Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingSuspension and Steering Problems What Are Coilovers – Everything You Need To Know

What Are Coilovers – Everything You Need To Know

by Jordan Harris
What Are Coilovers

Have you heard about a cool car mod that allows you to lower your vehicle and you are asking yourself what are coilovers? If this is the case, then you are at the right place because we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to coilovers and their purpose.

Installing aftermarket components on your car can sometimes be a really tricky thing to do. Why I’m saying this? Well, I’m saying this because you need to properly inform yourself on these components. Like in this example, you need to learn what are coilovers and what advantages and disadvantages they have.

Meaning that everything has upsides and downsides. Especially aftermarket parts that do not always work with your car. Or they work, but you don’t know how to adjust them in the right manner and you basically are stuck with a setting that you don’t really want. In the end, the mod can literally piss you off and go back to stock. That’s why you need to do proper research and we are going to help you out with that.

First, we will learn what are coilovers and then we will learn how they work. Later on, we will learn the difference between struts, shocks, and coilovers. We will also cover the pros and cons of running coilovers on your car. Not to mention that we will learn how to install them and also get a cheaper alternative. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

What Are Coilovers?

Now let’s start by answering the main question that is what are coilovers in general? What makes these components so desired among the car modders and are they easily one of the first aftermarket mods for many people out there? Let’s elaborate.

Coilovers as their name implies are coilover shock absorbers. Meaning that they are quite similar to your regular MacPherson strut but with a little twist.

And that twist is the adjustability. As you know, regular struts are not adjustable. You are basically stuck with the setting they give you from the factory. Or if you purchased that specific sports package for a couple of thousand dollars they will give you a button to adjust the dampers in only one or two settings. But what if I told you that there is a better way? And that way are the coilovers.

The coilovers are basically a jack of all trades. They offer you a great amount of adjustability in a number of aspects.

What Are Coilovers

You can adjust the shock travel, compression and rebound, preload, and a ton of more options that are available for you as a car owner.

With good coilovers, your car will basically drive like it’s on rails. And I mean it literally. The car will stick to the road like nothing else, improving the downforce of the car by a significant margin.

Not to forget that they are extremely light and you can easily save up to 20 lbs or more after installing these aftermarket components. This will be of great use while you are out there on the track trying to achieve the best lap time. Overall, we answered the question of what are coilovers, now let’s see how do they work.

How Do Coilovers Work?

We learned what are coilovers, now let’s take a look at how these components work in practice. Knowing the method of action is quite useful things to know if you are on the market for a good set of these components. Now let’s get into it.

Coilovers are not much different when compared to struts. They work in the same manner as the struts. The main difference is that they are far more compact and smaller.

The compactness makes them really able to fit even the tightest places. The main difference from coilovers to struts is the extra options they offer you.

They have a ton of options. The core of the coilover is the shock absorber. These shock absorbers are extremely heavy-duty and designed to last like nothing else out there. They are built for track use and the track conditions are not a problem for these components.

Then there is the spring. There is usually one bigger spring and one smaller spring that are separated by a spring divider on the inside there is a dust shield in the form of a rubber boot to make sure that no dust gets inside.

At the top, there is a damper with an adjustment knob to adjust the ride height. At the bottom also there is a nut and threads for adjusting the suspension.

Inside the spring there is also a bump stop to prevent damage to the coilover during heavy-duty use. Remember that not all of the coilovers are the same.

Some of them have more options of adjustability and some of them are lacking options. This is how you can differentiate between cheap and expensive ones. So, we answered what are coilovers, now let’s move on and cover the coilover vs strut topic.

Coilovers VS Struts VS Shocks

We learned what are coilovers, now let’s discuss another topic and that is what is the difference between coilovers, struts, and shocks. These terms are confusing a lot of people who are not experienced and now we are going to elaborate on these terms in depth.

We will start with the struts and shocks. The struts are also known as the MacPherson struts. These struts were invented in 1945 by Chevrolet designer Earle S. MacPherson. He basically patented the design.

Struts as we already told you are implementing a design where the spring and the shock are mounted in the same housing. This is basically a strut assembly. This greatly improved the drivability of the cars and is still used as the best way to build a car suspension.

The next thing that we will cover is the shocks. The shocks are shock absorbers. They do not have springs around them as the struts do. Meaning that they are extremely simple. Shocks are usually installed in the rear of the car. Since there is no need to install struts.

And the last on our list is the coilovers. We answered what are coilovers. So, you can make your own conclusion. But we will explain it again. Coilovers are the same thing as struts. But they are having a ton of more adjustment options and other goodies that struts lack.

So, if you are looking to customize your car’s suspension, the coilovers will be one of your top picks since there is nothing else that could adjust ride height and stiffness like the coilover suspension.

We learned what are coilovers. Now let’s discuss the different types of coilovers that are out there. As you know, there are a few of them and they are worth covering. So, keep up with us.

