Been busy!

December 19, 2013

Hey,

Not a lot has been added to the site in the last 3 months as I’ve been in school, and I’ll be back in school again when this semester starts.  I’ll be adding some new content here shortly, plans are to put up some information and maybe videos about coilover height and pre-load adjustment. Also I’ll be posting more information on corrosion resistance techniques (as my own lower brackets were seized a few weeks ago) and camber as it’s a big thing being searched for and asked about lately.  I’ve been getting back to all the e-mails and messages as quickly as I can, if I haven’t gotten to you yet, I will!

 

Thanks for your time and don’t hesitate to tell me if what you’re looking for isn’t here!

The Coilover Guide: Find the Best Coilover for You

July 17, 2013

If you’re looking to upgrade your suspension you already know coilovers are an option, you wouldn’t be here otherwise.

Photo by Eamon Queeney: Brian's drift car, a v8 swapped nissan 240 coupe on Fortune Auto Coilovers

Photo by Eamon Queeney: Brian’s 240 on Fortune Auto Coilovers

In short, there are too many options out there and even if you have an idea of what you’re looking for there is an overwhelming number of options out there.

New to Coilovers? No problem!

There’s a lot of learning to do if you don’t want to waste your money, most people do some really basic research, I hope I can motivate you to dive deeper. The best place to start is with to do these two simple things:

  • Decide what you’re going to do with your car
  • Decide how much money you have to spend on your suspension 

Did you do that?

Great, you did more than I did when I bought my first set of coilovers.

Maybe I rushed into that part, if you want the real definition of coilovers or want to know how many coilover brands are out there you can check those links out, they’ll take you like 2 minutes to read.

You don’t have to get flamed off forums for asking coilover questions anymore, I’ve got more here than I could ever get from people on even the friendliest forums I’ve been on.

If the question you’re looking for isn’t answered somewhere on here you can check back in a day or two, or you can subscribe in that box on the sidebar, it’ll just let you know when I post something new, no spam or sales crap.

Or if you don’t want to toss the dice, hoping the next article I write is the one you need, tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll write it up, probably send you a quick e-mail answer too if you’d like. You can leave a question in a comment or e-mail me at info@bestcoiloverguide.com

Thanks for your time, If you’ve got a hundred questions about suspension I’ve been in your shoes.
Hell, I think I’m still wearing one of them.

What are coilovers?

June 18, 2013

“Coilovers” isn’t a great word, mostly because the way we use it is technically wrong. Luckily it doesn’t matter because:
A. we don’t really care, and
B. our version has pretty much taken over as the accepted definition.

KYB coilover

They probably won’t change the dictionary any time soon so knowing what the real definition is might help you and was for me once as well.  You might get on Jeopardy or something,

itcould help.
Here’s the two definitions.

Coilovers: True Definition:

(top image)
The term Coilovers actually refers to any suspension design in which the spring and the shock/strut are  integrated,  with the spring mounted on the shock.  So yeah, most sports cars are equipped with coilovers from the factory.  In fact, anymore a lot of cars have them at least in the front.(In which is where the spring and shock are placed separately in order to save space).

Coilover Common Usage:

  (bottom image)what are coilovers, Tein resize
When we use it we’re referring to coilover kits or full-bodied coilovers. These usually include a mated spring and shock, upper and lower mounting brackets, the

ability to adjust spring tension and/or ride height, + a ton of other parts and options. Coilovers are the some of the most adjustable and highest performing shock/spring setups.

There’s a ton of options out there, I hope you’re here to figure out which is the Best Coilover for You.

Back!

May 20, 2014

Hello!
Hey if you’re new to the site, thanks for checking it out! If you’re a return visitor, I’m sure you’ve noticed that there hasn’t been much in the way of new material lately, sorry for that! (Excuses to follow.)

Excuses

I’ve finally gotten the wind back in my sails now that the semester is over and I’ve had a week or two to regain my senses. I’ve got a toddler, a wife, I work and during fall, winter and spring I go to school full time for mechanical engineering, so it’s really hard to find the time,energy. and/or motivation to work on the site.  Plus in the winter it’s too damn cold to take the pictures or make the videos I’ve been planning to put up.

Plans

Back to the important things, suspension.  I’ve had a lot of time to think about the site, and I have a few things planned, first and most important is to go over the articles already on the site and add information I’ve learned over the last few months.  Next is to put up some more info on coilover brands,  I’ll focus on the most common ones first, followed by the lesser known ones that are both affordable and good products. We all wish those two were the same, but they aren’t.  I have to take my time with these articles because the companies themselves tend to not be overly responsive to e-mails that don’t involve me giving them my money.  Additionally, the internet being the internet, there is a lot of negative information out there that is just untrue and it’s hard to sift the facts from the BS;  I in no way am out to hurt companies or individuals, I simply want to help people who want to modify their cars and make the right choices!

