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Coilovers vs Springs

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People have a hard time understanding whether a coilover is a shock or a spring when, in fact, it’s both. Although that may sound confusing, we have the information you need to demystify this often misunderstood automotive part—plus, you’ll get to learn about lowering springs in the process.

Both parts are generally used for the same purpose—they’re used for lowering a vehicle and improving its handling. However, there are a few differences. In this article, we’ll compare coilovers and lowering springs to help you distinguish between the two and to help you decide which one you should get for your desired application.

close up image of an automotive coilover
Coilovers and lowering springs are both used for lowering a vehicle and improving its handling.

What is a Coilover?

typical coilovers of a car
Coilovers support the weight of the vehicle while dampening spring oscillations.

A coilover is a shock and coil spring combined into a single assembly. As such, a coilover supports the weight of the vehicle, while also dampening spring oscillations. The design is both lightweight and simple.

Coilover assemblies are used in both OEM and aftermarket applications. In many instances, coilovers are also adjustable and, therefore, can be used to raise or lower the height of a vehicle on demand.

What is a Lowering Spring?

typical lowering springs of an automobile
Some lowering springs are stand-alone components while others are integrated into an assembly with a strut, rather than a shock.

Lowering springs are similar to the stock springs that you find on a vehicle from the factory. The main difference is, they’re shorter.

As you might guess, enthusiasts install lowering springs to drop their car’s ride height closer to the ground. Lowering a vehicle gives it a more aggressive appearance.

Also, a lower center of gravity improves handling characteristics due to the improved aerodynamics.

Unlike coilover assemblies, lowering springs do not contain a shock absorber. Instead, some lowering springs are stand-alone components, while others are integrated into an assembly with a strut, rather than a shock.

Lowering springs are fixed and non-adjustable.

Coilovers vs Springs: What’s the Difference?

coilovers and lowering springs comparison
Coilovers and springs are different in three main aspects: functionality, installation, and price.

Are you still confused about the difference between lowering springs versus coilovers? Then check out the table below.

CoiloversSprings
InstallationCoilovers often come together as a single assembly. That can make installation easier.Coil springs must be compressed prior to removal. Compressing the spring can be both difficult and dangerous, especially in a MacPherson strut-style suspension.
Price$300 to $5,000 (depending on your car’s year, model year and make, as well as the brand you opt to purchase)$109 to $1,100 (depending on your car’s year, model year and make, as well as the brand you opt to purchase)
FunctionalityCoilovers combine both the shock and spring into a single assembly. The design supports the weight of the vehicle, while also dampening spring oscillations. Many coilovers are adjustable and, therefore, can be used to alter vehicle ride height on demand.  Lowering springs support the weight of the vehicle, while also providing a modified ride height.

When Should You Get Coilovers?

Adjustable coilovers allow you to alter your car’s ride height on demand. In many instances, to fine-tune the suspension, you can also adjust the dampening rate of the assembly.

Generally, coilovers are more expensive than coil springs. But they also provide a greater level of performance, so, in many cases, you get what you pay for.

image of a car coilover
Generally, coilovers are more expensive than lowering springs.

When Should You Get Lowering Springs?

If you have a limited budget and want to achieve a lower, more aggressive look for your vehicle, then lowering springs might be the right move for you.

Lowering springs achieve the same goal of lowering your car and improving handling due to a lower center of gravity.

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CarParts.com

Staff Writers

In the Garage with CarParts.com is an online blog dedicated to bringing DIYers and devoted car enthusiasts up to date with topical automotive news and lifestyle content. Our writers live and breathe automotive, taking the guess work out of car repairs with how-to content that helps owners get back on the road and keep driving.

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