Suspension is an essential part to any vehicle. We can spend time tuning our cars to produce as much power as possible, but without correct the suspension, you can’t control that power – a necessity when navigating the roads of Australia. Regardless of where you’re driving in Australia, you’re going to encounter problems on the road’s surface. If every road was perfectly smooth and dry, with no bends, perhaps we’d never need suspension. However, the weather does its own thing, corners must be turned, roads can be bumpy, and potholes just creep up on you. Suspension is what gives your car the opportunity to survive any bumps that just couldn’t be avoided by giving you good friction with the surface. Here we look at what springs are best suited to your vehicle in order to keep you on the right track.

 

 

Coil Springs vs. Leaf Springs

 

Leaf springs are old school, in fact, they’ve been around for centuries, so they’re very old school. They perform a pretty simple, dependable function by suspending the axle rather than relying on complex independent rear suspension. Due to their durability, sturdy composition and ability to manage weight and power, leaf springs are great for use in commercial vehicles and 4×4‘s They are also pretty common in older Utes and muscle cars.

coil spring suspension

Coil springs are pieces of flexible metal wire made into spiral or helix form, as shown above. These coils envelope each of your car’s shock absorbers. Coils are far more common these days than their old-school counterparts, leaving leaf suspension to cater to heavier vehicles such as Utes and trucks. The rise in popularity of coil springs is down to their flexibility. Coils offer range of movement where leaf springs cannot; since they have the upper hand in geometry, coils are regularly favoured for performance.

 

 

Don’t Forget: Suspension Design

What needs to be kept in mind with coils is that both leaf springs and coils are reliant on how they are implemented within your car’s suspension design. These come in two common guises: live axle suspension, and independent rear suspension.

 

Live axle suspension, like the leaf spring, is old school. It uses one solid beam, meaning the movement of one wheel on the axle directly impacts upon the other. This traditional method limits tire-to-surface contact, meaning a single wheel can’t react independently to inevitable bumps you will encounter on your journey. The result of this, of course, is a less comfortable overall ride and minor speed loss. However, while live axle suspension’s simplicity might be its weakness, it is also its trump card. Its straightforward design goes hand-in-hand with its durability, which is why live axle is still the necessary choice of heavy vehicles that use immense power.

 

Then we have independent rear suspension (IRS), a twentieth century’s solution to the problems of axle suspension. This performance-focused design allows each wheel to react independently to bumps. This means that if one wheel hits a pothole, the wheel on the other side won’t react. Predictably, this provides a far smoother driving experience as well as steady speed. On top of that, since each wheel is not dependent on the other, your tyres get consistent contact with the surface. This ensures a safer journey, particularly in wet weather. Supporters of this design might label live axle suspension outdated, caveman stuff, and while IRS cannot compete with live axle when it comes to extreme power, it’s miles ahead when it comes to what’s right for your coupe.

 

 

Choose your Suspension Wisely

So, if you are shifting a heavier load around, you would be smart investing in a vehicle with leaf springs in there already, which are designed to combat any problems substantial weight and extreme power might produce. Any commercial vehicle or Ute is going to be kitted out with live axle suspension.

 

However, if you drive anything a little smaller, and you are looking for grip and speed, a vehicle with coil springs are a smart choice in the current market. Coil springs work with all suspension systems, and are renowned for their versatility. The attraction of coupling independent rear suspension with coil springs is optimum movement and surface contact, allowing safety in extreme weather combined with steady performance. If you want performance for your coupe, sedan or hatchback, stick to coil springs such as those from H&R.

When it comes to focusing on performance and achieving optimal handling, suspension is one of the first things any car enthusiast tends to look at. Lowering your ride can result in better, sharper cornering and a more responsive feel for the road, as well as that imposing look many car modifiers love to achieve. Achieving all of this can be done in two ways. You can install lower, smaller springs or install coilovers, and each option has it’s own pros and cons, so Spares Box is here to help you make your choice.

 

Coilovers

 

Pros

 

Coilover suspension really is the ultimate performance-focused suspension upgrade. They replace the entire suspension set up, including the dampener, shock absorber and spring, with one single unit that bolts in and out on its own, consisting of the spring coiled over (hence the name) the shock. Because of this, coilover suspension systems are often lighter and more compact, saving you vital weight.

 

Because the entire unit is performance based, coilover suspension systems are designed tuned and built to standards which allow you to get the best handling out of your car, providing you with the very best when it comes to body roll, responsiveness and travel. In many cases, coilovers naturally lower the ride height of your vehicle as well, which saves the problem of having to maintain both lowered springs and the shock absorbers you had to install to suit them. Coilovers often provide a greater level of customisability, allowing you to adjust things like ride height and damper to meet your specific requirements. If performance and handling is your first and foremost priority, a set of coilovers is worth the investment.

 

Cons

 

Performance costs money, and unfortunately suspension is no exception. Coilover systems are made out of the best materials, the best R&D goes into them, and as you can imagine the cost reflects it. There’s always a trade-off between performance and comfort too, and for every day driving a coilover suspension system also may often prove to be too harsh in terms of ride quality compared to independently lowered springs. They travel less, are much less forgiving when going over rough road will provide a much stiffer feel when cornering on even normal roads.

 

Lowered Springs & Upgraded Shocks

 

Pros

 

The main advantage to keeping a conventional (but lowered) shock/spring system is that it’s a great compromise. It delivers many of the performance and handling benefits that are associated with a lower ride height, but not quite as extreme if you’re a more casual enthusiast looking for more responsiveness from your vehicle. When paired with correct shock absorbers to match, lowering kits will often deliver much better ride quality and comfort from every day driving.

 

Despite the fact that it requires the replacement and maintenance of more parts, the nature of a conventional spring system makes modifying and updating it much cheaper than installing coilovers. Overall, if you want to maintain a better balance of ride and handling, or simply want to lower your vehicle for aesthetic reasons, Lowered springs are generally the more sensible option.

 

Cons

 

The 2 main problems with lowered springs are customisability and application for performance. Once you install some lowered springs, their spring rate is set, their height is set and their dampening is set. You also just won’t get the level of handling you would out of a coilover set up, and you’ll need to invest in a performance-oriented shock absorber to get any beneficial effect on your handling from lowering your car.

Every vehicle has a gross vehicle mass (GMV) rating, which basically indicates how much load it can safely carry. Minus the amount your vehicle weighs without a load from the gross vehicle mass rating, and that should be your limit every time. Installing tougher, heavier duty suspension can help deal with more mass and more load, but until you get your GMV raised and certified by an engineer, you should never exceed the manufacturer guidelines.

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