How to Find the Best Auto Suspension Systems

In order for you to have a smooth journey in your car, one thing is vitally important – your suspension system. In fact, the suspension system on your vehicle also plays a critical role in the efficient running of your car for many different reasons that we are going to explore in this guide. At the end you will know:

  • What a suspension system does
  • The different parts that make up a suspension system
  • How to spot problems with your suspension system
  • The best brand to buy parts from
  • Details of the best auto suspension systems on the market

Even if you know virtually nothing about suspension systems you will have a really deep knowledge after you finish going through this guide. You don’t need to be an auto expert to find a new suspension system for your car. It can be a bit tricky due to the range of models that are out there but with our help you will have everything you need to purchase one confidently.

Before we start getting into the different components that come together to make up your suspension system, we need to find out what it is actually there for.

What does a suspension system do?

suspension system

Most people will have heard about one but they probably don’t know it’s actual purpose. If all our roads were completely flat and smooth then we probably wouldn’t need one but we all know that this isn’t the case. There are potholes, bumps and uneven parts on pretty much every road you drive on.

The word ‘suspension’ itself already hints at its purpose. At a basic level, many people understand that a suspension system ‘suspends’ something above the ground to avoid the impact of bumps that are on the road. This is a pretty simple explanation but it is fairly close to the truth.

A suspension system helps to absorb shocks and bumps that come with everyday driving. If you think about driving down a really bumpy road then you will know that it can make for a fairly uncomfortable experience. Without a suspension system, this drive is going to be 10x worse no matter what car, jeep or off-road vehicle you have.

A suspension system connects to the vehicles axle and the tires. The bumps and shocks that are absorbed by the tires are further absorbed by the suspension system and helps to minimize these effects for both the driver and the passengers but also for the vehicle overall.

The suspension system also helps to stabilise steering and contributes to the overall smooth running of your car.

What are the different parts of a car suspension system?

Many new vehicles have massively complex suspension systems. They are made up of hundreds of different parts however if you want to upgrade your suspension system you don’t necessarily need to purchase hundreds of components or a complete new one altogether.

Most upgrades are focused on six many components and these are the main parts that we are going to look at.

Suspension Coilovers

suspension coilovers

The coilovers wrap around a shock absorber which is part of the suspension system. There is also usually a dust guard which helps to defend the inner piston. Coilovers are very versatile and there are many different models out there and we’ll show you the best products to buy a little later on.

Coilovers are adjustable. When purchasing a new set of coilovers for your auto suspension system you need to pay attention to the ‘drop range’ which will determine how low your vehicle can go.

If you are buying coilovers then you’ll need to look out for:

  • Will the coilover let you adjust the height of the vehicle without spring compression?
  • What is the overall height adjustment that it provides?
  • Can you compress the spring with that model at all?

Coilovers are one of the easier components that you can install and you don’t really need anything other than the basic tools for your vehicle that you should own already.

Suspension Bushings

suspension bushings set

The next component that makes up the suspension system on your vehicle is the suspension bushings.

They are an integral part of the whole system although they certainly aren’t the biggest when it comes to their actual size. Suspension bushings look a little like a washer and are produced from rubber (although some higher-end models are made from nylon)  so it is easy to see why they can be mistaken.

What do they do? Well, the suspension bushings play a vital role in keeping the impact and shocks from bumps to an absolute minimum. These little things will also ensure that noise is kept low too and there is no cracking or sounds coming from the joints within the system either. They can wear out because they sit in between different components that would normally rub against each other so they tend to be a part that is replaced more than others.

Struts

car struts

These parts will aide in the absorption of bumps and provide vital support to the springs in your system. When we talk about a suspension system cutting down on the impact of bumps and helping to create a more enjoyable and smoother journey, struts are one of the most important parts of this.

They are directly attached to the chassis of the motor in most cases and when you are driving along and barely feel the impact from uneven road surfaces and potholes, struts are one of the main components you need to thank.

Springs

car springs

If you have any kind of basic knowledge about suspension systems then the springs are probably the most common component that you think of. Many people think that this is the only part of the system too but they work together with everyone else to produce a smooth ride. Springs help to absorb the bumps that you experience when driving along and they play a big role in ensuring your tires are flexible as well across many different conditions. They have been around in vehicles for over a century and they are usually pretty durable as well.

