Apart from ensuring a less bumpy ride, your car’s suspension also serves to improve traction and to keep the tires working at an optimum level. A better grip, of course, means more engine power is available to drive the vehicle. Cornering abilities are improved, and so is braking. A proper sports suspension upgrade that has been installed correctly will ensure an improvement in all these areas. Let’s examine the different parts of the suspension system and how to upgrade them successfully.
1 Anti-roll bars
We all know how fast cornering can cause heavy body roll in most cars. Anti-roll bars effectively help to address this problem by helping the vehicle to stay level when cornering. Upgrading anti-roll bars can be tricky though and involves a basic understanding of how the system works. Since the bar is connected to both wheels on the same axle if one wheel hits a bump the effect is immediately transmitted to the wheel on the opposite side, which causes a waddling or jarring effect. This effect is directly related to the anti-roll bar’s thickness. Fitting an overly thick anti-roll bar can therefore negatively affect the car’s handling characteristics.
An obvious solution is adjustable anti-roll bars. These have many benefits under a variety of road conditions. Depending on how you adjust the bar, it is possible to reduce oversteer or to decrease understeer. The good news here is that adjustable blade anti-roll bars can be adjusted from right inside the car. With adjustable anti-roll bars, it becomes possible to make suspension adjustments without any need to adjust suspension stiffness via damper or spring settings (which might negatively impact on ride quality). This makes anti-roll bars perfect for fine-tuning specific handling characteristics.
2 Suspension Bushes
It is an often overlooked area of the suspension system. Suspension bushes have the purpose of separating two metal objects, allowing a certain degree of movement via these components – and in the process providing a dampening effect. This movement enables the different parts of the suspension to move freely, and when the car hits a bump it minimizes the transmission of small vibrations and noise to the cabin. It also helps to improve ride quality and handling. The majority of factory-fitted bushes are made of rubber and constitute a weakness in the suspension chain. Upgrades are available that are manufactured of stronger and more durable materials such as polyurethane. Improving the quality of your car’s suspension bushes will provide better stiffness and will also improve tire life. They also offer a more reliable platform on which to mount other components when you upgrade the car’s suspension.
The word ‘coilover’ actually stands for ‘Coil over Strut’ – and that is quite literally what they are. Once they have been fitted these often overlooked upgrades might be mistaken for McPherson struts because they look quite similar. The reason why they were developed in the first place was that engineers were looking for a fully adjustable solution to enable a car’s suspension to work properly on a wide variety of road surfaces. Once fitted, and depending on the features of the specific unit, coilovers make it possible to adjust the stiffness, ride height and dampening settings on your vehicle. Since the top of the range coilovers can be quite expensive it is recommended that you have these units installed and set up by a professional to make sure you get the maximum possible benefit from your investment. We also recommend that before buying you use an aftermarket and performance car parts search engine such as Compare Parts to see what is available out there.
4 Sport springs
Sport springs are another often overlooked suspension upgrade. These can normally not be adjusted, but they do offer a lower ride height – commonly between 25mm and 60mm. They also deliver a sportier and firmer suspension setup compared to most factory-fitted systems. Another major benefit is that they will usually set you back only a fraction of what a coilover will cost. Whether you are into drifting or track racing, or simply a car enthusiast, upgrading your car’s springs and dampers will undoubtedly give you a lot of satisfaction. Any fast road or track car will benefit from sports springs and dampers, with the added bonus of having a stronger and more durable component fitted. Weight savings and more robust construction are some of the other performance advantages on offer. An added plus is that they are much more durable than most factory-fitted springs.
Once you start comparing prices and features by using an aftermarket parts search engine such as Compare Parts, you will notice that sports springs are available with either a linear or progressive spring rate. Linear describes a spring that offers the same level of stiffness when it is compressed, while progressive refers to a spring that becomes stiffer the more it is compressed.