VW Golf GTI with threaded suspension
VW Golf GTI with threaded suspension

What is a coilover suspension? All you need to know

Tuning & Motorsports
June 10, 2021 11 min read

A coilover suspension (also called a screw suspension) refers to a suspension that allows individual adjustment of the ground clearance. This is done by means of a screw thread on the suspension strut. For this reason, a car with a coilover suspension can also be raised or lowered quickly and without tools by private individuals.

In this article we clarify the following questions:

Sport suspension vs. coilover suspension: Where are the differences?

Sport suspension is a category of suspension in which the combination of shock absorbers and springs is designed to be “sportier” overall than standard suspension.

A coilover suspension is merely a special type of sports suspension. Its special feature is a screw thread with which the lowering can be adjusted quickly and individually by hand.

Therefore, a coilover suspension is always a sport suspension, but not every sport suspension is always a coilover suspension. For example, air suspensions are also considered sports suspensions.

In addition, with normal sports suspensions, the damping remains unchanged at a preset level. With coilover suspensions, on the other hand, the hardness of the damping, as well as the rebound and compression damping, can be flexibly adjusted to your own taste.

All details and the question for whom the installation of a sports suspension is worthwhile are explained in our comprehensive guide: What is a sports suspension: The big overview.

Zwei getunte Sportwagen fahren auf einer Straße beim Sonnenuntergang

Who needs a coilover suspension?

A coilover suspension is installed when you want to lower your car and/or achieve sportier handling.

In addition to flexible lowering, most coilover suspensions also have other adjustment options. In addition to the hardness, the driver can often also adjust the rebound or compression damping.

In this way, coilovers allow optimal adjustment to personal preferences, the vehicle setup, the track and external conditions.

And it is precisely these features that answer whether a coilover suspension is worthwhile for you:

If you want to lower your car and/or if a particularly sporty handling is important to you, then you cannot avoid installing a coilover suspension.

If these things are not important to you, you will be fine (and probably cheaper) with the standard equipment or a normal sports suspension.

The advantages and disadvantages: Which coilover suspension is the right one?

Most manufacturers of coilovers have divided their products into different performance classes in one way or another. This is a good thing, because not every driver directly needs a racing suspension (e.g. for a simple lowering).

In general, a distinction can be made between these 4 categories and performance levels:

Coilovers with manual lowering

The classic. Thanks to the screw thread, an individual lowering, usually between 20 and 70 mm, can be adjusted by hand.

Suitable for: Tuning beginners and drivers who are looking for individual lowering and sporty handling, but use their vehicle for the most part in everyday situations.

Matching products: BILSTEIN B14, BILSTEIN EVO S, KW variant 1 inox, ST X

BILSTEIN B14 Gewindefahrwerk
BILSTEIN EVO S Gewindefahrwerk

Coilovers with adjustable rebound and compression damping

With adjustable rebound and compression damping, the suspension can be adapted to personal preferences in handling, to special track conditions or also to vehicle characteristics, such as weight or tyre characteristics. This makes it easier for the driver to adapt the suspension to his or her taste.

Suitable for: Performance-oriented drivers and tuning enthusiasts who place great value on sportiness in their vehicles.

Matching products: BILSTEIN B16, BILSTEIN EVO T1, KW variant 2/3 inox, ST XA

BILSTEIN EVO T1 Gewindefahrwerk
BILSTEIN B16 Gewindefahrwerk

High-performance coilovers for club and racing sports

In this category you get racing performance with road approval. In addition to the usually more than 100 different adjustment options for rebound and compression damping, a metal uniball dome bearing with camber adjustment is often included.

Suitable for: Sporty drivers who also use their road vehicle regularly on the racetrack and take part in club sport or trackday events, for example. Road approval is usually given here, so use in public road traffic is not a problem.

Matching products: BILSTEIN EVO R, BILSTEIN Clubsport, KW Clubsport, ST XTA

BILSTEIN Clubsport Gewindefahrwerk
BILSTEIN EVO R Gewindefahrwerk

Electronically adjustable coilovers

More and more premium vehicles today are equipped with an adaptive suspension system. These systems offer a continuous adjustment of the damper rate to the road conditions. This is done with the help of speed, wheel force and engine control sensors.

At the touch of a button, the driver can usually switch between a sport or comfort setting. This feature is particularly popular with regular track visitors because it allows comfortable travel and an unfiltered racetrack experience to be combined in one car.

Suitable for: Drivers who own a vehicle with an active shock absorber system (such as Porsche PASM) but do not want to do without maximum lowering and improved driving dynamics.

Matching products: BILSTEIN EVO SE, BILSTEIN B16 DampTronic®, KW DDC

BILSTEIN B16 DT Gewindefahrwerk
BILSTEIN EVO SE Gewindefahrwerk

How much does a coilover suspension cost? Costs of installation, registration and parts

Since the prices of the various manufacturers and performance levels (see above) vary greatly in some cases, it is not possible to make a clear statement about the exact costs. The costs can also vary from case to case due to installation by a specialist workshop or the respective vehicle model.