Most modern vehicles have what are known as coil springs. They are able to soak up the majority of bumps but they tend not to be as good as coilover springs which offer a better balance. Springs that you buy to replace your existing components are generally a bit stiffer this is because they are designed to stop wheel movement being excessive although this can cause issues with your acceleration as well as braking.

If you are lowering your suspension system overall, the springs play an even more important role to ensure that you get a balance between comfort and performance.

Dampers

absorber damper

There are lots of components that make up a complete suspension system that are designed purely to absorb the shocks and bumps that you experience when driving. Dampers are a mechanism that is significant to ensure that your vehicle stabilizes after a bump. Think about a standard spring. If you press on it then it will continue to wobble and jump about before it stops completely. It won’t just sit back into place right away. This is what will happen to your car without having dampers installed.

The dampers provide an exit for the energy that come with the springs. Without dampers, your car will continue bumping and rocking after hitting a pothole or if you are just driving on an uneven surface. If your dampers fail then you’ll certainly feel the difference.

Anti-Roll Bars

anti roll kit

The final component that we are going to tell you about is the anti-roll or anti-sway bars.

These bars are created to ensure that the weight distribution of your vehicle is even. So, when you are going around a corner then these bars will make sure that all of your tires have the right amount of weight on them. If there is too much weight placed on one side of the vehicle then there is a chance of the car flipping or swaying and the steering will be a lot harder too. You will also experience much better tire efficiency with an adequate level of weight distribution as well.

When most people begin to upgrade their suspension system then anti-roll bars tend to be the component that is upgraded first. They offer a higher level of stability and contribute to a better overall driving experience.

Signs of a faulty suspension system

suspension system 1

A lot of people will replace and upgrade their suspension system simply to improve performance. There might not be anything wrong with the vehicle at all and they basically want an upgrade.

As the suspension system is made up of so many different parts, diagnosing the issue isn’t always easy. We’ve put together some basic information regarding what might be wrong with your suspension.

Tires are wearing out quickly

There is no real ‘one answer fits all’ when it comes to your tires and how long they should last. That being said, if you are finding your tires wearing out quicker than usual then it could be a sign that something in your suspension system is faulty.

In most cases, this is due to the anti-roll bars that we spoke about above. They are designed to distribute the weight evenly across the vehicle and if this isn’t happening then it is likely that one or more tires are having too much weight put on them. As a result they’ll wear out quicker than they should do.

Your journey feels a lot bumpier

The central purpose of a suspension system is to ensure a smooth and comfortable journey.

If you are finding that driving in your vehicle is becoming a lot bumpier it could be the case that a component (or several components) in your suspension system are faulty. This may be the springs which is often the most common part or even the dampers that are made to ensure that aftershocks from bumps are kept to a minimum. The fluid in the dampers can leak out which causes issues so if you can look under your vehicle to see if they are covered in fluid.

Poor Braking

A faulty suspension system can result in a 20% decrease in your stopping distance so it can be a major problem. If you are finding that your brakes aren’t working as well as they should, it might be an issue with your suspension system. It might turn out to be an issue with your brake pads however a lot of the time it is often your suspension system that is causing it.

Ignoring this or not taking action quickly means that you could be putting yourself and other people in danger.

What to look for when buying a suspension system

We’re about to get into our best suspension system brands as well as what the best components are to purchase. Before we do that we need to give you some information on what to look for when buying a new suspension system.

There are a few things to think about:

  • Make sure your tires are compatible – the suspension system works in motion with all parts of your vehicle and tires are just one part of this. Not all model of tires will work seamlessly with your suspension and it could cause issues such as poor handling. This is something to consider before you go and make a purchase.
  • Finding the balance between performance and your budget – you might think you are only going to spend a small amount of money on suspension upgrades but when the time comes you pay a lot more than you intended. This is pretty common. Try and find a balance between getting a boost in performance for your vehicle overall and spending money unnecessarily on components that won’t give you much of an improvement.

Driving with a faulty suspension system will be noticeably pretty quickly due to how much small bumps and emphasizes and your control of the vehicle will be poor. Your suspension system plays a pivotal role in not only offering comfortable over bumps and uneven road surfaces but also ensuring that your vehicle runs at an optimal level.

Best suspension system brands

Instead of going out and just purchasing random components for your suspension system, we have listed the top brands that you can choose from. There are many automobile companies that make suspension system parts out there but these are the most well-known and trustworthy on the market.