Guides! Videos and pictures.

I plan to do a few quick write ups on some adjustment options/methods of coilovers and advice on good practices that will save you some nasty future headaches.  I also plan to put up videos this summer on adjusting ride height and preload.

Other stuff

I have a few other ideas, such as a small booklet with coilover information or walkthroughs that I sell on the site if there is any interest. Also I have been planning on getting myself some better coilover spanner wrenches made, as the ones that come with coilovers are typically junk, and a set of better material with the actual width of the collar would make breaking loose seized collars much easier.  If there was interest I could draw up a design and sell them on the site.

Anyways, thanks for reading, I’ll have new info up by the end of the week and a video by early June if I can find someone with decent camera to help me with it.

Drop me a line if you have any ideas or need any specific info, I’m finally getting caught up with e-mails.

 

I want your feedback.

August 25, 2013

Hey, thanks for stopping by. I really hope you find something useful here, but I won’t know if you found what you needed here unless you tell me.  So, if you find something helpful, or don’t, I’d be really grateful if you could just let me know.

So, if you have the time fill out this contact form, it’ll take you less than a minute unless you want it to take more.

New pages! Spring Bind

August 4, 2013

I’m going to start doing a section on new pages every week, if you’ve visited before you’d have to hunt them down otherwise. And if you’re new here, it might look like I never add anything, which is simply not true.

A few days back I published a page on Spring Bind, that terrible pinging sound some coilovers can produce, and how to fix it!

Prior to that, the Tein Suspension page went up. It’s pretty heavy on information, so if it sucks to read let me know, they have a TON of products and can be a bear to go through.

Shock Valving, which is probably the most important part of why coilovers can offer such performance gains, yet it’s the least understood.

Coilovers and Revalving.

July 10, 2013

If you’re looking for information on what factors influence how effective your damping is or what shock valving is, that link will take you to the page you’re looking for.

Several companies offer custom valving for dampers (some even for free) before they ship them, but many offer it as an additional option during the rebuild process. So it’s good to know what is being offered before you turn it down.

What is revalving? Why should I have it done?Coilover Revalve scaled

The benefits of coilovers come from a few features:

  • The the fact that the dampers and springs are matched based on their characteristics.
  • And that the damping of all the shocks/struts are matched to be similar, so you have consistent handling on all corners of the car.

All of the components of the damper are engineered based on the selected spring rate, and desired application.  So if you’re considering a change in spring rate or application, keep reading!

Major suspension or vehicle changes? Change vehicle application? Blown shocks? Consider a Revalve when they’re being rebuilt.

Most manufacturers are comfortable selling their coilovers with custom spring rates of +- 2kg/mm of what comes standard. For street purposes you probably wouldn’t notice a change as small as 1 or 2kg/mm, but if your vehicle sees any track time you should at least consider changes to the valving and talk to the manufacturer or a tuner before you make an order or have your shocks rebuilt.
And if you’re making a large change in spring rate you should call and ask the manufacturer if you the current valving will work for what you’re planning with the car. Improperly valved dampers won’t provide all of the handling benefits you expected to enjoy with your product, which you might have spent several thousand dollars on.

What are my options?

One option is to have your coilovers custom valved when you order them based on your application and spring rates, but not all manufacturers will do this.

A good number of low cost coilovers don’t test the damping on their shocks before shipping them, if handling is your goal, these brands probably aren’t for you.

Most coilovers are only 1-way adjustable, allowing only rebound adjustment, and the compression of the coilover might not be ideal for your chosen application, Custom valving is an option here that could better allow you to find a ‘sweet spot’ where your compression and rebound work together to meet you goals.

Some coilovers can be upgraded to 2-way, though the only one I currently know of is is Fortune Auto’s 500 series. 2 Way coilovers are a good fit for cars that might be used on different surface types or for more than one application, they can be especially helpful if this is a weekend track car.

How much does Custom valving cost? Where should I have it done?

The good news is that the cost of revalving isn’t usually outrageous, as far as car parts go at least. The costs vary depending on where it’s done, for example FEAL charges 50$ per corner in addition to rebuild cost (for coilovers, the rebuild some oem shocks too), Fortune Auto charges 125$ per corner to revalve and dyno and some manufacturers charge more.

