Whether you’re trying to find the right replacement springs for a restoration or considering modifying your car’s suspension to improve its aesthetics and/or cornering, this brief overview of a few coil-spring-related terms can help.
However, just because this article focuses on coil springs, it doesn’t mean that better handing begins and ends with swapping in a stiffer and/or lower set. Your car may react favorably to other upgrades before having to change the springs. Suspensions, as well as steering and braking systems, and wheel/tire packages, are developed by automakers to work together to meet specific goals.
If you make too drastic a change with new springs or any other parts, it can have a negative effect instead of the intended positive one.
Since myriad chassis pieces influence ride and handling, the performance aftermarket normally provides upgraded springs as part of a package with matching additional components to ensure balanced improvements and safe operation. Speaking of the latter, never modify a suspension that has worn parts, or any that may not be compatible with the enhancements. Also, always use a coil spring compressor and adhere to all other safety measures.
There are multiple options for lowering a car. If the existing coil springs feature tangential ends, which look like the wire was simply cut and its end was NOT bent flat or pigtailed, they can be cut with a cutoff wheel (don’t use heat). However, it’s a trial-and-error process to get the right height, and if you cut too much you’ll be buying new springs. Cutting them also increases their rate, which is generally welcomed to help avoid the suspension bottoming out in certain road conditions.