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2 Common misconceptions about installing aftermarket suspension systems

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

1.Changing Coilovers will make my ride very stiff and uncomfortable.

FALSE. This is one of the very common misconceptions out there. However this is a common problem that has been continuously highlighted. First of all, the Spring rate plays a major part in the comfort of the car. There is a standard spring rate that should be followed closely to the manufacturer’s recommendation and there is a reason for it. Precise calculations have been performed to calculate the optimal amount of comfort for daily usage and for the passengers comfort as well. Many people experienced stiffness due to using an aftermarket suspension system that has very high spring rates that differs greatly from the recommended rate and that is why the ride will not be suited for daily driving.

2.The harder my Coilover, the better it is for the car.

FALSE. That is entirely untrue, On the surface it is easy to see why making the ride harder will be a better choice when the cornering and turning will experience lesser rollovers but what happens when you have too much stiffness? Using a suspension which is too stiff will actually give you the opposite result, losing grip and handling power.

Why would using a softer suspension provide more grip than a harder one? To understand this is to imagine a car with no suspension at all. With no suspension, hitting a bump at speed will result in the vehicle losing contact with the ground. A vehicle with no suspension is essentially equivalent to a vehicle with an infinitely high spring rate. As you decrease the spring rate, the suspension is able to conform better to road irregularities, and thus grip improves. Of course, there is a sweet spot where all of this is optimal, but many aftermarket suspension set ups dramatically spike spring rates over stock specs, and in turn can decrease grip. (Jason Fenske,2017)

So if relatively soft springs are important for mechanical grip, why do race cars have such high spring rates? It’s not that race cars don’t desire soft springs (they do!), it’s that the compromise isn’t worth it because factors like aerodynamics won’t allow it. Using Formula 1 as an example, the cars are capable of creating more downforce than the weight of the vehicles themselves. What would happen if you placed another car on top of your own car? The bottom car would sink low, eventually bottoming out if enough weight is added. To prevent this, the cars have to have super stiff springs, so that downforce doesn’t cause the car to bottom out. Furthermore, the aerodynamics of a Formula 1 car are highly dependent on ride height. For the car to operate most efficiently it needs to be at a set height. Stiff springs prevent it from lowering or raising much, keeping the aerodynamics efficient. Finally, race cars tend to drive on… you guessed it, race tracks. Generally, these are smooth surfaces that allow for stiffer setups. Of course, there are benefits to reducing body lean and roll, but the biggest driving factor for stiff setups on race cars often comes down to aerodynamics. (Jason Fenske,2017)

Tanabe is a renowned Japanese company that has been developing suspension systems for over 30 years. The most popular series that they have developed is actually the Tanabe Sustec Pro Comforr Ride (CR) series which caters to the street driving and daily usage of cars. It is a collaboration project with a popular aftermarket shock absorber brand KYB. Both the Tanabe Pro CR and Tanabe Pro CR40 suspensions offer excellent and suitable spring rates for street daily use.

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