Whether you’re looking to lower your vehicle for form or function, you have options. Two common methods involve lowering springs and coilovers, and while they’re not the only game in town, these two options are often weighed against each other in deciding how to lower a vehicle’s suspension.
When it comes to the question of lowering springs vs coilovers, the best approach for you will likely depend on several factors, which we’ll lay out below.
Lowering springs are like your vehicle’s OEM springs but shorter, and you can choose from different heights based on how low you want to go. However, with few exceptions, their height is not adjustable once they’re on the vehicle.
This means a few things. Shorter springs carrying the same amount of weight require a higher spring rate, resulting in a stiffer ride. However, you get better cornering, handling and overall stability out of the deal. The real upside to lowering springs is their cost and installation. Most of the time they can simply be swapped for existing springs without changing or realigning other components, although you should always double-check, especially with extreme modifications to height.
Coilovers are springs and shock absorbers combined in one unit. Since they’re highly adjustable, they’re a fine-tuning performance enthusiast’s dream, but expect to pay a premium for them.
Coilovers allow for changes in ride height even after they’ve been installed. Additionally, depending on the coilovers installed, you may also be able to fine-tune the shocks’ speed, rebound adjustment and compression adjustment. This can help mitigate some of the stiffness of the shorter springs when you’re driving on everyday roads. However, you’ll generally have to be careful to ensure that the tuning of the shocks matches the springs for every driving condition to avoid bottoming out and damaging suspension and undercarriage components.
The best option for lowering your vehicle really depends on what your intentions are. If you’re interested in increased handling performance and will be driving mostly on normal roads, lowering springs are a great option. They’re an easy conversion that won’t break the bank or require much attention after installation.
However, if you’re an absolute enthusiast who is willing to pay the difference and invest the extra time in making adjustments, it’s possible to add coilovers to an everyday ride, but it might be more than you need. Where coilovers really outshine other options is at the track. Because they can be tuned for the car or even the track itself, minor adjustments can yield performance boosts that help drivers shave precious seconds off their lap times.
Ultimately, you can dive deep into suspension, and even more options are available beyond these two. As always, the best choice for you is going to be the one that fits your individual needs.
Check out all the steering and suspension parts available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on lowering springs vs coilovers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.