Types Of Coilovers

Now as we learned what are coilovers, let’s address another important matter and that is the different types of coilovers that exist out there. Some of them we already mentioned. But separating them in a specific paragraph will make you understand the bigger picture a lot easier.

So, if you want to learn more about the specific types of coilovers, keep up with us. If not you can move on to the pros and cons of running aftermarket coilover suspension.

1. OEM Strut And Coilover

Since we learned what are coilovers, now let’s see what is the first type that is out there. And the first type is the stock also known as OEM equipment that is installed on the car also known as struts.

Many will think, hey aren’t the aftermarket ones the real coilovers? Well, the general understanding is that. But coilovers are also the struts as well.

Remember, the strut is a coilover shock absorber. Similar to the aftermarket coilover. Not a huge difference between the two.

Both are used in double wishbone suspension and are a part of the MacPherson struts. The difference is that the aftermarket ones are designed for looks and performance. So, the short answer to the question of what are coilovers, is that they are simply MacPherson struts. Now let’s move on to the following type.

2. Slip Fit

We learned what are coilovers now let’s take a look at the second type of coilovers. And the second type is the slip fit type of coilovers.

These slip-fit coilovers are basically kits that are designed to fit on your standard OEM coilovers strut assembly.

That’s right, there are aftermarket kits out there that will do the job and will fit on your stock suspension.

And not only that, you will be able to adjust the ride height with them. They come with custom springs, sleeves, and adjustment nuts that will allow you to adjust the height of your front suspension.

In addition to this, they are dirt cheap compared to full-blown aftermarket coilovers. Meaning that if you are just starting wrenching and you want to improve the looks of your car by lowering it. You can try this method.

With these slip-on coilover shocks, you will get the result that you need for a good price. So, going for them if you have a limited budget is a no-brainer. Now let’s move to the last type of what are coilovers.

3. Full Bodied

We learned what are coilovers, now let’s discuss what is the last type of coilover. And the short answer to this question is that these coilovers are the ones that you really want on your car.

These are the full-bodied coilovers that will deliver you the result you desire on the road and also on the track.

These are full-bodied as we mentioned. Meaning that they come as a full package. And this package includes the shock absorber, spring, and adjustment options.

These are also known as aftermarket coilovers that we mentioned when we answered the question of what are coilovers.

They are purposefully built for performance and deliver an unforgettable experience to the buyers. So, if you have the budget, these are the coilovers you really want for your car. Now let’s discuss the pros and cons of the aftermarket coilovers. Knowing the pros and cons will make your purchasing decision a lot easier. So, if you want to learn more, keep up with us.

Aftermarket Pros & Cons

Now as we learned what are coilovers and the different types of coilovers, let’s cover something more about them. More precisely, the advantages and disadvantages they have are also known as pros and cons.

Knowing these pros and cons will make your purchasing decision a lot easier. And also, you will have the bigger picture of what you could expect from these coilovers. Many of these brands promise a lot but fail to deliver. That’s why it is worth knowing whether or not they are a good purchase after all. So, if you want to learn more follow along.

Aftermarket Coilovers Pros

Now since we know what are coilovers, let’s discuss the pros of running aftermarket ones. And frankly, there are a ton of pros when it comes to this aftermarket mod.

Aftermarkets are extremely light and more compact than your standard strut coilover suspension. Meaning that they are a good fit for any vehicle out there.

Being more compact also makes them very light. With these aftermarket coilovers, you will reduce the weight of your car by 10 lbs and sometimes even more. Which will greatly affect your times if you track the car.

And when we discuss track use, the handling that these aftermarket ones will deliver is something that is not achievable with the standard suspension. Your car will basically drive like it’s on rails during those high-speed corners. With some good tires and a good set of coilovers, your time will improve by a couple of seconds. Which when it comes to racing is a lot.

Another aspect that they are good at is the cool factor. You just immediately notice when a car has a custom coilover suspension. People will take a lot of pictures of your car and you will make a ton of friends along the way.

And the last of the pros of having aftermarket ones are the higher resale value. They are expensive and later on when you will want to sell them, you will be able to do so and also make some money in the process.

These coilovers are not using their value and selling them will be easy if you offer them in a good deal. Overall, that’s it when it comes to what are coilovers. Now let’s see what are the cons.

Aftermarket Coilover Cons

We learned what are coilovers and what are the pros of having them on your vehicle. Now let’s see what are the cons of installing aftermarket coilovers on your car. Since everything has its positives and negatives. So, what are the negatives of installing these components? Let’s elaborate.

When we discuss the negatives of coilovers, it is worth mentioning the daily use of these coilovers. Meaning that they are not that practical after all. They are great for track use and delivering performance. But in a regular commuter car, they are not practical. Why I’m saying this?

Well, these components will stiffen your ride. This will result in your bum feeling every small rock that is on the surface. Something that is not ideal and will probably annoy most people. Everybody expects comfort. And the coilovers do not deliver it. So, you need to expect this and not get disappointed later on after you purchase them.

