Coilovers vs Air Suspension: Which Suspension Is Best?

Air suspension and coilovers are two of the most prevalent suspension upgrades available. They can change the way a car handles, rides, as well as its aesthetics.

Choosing between the two might appear complicated at first; however, when you discover more information on how each of these suspension types works, you will have a clearer idea of what you can expect from your vehicle’s handling.

In this article, we will take a deeper look at coilovers and airbags, as well as the various advantages they provide to help you make the right choice that suits your driving style.

Coilovers

Coilover suspension kits are made from suspension components that ensure your vehicle doesn’t scrape the road while moving. The way it works is quite simple – a coiled spring is put around the car’s dampers with both components working together to absorb road impact from the tires—especially when your vehicle goes over speed bumps or potholes in the road.

Some cars are shipped directly from the manufacturer with coilovers to provide a softer ride. Besides the performance benefits associated with using coilover suspension kits, drivers typically use them to lower or raise their vehicles.

Pros

  • More durable compared to air suspension kits
  • Great for improving handling
  • They offer an array of adjustment parameters, including caster, camber, compression, height, and more.

Cons

  • Vehicle’s ride height is fixed as it can’t be altered by flipping a switch
  • Provides a stiffer ride
  • Altering ride height requires the removal of tires and tools
  • Specialized equipment, such as floor jack for lowered vehicles, is required to conduct basic maintenance

Air Suspension

This type of suspension works just like an air balloon does. Also known as air bag suspension, it is a type of suspension system created to replace your vehicle’s ORM suspension. The main aim of an air suspension is to carry the weight of your vehicle.

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An air suspension comprises airbags connecting to an air reservoir and an air compressor. The airbags are then inflated thanks to the compressor, raising the vehicle. Regarding handling and car rides, an air suspension kit with less air means a soft ride, while more air equals a stiffer ride.

You can control the air in the air suspension kit via Bluetooth or a control unit inside the vehicle. This control unit enables you to seamlessly deflate or inflate the bags using the air compressor, which lets you alter the ride height to your specifications.

You deflate the air lift performance suspension system to lower your car to the ground.

Pros

  • Delivers a smooth ride
  • Ride height is seamlessly adjustable
  • Can be used right before maintenance
  • Can be used to lift vehicle to make driving on ramps easier
  • Can support a heavy load

Cons

  • Air suspension systems do not last as long as lowering springs or coilovers.
  • Can be more expensive compared to other suspension kits
  • Coilovers provide better performance than most air lift performance suspension kits

Coilovers vs Air Suspension: Hallmarks of Both Suspensions

coilovers installed in car

While both coilovers and air suspensions are a form of suspension kits offering similar goals, they are different in their ultimate handling cases and mechanisms.

One offers more resistance against wear and tear, durability, and precision, while the other provides more customization. With that in mind, this article section will provide an in-depth look at the coilovers vs air suspension debate.

Track Use

Coilover suspension kits are mainly used in motorsports and racing because they are predictable. Driving at high speeds requires exceptional control and handling while cornering – something that coilover suspensions do best.

At a time, NASCAR utilized air lift performance suspension systems to help them handle the load without sacrificing how the racecar rides or its balance. However, the drivers soon switched to coilover suspensions as they provide the reliable and predictable performance required.

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Multi-rate springs can offer an adjustable suspension set-up that can handle numerous situations without the driver having to alter them physically. This is because they are custom-wound to resist varying amounts of compressive force. An air suspension cannot be expected to perform the same way.

One other reason coilover suspension kits are great for racing is that they are much more durable than air suspensions. Since racetracks tend to have changing surfaces and uneven roads that raise the heat of a suspension system, it could result in the bags unexpectedly rupturing.

Additionally, coilovers enable you to customize different performance attributes of your suspension system, like the spring itself, compression, damping, and rebound. All these factors can affect how a vehicle feels on the track.

Ride Quality

Ride quality is where an airbag suspension shines. Depending on how the shock absorbers are valved and the spring rate, coilovers might appear harsher over speed bumps. An air suspension seamlessly glides over the bumps providing a smoother rider.

It also helps to alter your vehicle’s ride height at any time with an air suspension – all at the touch of a button. An air ride suspension can provide your car with more weight without causing it to feel unbalanced or bottom out. Raising your vehicle’s height can prevent the back end from sagging, preventing accelerated wear and tear on the tires.

While it is possible to have coilover suspension kits on your daily driver car, it is unlikely to be as comfortable as a vehicle with air suspension. And while coilovers are great for handling the increased load, they are typically used to enhance performance.

Enhanced Handling

Coilovers are the way to go if you want to improve your vehicle’s handling. You can use this statistically lowered suspension to reduce your car’s body roll, making it perfect for cars you want to drift with or race with.

Coilovers, due to their stiffer suspension, make them a terrible choice for a daily driver. Air suspension kits, however, are great as they are both comfortable and practical. They enable your vehicle to function properly, providing a comfortable, smooth ride.

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Related Reading: Discover the 5 common types of hose clamps for automobile maintenance.

Looks

Individuals that install air lift performance suspension systems in their vehicles do so for more than just comfort. This suspension system offers a unique look that is sure to attract attention. There is something about having your vehicle lowered to the ground.

If you are a car fanatic who frequently goes to car events, then an air lift performance suspension is right for you, as you can raise your car or lower it by pushing a button.

Conversely, coilovers require much more work to lower and raise your vehicle.

Coilovers vs Air Suspension: Conclusion

air suspension in car tire 3d model

When it comes to coilovers vs air suspension, it depends on your goals and what you expect from your vehicle’s performance and handling. You also have to consider where you aim to drive the vehicle, as this is an important factor.

Furthermore, the type of suspension you select will depend on the available budget, particularly since air suspension kits cost significantly more than coilovers.

If you are searching for a kit that will enhance your vehicle’s overall performance, then coilovers are best for you. It doesn’t matter if you are on a track or a public road; you are bound to notice the exceptional handling and predictability of all coilover suspension kits.

However, air suspension is the way to go if you prefer a smoother ride, slammed look, and unmatched adjustability. Air suspension systems can also handle significant weight without causing your vehicle to become unbalanced.

One thing to note is that an air suspension is not as durable as a coilover, so you will be required to replace or maintain them – a costly expense.

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