Here is where many of the enthusiasts will congregate. What makes the sight of a race car so appealing? Especially if you see one in person you can't help to glue your eyes on one. From Formula One Indy cars, classic IMSA factory-built road race cars, NASCAR's, pretty much any car that is sanctioned on a road surface will have one major aspect in common. They arRead More
Here is where many of the enthusiasts will congregate. What makes the sight of a race car so appealing? Especially if you see one in person you can't help to glue your eyes on one. From Formula One Indy cars, classic IMSA factory-built road race cars, NASCAR's, pretty much any car that is sanctioned on a road surface will have one major aspect in common. They are slammed to the ground. And you want the same look for your vehicle. However, suspension lowering is so versatile in terms of doing more than just achieving a race-inspired look. Keeping your car closer to the ground during higher speeds at your local race track will improve the aerodynamic refinement of your exterior components. Stronger spring rates will certainly help with improving the handling during higher-speed cornering. And depending on what kind of setup you have, you could even improve the overall ride quality.
Regarding suspension lowering, there are 3 main avenues enthusiasts can choose from, and let's take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of these main areas.
LOWERING SPRINGS: Lowering springs are ideal for enthusiasts who want to keep the suspension as close to stock as possible while slightly getting that lowered look because, with some factory suspension setups, you could look like you're in 4x4 mode. Lowering springs typically can lower the front or rear suspension setups on your vehicle 3/4 of an inch, to about 1.25 inches. There are several spring rate options that you can choose from, but all options will have a stiffer spring rate to compensate for the lowering. And enthusiasts may opt for lowering springs because perhaps they just don't want the inherent aggressiveness with coilovers, or they aren't ready to invest in coilovers. Because lowering springs are designed to work with factory shocks, you are going to retain a more comfortable ride quality. The cons with lowering springs are that these are fairly labor-intensive to install only if you aren't satisfied with the look and want to go lower. You would have to get the car on jack stands, and remove wheels, depending on what make and model you have you would have to undo control arm bolts to gain more clearance to get the strut off the spindle. You would have to get a spring compressor tool so that the top hats don't literally punch your face off as trying to remove the top hat with tensioned springs is highly dangerous and should never be performed. And that is why coilovers are preferred 9/10 times because adjusting the height is a matter of loosening the spring perch and twisting the strut into the threaded lower mount.
STRUTS AND SHOCKS: If your struts/shocks are worn then your ride quality will be terrible, and even worse if you get lowering springs. If upgrading to lowering springs, make sure that your struts/shocks are not worn and/or leaking. If your struts are worn, you will bottom out the shocks easily when running over any bump on the highway or city streets. While on the highway, the car will feel like a boat on rough waters as the strut will be weak enough that the wind will lift the suspension up from under the car and push the car down when the wind hits the nose, like a never-ending up-and-down movement. If your struts are blown then you need to replace them immediately, but more importantly, all of your struts/shocks need to be in good shape when upgrading to a lowering spring.
COILOVERS: Where to begin with coilovers? Coilovers are arguably the most popular suspension upgrade available to the entire automotive industry. If you have ever installed lowering springs, or have paid another shop to install lowering springs, then you know how labor-intensive the work can be. You rent a spring compressor from your local auto parts store. Then you have to begin the process of removing your stock spring and strut setup. Depending on your make and model this can either go two ways, and that is straightforward and somewhat simple, or you have every tool sprawled out in the garage or driveway, fighting over that extremely long upper control arm bolt, just before trying to fight with the entire knuckle and axle assembly to get enough clearance to get the spring and strut assembly out. All for 3/4 to a little over an inch of difference with lowering springs. Now, the same installation method is required for coilovers, BUT, at least you have a wider range of adjustment if you are not satisfied with the height, and it takes a fraction of the time to make adjustments when compared to lowering springs. Let's dig in.
WHAT CAN COILOVERS OFFER?
HEIGHT ADJUSTMENT: One of the main reasons why enthusiasts have coilovers at the top of their mod list is because coilovers are versatile enough to lower the car at lowering limits that greatly surpass traditional lowering springs. And, you don't have to go through the arduous process of removing your entire strut assembly when compared to installing lowering springs. The height of the coilover can be set by loosening the spring perches with the supplied coilover spanner wrenches. The majority of the strut bodies on the coilovers will simply thread into the lower coilover mount so you don't have to modify or mess with spring preload. However, on entry-level coilover setups, the height can be adjusted by lowering the bottom spring perch. A much easier process that can be performed within an hour on all corners of your vehicle.
