2008-2013 Cadillac CTS Performance Mods Discussion, Coilovers in Cadillac CTS Second Generation Forum - 2008-2013; Has anyone here installed coilovers? I don't want to do lowering springs, I want to be able to adjust my ...
Has anyone here installed coilovers? I don't want to do lowering springs, I want to be able to adjust my suspension to my liking and just wanted to know what pitfalls there may be. I use my car as my daily driver and we have nice glassy smooth roads here in Florida.
If you have awesome roads KW's are a nice option, though geared a bit more towards the road course than lowering specificly. They can be pretty harsh on crappy roads - look up ST also, they are actually made by KW with a lower price label - both german made.
From my experience with coilovers, they will give you the adjustability you are looking for but I have my concerns with mass of our vehicles just how well they perform. All in all, my personal belief is still that the mere nature of Coil Overs and their adjustability makes them ill-suited for the average consumer and possibly even dangerous. There is much more science to suspension than simple ride height adjustment netting a lowered vehicle with enhanced performance. The physics of suspension design is far more than what most people want to get into but understanding the implications of misadjusted or mismatched parts is beyond mos peoples desire. Something as simple as incorrect corner balancing due to people chasing fender gap measurements rather than vehicle weight distribution can lead to unpredictable and poor performing vehicles. In most cases a properly tuned race suspension does not consider street appeal or visual stance. Its all about suspension geometry and OE's spend gobs of money on R&D to consider what is best for the overall design.
My pros and cons list ... definitely not the hear-all be-all Coilover vs Shock/Strut and Spring but my thought process.
Ride Height adjustability:
Pro - If you have a certain visual stance you want you can have it exactly even if you have a trunk load of audio or if you just want a specific rake or fender gap.
Pro - You can have a street friendly stance, a track setting or a show car look with minimal adjustment.
Con - Frequent adjustment requires proper jacking with a lowered stance and repeated adjustment takes its toll on the coil body and adjuster threads.
Con - For good tire wear and predictable driving character, changes in ride height of more than .75" will require a wheel alignment between adjustments.
Pro - Coilovers are much more available than before and typically reserved for the upper echelon of "tuners" and builders.
Con - Get the right goods as cheap knock off "adjustable suspensions" are not really coil-overs
Pro - There is not really one unless you have money to burn
Con - Coilover's typically carry a higher initial price tag and higher maintenance related costs (frequent alignments and support equipment) are large
Pro - For a performance enthusiast or show frequenter, it may end up just being an initial cost difference in the end as the adjustability and rebuildable nature of most will weight in due to the fact that properly tuned shock/strut and coil combinations are nearly as expensive and each change will require having alternate parts to swap in.
Con - A properly matched shock/strut and spring combo will not require the rebuilds and need much less attention..."install and forget" once.
Con - Often times OE Shock/Strut mount locations are NOT suited for the load of the vehicle and spring related forces. OE locations may distribute the load with separate spring perches and shock mounts. This will mean additional parts or reinforcement will need to be considered such as upper-adjustable perch mounts and even control arm or shock/strut housing modifications.
Pro - Many Coil Overs are rebuildable and revalvable allowing for lower cost and its typical that mismatched stroke vs ride height issues cause premature wear as seen on many shock/strut and spring combos.
Con - If you prefer a maintenance free "install and forget" the shock/strut and spring combo will operate near as stock with little need for intervention or cost.
Pro - Most Coil overs are more compact in design and will allow for larger and wider wheel fitments than OE shock/strut and spring combos
Con - none really
OE electronic monitored suspension and traction/stability compatibility
Pro - At best some are minimally invasive with traction/stability controls
Con - Most negate true OE functionality and some are not recommended unless the systems are disabled.
Pro - Unlike OE replacement shocks/struts and springs, there are options for valving, spring rates, remote reservoir technologies and other remote adjustments.
Con - Often times features of OE suspension technology are defeated for usage.
Ride height and Shock stroke independently adjustable:
Pro - Since the relative position of the spring perch is NOT dependent on the normal operating ride height range (does not apply to extreme drops) this allows full use of the dampener allowing for full range operation. In the case of spring and shock/strut combos the lower you go with an OE replacement shock/strut the further along the stroke the vehicle will operate (this is still the case with extreme coilover drops) diminishing the stroke length and higher bump stop contact frequency.
Con - Only applies to normal operating ride height ranges - extreme drops negate this benefit without specifically designed parts.
Pro - Can be adjusted / revalved and resprung for comfort
Con - Most Coil Overs are not set for comfort or to reduce harshness in ride initially and require alternate parts to maximize comfort over performance.
I have been in the aftermarket automobile market for 15 years and build and race (non-professionally) mostly GM vehicles. I am an engineer by trade but dabble in marketing from time to time as well. Mostly I am a discerning consumer who wants to know what the real pay off is ... there is a lot of hype and what works on the track doesn't always translate well on the street.