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Rookie Mistakes When Adjusting Coilovers

September 10, 2021

 

So you just bought yourself a fancy new set of coilovers. You're one of the cool kids now! You're ready to throw those bad boys on and slam your car to the ground. What if we told you, there's a proper way to adjust your coilovers? Crazy. 

Well, it's true and today we're going to tell you the most common rookie mistakes when adjusting coilovers!

 

 

Quick Links:

  1. Removing the Coilover
  2.  Using the Locking Collar for Adjustment
  3. Not using the adjustment features

 

CHECK OUT COILOVERS

 

2015 FORD FOCUS ST

 

 

1. Removing the Coilover

The first thing when it comes to dialing your suspension, or more importantly when you're trying to slam it, is not taking the Coilover out of the car to adjust it.

 

SHOP COILOVERS

 

2016 FORD MUSTANG ECOBOOST

 

This commonly happens with adjusting ride height because let's be real, who wants to take an entire coilover out, lower it, and have proper techniques and processes? Haven't you gone to college? Pfft. Procrastination is the key to success.

Now, in all honesty, you should actually take them out to use the lower threaded body of the coilover to adjust the height of the car. Using much else isn't usually a good idea.

 

SHOP BC coilovers

 

2016 FORD MUSTANG ECOBOOST

 

Threaded lower bodies won't come on all Coilover options though so you're gonna wanna make sure you keep that in mind, which leads us into number two.

 

SHOP POPULAR SUSPENSION

 

2013 SCION FR-S BASE

 

 

2. Using the Locking Collar for Adjustment

The second rookie mistake people always seem to make when they're adjusting their coilovers is using their locking collar on their coilovers as a height adjustment tool.

 

2009 MAZDA MAZDASPEED3 BASE

 

This is where it gets a little bit confusing. In short, using the locking collar as a height adjustment is not really what you're supposed to do unless you're a special Sammy with a special Coilover and that doesn't come with a lower threaded body.

 

SHOP POPULAR SUSPENSION

 

2010 MAZDA MAZDASPEED3 BASE

 

Which case we're gonna get into linear and progressive rate springs here shortly. However, try to stay away from the collar if you have progressive springs, and lower threaded bodies.

 

VIEW COILOVER GALLERY

 

1987 NISSAN 300ZX BASE

 

Pro Tip: 

A myth about locking collars is how it messes with preload and then how that preload affects your spring rate, and how that overall affects handling.

The simple answer is no. Preload won't make the spring any more or any less stiff depending on the type of spring that you have. Most of the time you're gonna have linear.

 

FOCUS ST/RS FITMENT GUIDE

 

2015 FORD FOCUS ST

 

So, it does depend on the type of spring you're talking about whether that's a linear rate or progressive but most of the coilovers that you're gonna be looking at are linear rate, which means the stiffness won't change no matter how far they're compressed.

 

2001 HONDA PRELUDE BASE

 

while you can use the locking collar to adjust ride height minutely, on a linear spring rate, you don't really wanna do that if your Coilover has other, more purposeful adjustments meant specifically for overall height.

 

VIEW PRELUDE GALLERY

 

2001 HONDA PRELUDE BASE

 

 

3. Not Using the Adjustment Features

Another common rookie mistake when adjusting coilovers is not actually using the adjustment features that coilovers are built with to help you to dial them in.

 

Lexus IS350 Coilovers

 

Listen, coilovers have some cool features.

They got knobs, turntables, dials, twisty boys, but if you don't use the things that are supposed to help you dial in your fitment, then you might as well just come to FI and slap Dakota in the face because that's essentially what you're doing when you don't take advantage of those features. 

 

SHOP POPULAR SUSPENSION

 

IS350 Coilovers

 

Breaking down all the fun little features of a coilover, you have things like your adjustable dampers, which control the sensitivity in response to the overall suspension movement through the passing of hydraulic fluid.

You also have features to adjust compression, rebound, or both depending on what coilovers you invest in. This can sometimes get expensive, but there are a lot of really solid coilvers from companies like BC that still offer important adjustments.

 

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WRX Coilovers

 

Your adjustable spring load allows you to change how much compression is needed to get the spring to travel depending on the type of coilover you have.

 

370Z Coilovers

 

Then you actually have your threaded bodies for your overall height. When you're dialing in fitment, it's important to use those tools and not just slam your to the ground, even if you really want to. 

This is because, although it'll look proper right off the bat, you may find yourself crying, slowly, on the highway as you try to figure out why your car oddly rubs at 42 miles an hour, or when a leaf makes its way underneath your car and now your car is leaking oil.

 

READ: THE NEW 400Z

 

1987 NISSAN 300ZX BASE

 

Dialing in coilovers allows you to make your car look absolutely gorgeous without sacrificing driveability. However, if you don't use the dialing-in tools and rush things, it's gonna look good but perform horribly.

And this doesn't always have to be difficult. The problem is most of us get insanely impatient since it requires constant tweaking.

 

SHOP POPULAR COILOVERS

 

1987 NISSAN 300ZX BASE

 

Coilovers are basically the same when it comes to that standard functions. It just depends on your use of them; whether it's for the track or for the show, dialing in your coilovers always changes the way your car functions.

 

VIEW COILOVER GALLERY

 

2013 SCION FR-S BASE

 

Pro Tip:

Those threads will either become your best friend or your absolute worse enemy.

When adjusting your coilovers you're going to want to make sure that you're throwing some anti-seize on those moving parts, especially if the car is driven in inclement weather.

 

4 DIFFERENT STYLES OF FITMENT

 

2013 SCION FR-S BASE

 

It helps a ton when you play around with adjusting your lower body or collar since the pieces themselves, like metal on metal, and cold and warm, over time can deteriorate. 

 

2013 SCION FR-S BASE

 

Adjusting coilovers is the number one reason that people actually buy them. The same reason multi-piece wheels exist. To dial in your wheels exactly how you want them.

But when you aren't using your coilovers for that reason and you spent $2,000 on them, then you actually not doing anything besides lowering em, and then you're gonna have rookie fitment.

 

SHOP COILOVERS

 

2017 TOYOTA 86 BASE

 

Once you've gone through and dialed in your fitment, torque to spec your camber plates and control arms, and you finally think you have it seated properly don't forget that you need to account for suspension rest.

 

READ: ARE COILOVERS WORTH IT?

 

2017 TOYOTA 86 BASE

 

The suspension will rest anywhere from 5 to 10 millimeters after you've swapped to coilovers and a few millimeters more just within dialing in your fitment depending on what you're doing to it.

If you put different wheels and tires on it's gonna change if you end up adjusting your coilovers again. If you go smack hard with perfect fitment the first time around you'll end up smashing your wheel/tire, into your fender.

 

READ: GTI FITMENT GUIDE

 

2013 VOLKSWAGEN GTI BASE Gallery

 

We hope these pro tips save you some bloody knuckles and prevent tools from flying across the garage. Have patience and don't make these rookies mistakes and you'll be killin' it!

 

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COILOVERS
ADJUSTING COILOVERS
SUSPENSION
FITMENT
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