The second biggest drawback of installing coilovers is their price. The prices of coilovers are really high. There are cheap alternatives out there. But they don’t deliver as more expensive aftermarket coilovers do. So, you need to be aware of this.

And the last drawback that we will discuss is the maintenance. As you know, they have adjustment nuts. The threads of these nuts are really small and with driving them daily, you will basically ruin them if you don’t maintain them properly. And by this, I mean greasing them up and protecting them with special blankets.

So, beware of this issue as well, coilovers require more maintenance than regular struts. We learned what are coilovers and the pros and cons. Now let’s see what you need to consider before purchase.

What To Consider Before Installing

We learned what are coilovers and their pros and cons. Now let’s see what you should consider before purchasing coilovers. What should be your biggest concern? Let’s elaborate.

When purchasing coilovers, you should be aware of the ability to adjust the coilovers. Some of them are pretty limited in their adjustment ability. These are the cheapest ones usually. So, going for a more expensive pair of coilovers should be your best bet if you really want the best.

The second thing that you need to consider is the reviews. After you select your favorite ones, you need to learn more about them and their reviews. You need something that will not fail and leak after 3000 miles. You need quality. And that’s what reviews are there for. Just beware of fake reviews. It is often good to check reviews from a few different places and even Youtube videos to make the right call.

The third thing you need to be aware of is the warranty. Whenever you purchase components like these, you need to purchase ones that have a warranty. 2 years would be your best bet. But either way, any warranty is better than no warranty. With no warranty, you never know what you are going to get. Now as we covered what are coilovers and the things you need to consider, the next thing would be the cost to install aftermarket ones.

Cost To Install Coilovers

Now as we learned what are coilovers, let’s discuss the costs that are involved in installing this mod on your vehicle.

And frankly, the cost of this mod is relatively expensive. A good set of coilovers will probably cost you above $700. There are cheap for $300 but I wouldn’t recommend them. But the sweet spot when it comes to getting coilovers that perform really well is about $1,200+. And this is only for the parts.

To install the coilovers you will also have to pay about $200 to $500. If you mount them by yourself this will be free.

Another thing that you need to consider as well is alignment. A proper wheel alignment has to be done at the car after the job. This also going to cost about $100. Overall, we learned what are coilovers and the costs involved, now let’s see how you can protect them for the winter.

How To Keep Coilovers Safe During The Winter?

We learned what are coilovers. Now let’s discuss how can you keep them safe during the winter. As we mentioned previously, the coilovers need extra care during the winter. So, what are these precautionary measures that you can take to protect the coilovers? Let’s elaborate.

The first thing you need to do is to adjust the coilovers for the winter. By this, we mean lifting the car a little bit because there could be snow on the road.

The next thing you will need to do is to add some grease to the threads of the adjustment bolts, the grease will guarantee that there is no rust build-up.

And the last thing would be to cover the threads with special waterproof blankets that will protect the coilover threads in the long run. Now to conclude this article about what are coilovers.

Coilovers: What They Are and How They Work

  1. Coilovers are a suspension component that keeps your vehicle from bottoming out and offer advantages over traditional struts and shocks.
  2. Coilovers have a coil that surrounds the strut and sits on an adjustable perch, giving you the ability to adjust the height of the coilovers.
  3. Coilovers provide a stiffer ride, which lets you lower your car without scraping pavement as you drive and help to mitigate body roll.
  4. Coilovers work in a similar way to both coil springs and shock absorbers, combining both technologies to give you more control and a more comfortable ride.
  5. Coilovers are easily adjustable, which allows you to raise and lower your vehicle quickly, and they work to prevent your vehicle from bottoming out when you lower it too.
  6. Coilovers often get a bad rap for creating a rougher ride, but if you install the coilovers properly, you’ll actually get better handling.
  7. Coilovers can be used to raise your vehicle when you’re on the open road and quickly lower them when you take your car to the track.
  8. Coilovers are a direct swap for struts and have the coil spring integrated with the coilover.
  9. Coilovers have a shock built into them, but they don’t stop there. Coilovers continue by installing a coil spring directly around the shock absorber.
  10. Installing coilovers is typically straightforward but requires you to have all the right tools for the job, and safety precautions need to be taken when removing coil springs or MacPherson struts.


In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the question of what are coilovers. First, we learned what are these components. Then we learned how they work and the different types of these designs. Which were the standard strut, the slip-on, and the full aftermarket components.

Later in the article, we covered the pros and cons of aftermarket and we learned the positives and the negatives of owning a suspension like this and also the things you need to consider before you purchase a pair of these components.

Lastly, we discussed the cost of purchasing a new set. And frankly, they are not cheap. For good quality coilovers you will have to pay more than $1,200+. If you don’t have the budget maybe it is better to go for second-hand, than getting ones that don’t do the job well.

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