Tech 2: Suspension Part 1 Springs and Shocks

So your 33+ year old 2002 doesnt quite handle the turns like it was meant to anymore. Lots of body roll, and not alot of fun to drive in the canyons. Well here is just the thing to pick your 2002’s handling right up. Springs and shocks! These are the foundation of your suspension and have a dramatic effect on the handling and feel of your car. Springs and shocks should be matched for each other and replaced as a set. Replacing springs and using worn out shocks is a bad idea….The shocks will not dampen the cars suspension making it bouncy. So now that I have your interest, lets talk about possibilities.

Types of springs

There are 2 types of springs. Linear and Progressive.



Linear Springs are like above. The coils are spaced evenly.

Progressive Springs are like above. The coils are spaced farther apart on one side then get tighter and tighter at the other.



Which to choose?

Well this really depends on your use. Progressive springs are softer initially and take a bit of compression to get stiff. So you get a smooth plush ride initially, then when you are really cornering hard they get firm. This is great for the everyday driver that doesnt want or need alot of performance normally. These springs usually lower the car marginally and seem to work well with a shock that is more linear in design. KYB’s have a more linear design.

A Linear spring will be firm or soft all the way. So if you are lowering the car, usually these are MORE firm than stock and are that way at ALL times. So your handling is improved at all speed and under all conditions, not just when pushing it hard but the ride quality is a bit more firm. This is better for he autocross or track guy or anyone who wants a more sporty feel to the car at all speeds. You can usually lower the car more on a linear spring. The best type of shock to use with a linear spring is a progressive gas shock. Bilstein and Koni have a more progressive design.

So you have decided on a spring, now which shocks? This is a bit easier as there are really only 4 shocks that most choose.

Bilstein HD – Good for cars at stock ride heights or slightly lowered. EXCELLENT Shocks and last a lifetime!

Bilstein Sport – For lowered cars. There is a debate as to why they are better for lowered cars. Some say they are stiffer so they work better on suspensions with less travel, and some say they are shorter so they work better on cars with less suspension travel. The consensus is they work better on lowered cars…EXCELLENT Shocks and last a lifetime!

Koni Adjustable – Great shock, more forgiving ride than the Bilstein Sports and the dampening can be adjusted. More expensive than all the other shocks.

KYB – More stiff than other shocks. Works better on Progressive spring setups as they are more forgiving initially. Seem to last the least so you probably get what you pay for.

Oh…ONE MORE THING….Coilovers!

A Coilover setup is one where the spring and shock are together in one unit. Usually this situation has a threaded collar on the shock unit and the sprint sits on an adjustable perch allowing the ride height to be adjusted. So you can be at stock height or VERY low. Alot of coilover system have adjustable dampening as well so you can adjust how the shock reacts to the springs. These give you ALOT of control…wanna be low, but have good ride quality? The set it low, but soften the dampening…and bam…there you have it. Wanna them go to the track, then bam..adjust the dampening to stiffer settings. These systems usually come with a price…COST. Also because of the 2002 rear suspension design where the sprint is NOT over the shock…when you use a coilover system it puts alot of extra stress on the rear shock towers because BOTH the springs and shocks are using the shock towers where before the shocks only used them. So if ou have ANY rust there, you can do lots of damage to the car using rear coilovers and its usually suggested to reinforce the rear shock towers if you use real coilovers. Most people if they do use coilovers at all will use them on the front and then use a conventional spring and shock combo on the rear.

So how about a few common combinations…..

Suspension Techniques or Eibach Pro Springs and KYB Shocks.
This combo would lower the car about an inch and provide a good quality ride.

Ireland Engineering Stage 1 and Bilstein HD Shocks
This combo will lower the car just slightly more than the first combo and provide a bit better handling at the expense of a stiffer ride.

Ireland Engineering Stage 2 and Bilstein Sport Shocks
This combo provides an aggressive drop, up to 2 inches as well as a firm ride. Excellent handling at the expense of a plush ride. Ride is firm yet not too harsh.

These examples are just a few combinations that you might look into. But do your research, ask a million questions and then ask more questions until people are blue in the face and dont want to hear anymore questions, then keep asking them. This is the info I have gotten in my research. I dont claim it to be perfect or 100% correct as I have only driven a stock 2002 and one with Ireland Stage II springs and Bilstein Sport shocks. I LOVE that combo. For me its perfect. Not too harsh, yet sporty. Like a sports car should feel.

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