Custom Valving before you buy a part is usually free if it’s offered, the only low cost brands I know of currently that offer it are Fortune Auto and FEAL suspension.  If you’re spending more than 1500$ it’s a good idea to ask though!
It’s important to chose who revalves your dampers carefully. Ask them to dyno the shock before and after you have it done.

I’ve heard of people having coilovers revalved at bike shops, I wouldn’t recommend this. Sure it could be done successfully, but it’s a risk I wouldn’t recommend.

For more on revalving, you can look at the Tein’s process.
If you’re looking for more details on valving, I have that too.

The Simple Coilover Questions People Forget to Ask.

July 10, 2013

Buying coilovers is big undertaking, their expensive and complicated.  But the worst part is that you almost need to be an engineer to really understand everything about what you’re about to buy.  And usually it’s after your new coilovers have arrived that you really begin to wonder at half of those questions.

But the thing about buying such a big component like this is that we usually forget to ask the simple questions.  So here’s a list of questions you might want to look for, and why they are important.

  • Is there a Brake line bracket on the lower mounting bracket?  If not, and your brake lines aren’t secured by ziptie or other means, your brake line could touch a moving part and rupture, leading to a loss of brake pressure.  This is a big, and often overlooked.
  • What is the height adjustment range compared to OEM?  Lower cost kits typically use one shock design for many vehicles.  This means the threading on the body of the coilover might not allow the same amounts of adjustment for every car.  It all depends on the where the lower bracket attaches to the hub or knuckle assembly.
  • Mono tube or Twin tube?    A detail incredibly important if you intend to track your car, they are pros and cons to both.  Pick want you want based on your needs. Mono vs. Twin Tube.
  • Does this come with  a Pillowballl Uppermount?    Depending on your application and vehicle this might actually not be an upgrade. A great example is made by Howard Coleman is his epic FD suspension and chassis thread.
  • Are these Rebuildable?  You probably wouldn’t believe it, but often when it’s not listed people don’t ask. Most coilovers now are rebuildable and several places offer low cost coilover rebuilds for as little as ~$100 per corner.  Though prices can vary greatly based on the model.
  • Can my Coilovers be rebuilt in the US?    If not, prepare for a long turnaround.  Additionally, having to ship them overseas is probably going to add a good chunk to the cost.  Luckily, many companies offer rebuilding services for lots of models, like FEAL suspension.
  • Can I have my coilover revalved?    Some coilovers aren’t cannot be revalved and some can during a rebuild and before they are shipped new.  Maybe you’re asking ” Should I have my coilovers revalved?”
  • Are my coilovers coated for Rust Prevention?     If they aren’t and you decide to buy them anyways, you should have it done. Period.  Exposure to the elements and road debris will damage/rust the coilover body in no time and could cause the collars or lower bracket to seize.
  • Do they come with dust covers?     This is a debated part.  Some say they protect the shaft from road debris and exposure. The other side is that they may trap dirt, debris, and water and cause corrosion in another way.

My last question is: If you own coilovers, what are the questions you wish you would have asked before buying? 

 

Swift Springs. Worth it?

July 1, 2013

This question is pretty easy to answer. If you can afford them, you should probably get them.

Click for source.

Click for source.

What are Swift Springs?

Swift Springs are made in Japan with a unique steel alloy (HS5.TW–maybe you wanted to know that?) that allows them to exceed the standards of almost all other springs in production.

Standard cold wound springs on most coilovers suffer from a few drawbacks. Now, we didn’t really even know they were drawbacks until something better came along. But now, something better has come along and we should probably go ahead and acknowledge it.

Cold Wound Springs have Progressive spring rates, meaning the resistance the spring provides increases as it is compressed. When compressed at 1 inch, the spring resists more than when it’s compressed a 1/2 inch. Additionally, one of the known limitation of coil springs is that the springs can become fully compressed, which could bottom out your dampers, not a great thing.

Swift Springs offer solutions to the problems we didn’t know we had:

  1. The spring rate is consistent throughout the stroke: they are more predictable and more comfortable.
  2. The largest amount of stroke: they are thinner and stronger, allowing for less coils, which allows for a greater amount of room for compression.
  3. They are more durable against loss of spring height. Cold wound springs break in, then wear out, eventually their uncompressed height become less, due to having constant weight on them. They just wear out faster due to being made of an inferior material.
  4. They weigh less than cold wound springs. If you’re not driving a race car you might not care too much about this one, but in truth, less unsprung weight makes a huge difference in both ride quality and performance.

