Good day! I need your opinion. I have a Toyota Vios, and I want to lower its ride. I travel out of town once a week, and I'd like to know which is better: lowering springs or coilovers? What are their differences? I'd appreciate your help. More power, Top Gear Philippines!
With kind regards,
Hi, Frederick. The idea behind lowering any vehicle is to improve the road-holding capabilities of the car. This concept traces back its origins to racing.
With race cars, lowering is achieved by using adjustable height and damping coilovers. The premise is that the race car's suspension is tuned to optimize grip for the individual racetracks that it will compete on. Springs are often swapped out for different spring rates--front to rear, or, in certain cases, left to right.
Damper rates are adjusted or changed outright depending on track conditions on each individual track. More often than not, the suspension travel is also significantly shorter than what it would be in a street-car application.
The reduced suspension travel of a racing suspension usually also compromises ride comfort. There are adjustable coilover suspensions designed for road applications. These coilovers don't compromise ride comfort as much, though, and they usually cost less, too.
That being said, a good-quality coilover suspension that's designed for your specific application would be the best way to go, if money were no object. And there's nothing like a car that rides on a well-sorted suspension.
An alternative to coilovers are lowering springs. They are more affordable and are designed to work with the stock shocks. The drawback? You don't get the advantage of being able to tune the suspension to your liking. However, if all you're after is improved handling due to the lower center of gravity and a sportier-looking ride because of the reduced fender gap, they are a practical way to go.
Somewhere in between the two are matched sport spring and damper sets. They're not available for every vehicle, but they usually give a generous amount of handling improvement without the accompanying cost of a coilover suspension. You'll need to pick wisely, though. Some are designed for track conditions rather than street driving.
Personally, I'll always go for a good-quality adjustable coilover suspension or properly matched spring-and-damper set, over lowering springs. However, I'd rather go with a set of good-quality lowering springs from a reputable brand over any 'inexpensive' coilover brand that isn't really meant to be used for road conditions such as ours.