RIDE QUALITY: Most coilover systems will have damping and rebound settings to adjust the ride quality and strut stiffness. There will be a knob or an adjustable nut located on the top or bottom of the strut body, and you can turn to stiffen the strut clockwise, or you can go counter-clockwise to soften the strut. And adjust the damping can benefit a variety of driving conditions. If you daily your vehicle then set the damping to your liking on all corners to a softer setting. If your vehicle is lowered for weekend track events, you would want to stiffen the struts to adsorb the crown of the road at higher speeds. Or if you even drag race your vehicle, you would want to raise your vehicle just enough to where you've got an inch and a half between the tires and the fenders so that your vehicle will have enough squat to properly launch. You would also want to run a soft setting to absorb the launch and driveline shock. Whatever your driving style or purpose, you can set the damping levels to accommodate your comfort and driving style.
PERFORMANCE: Lowering the center of gravity combined with stiffer spring rates is a great way to improve the handling, driver feedback, and response from the rest of your suspension components. From spirited canyon drives, weekend autocross events, or driver education or competition sessions. Coilovers will simply endure high-speed corners where major lateral shifts in the chassis put a lot of weight and stress on one side of the suspension. When compared to lowering springs, you are limited by your stock struts. With a proper stance and alignment, the chassis of your vehicle will remain planted at higher speeds to provide the driver with more confidence to drive comfortably within their limits.
WOULD I NEED OTHER SUSPENSION MODIFICATIONS TO RUN COILOVERS? Of course not. BUT, suspension modifications for enthusiast vehicles such as the Subaru WRX/STI. Mitsubishi Evolution, A90 Toyota Supra, and anything else, suspension modifications, upgrades, and maintenance are limitless. Anything else you perform to your vehicle such as SWAYBARS, NEW BUSHINGS, especially STRUT TOWER BARS will enhance the performance of your coilovers, and all-new, maintained, and upgraded suspension components will work hand and hand to drastically improve the handling of your vehicle.
IS THERE A SUSPENSION SETUP MORE AGGRESSIVE OR OFFERS MORE ADJUSTABILITY THAN COILOVERS?
AIR SUSPENSION: Air suspension will be hands down, the most versatile setup you can install on your vehicle regarding ride height. When compared to coilovers, you have to raise or lower the strut body for ride height. Still leaps and bounds easier than installing lowering springs. But you can adjust the ride height on air suspension with a push of a button in your interior, just like that. Additionally, you can lower the chassis much lower than coilovers. If you go to a weekend car meet, you can drop the chassis on the frame. And when you're ready to go home, you can air back up and have a very comfortable ride home. Now the installation method is highly involved when compared to coilovers, and you have to run air lines through the chassis. You have to install an air compressor and air controller, along with all of the electronics to complete the installation. But air suspension is for enthusiasts who are committed to a higher standard of upgrades.
WHAT IF I WANT TO JUMP THINGS?
LIFT KITS: Overlanding has really taken off in the last 5 years and why shouldn't it? The Subaru is an all-wheel-drive vehicle with some models coming from the factory with a lifted look. We carry options from the likes of LP Aventure, Crawford, and ReadyLIFT among others to allow you to get more ground clearance for the offroad, as well as the proper clearance needed for larger wheels and tires. Your oil pan is exposed to the elements of the trail, dirt, as well as gravel. Make sure you have proper protection with a SKID PLATE to avoid large rocks or tree stumps. Check out our selection of LIFT SPRINGS for those of you who want to alter the overall height as well. Also for those of you building a rally car or a rally-inspired car, we do carry lifted coiloves to absorb uneven surfaces during higher speeds.
WHAT OTHER SUSPENSION UPGRADES ARE IN THE COILOVER AREA THAT I COULD LOOK AT THAT WILL LOWER MY VEHICLE?
So there are other components that you can purchase for your existing coilover setup such as upgraded springs. And if you decide coilovers are too aggressive to your driving style because some prefer comfort over everything, then there are lowering springs. Let's talk about the options.
TOP HATS: With certain coilover setups, you may not get a set of top hats. And this could be due to the actual design of the coilover that wants you to utilize your OEM strut mounts. However, we actually carry top hats that are camber adjustable to allow owners to reach deeper levels of camber. And we also have a great selection of top hats that are OEM-like with stiffer technology, All of the options will work with many different levels and brands of coilovers to suit your needs.
Aside from the cool looks, and improved suspension performance, none of this will matter unless the rest of your suspension components are in good shape. Make sure that your BUSHINGS are not worn and are creating excessive suspension movement. Excessive suspension movement depending on where the affected area may be can cause unstable suspension movement and feeling. Worn bushings can also cause uneven tire wear. And with tire wear, it is also mandatory that you get a new alignment anytime lowering springs or coilovers are installed as lowering your vehicle changes your suspension geometry. And depending on how low you go, you can find ANTI-LIFT KITS to provide the front end of your vehicle with more stability when running over bumps, dips, or different changes in the crown of the road while driving. All of which need to be considered and addressed to maintain the best ride quality when you lower your vehicle.