Coilovers vs Shocks: Comparison of Suspension Components

Coilovers vs shocks guide will take you through the key differences and features of both components to enhance your understanding. The world of vehicle suspension components is complex, with different terminologies that people confuse, and this includes coilovers and shocks.

Coilovers vs Shocks

In this article, we’ll clear the air and outline the differences between the two suspension components. Let’s get into it.

Features Coilovers Shocks
Adjustability Offers more flexibility, with settings that can easily be adjusted to fit any driving condition. Has a fixed configuration that cannot be adjusted.
Functions and Applications Mostly applied during the car show, off-road vehicles, road racing drifting, and other high-performance driving applications. A perfect option for day-to-day driving needs
Cost They are more expensive because of their design and application Cheaper
Installation Requires complex installation processes Easy to install


What Is the Difference Between Coilovers and Shocks?

The difference between coilovers and shocks is that coilovers are aftermarket upgrades for struts. Struts are designed to support the weight of the vehicle and absorb impact because they feature a spring coil and absorbers. On the other hand, shocks are designed to absorb road impacts.

The suspension system is one of the most important components that play an integral role in safe driving. Even though the coilovers and shocks serve similar functions in your suspension system, their differences cannot be ignored.

Coilovers give the driver more control over the suspension system, and with that, they can easily make adjustments based on driving conditions. There are many other differences between the two components, and here’s an overview of these differences.

Design and Characteristics

The first thing to understand is that shock is a separate component, which coilovers combine springs and shock absorbers into a single unit. The coil springs are basically wrapped around the absorbers. However, both components are used in managing the suspension springs of a vehicle, which is the part that bounces the vehicle as it runs over holes and bumps.


Adjustability is also a notable feature that differentiates the two suspension components. In this context, coilovers offer more flexibility because their suspension settings are adjustable. These settings include replaceable spring races, damping adjustments, and ride height. On the other hand, shocks are not adjustable.

Use and Application

The differences in the level of both systems make them have different applications. Shocks are common on regular cars and are perfect for day-to-day driving needs. On the other hand, coilovers are mostly applied during car shows, off-road vehicles, road racing drifting, and other high-performance driving applications.

With coilovers, drivers enjoy more control from their seats. This includes managing the distribution of weight in the vehicle and creating the ideal suspension depending on the driving terrain and circumstance.

Installation, Cost, and Maintenance

Installation, costs, and maintenance are important factors to consider because it’s not the same for the two components. Shocks are generally easier to install than coilovers because they have a fixed configuration. With coilovers, you’ll need to make different adjustments to the spring tension and ride height before installing the component.

Because of the high-performance construction, and tunability of coilovers, they are more expensive than shocks, which usually come factory fitted. Whether your vehicle has shocks or a coilover suspension, you’ll need to maintain them regularly to ensure they perform optimally without affecting your ride quality.


When it comes to the features of the two components, the main difference is that only coilovers have coil springs. However, it’s important to understand the features both components have because it’s a factor that influences their application.

The first part to know is the mount, which is the part that holds the shock and coilover to the vehicle suspension and body. It’s characterized by the lower and upper mount, both of which have the same design. Bushings are also a vital component, and it’s attached to the mountings. They are made of urethane, which allows them to absorb vibrations effectively.

Bushings are present on both the shocks and coilovers. Another component to note is the piston and piston rod, which is characterized by valves and openings. The rod helps in directing the piston into the cylinder, while the cylinder has compression oil in it to ensure smooth movement of the piston.

Understanding the Working of Coilovers

Coilovers are similar to struts, which is why most people confuse them for each other. They are designed to dampen the shock and support the weight of a vehicle. Coilovers mostly come as an aftermarket upgrade to struts and shocks, and with this component, you’ll enjoy many benefits.

Characteristics of Coilovers

As mentioned earlier, coilover and shocks work via similar principles. However, in coilovers, the shocks are surrounded by a coil, which rests on an adjustable perch. This is why their adjustment settings are controllable, unlike with shocks.

Another interesting thing about coilovers is that they offer a stiffer ride, and with that, you can easily lower your car and not scrape the pavement. Even though there are many benefits offered by coilovers, most people only use them to lower or raise their vehicle to improve its aesthetic appeal.

How Do Coilovers Work?

Coilovers work with two components, which are combined into a single component. The components are the shocks and the coil spring. This is also a reason why their working principle is similar to that of shocks, and their design is to enhance driving comfort and control.

The shocks in the design assist in providing a smooth ride for your vehicle. This is achieved by compressing when the vehicle moves over difficult driving terrain and expanding when the normal driving terrain is restored.

