Coilovers vs regular shocks and springs – What is the difference?

Tuner freaks and mechanics get this question asked probably on a daily basis. There are many car enthusiasts out there whom are willing to lower their car either form aesthetics or performance, but don’t really know how to proceed. There are two main ways to go when you are willing to drop the height of your car:

1. Lowering springs

2. Coilover suspension

Lowering springs

coilover suspension

Although both process provide the same result, a lowered height of the car and a bumper closer to the ground, there are quite a few notable differences between the two options.

Read more about needs to change the springs every time you replace the shocks in our article.

What are coilovers?

Usually, springs are attached to the front of the car near the shocks, or in some cases, the shock goes right through the middle space of the spring, connecting further down to the rest of the suspension system. Coilovers feature a spring coiled around the shock, working as a single element instead of two separate mechanisms, as in regular suspension. In other words, you get a coil that’s sitting directly over the shock or strut.

What is coilover diagram

There are various brands providing coilover systems for vehicles, prices ranging between a few hundred dollars to way up over the thousand mark it really depends on what make and model your car is as to what types of coilovers are available for it, for example if you own a Nissan 350z have a look at this guide to 350z coilover suspension it will give you all the information you need regarding coilovers for that particular make and model. There are many places on the internet you can find this information for your car just make sure that you type in your make and model when searching for it. Often automotive manufacturers will utilize laser marking to permanently engrave product information and part traceability into the components they make.

Types of coilovers

There are four main types of coilovers that can be bought on the automotive parts&accessories market.

First of all, there are coilover sleeves. These are basically the first element that’s more advanced than lowering springs. They can be height adjusted and although they usually fit on stock shocks, it is not recommended to use them in this combination.

Coilover sleeves
Coilover sleeves

Next up, there are non shock adjustable coilovers. These usually come pre-assembled, and while the height value can be adjusted, elements such as shock rebound and stiffness are at a fixated value.

non adjustable coilover
Non adjustable coilover

Shock adjustable coilovers push performance a tad further. Unlike the non-shock adjustable coilovers, these ones allow for full customization of the rebound time, stiffness and compression of the shock. Top mounts are usually included in the package.

 Shock adjustable coilovers
Shock adjustable coilovers

At the very end of the premium zone, there are shock adjustable coilovers. It is one of the most balanced suspension upgrade, providing adjustable shocks as well as camber kits, sometimes even for rear cambers. The great part is that you do not need to acquire a separate camber kit when mounting the suspension.

What about lowering springs? Are they any better?

If your goal is solely to lower your vehicle, then lowering springs are the cheaper and facile option. A slight increase in cornering performance may be felt, but it won’t go anywhere near a proper set of coilover set. Still, this is not the end of the discussion. Indeed, coilovers offer better stability on the track, but you will prefer standard suspension or lowered springs at best when you are driving on the street. Here’s why.

Coilover shocks are done to be stiffer in order to increase performance and stability. This means that there will be a smaller rebound on the shock, making it a potential danger on potholes found on the street. When shocks can’t rebound enough, the bumper may hit the road and get damaged.

Finally, lowering springs or coilovers?

Such a decision is totally up to the driver and should be taken considering where the car spends most of the time. If the car is purposely built for circuit laps, then a set of advanced shock adjustable coilovers is recommended; it may cost premium, but the increase in stability over tight turns and high rates of speed is worth it.

However, if the car is a daily driver, lowering springs should be used at most.

Video about the differences between lowering springs, coilover sleeve kits, and complete coilover systems



  1. Freddie Beltran

    Thank you guys for simplifying the differences, I recon.

  2. Hi, I am lost at all this technical jargon, I am in my seventies and own a lovely MX5 NC Totally mint condition. I use it very occasionally And just want to make the car sit lower for ‘ looks ‘. I am in Epping Essex and don’t know anyone who can supply and fit the kit that would just make the car look a bit lower than the 4×4 look . Etc. Epping is in Essex U.K. can anyone point me in the right direction please. Be most grateful Ray

  3. Roger Tootkaylok

    Thank you for information on the differences between the 2 types of suspension. I have often wondered about this. I still wonder whether coilovers are better for street application, over fully independent suspension, which I know have been offered for years for most sports cars. Thank you again for your time & information about this ! C/O Roger D. Tootkaylok. Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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