Bilstein

bilstein suspension performance kit

These guys have been going since 1873 and they started making car components in the 1920s. They have emerged as a go-to name when it comes to suspension systems. Bilstein also provide dampers for some Formula One cars and they have become synonymous with high performance, quality as well as durability.

Koni

Founded in 1857, Koni have been around for a long time and are one of the most famous names in the suspension system market. They use their patented FSD (Frequency Selective Technology) when building parts and also provide components for a whole range of cars, trucks, racing vehicles as well as motorbikes.

Tein

A relative newcomer that was established in 2001, Tein deal with suspension systems that are specifically created for roads in the USA and Canada. Based in California, the company provides a wide range of components for suspension systems that will boost the performance of your vehicle.

KW Suspensions

A company that manufactures components for peak suspension performance, KW Suspensions are a go to for many people. They have parts to suit all budgets and whether it is a component to boost performance to to fix an issue then KW Suspensions provide this.

Best auto suspension system parts for your car

So far we’ve had a look at what are the most replaced parts of an auto suspension system, signs that your system might be faulty as well as what to look out for when buying one. We’ve also gone over the best brands to choose from.

Now we need to look at the best suspension system parts for your car.

Best suspension coilovers

Rev9 R9-HS2-012_1 Hyper-Street II Coilover Suspension Kit

rev9 coilover suspension

These suspension coilovers from Rev9 autosport offer a high performance without the massive price tag.

You can go wrong when replacing your suspension coilovers with this model. They help to eliminate excessive bounce giving you a smooth and pleasant ride even on uneven surfaces while the ride height settings allow you to adjust manually the stiffness and the ride height. A budget choice but not one that compromises on overall performance.

Pros

  • Help to eliminate excessive bounce
  • High performance
  • Won’t break the budget

Cons

  • No installation instructions will need professionally fitted

Best suspension bushings

Front Suspension Stabilizer Bar Bushings K200876

front suspension stabilizer bar bushings

These small, washer-like parts play a vital role in the smooth running of your whole suspension system. They are there to ensure that joint activity is regulated and that the different components of the system are not rubbing against each other.

These bushings do exactly that. They are built to handle both hot and cold conditions without deteriorating while their budget price is a big plus point for many people. Make sure to measure your way bar before you order and some people have been caught out by the different size.

Overall they are a basic item that plays an important role in having a smooth and comfortable journey.

Pros

  • Non-squeaking model
  • Can handle both severe cold and hot conditions
  • Budget price

Cons

  • People can be caught out by not measuring sway bar first

Best suspension system struts

Bilstein 5100 Gas Shock Set

Bilstein 5100 Gas Shock Set 

This set of four will fit virtually any 4wd and with the Bilstein name, you know that you are getting a superior product. These suspension system struts offer an enhancement to your driving performance and with the monotube gas, they are built for longevity.

For a smoother and comfortable ride, while ensuring that they last for a long period of time, you can’t go wrong with the Bilstein 5100 Gas Shock Set.

Pros

  • Durable due to the monotune gas charge
  • Enhance your performance
  • High-quality product

Cons

  • Will need previous installation experience to fit

Best suspension system springs

KW 18020032 Street Comfort

kw 18020032 street comfort coilover

 

Crafted by KW which is one of the most well-known suspension system spring manufacturers, these springs provide an individual height adjustable design made from stainless steel.

These springs will help you to lower the suspension on your vehicle overall and with rebound adjustable technology too. Made by a respected name and designed for individual preference, the KW 18020032 Street Comfort Springs are the best out there.

Pros 

  • Made from stainless steel
  • Height is adjustable individually
  • Rebound adjustable

Cons

  • Might not suit those on a tight budget

Best suspension system anti-roll bars

Hellwig Anti Sway Bar

hellwig rear sway bar

 

The hellwig anti-sway bar will help to distribute weight better over your vehicle and will assist with steering and going around corners as a result. With a fairly budget price and a really easy bolt on installation, this sway bar is certainly worth considering to upgrade your suspension system.

While some people have reported issues about the longevity of the anti sway bar above 20,000 miles, it offers a great way to upgrade your suspension system without breaking the bank.

Pros

  • Easy bolt-on installation
  • Creates level weight distribution for better performance

Cons

  • Some people report issues over longevity

Best suspension system dampers

Bilstein Shock Absorber

 

bilstein 24-104937

 

The last component on our list is the damper or shock absorber. This product from the renowned manufacturers Bilstein offers both on and off-road durability while the gas pressure technology increases handling and performance.

