Nefarious Racing

What Are Coilovers? The Ultimate Guide

What are coilovers thumbnail

If you have been considering upgrading the suspension on your car, you’ve no doubt heard the term “coilovers”. Coilovers are one of the most popular modifications done to cars, both for aesthetic and performance reasons.

But what exactly are they, what do they do and how do they work?

In this post, I’m going to answer all those questions and more, so that you know exactly what you are dealing with when it comes to coilovers, and how to select the right ones for your car.

Firstly, What Exactly Are Coilovers?

Silvers coilovers

Coilovers are a type of suspension used on cars, particularly designed to improve handling and performance, but also commonly used to lower ride height and improve a car’s looks.

They are most widely known for the fact that they allow you to adjust your ride height by adjusting either the spring perches or the shock body by winding it up and down the thread. This allows you to set literally any height you want, as long as it’s within the range of the threads on the coilover.

Many coilovers also have additional features such as dampening adjustability and strut mounts with camber adjustment being the most common ones.

What Do Coilovers Do?

Coilovers have a range of functions, primarily based on improving the cars performance.

To put it simply, the main purpose of coilovers is to allow you to customize and adjust your suspension to exactly suit your needs, whether that’s just getting the exact ride height you want or dialling in the perfect setup to shave milliseconds off your lap times.

They are almost always stiffer and lower than factory suspension, with the goal usually being to improve handling, though many coilovers these days (especially cheaper ones) are designed purely to allow the driver to adjust the height of their car and offer little performance benefit.

Coilovers VS Lowering Springs – Which Are Better?

Coilovers VS Lowering Springs

When looking to lower your car, there is always the debate of coilovers vs lowering springs and which is better.

We covered the topic of coilovers vs lowering springs for daily driving in detail on our blog, however to answer that question briefly here, coilovers are almost always better than lowering springs. Here are the main reason why:

  • People buy lowering springs because they think they are cheaper (and they usually are at the outset), but then they soon find that their shocks can’t handle the lower ride height and higher spring rate and need to buy new shocks, which ends up costing the same if not more than a decent coilover setup
  •  Lowering springs almost never sit at the height you want them, and you are almost guaranteed to be disappointed
  • You can’t adjust the height of the lowering springs, so you are stuck with however they sit (barring some exceptions like swapping out top hats – but again, that’s not really adjustable).
  • Coilovers give you new shocks as well, which are matched to the rate of the coilover springs, so will ride better (as long as you got a decent coilover kit)
  • Many coilovers come with dampening adjustment so that you can really fine tune them – you can’t do that with lowering springs

What Are the Advantages of Coilovers?

As mentioned earlier, their primary advantages are that they allow you to fine tune your suspension setup, whether that be by height or by also adjusting the dampening to your exact liking.

This has huge benefits both on the road and off – in racing for example.

On the road you can set the perfect height, and then if something changes or you no longer what to run the car at that height, you can simply wind the coilovers up or down and job done. If the coilovers have adjustable dampening, you can also adjust it to be perfect for daily driving, and then stiffen it up when you go to the track, for example.

On the track, coilovers allow you to fine tune your suspension set up so that they handle exactly how you need them to, and even to each track specifically. This can literally mean the difference between winning and losing a race, if you are racing competitively and milliseconds make all the difference.

Are Coilovers Good For Daily Driving?

We also covered this in detail in our blog “Are coilovers good for daily driving?“, so if you want the full answer you should check that post out.

However, the short and simple answer is yes.

There is no reason good quality coilovers which are set up correctly will ride any worse than factory suspension. Yes, the ride will be a bit stiffer, however, if they have been set up correctly they will compensate for that and will make the car handle significantly better, even for daily driving use.

If you are really worried about the quality of the ride, get a good kit with adjustable dampening and you should be set.

How Much Do Coilovers Lower Your Car?

The answer to this depends on the coilover kit, but generally speaking coilovers will lower your car anywhere from 0.5″ (about 15mm) to up to 5 inches (13cm) on the extreme end.

Each coilover kit will specify how much it will lower your car by, so always check the item description to see if the coilover you are looking at is capable of going to the height you want.

Bear in mind that many coilover kits have a recommended height range usually within the middle of how much they can go, and if you go lower you may void warranty and end up blowing the shocks quicker, even on higher quality kits. So if you are looking to go super low, get a kit that is designed for that. Most coilover brands make super low coilover kits.

How Much Does It Cost to Install Coilovers?

Most shops will charge between $300-500 to install coilovers. It will vary depending on the vehicle and the shop.

Want to Buy Coilovers For Your Car?

Here’s the best place to buy coilovers that I have found in terms of both price and range of products:


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