Hotchkis Coilovers Electronic | OE Rear End 4-Pack GM A-Body 1964-1967
If you are looking to lower your car, one way to do so is by installing coilovers. In fact, coilovers are one of the most popular mods in the market for virtually any vehicle. The word “coilover” is derived from the term “coil over spring”, and is a type of suspension that allows you to adjust different aspects of your car’s ride height, damping, and camber. Coilovers are used to lower your car’s center of gravity for reduced weight transfer, thus allowing you to take turns at higher speeds. Apart from the handling and performance benefits, lowering your car on a set of coilovers will give it an added aggressive appeal.
Coilovers works in conjunction with your suspension, allowing you to change the height of your ride for form and function purposes. Not all coilovers are created equal. Some are very basic and do the bare minimum, while others have innovative features that can drastically improve the way your car handles, accelerates, and looks. Whether you are more geared toward performance or just to show off your new stance at your next car show, a coilover kit will enhance your overall driving experience. Check out our selection of high-quality coilovers above.
Your typical suspension system includes a controlling arm, coil spring, and a shock absorber or strut. When your car goes over a bump, the coil spring absorbs the energy of said bump and the spring starts to bounce. When the spring is in motion, the damper stops it from bouncing through the use of rebound force and compression force. As the spring bounces, the shock resists the motion in both directions of the oscillation. In other words, the coil spring and damper work together to give you a smooth ride even when going over harsh potholes.
Most OEM suspension systems are designed to provide great ride quality. To ensure a smooth ride, OEM struts typically use low spring rates and very gentle damping. Unfortunately, soft springs and gentle damping equal pretty poor performance if you’re trying to go fast, and that is where coilovers come in. Coilovers allow you to maintain a high level of performance for your vehicle, even when driving at higher speeds, all while looking your best.
Aftermarket coilovers are fundamentally similar to the OEM struts you’ll find on many vehicles. With that being said, an aftermarket coilover is typically lighter, smaller, and offers more adjustability than its factory counterpart. In short, it delivers better overall performance for your vehicle than an OEM strut does.
Coilovers replace your entire factory strut and typically have height and damping adjustments. A coilover kit is pretty compact compared to old-school spring and shock suspension systems, as it typically consists of a spring, damper, and top-hat. Below, we provide a brief description of each component:
The springs prevent the base of the vehicle from bottoming out while also providing support for your wheels.
The damper helps keep your ride smooth. There are two different types of dampers, which will be explored in detail below.
The top-hat covers the struts that work to keep the spring contained.
When browsing the market for coilovers, you have the option of choosing between linear or progressive springs. Some springs deliver a smoother and more controlled ride, whereas others transfer more vibration to the cabin so you can keep track of exactly what your car is doing.
Most high-end and track-oriented racing coilovers will use linear springs, as the constant spring rate of linear springs creates very predictable handling when pushing your car to the limits. When the spring compresses, the spring rate remains constant throughout the entire compression. While a car on linear springs will be easier to control and navigate on road courses or tracks, they do have a rougher ride than progressive springs.
Progressive springs, on the other hand, are generally better for street use. With progressive springs, the suspension will start out very soft and begin to stiffen as the suspension compresses. This allows for lower spring rates and much better ride quality all around, while still providing the superb handling you expect from coilover suspension kits.
To put it simply, unless you’re installing coilovers on a dedicated track car, progressive springs are the better option.
One of the main components of any coilover system is the damper. Without any damping, your suspension can compress and decompress freely, resulting in a bouncy ride and very poor handling. Performance coilovers typically come with two different kinds of dampers: a twin-tube or monotube. From the outside, these two types of dampers may appear to be completely identical but, underneath there are quite a few fundamental changes that alter dampening performance.
The twin-tube design is found on most low-end coilovers, OEM shocks, and even mid-level coilovers that are designed for street use. Twin-tube damping uses an inner and outer chamber. The inner tube holds the piston shaft, valve, and oil, while the outer tube holds damper oil and nitrogen gas. This design allows for more suspension stroke without increasing the height of the body, thus providing better ride quality.
You will notice that high-performance vehicles and race coilovers use a mono-tube design. This is because the monotube design holds everything in one tube and separates components by way of a floating piston. While this design is simpler than the twin-tube design, it allows for bigger and stronger parts, better heat dissipation, and quicker response.
Since the goal is to have shocks that quickly adjust to the environment around you without losing their efficiency, monotube dampers come out on top. Your suspension should feel stiffer in rough terrain or on the track and be much smoother when driving on the streets or freeway. Twin-tube shocks have a number of valves on the pistons that work independently. Monotube shock absorbers, on the other hand, spotlight a single valve assembly that evently distributes pressure over the entire shock region.
When compared to an OEM suspension system, one of the biggest benefits of an aftermarket coilover is the adjustability. With height adjustment, spring rate adjustment, and damping adjustment, you have the ability to fine-tune your car for your style of driving and any vehicle modifications. Some coilover kits offer minimal adjustments, while others offer plenty so you can really test the heights of your vehicle, no pun intended.
With the majority of aftermarket coilovers, the manufacturers determine the ideal spring rate either through testing or merely estimating. Even so, that spring rate is usually not completely fixed; there is some spring rate modification possible. This adjustment comes in the form of an adjustable collar that threads up and down the body and either compresses or decompresses the spring. Such adjustment affects the spring's pre-load which increases the amount of force necessary to compress the coilovers; at the same time, it does not increase the spring rate. With any of the adjustments mentioned below, it may be best to leave them up to a professional. This is because incorrect or improper adjustments can result in very poor handling and drivability.
While it is rare, some coilovers are not height or spring adjustable. Though you will typically either find a partially threaded coilover or a fully threaded coilover. The former allows heigh adjustment at the cost of suspension travel, while the latter allows spring pre-load and ride height to be adjusted independently. Having the ability to alter your car's ride height and spring pre-load independently results in far greater suspension tuning and enhances your overall driving experience.
Aftermarket coilovers also feature dampening adjustments. Some may only offer a few clicks of adjustability, while others can grant up to 32 clicks of adjustment. Some dampers also allow for the compression and rebound to be adjusted independently of one another. What's more, you will find that some aftermarket coilovers kits offer low-speed and high-speed dampening adjustments.
Apart from coilovers, Vivid Racing also offers a variety of performance suspension components, including leaf springs, lowering springs, air suspension kits, shocks & struts, and more. If you are interested in customizing your ride, we have got you covered! To learn more, contact us today by calling (480) 966-3040.