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Old 02-16-2009, 09:00 PM   #1
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Default Regarding coilovers

I keep seeing it over and over again, and it keeps getting answered over an over again so I'm going to post it here, and hope that it gets through to some people.

I don't care which coilovers you're thinking about. Beit $899 shipped or $3K per corner. This applies to ALL of them.

Coilovers are NOT for slamming your car. Coilovers are NOT for indiscriminately lowering the car so it looks cool. Yes, you can certainly use them to do so. I can also take a knife and cut my hand off. Or I could spend my whole day writing bad checks to get all sorts of cool stuff. Just because you CAN do something DOESN'T mean that you SHOULD.

Listen - I'll be the first to admit that a slammed scooby looks pretty darn cool, but if you're end goal is to make the car handle better then keep reading. If you're just looking to slam the car and tuck your tires then you can stop reading here, and ignore me.

I am not a cool person. Never have been. Never will be. I am fully aware of this, and after ten minutes of talking to me and you'll know it too. Therefore, I can't tell you what is cool, and what is not. My lack of coolness has never really bothered me though as I'm more the type of person who goes for function first (unless Alicia Witt is in the room, but alas I will never ever ever ever be that cool, and to attempt it would definitely result in even worse chances of her talking to me).

So, with that being said, when it comes to using coilovers to make your car look cool I cannot help you. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Where I can help you is in understanding what coilovers do for you. Yes, they are height adjustable. Either single height adjustable or double height adjustable. Single meaning that just the spring perch moves up and down. Double in that the spring perch moves up and down to control spring preload, and the height is set by moving the lower clevis up and down on the strut body.

The reason they are height adjustable is NOT for slamming your car. It IS for setting the balance and wedge of your car.

Now, what's ideal for both - well there's many a thread on that out there, but in the end it is up to you, the owner/driver of the car. They are a tool to set up your car to achieve better handling. That's it. That's all of it.

Let me say it again - you play with the heights to best balance the car for handling. I cannot tell you exact numbers.

That's where really owning a set of coilovers comes in - you HAVE to experiment with the settings. You have to play with ride heights. You have to play with balance. You have to play with wedge. You HAVE to time how it does (at a track please - not a school zone).

To do this timing you MUST use real numbers. Lap times. NOT the "well it felt faster" thinking. See, we feel the low speed damping, and jacking up the damping rates will make it feel fast, but it's the higher speed damping where time is really made up, and unfortunately is vastly more difficult to feel.

You can ONLY tell this from lap times.

Sure, you could argue that you went nose to nose with a similarly set up car, and yours was faster. Lets look at three variables that stick out in my mind in this case:
1) Two different drivers
2) Two different cars. Even if they are set up the same both cars are never exactly alike. Hell, just look at all the differences in tunes for the same motor mods that are out there if you need further evidence of that.
3) If the cars are nose to nose they will actually be on different lines. A line difference of just a few feet can have a rather large impact on lap times.

So, what I'm trying to say is this - if you are looking for the magic bullet on going faster, with a set it and forget it mindset then coilovers are NOT for you. You need to fiddle with them. A lot. You need to experiment. You need to data log. You need to play with the settings. If you're not going to go this far then you're wasting money on features that coilovers get you.

Hate to say it, but that's the way it is, and again, if you're just looking to use them to set the ride height then don't ask me about whether or not it's cool. Sure I can tell you if it is, but really, I'm the wrong person to be answering that question.

-Clint
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:13 PM   #2
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Nice post Hopefully this will clear up a lot of stuff for people.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:33 PM   #3
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That's a great post for the reasoning behind coilovers, but how about a coilover setup thread. Perhaps even an entire suspension setup thread. I haven't seen all too much on adjusting camber, caster, or toe and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Even something to help out with adjusting your suspension to avoid oversteer or understeer. Maybe even just throw in something to see what a common setup to start with would be, that way the end user can adjust it from there based on their needs. Just an idea of how one could branch off of this.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:37 PM   #4
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Very good points Clint.
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axelthrasher View Post
That's a great post for the reasoning behind coilovers, but how about a coilover setup thread. Perhaps even an entire suspension setup thread. I haven't seen all too much on adjusting camber, caster, or toe and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Even something to help out with adjusting your suspension to avoid oversteer or understeer. Maybe even just throw in something to see what a common setup to start with would be, that way the end user can adjust it from there based on their needs. Just an idea of how one could branch off of this.

The problem with this is the one variable that is most important, the driver. I can (and have) made an M3, with all nanny aids turned off, understeer like a greased pig and i've made a stock WRX oversteer into a spin. So one persons neutral, understeer-free setup is another man's super scary oversteer drift car. If you are indeed trying to set up your car for "optimal performance" and using lap times to verify then you better be sure you can knock off lap times with consistency or your setup changes won't mean squat. And then your driver and engineer had also be able to correctly judge what handling characteristics need what suspension/tire tweak. (Un)fortunately for us newbs, that's something that takes time and experience. But its a journey and learning curve well worth jumping into.

so with that said, its kind of tough to give general setup info other than what is already out there of basic start ride heights, alignment, tire pressures (per brand), and swaybar settings. If you follow what's been generically prescribed you'll have a better handling car than stock but the fine tuning of that system will still be very owner/setup dependent.

