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Suspension Components

What You Need For A Performance Suspension
 

When it comes to modifying a vehicle, lowering suspension and ride height is often the first step many enthusiasts make.

For the best compromise between handling and looks, choose a kit that includes matched springs and shocks from the same manufacturer, with drops of no more than half an inch to an inch. This allows the spring rates to be increased with improved damping rates to match. Kits that include only lowering springs are cheap but will have spring rates close to factory rates to be compatible with the factory shocks. What this means is that your suspension is lowered and travel is reduced, yet there is no increased spring rate or damping force to prevent bottoming out of the shocks. In the case of a rally suspension or suspension that will be used on rough, uneven roads, lowering should be avoided at all costs with attention paid to increased damping and spring rates. Lowered suspensions tend to work best on smooth roads, while excessively rough roads and uneven surfaces require near-stock ride height to function properly.



Strut Bar

Strut bars are an automotive suspension enhancement which is used with MacPherson strut and monocoque or unibody chassis cars. The strut bar provides added stiffness between the strut towers in order to tighten up suspension and reduce strut tower flex by tying the strut towers together. By tying the strut towers together, chassis flex will be reduced when a vehicle is cornering providing enhanced suspension performance. In order for a strut bar to be effective, it must be rigid throughout its entire length.

There are a number of aftermarket strut bars available for most cars, trucks, and SUV’s on the market. An aftermarket performance strut bar is a relatively easy installation and is a relatively affordable way to tighten up your vehicles suspension and improve its cornering abilities without requiring expensive modifications to the stock suspension system.





Sway Bars

Sway bars, also referred to as anti-roll bars and anti-sway bars, are the component of an automotive suspension that reduces the body roll during fast cornering. A sway bar connects the left and right wheels on a car, truck, or SUV together through short lever arms which are then linked by a torsion spring. The sway bar increases an automotive suspensions resistance to roll adding roll stiffness.

The purpose of the anti-sway or anti-roll bar is to force each side of your car, truck, or SUV to rise and lower at similar heights which in turn reduces the sideways roll or tilting on the vehicle on curves, sharp corners, and large bumps. By upgrading your stock sway bars with larger aftermarket sway bars, you will stiffen the vehicles suspension and improve the cornering abilities. Improved cornering capabilities allows your vehicle to drive faster through corners which is especially helpful in an automotive race.





Polyurethane Bushings

Suspension bushings are often overlooked by the automotive enthusiasts even though they are vital to your suspensions performance. By upgrading your stock suspension bushings to a polyurethane bushing, you can increase tire life, decrease the deflection in your suspension, increase responsiveness, reduce braking distance, and improve both performance and safety.

Polyurethane has been around for over thirty years however it wasn’t until recent technological advances that polyurethane became such a powerful material of suspension bushings. Automotive suspension bushings are one of the most stressed components on a vehicle. They undergo incredible stress under the most arduous of conditions that have no lubrication or regular maintenance.

Standard car and truck bushings are manufactured from a rubber compound that is made out of natural materials that often become soft and pliable under stress. As the bushings become soft, their ability to handle cornering, bumps, and the stresses of regular driving are reduced and you end up with a poor performing suspension. Polyurethane on the other hand is engineered to handle the extreme stress or a performance vehicle that is pushed to the limits. Poly bushings can be made 25% to 30% stiffer than standard bushings while maintaining the same noise absorbing properties.





Springs

Springs are a core component of automotive suspension, they support the weight of your vehicle which allows it to remain stable during rough driving conditions. Springs are able to expand and contract absorbing vibrations during dips and bumps while driving.

There are various types of springs used in automotive suspensions, coil springs and leaf springs are the most common. In addition to the standard coil and leaf springs, there are also air spring systems available which allow you to adjust the ride height of your car, truck or SUV. Coil springs are used in conjunction with shock absorbers to provide optimal handling, braking, bump damping, and an overall comfortable ride.

