How to Tune Adjustable Coilovers

October 31, 2012

Coilovers are a part of the suspension system in a car that combines the springs and shocks into one unit, and adjustable coilovers allow you to adjust both the shocks and springs in the suspension system of your car at one time. With non-coilover suspension systems, the shocks, otherwise known as dampers, are independent parts from the springs, but a coilover system places the shock inside the coil of the spring, combining them into one part. The following set of step-by-step instructions will give you all the information you need to tune your adjustable coilovers.

Step 1: Know What You're Doing

Before you try to tune your own suspension system, you need to know what each part is for. The shock part of a coilover system is the part that absorbs upward force between the wheels and the frame. This is necessary because springs don't dissipate much force and will keep bouncing for a long time after a force is applied to them, so without shocks the car will keep bouncing on the springs for a long time after it goes over a bump. The springs are there to keep tension between the suspension and the frame, limiting the frame's independent movement from the wheels.

Step 2: Adjusting the Spring

You can tell if your springs are too tight if you think your car is too low to the ground, and you can tell if they're too loose by looking at the coils. If they are scratched from other coils continually rubbing against them, you need to tighten the spring. To adjust the spring on a coilover suspension system, you need to unlock the steel perch from the bottom of the shock by loosening the ring at the bottom of the spring. You can then turn the shock, which is threaded and will raise and lower depending on which way you turn. To tighten the spring, make the coilover longer, and to loosen the spring, make it shorter.

Step 3: Adjusting the Shock

Shock absorbers for cars work by using a semi-permeable piston inside a metal cylinder to compress a liquid reservoir. The piston has small holes that allow some of the liquid to go through, so because there will be more compression with less liquid oozing through the piston, the shock absorbs more force with smaller holes. Adjustable coilover shocks have a graduated dial on the side that allows you to control how big the holes in the piston are. The dial goes from one to ten, and a higher number will result in a smaller hole, thereby giving the shock absorber more resistance to impact.

Most drivers never adjust their coilovers because it can be a time consuming and costly process, but if you are truly interested in maximizing the handling and performance of your vehicle, it may be a good idea for you. Before you make a decision, carefully consider what kind of driving you do and whether or not it would be worth it for you to go to all the trouble.

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