They are fairly easy to install too although you’ll probably need some previous experience. With solid construction and on the road and off-road capability these shock absorbers offer a more comfortable and enjoyable ride.

Pros 

  • Can work both on and off-road
  • Great handling with Bilstein’s gas pressure technology

Cons

  • Easy installation but can be tricky if you aren’t experienced

Frequently Asked Questions about car suspension systems

Do you still have some questions about the suspension system on your vehicle? Have a look at our FAQ below.

Does my suspension system require regular maintenance?

Sort of. Most modern suspension systems need some looking after but you don’t need to lubricate the system for example and this can;t be done on many modern cars anyway. As long as some basic checks are carried out on your vehicle then it should keep the suspension system in good working order.

Will lowering my vehicle improve handling?

Suspension lowering is very popular and one of the most common adaptations to a vehicle.

With a lowered suspension you’ll get improved aerodynamics and better handling and traction. This is due to better grip for your tires. One word of warning, however, is that lowering your vehicle will not improve handling on all models and can actually impair it on some cars.

Do all tire types work well with my suspension system upgrade?

No. While in most cases any upgrades you make to your suspension system should improve handling and tire grip, some tires might not be compatible with the new components you are thinking of installing.

It is recommended that you check the compatibility out first to avoid disappointment. In some circumstances lowering your car can lead to unevenness in tire wear which will have an adverse effect on the performance of your vehicle overall.

How much will it cost to replace my whole suspension system?

This can vary between makes and models as some vehicles will incur a higher cost than others.

As a ballpark figure, replacing your whole suspension system can reach up to $5000 (or even more) in some cases depending on what components are being used. If you use want to upgrade certain aspects of your system then this can obviously be done a lot cheaper and it is worth thinking about this because replacing your whole system might not have the results you want. Sometimes replacing just a few components will have just as noticeable an impact.

How long should my shocks and struts last for?

Again, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this but there are some general guidelines which are useful to follow.

Shocks and struts help to lessen the impact of bumps from uneven surfaces and are an important part of your suspension system. Most experts would recommend that your shocks and struts are changed every 50,000 miles however this can depend on the type of surfaces you are regularly driving on. Off-road vehicles, for instance, will probably need to be changed more frequently than a car which is being driven predominantly around a city.

Will a suspension upgrade increase my car’s performance?

It should do. Most cars don’t need a full suspension system replacement. In most cases a vehicle just needs a few different parts to be installed which can make a major difference to the performance of your vehicle. This includes things such as a more comfortable ride, better braking and tire grip and an upgrade to the handling of your car.

Can you install the suspension system parts yourself?

Most people with some experience of working their way around cars should be able to install various components of the system on their own. There are some parts which are a lot trickier and would perhaps be better to get professional help but if you have the right tools and a bit of experience then you should be able to fit most parts on your own.

How do you know if you need a suspension system repair?

There are various ways in which you will know if your suspension system is faulty. It usually isn’t your full system that needs changed but rather certain parts of it.

A bumpier and less comfortable drive is one sign. If you are finding that bumps and going over potholes is becoming worse then you might need to buy some new components. Similarly, poor braking can also be a sign of a faulty suspension system and if your tires are wearing out quicker then it can be an indication of something wrong as well.

Conclusion

Upgrading the suspension system of a car is one of the most common adaptations that you can do.  The suspension system itself is made up of many different components, however when it comes to upgrading and replacing parts then the main components are:

  • Suspension bushings
  • Suspension coilovers
  • Struts
  • Springs
  • Dampers
  • Anti-Roll Bars

These can all be found easily enough for your make and model of vehicle. They can vary a lot in price depending on what one you choose and the parts for some make of car can be more expensive than others.

Due to various reasons such as frequent impacts on the road and general wear and tear, your suspension systems can become faulty. Some of the most common signs of this include poor braking, tires wearing out quicker than normal, and also your journey becoming a lot more uncomfortable. Most of the time, fixing this issue is a case of replacing some of the components we mentioned above.

Your suspension system plays a vital part in how comfortable and safe driving your vehicle can be. Luckily if you do need to change any of the components then this can be done fairly cheaply and there are models to suit all budgets. With an upgrade to your suspension system you can improve the aerodynamics of your vehicle, have improved efficiency, performance and an all round more comfortable ride too.

If you enjoyed this guide then you might also be interested in some of our other guides including How to Find the Best Exhaust for your Car and A-Z Guide to Upgrade Your Car Audio.

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