Everything You Need to Know About Coilovers

There will most likely be some trial and error along your journey but do your research and you should not be far off from your ideal setup. The suspension is something of a hit and miss thing for Malaysian car enthusiasts.

The suspension is something of a hit and miss thing for Malaysian car enthusiasts. Very few spend the time to do proper research and even less know how to tune the knobs on their coilovers which they’ve spent a small fortune on. Let us try and see if we can help you make a more informed decision in the future. Firstly, let’s set the expectations straight, based on the current technological advances so far, there is no single suspension setup that can offer you the holy grail of suspension, a comfy ride like a Mercedes S Class and yet is competent enough on the track like a Honda Civic Type R.  

Secondly, harder doesn’t necessarily mean better handling. If your car only revolves around smooth roads with no potholes and imperfections all day, go ahead and put the firmest track setup you can find. But if you ply around winding mountain roads with potholes and undulations, your tires might be struggling to put the power down on the roads with a firm setup. Remember that your ultimate aim is to be able to get as much grip as possible. Thirdly, installing coilovers doesn’t equate to better handling. As with driving, a slow driver with a fast car might be slower than a fast driver in a slow car. If your setup isn’t tuned properly, there’s a possibility it will perform worse than sport springs or the stock suspension.

There will most likely be some trial and error along your journey but do your research and you should not be far off from your ideal setup

Manufacturers tune the suspension of a car based on the demographics of the buyer and their expected usage – so that Kak Ida doesn’t get a backache when driving her Honda City to the market and Uncle Felix doesn’t understeer into the barrier with his BMW M3 going around Sepang. In other words, if you use the car based on the intended usage, the stock suspension should be quite sufficient unless you’re deviating from its intended purpose. With the astronomical prices of cars in Malaysia, many are left with no choice but to convert their city cars into dual use vehicles where it is used as their daily driver as well as their weekend battle machine. This means the suspension would not be able to cope to its dual usage and that’s where aftermarket suspension solutions come in.

Using a range where 10 is as plush as the S Class and 100 is as firm as a Track car. Most comfort biased suspension setups aim to probably get to the range of 10 – 50, while the track focused suspension targets the range of 50 – 100. Aftermarket coilovers try to cover anywhere between 20 – 100 depending on the specs(street 20-60 / touge 40-80 / track 60-100). And usually, the more you spend on the suspension, the wider the range you can cover. Majority of us will fit in this category, if you only have one car and you’re spending majority of your time stuck in city roads which are poorly maintained with plenty of speed bumps, it might make more sense to stay with the stock setup or maybe pair it with some sport springs. Having said that, there are many of our hardcore friends who don’t mind the harshness of a full track spec setup for the bliss they get when they go out for their weekend adventures.

For those who have the luxury of a track car or a weekend only car, you might want to spend on a more track focused coilover setup to get the maximum handling out of your toy, unless it’s a grand tourer where you just want to loft around on the highways. Sport springs are created for the enthusiasts who are maybe 70% happy with their stock setup but they crave for a slight drop on the ride height or a slightly sportier handling from their car without having to worry about the complexities of compression/rebound/ride height… it’s basically an install and forget setup. Coilovers on the other hand opens up a whole range of options to car owners. Coilovers normally come valved for a specific usage (street/touge/track) and usually with some form of adjustability for fine tuning.

Entry level coilovers may offer a slew of fine tuning adjustment options such as basic compression and rebound damping control knobs, spring preload and height adjustment controls.Higher end coilovers offer better material usage and even more accurate damping controls such as high speed damping control, better valves and more advanced features such as Ohlin’s proprietary DFV valving all for the sake of achieving better movement control or more consistent performance.

End of the day, choosing the right suspension is dependent on the car you’re driving, your vehicle usage, your driving style, and your budget. Comb the online forums, test your friend’s cars and talk to other owners to see what suits your needs best. The GT86 for instance, you may want to upgrade to a set of coilovers or with a set of STI lowering springs, it will still handle well. The car was designed to be sporty in the first place hence it may not be far away from what you want.

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