lifestyle
Over time, various people in the aftermarket car scene began adopting them for various use cases and lifestyles. These days, there is a coilover for pretty much anyone no matter your budget or intended usage. Coilovers have such a wide spectrum of pricing and differing intended usages that they aren’t all going to be the same product; think of it like going to buy a computer!
3 Different Types of Coilovers
Today, we will be going over the 3 types of coilovers as well as diving into the mechanics of what makes a coilover work as well as tips for installation so you can get out there on the road. We also want to help you figure out what you might be looking for when it comes to choosing a coilover that is right for you!
What Exactly is a Coilover?
If we were to boil down what coilovers essentially are, they would be described as aftermarket suspension for lowering your car and improving performance through the adjustability of various attributes such as damping and camber. A coilovers primary job is to absorb energy through the use of the spring, shock absorber and, damper. When the coil spring compresses and oscillates or bounces, the shock absorber’s and damper’s job is to steady out the spring so you can regain control of the car.
Now, as we mentioned, coilovers are such a wide spectrum of products that there will be different coilovers focusing on different things and it will usually be pricing that really separates the various attributes. You can have relatively simple coilovers that will lower your car and provide what you need to get out and drive comfortably. You can also have a coilover that is focused on providing deep levels of adjustability and more advanced mechanics for the people who take their cars to the track.
Not every coilover will have the same level of customization and features but the core purpose of them is for ride height adjustability, energy absorption, and performance enhancement. We will be looking at the 3 main types of coilovers next.
OEM strut and coil spring
This one isn’t really that popular, these are based on a shock strut assembly that is surrounded by a coil spring. They are non-adjustable and have fixed length bodies. Now, what does that mean? Well, in a traditional, full-body coilover, you are able to twist the lower mount; a fixed-length coilover will not be able to do that.
A slip fit is mostly designed for aesthetic purposes, there really isn’t much in terms of serious performance to be found here. If you are just wanting to lower your car then this will do the job, but again, they are not super common.
A slip fit is where you have a hollow threaded tube that you slip onto an existing shock perch. Through jam nuts, it will adjust the ride height through the compression and decompression of the springs.
This is the one that you will probably see when coilover suspension is brought up; and when shopping for them, this is what you will see. These are designed to fully replace the springs and shocks of your stock suspension to provide the various benefits coilovers bring to the table.
How do they work?
The shock body of a coilover is going to be the pillar of the whole thing, this is what will keep oscillations in check when going over bumps and help with tilting/rolling when cornering. How this is able to work is through a high-pressure fluid that is inside the shock body with a piston that pushes around the fluid through a shock valve depending on what is happening. This energy is then turned into heat energy in which then the shock fluid ends up dissipating.
Now, depending on the suspension, this can vary in how much fluid the piston pumps forward and backward to decrease or increase the amount of pressure that is required to move the spring and suspension entirely.
The spring and shock absorber are what allow the suspension to move as a whole, but there are also other things such as compression and rebound. All of this is going to affect your performance and ride quality depending on the responsiveness you are seeking. These are relatively complex pieces of kit which is why they can fetch such a pretty penny for a higher-end model; KW Suspension is a prime example of how deep the high end goes with all of this.
Monotube vs Twin Tube coilovers
You can get coilovers in two different kinds of configurations: monotube and twin-tube. The monotube is going to be relatively simple, all you have is the piston and rod that is inside a damping case.
For the twin-tube, it is more technical. With this configuration, you have an inner and outer cylinder with the inner being where the piston and shaft move and the outer being where the fluid sits; this is called a hydraulic fluid reservoir if you want to be fancy! There are real benefits to this as it provides faster piston stroke resulting in better handling and ride quality.
The monotube is usually in cheaper to mid-level coilovers as it’s simpler and easier to build, while the twin-tube is found in the high-end. Don’t worry though, for most people it’s not going to make a difference in which one you have. High-end coilovers are really designed for getting as much performance out of your car as possible, to a serious tracker, every little advantage matters. To your average Joe or Sally who is just going to be rolling down the street with an occasional twisty road drive on Saturday, it is not going to matter much at all.
Tips for setting up and installing your coilovers
Installing your coilovers properly is going to make the difference between you regretting life decisions and happily driving along. The suspension is what keeps you on the road and thus, this is something that is critical to install properly. Here are some basic things to follow when installing your suspension.
Preload your springs equally before installation to prevent unseating.
Thread the lower shock mounts on their body in equal amounts (use a tape measure!)
Get the car properly aligned after installation.
Just in general, follow proper installation to a T.
If you would like us to provide a guide for coilover installation, you can drop comments on the latest Fitment Industries youtube videos for ideas on what topics to go over next. In the meantime, there are a plethora of resources out there to give you step by step knowledge on how to properly get your suspension installed and running!
Finding out what coilover is going to be right for you
Starter Level Coilovers
We went over how there are different tiers of coilovers that are built for different purposes depending on the price-point or how advanced the manufacturer is trying to go. If you are looking for more affordable coilovers, we recommend checking out Tein and ST Suspension; they are incredibly flexible in providing suspension ranging from the low end to more advanced models. There’s also BC Racing and Silvers which are highly touted for their excellent bang for buck ratio. If you are just the average user who wants a lowered car and improved ride quality for street driving then these are going to be excellent options to look at!
Advanced Level Coilovers
Now, if you plan on tracking your car quite a bit, setting lap times, experimenting with different setups; all that fun stuff, then you might find looking towards the higher end might be worth it. This is where you are going to find deep levels of adjustability and more advanced technology such as the twin-tube shock system we talked about earlier. Companies like KW Suspension specialize in “serious” coilovers. That’s the really high end though, for tracking, BC Racing, Tein and Silvers also provide very decent tracking suspension that doesn’t cost 2-3 grand.
Fitment Industries Can Help Answer Your Questions
In the end, the choice is going to be yours with what you decide to go with. Whatever you choose to roll with, as long as everything is properly set up, you are going to be a happy camper! You can browse various coilover suspensions, and if you have any questions, do not be afraid to ask us! Click to contact.