Choosing Your Suspension

Categories: Tech Articles
So You Think Your Ready For New Suspension???

A lot of owners don’t understand just how much of a difference a good suspension setup can make. Choosing the best setup for you depends on how stiff of a ride you want, and how low to the ground you want your car to sit. In general, a stock suspension will have the softest ride but will feel very sloppy when taking corners at speed. Most of the aftermarket suspension parts will stiffen your ride, and this increases handling performance. There are several different categories of suspension parts to choose from:

Suspension Part What it Does
Coilovers Replaces your stock springs with a unit that has easily adjustable ride height. Coilovers, in general, offer a stiffer ride that a normal shock / spring setup. “Full” coilovers come with shocks and are whole, self-contained replacements for your stock springs and shocks, which makes them even easier to install. Full coilovers are really the way to go if you have the money – the springs and shocks in them are designed to work perfectly together.
Shocks / Struts Dampens the movement of your springs (prevents your car from bouncing up and down). It is not recommended to use stock shocks with aftermarket springs. Your stock shocks will blow or wear out very fast because they cannot dampen the stronger aftermarket springs very well. If you have stock springs, aftermarket shocks will offer a tighter, less “bouncy” ride. Struts are basically the same as shocks except they function as a stressed part of the suspension. In general, struts allow for a more compact suspension design. Struts are used in the newer Civics that employ MacPherson-style suspensions in the front.
Stabilizer Bars Reduces body roll and stiffens your car’s overall structure. Several different types are available, including tie bars, strut tower bars, and sway bars. Some types of bars also reduce body flex, which is the tendency for a car’s body to temporarily warp (change shape) under extreme forces.
Bushings An inexpensive way to really get rid of the sloppy feel of a stock suspension. Provides a noticeable increase in suspension response. Especially popular are the shifter bushings, as they provide firmer shifts for manual transmissions.
Alignment Kits Corrects the way your wheels and tires contact the ground. If you drop your car more than about 1 inch you should consider getting a camber kit. This will allow you to adjust your alignment to prevent your wheels from pointing inwards (called negative camber). The main side effects of bad alignment are excessive, uneven tire wear and reduced forward traction.

To lower you car, either buy a set of coilovers or get some lowering springs. In general, we don’t recommend more than about a 2.5″ drop on the front or back. When you lower your car, keep in mind that OEM shocks and some aftermarket shocks are “position sensitive” and will not work well with vehicles that have been lowered too much. Koni shocks are one exception – they are NOT position sensitive and will work with any sort of lowering spring as long as you don’t bottom out. Of course, if you have the money, an adjustable full coilover system is the way to go.