When it comes to improving your suspension with aftermarket parts, coil springs are usually replaced when you are either lowering or raising your car, truck, or SUV. Because lowering or lifting your vehicle changes the geometry of your suspension system, larger or shorter coil springs are required. When lowering your car, shorter springs mean less spring. As a result, lowering spring manufacturers compensate for the shorter spring by adding thicker coils in a tighter pattern.

Even if you aren’t looking to lower or lift your vehicle, you can also install aftermarket springs that offer a stiffer spring quality. By stiffening your springs, your vehicle will respond better while cornering and braking. The tradeoff to this performance enhancement is stiffer springs will result in reduced ride quality when driving over bumps or potholes.





Coilovers

Coilovers are well known in the aftermarket suspension world. A coilover is really nothing more than a coil spring over a shock absorber. Other suspension applications such as leaf springs separate the shock absorber from the spring. One of the primary benefits of aftermarket coilover systems is they allow for adjustability of both the coil spring which changes your ride height as well as the shock absorber’s stiffness. With an adjustable coilover system, you can change your vehicles suspension from sport mode or comfort mode depending on the application you’re looking for.

Coilovers come in a range of sizes, shapes, and brands. Everything from a sleeve coilover to a full- bodied race coilover with separate oil canisters for ultimate adjustability and performance. Here are the common types of coilovers available in the aftermarket:

  • Coilover Sleeves
  • Non-Shock Adjustable Coilovers
  • Shock Adjustable Coilovers
  • Shock Adjustable Coilvers with Camber Kit
Coilover Systems vs Lowering Springs

Deciding the best route for your suspension upgrade can be a challenging task. Balancing driveability and performance is a tough decision because there are tradeoffs for either choice. If you’re just looking for the improved look of a lowered car and not too concerned with the enhanced performance an aftermarket suspension offers, then a lowering spring is a good option. They are affordable and will add some enhanced performance simply by lowering the center of gravity of your car. However, if you’re looking for a system that will provide true performance enhancements while also allowing for adjustability, a coilover system is the best option. Lowering springs have a pre-established drop, you purchase the spring kit based on how much of a drop you want. Once you install the springs the, the only way to change the drop is to install a different set of springs.





End Links

The end links for the lowered suspension keeps several of the other components in place by securing the sway bar or anti-roll bar to the vehicles frame parts. Suspension end links provide a crucial role in the performance of your vehicle by minimizing the body lean of your car, truck, or SUV while cornering.

The common failure part of end links are the bushings at the ends of the links. If you’re putting your vehicle through harsh driving conditions such as an automotive race, aftermarket bushings will provide enhanced performance through their durable bushings and strengthened metal shafts. Additionally, if you are lifting your truck or SUV or lowering your car, adjustable or different sized sway bar links will be required to accommodate the change is suspension geometry.





Shocks

Shock absorbers are a another critical component to a vehicle’s suspension system. Shock absorbers will absorb the up-and-down of a car, truck, or SUV whenever it hits a bump or pothole. Beyond just absorbing the impact, shock absorbers allow the vehicle to maintain maneuverability after it has encountered the change in surface area. Without shock absorbers, the car, truck, or SUV would continue to bounce on the coil springs after hitting a bump. Shock absorbers prevent the energy stored in the springs from being released to the vehicle. Springs alone are not shock absorbers as they only store, not absorb and distribute the energy.

Shock absorbers are made in one of two designs, either a twin tube or mono-tube. A mono-tube shock is manufactured with a single tube that is mounted in an upside down position which helps reduce the load of the absorbed energy. A twin tube shock by contrast, is manufactured with an inner tube and outer tube which work together to absorbed the energy. Thanks to technology advancements, modern shock absorbers are fitted with velocity hydraulic damping devices to provide increased speed in the movement of the suspension in order to attain greater resistance. Hydraulic shocks provide a versatile product which can easily adopt to changing road conditions which reduce bounce, sway, acceleration squat and brake dive.

Aftermarket shock absorbers are a great enhancement to your automotive suspension system. The best aftermarket shocks will include adjustability settings that allow you to change the stiffness of the shock absorption. Stiffer responses in a shock absorber allow the car to recover quickly after a bump or pothole which provides improved performance.