How Do Coilovers Work

Coil springs also utilize a similar principle, but they don’t easily compress because they are stiffer. Even though this might cause a reduction in driving comfort, the feature is included in the setup because of the need to ensure that your vehicle continues to bottom out. Basically, when you hit any bump on the road, the coil will compress, after which the shocks will push the spring for a smooth ride.

People looking to lower their vehicle can achieve this with a coilover but note that you will have a stiffer ride if your vehicle is lower. Basically, lowering the springs compresses them more, and this increases the force that is exerted on the coilover. With that, it becomes difficult for the coiler to adjust with respect to driving conditions.

Benefits of Using Coilovers

Most people recommend installing lowering springs in place of coilovers, especially in cases where the need to lower the vehicle is a major preference. However, the setup has its own disadvantages, which makes coilover a better option for both increased performance, and lowered look.

Basically, upgrading your vehicle to coilovers will give you more control over the ability to lower and raise your vehicle without hassle. This is the most significant advantage of the coilover. Basically, raising your vehicle is idle long driving requirements, and an ultra-low setting is mostly used in car shows.

In addition to adjusting the height of your car, coilovers will also help in ensuring that your vehicle doesn’t bottom out as you reduce the height. Better handling is also a benefit you enjoy from using coilovers. However, you will only get to enjoy better handling if you install them properly.

Coilovers are the ideal option to get if you’re looking for performance benefits and a rough ride. For this, you only need to set the coilover to a higher height. Alternatively, if you want more stiffness when driving, you only need to lower the height of the coilover.

Understanding the Working of Shocks

The working of shocks, which are hydraulic or mechanical devices, are designed to dampen and absorb shock impulses. They do this through conversion of kinetic energy into other energy forms that are then released. Shocks are used for different applications, including driving on rough and different roads.

Features of Shocks

There are different types of shocks on the market today, with the most common one being rubber shocks. This is a common option because it is durable and offers high elasticity that allows it to eliminate shock, sound insulation, and vibration. Rubber shocks can also for the ideal shape for strength and stiffness for different driving conditions.

Another thing to note about rubber shocks is that it offers different damping functions. This includes the ability to absorb high-frequency oscillation energy and other mechanical energy. In general, shock absorbers are vital for your vehicle because they enhance the quality of your ride and also offer better handling.

How Do Shocks Work?

Shocks work via simple mechanisms, unlike coilovers. Even though there are two types of shocks, they work via similar principles. The setup of shocks features a spring that helps in converting impacts, and shock waves, into oscillatory motion. This also helps in providing relief from the impact or shock.

One of the features within the hydraulic chamber of shocks is a perforated piston. This is a sealed chamber, and as such, for the piston to move, the hydraulic liquid will need to pass through. As the liquid passes through the holes, it causes the piston to work against it. This work is actually directed at the energy produced by the shock, and it cancels out to produce a smooth ride without oscillation.

How Do Shocks Work

Today, shocks are used for different daily activities. This includes bicycles, bikes, cars, buildings, bridges, and highways to absorb shock and impact caused by high winds, earthquakes, and bumps. However, it’s important to note that there are different types of shocks designed for different applications. This also influences the type of materials they are made of.

Benefits of Using Shocks

Like coilovers, shocks offer many benefits, but the most obvious one is that they are designed to dampen and absorb shocks to deliver a smooth ride. This includes limiting the movement of the vehicle and stabilizing the tires after they are disturbed by a sudden impact, which is vital for safety.

Another benefit is that shocks will help in ensuring that your tires and even the body of your vehicle don’t wear out quickly. With shocks, you will have a reduced maintenance cost on your vehicle. All of this might sound very simple, but without shocks, you won’t be able to enjoy a comfortable ride in your vehicle.

Do Coilovers Help in Reducing Car Bouncing?

Coilovers can be effective car bouncing problem solutions. By providing adjustable suspension settings, they improve the car’s handling and reduce unnecessary bouncing. The firmness of the coil springs can be tuned according to the road conditions, allowing for a smoother ride and better control, minimizing the car bouncing issue.


The suspension system remains one of the most pivotal parts of your vehicle, especially for ensuring driving safety. With that, it’s important to understand how each component works, which is why we have outlined the differences between coilovers and shocks in this article. Determining which one to choose for your vehicle should depend on how you use your vehicle.

Basically, for daily driving use, and applications, all you need is the shocks, and this comes factory fitted to most vehicles. If you’re looking for increased performance, especially for off-road driving, coilovers are a better option to get, which is why they mostly come as an aftermarket component. Whether you choose shocks or coilover for your vehicle, the important thing to ensure is that they are properly installed, and this can be done by a professional.


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