Coilovers Explained – Upgrading Your Suspension the Right Way


There are several ways you can improve your car’s performance. Most try to get more power out of their engines as that’s the most obvious choice. However, it’s not always the most efficient one. Pushing more power to the wheels doesn’t mean much unless your car is capable of handling such a boost in ponies. 

That’s where the suspension system comes in. Today we’ll talk about coilovers and how suspension components can completely change the way your car performs. We’ll go over the pros and cons of these systems when it makes sense to upgrade and more.

Intro to Suspension

The suspension is by far one of the most important systems on any car. The main purpose of suspension is to smooth out the ride and make your daily commute as comfortable as possible. However, the suspension is also tasked with making sure that the tires are always gripping the road.

That grip is essential if you’re looking to get from point A to point B as fast as and as efficiently as possible. The problem with most suspension systems arises when you try to merge comfort and handling. These two things very rarely go together.

Factory suspension is frequently fairly soft unless you’re talking about performance cars. Most manufacturers are making cars with regular daily commuting in mind, where comfort always comes first. Deciding to go beyond factory specs means that you have to upgrade the suspension with aftermarket parts. Most upgrades come down to choosing an aftermarket shock absorber, strut, springs, or coilovers.

Most upgrades come down to choosing an aftermarket shock absorber, strut, springs, or coilovers.

Shocks Vs. Struts Vs. Coilovers

We’ve mentioned how suspension is designed to smooth out the ride and dampen the effect of road imperfections inside the cabin. The technology used to achieve this effect is the shock absorber. 

Found behind each wheel of an average modern car, shock absorbers use hydraulics to neutralize any excessive movement of the wheel and prevent vibrations from reaching the passenger cabin. With that said, not all shock absorbers are made equal.

Shock Absorber - Front
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Shocks or Shock Absorbers

A shock absorber is the core of any modern suspension system. It is also the most basic type of suspension. Shocks are designed to work together with either coil springs or leaf springs to dampen the feedback from the road as your wheels travel across uneven surfaces. 

To achieve this, shocks rely on a complex system of valves and hydraulics. Since hydraulic oil has specific compression properties, it has proven to be an excellent tool for damping excess force and energy coming from the wheel. 

The thing with regular shock absorbers is that they’re rarely geared for performance.

Since springs and shocks are separate components on most cars, upgrading the suspension would mean that you’d have to get something like Koni Special Active shocks and then pair them up with appropriate springs. A much better alternative is to go with a performance-optimized setup such as struts or coilovers.

Struts

Struts are the next level of shock absorber design. Despite being confused with regular shocks all the time, struts are a whole different beast. Where regular shock absorbers are entirely separated from coil or leaf springs, struts use springs as a part of their design.

If you were to take a car fitted with shocks and remove the shocks, the car would still be sitting on whatever springs it uses. With struts, that’s not the case. Since springs are an integral part of a strut design, removing the struts would leave the car with zero dampenings.

Strut Assembly - Front
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However, it’s worth mentioning that you can change the springs on a strut. In other words, you’re not dealing with a closed system.  

The benefits of this design are numerous. It’s much easier to tune the suspension and find the right combination of struts and springs when both are a part of the same system. Furthermore, struts are often adjustable, which allows you to dial the ride quality with a simple knob. Koni Sport series struts are a perfect example of this. You can mount these on your car and fine-tune the ride quality using a simple knob. That’s way more efficient than having to unload the shock every time you want to make changes.

Koni Sport series struts 

The Limits of Shocks and Struts

Despite being rather generous in terms of performance, both regular shocks and struts have their limits. One of the main limiting factors with both of these systems are springs. The moment you decide to make aggressive changes to your ride height or ride stiffness, you’ll have to get a different set of springs. Doing so means tearing down your entire suspensions and swapping the old springs with the new.

If you’ve ever done this before, you know that it’s no walk in the park. Changing springs is probably one of the most dangerous DIY jobs you can do, even with proper tools. If you’re continually finding yourself changing springs and readjusting your suspension, you are much better off going with coilovers.

What are Coilovers?

Coilovers are the final evolution of the shock absorber design. Much like struts, coilovers use springs as an integral part of their design – hence coil-over shock absorber. At this point, you’re probably starting to see similarities between coilovers and struts. Although both of these utilize springs as a part of their design, coilovers do it differently.

With coilovers, you are looking at a fully self-contained system. In other words, the shock absorber, coil springs, shock mounts, and every other essential component are a part of a single unit.

shock absorber

How are Coilovers Better than a Regular Strut and Spring Setup?

The main advantage of coilovers over struts is the level of fine-tuning they bring to the table. Struts are adjustable but are limited by springs. Coilovers don’t have that problem. If you find yourself wanting to lower your car, you don’t have to go out and find a matching set of springs, install them and then hope you’ve made the right call.

With coilovers, you can make ride height adjustments on the fly. That’s why these systems are often used on track cars as well as off-road vehicles. The flexibility you get is impressive.

Coilover Kit
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Koni Coilover Kit

There are many brands out there who make awesome coilovers and shocks. One brand that always stands out is Koni. Their coilover kits are known for two things – build quality and flexibility.

Coilover kits are often deemed too aggressive for street use, and that would be a fair assessment. Most coilovers only reach their full potential on the track. Koni has refined the Coilover technology to a level where it matches the needs of street performance applications.

Koni Coilover kit brings threaded bodies that allow you to lower your car anywhere from 0.8” to 2.6”. On top of that, Koni has come up with an advanced valving system that not only offers advanced damping but also allows you to make fine ride quality adjustments.

koni shocks and coilover

Are Coilovers for You?

As awesome as coilovers are, they are definitely a niche product. The truth of the matter is that most drivers will get the performance they need from an aftermarket strut and spring combo. Going with something like Koni STR.T strut set is arguably cheaper and more cost-effective for 90% of drivers out there.

However, there’s always that 10% of users who demand the ultimate performance. On top of that, coilovers are no longer a tool that is specifically meant for track use. More and more brands, just like Koni, are offering coilover suspension that is designed specifically for street use.

The best way to figure out whether or not coilovers are something you could benefit from is to be realistic with how you intend to use your car. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting a full set of coilovers just because you want to, the chances are that you can save a decent amount of money by going with a quality strut setup instead.

Coilover Adjustable Spring Lowering Kit - Front and Rear
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How to Find the Right Shocks, Struts, or Coilovers for Your Car?

Finding the perfect aftermarket set of struts, shocks, or coilovers for your car can be tricky depending on what you drive. One way we can help is by pointing you towards our online store’s navigation tool. All you have to do is input your car’s make, model, and year and select the suspension category.

You’ll be presented with all of the products that match your car. We are proud to offer an extensive selection of Koni shocks, struts, and coilovers. Considering that Koni is known for covering a wide range of vehicles with their products, we’re confident that you’ll find something within our offer that fits your car.

In case you have any more questions regarding which Koni shocks to fit your vehicle, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Our team of reps is standing by to offer their assistance and answer any questions you might have. Contact us via our contact form or give us a call.

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