Last edited by Arnie; 02-16-2009 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axelthrasher View Post
That's a great post for the reasoning behind coilovers, but how about a coilover setup thread. Perhaps even an entire suspension setup thread. I haven't seen all too much on adjusting camber, caster, or toe and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Even something to help out with adjusting your suspension to avoid oversteer or understeer. Maybe even just throw in something to see what a common setup to start with would be, that way the end user can adjust it from there based on their needs. Just an idea of how one could branch off of this.
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hreadid=203801 for a start.

Nice write up, Clint.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:22 PM   #7
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good thread.

Last edited by RaceComp Engineering; 02-17-2009 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnie View Post
(Un)fortunately for us newbs, that's something that takes time and experience. But its a journey and learning curve well worth jumping into.
You aren't part of the suspension n00b club





Clint, nice writeup. Definitely a part of the reason I went with a strut/spring combo.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyboymike View Post
You aren't part of the suspension n00b club
am too!
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:47 AM   #10
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Uncle thinks Clint is cool


and spot on, here...

I think we need an 'Idiot Fitment' dumpster on this board to throw all the garbage in so it won't clutter and infect the rest of things....jus sayin
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Old 02-17-2009, 04:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnie View Post
The problem with this is the one variable that is most important, the driver. I can (and have) made an M3, with all nanny aids turned off, understeer like a greased pig and i've made a stock WRX oversteer into a spin. So one persons neutral, understeer-free setup is another man's super scary oversteer drift car. If you are indeed trying to set up your car for "optimal performance" and using lap times to verify then you better be sure you can knock off lap times with consistency or your setup changes won't mean squat. And then your driver and engineer had also be able to correctly judge what handling characteristics need what suspension/tire tweak. (Un)fortunately for us newbs, that's something that takes time and experience. But its a journey and learning curve well worth jumping into.

so with that said, its kind of tough to give general setup info other than what is already out there of basic start ride heights, alignment, tire pressures (per brand), and swaybar settings. If you follow what's been generically prescribed you'll have a better handling car than stock but the fine tuning of that system will still be very owner/setup dependent.

ding ding, you so smart arnie.
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:45 AM   #12
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Quote:
Never have been. Never will be. I am fully aware of this, and after ten minutes of talking to me and you'll know it too.
It didn't take ten minutes.

-Duncan
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:59 AM   #13
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But I wanna be mad tyte, hella flush, and dumped!


<--Hates seeing dumped cars with 225 tires on 9"rims
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
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It didn't take ten minutes.
I laughed.
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:57 AM   #15
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Great thread, but unfortunately it will fall on deaf ears considering the target audience. So far all the responses have been from those that already understand the points. It's a shame really as the information could save people lots of money down the road.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:01 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sniper1rfa View Post
I laughed.
Sadly it's true.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:17 AM   #17
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This is why I'm sticking with FP struts and springs. With sway bars, camber plates, and tires there is more than enough to mess with for the average autocrosser or HPDE driver.

You could even add FP struts with some damping adjustment like tokicos or ohlins and you'd have a bunch more settings to mess with.

I mean I want coilovers, but I'll never have enough time (time time and competitive behind the wheel time) to properly sort them out.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:28 AM   #18
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There is such a vast wealth of knowledge out there that it is not practical to get it all in our forums. It would be like trying to sort through the library of Congress. Suspension is Geometry and Physics, the formulae that simplify the matter are complex though not complicated. Yes there are people that want to get the need for speed look, or play like Ken Block but there are also those of us who obsess over the calculations attempting to find a sweet spot equal to nirvana. Which of course is different from one individual to the next. Do you think the top minds in Quantum Physics have conversations with the people in line at the grocery store about it ? They share information with like minds, people who are interested in the same thing. So what if it gets lost on others and the only people who discuss it here are already interested ? Maybe those others are intimidated by their lack of understanding and choose to just read instead of getting involved in the discussion. Either way I am interested in learning more, always more. Thanks TiC for standing up.
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Old 02-17-2009, 04:33 PM   #19
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Hey man, I always thought you were cool.
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:35 PM   #20
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Great Thread Clint! I won`t lie, you inspired me a WHILE ago to not go the route I was and do it right!
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:41 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Scotty View Post
I think we need an 'Idiot Fitment' dumpster on this board to throw all the garbage in so it won't clutter and infect the rest of things....jus sayin
We have one of those. It is called "Member's Car Gallery".

We have another one too but I won't say it. I don't want to get points

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnie View Post
The problem with this is the one variable that is most important, the driver. I can (and have) made an M3, with all nanny aids turned off, understeer like a greased pig and i've made a stock WRX oversteer into a spin.
Hey, me too. We should start a club!

In all seriousness, suspension setup is such a black art that it's hard to distill into easy recommendations. I think I'm going to start a new thread
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:27 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by ButtDyno View Post

Hey, me too. We should start a club!
on the other hand i also almost looped an E46 M3 after turning said electronic nannies off on the first right hand corner in 2nd gear. Forgetting what throttle adjustability is all about, i just floored it at the corner apex (like i would with my digital driving WRX foot) and found loooooootss of oversteer. damned high horsepower NA RWD cars.
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:03 PM   #23
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very good post clint, i dont know if you are familiar with quantum coilovers, if you are i have few questions for you. so let me know if i can ask away.
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:07 PM   #24
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I love you TIC! Nobody understands this concept! I am the guy thats going to slam my car via body kit. I like my proper wheel gap!
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:14 PM   #25
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Preach...Clint...Preach.

Now how long before someone asks if Megan or Helix coilovers are good for a DDer...1.2.3....
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