Swift Springs vs. Regular Springs, a Test

The example on the right really displays the difference between the normal Megan Racing spring and the Swift Spring.  Fully compressed, the swift spring is half the size of Megan’s normal option.

(The image above links to a thread that compared these springs on a dyno.)

But, if you don’t feel like doing the reading: the consistency of the spring as it compressed was far better for the swift.  Results were:

  • The swift spring varied no more than 5 pounds from 1 inch to 3 inches of compression.

  •  The Megan spring’s rate was progressive: Spring rate increased from 494 lbs. at 1 inch to 594 lbs at 2.25 inches, where it was already fully compressed.

Swift Springs Summary

Common springs are made out of a silicone chrome material, because Swift Springs are stronger they can be made thinner and could be wound with fewer coils, greatly reducing weight and allowing for a larger and far more consistent stroke.
The results speak for themselves. If Swift Springs are available, they are worth the extra dollar, or better yet->  find a coilover where they come standard.

 

YES, Swift Springs are Worth your Money.

Ask Yourself “Why do I need coilovers?”

June 28, 2013

What am I going to do with this car?

The truth is you shouldn’t start modifying your car without a goal in mind. Your parts won’t help you meet a goal if you don’t set one!
This is especially true with parts like coilovers, due to the price range a poor choice could mean wasting a couple thousand dollars.

So decide what your application is going to be:

  • Is it road racing? Autocross? Rally-cross or off-road? Drifting?

  • Is it a show car?

  • Are you just looking to daily drive a nice looking car?

  • If it’s your DD, is it VIP style or do you want to be able to enjoy additional grip some back roads?

These questions will provide a starting point to help determine what type of coilover you need.

If you’re just looking to lower or slam your daily driver you probably don’t need a $4000 set of coilovers.

There are lots of options in the affordable $1000-2000 range that are more than good enough for a daily driver.

ZF-4432-04346-1-001

 

Spending more means having more options, which can be a bad thing.

Why you might say? That’s the question I asked when I was looking at my first set of coils.  It’s really pretty simple, tuning a suspension is not an easy thing to learn and it takes a lot of seat time. Just as it says in this awesome Q&A session Speedhunters did with a KW tech, you have to change one setting, one click, drive it, and feel the difference.  And guess what: if you don’t know what you’re trying to feel, you’ll probably miss it.  Often people who “need” coilovers can be find products like best starting point is often something like Fortune Auto 500 series, BC Racing’s BR, or Stance’s Super Sports more than adequate. These coilovers have rebound adjustment, which is a great starting point.

But I’ll only buy one set of coilovers!

Sure, maybe that’s true, and if you want to go big your “only time” buying them and you can afford it, feel free to buy a set of 3 way adjustable coilovers for your first set, that’s fine. Just know what you’re getting into. To do that, you should probably start with learning as much as you can about coilover parts and how they work.

The Basics on Damping Adjustments

June 25, 2013
Club sport damping

source: KW-suspension.com

Coilover technical specs can be difficult to read if you don’t know what you’re looking at; one of the most confusing specifications is the part where they refer to being 1-way, 2-way, 3-way, 30-way adjustable, etc.  Why are some coilovers 3 or 4 way, and some say they are 32 way adjustable?

If it is a low number, the the distinctions are:

  • 1-way: rebound adjustment
  • 2-way: separate rebound and compression adjustments. (RCE T2, KW V3)
  • 3-way: rebound adjustment and separate adjustments for  low speed and high speed compression.
  • 4-way: low speed and high speed rebound AND  low speed and high speed compression adjustment.

These adjustments are made via knobs on the top, bottom, or on external reservoirs on the coilover.

High numbers refer to the number of  “clicks or steps” available at each knob, and they typically range anywhere from 7 to 36 positions, though some are a simply knob without any steps, allowing for a much greater degree of adjustability

When you’re searching to buy a set of coilovers it’s important to know what level of adjustability you will actually need rather than what you think you need.  As you increase the number of dampening settings the price increases quickly, and more importantly, suspension is a tricky thing to tune. Basically, the more options you have when adjusting your coilovers simply gives you more room to make serious mistakes.

Fore more depth on damping see my pages on How Shocks Work and Valving.

Height Adjustment

Most coilover kits today are 2-way height adjustable; meaning the height can be adjusted by moving the lower mounting bracket up or down on the threaded body of the shock and/or by adding pretension to the spring in order to shorten it which also results in lowering the ride height. Whether the coilover is 1 or 2-way height adjustable isn’t always referenced in the part specifications, but can usually be assessed through the product image. The number of height adjustments for each coilover reviewed on this site will be listed in my tables as 1 or 2-way.