Nevertheless, we would like to try to show a rough classification and price range. The following table is based on a complete kit with 4 shock absorbers:

Comfort coilover suspension with manual lowering

Performance coilover suspension with adjustable rebound and compression damping

Club sport and high-performance coilover suspension

Electronically adjustable coilovers

Neben den reinen Produktkosten kommen noch die folgenden Kosten hinzu:

  • Installation costs workshop: approx. 150-250
  • Wheel alignment / wheel alignment: approx. € 35-70
  • Registration: approx. € 35-50

Please note: These are flat-rate costs that are realistic according to our experience. Depending on the individual case, vehicle and workshop, these prices may of course vary slightly.

With the BILSTEIN dealer and workshop search, you can find a suitable partner for the purchase and installation of your threaded ride height adjustable kit.

Installation: How to install a coilover suspension

A coilover suspension should always be installed by a professional. Theoretically, it is possible to replace the suspension yourself (assuming you have the necessary know-how), but installation by a specialist workshop or an experienced automotive mechatronics engineer is always the safest option.

In addition to a warranty on the installation, as well as correct wheel alignment and registration, you can then be sure to fulfil all requirements according to TÜV guidelines and ABE (general operating permit).

We cannot and do not want to give step-by-step instructions for the installation of a complete suspension system. That would go beyond the scope of this article. However, we have created a detailed installation video with JP Performance that goes into more detail on the various aspects of suspension installation.

Fahrwerkeinbau BILSTEIN B16 mit JP

TÜV, ABE and parts certificates: What you need to bear in mind

The most common form of approval for modifications to vehicles are parts certificates. In addition, there is also the general type approval (ABE) for parts that are particularly easy to fit. In contrast to ABE certificates, modifications that require a parts certificate still have to be approved by an expert.

Before buying a coilover suspension, you should read the relevant parts report. You can usually find this on the websites or online shops of the various manufacturers.

The parts certificate always states the axle loads and drive concepts (all-wheel, front or rear-wheel drive) for which the certificate is valid. You will also find the maximum permitted lowering range.

After the installation of a new suspension, the roadworthiness of the vehicle must be checked by a TÜV or Dekra expert. The expert will use the conditions in the report as a basis. If you want to have modifications to your car approved, you must bring this document with you to the inspection.

Although a vehicle’s operating licence expires immediately after the modification, the car may still be taken to the TÜV or Dekra test centre. If the inspector does not find any defects, he issues a certificate according to §19.3 StVZO. With this certificate, the owner can have his modifications entered in the vehicle documents (document according to §19.4 StVZO) at the registration office.

A good overview of the registration regulations for the various tuning measures can be found on DEKRA Tuning.

Ein KFZ-Meister untersucht ein Fahrwerk auf der Hebebühne

Adjusting the coilover suspension correctly

By using a shock absorber or suspension with adjustable damping force, it is possible to respond individually to one’s own preferences with regard to driving performance. This means that both comfort-oriented and sporty drivers can find their preferred setting.

Coilovers with parallel adjustment of the rebound and compression damping offer a maximum of individuality through simple damping force adjustment (even when installed).

The basic settings should be made immediately after installation. The sport-oriented rider may feel most comfortable with five clicks on the front and rear axle, while the comfort-oriented rider may prefer the fourth level. By doing some test drives, the right setting can be found gradually.

In the following overview are some rules of thumb for tuning the vibration dampers and springs.

Übersicht Gewindefahrwerk richtig einstellen

Installation by a BILSTEIN suspension expert

When you order a BILSTEIN coilover suspension in our online shop, we also offer a special service for our private customers: If you have your suspension professionally installed by a BILSTEIN suspension expert, you will receive a two-year extended warranty, a free suspension check and a discount on the installation costs.

In einer Werkstatt wird ein Gewindefahrwerk von einem Mechaniker ausgepackt
Nahaufnahme von einem BILSTEIN B16 Gewindefahrwerk
Ein Gewindefahrwerk im eingebautem Zustand

For which car makes and models are coilovers from BILSTEIN available?

As an original equipment manufacturer for almost all major vehicle manufacturers and with over 50 years of racing history, the BILSTEIN brand impresses motorsport professionals, tuners and private customers alike.

Among others, we offer our coilovers for the following car brands. With a click on the respective link, you will get a detailed overview of the supported vehicles and models:

Conclusion on coilovers

Coilovers are your best option if you want to lower your vehicle flexibly and adapt it to your situation. If you only want to improve the appearance and achieve a somewhat sportier handling in road traffic, you are also well-equipped with a coilover suspension without rebound and compression damping adjustment. For example, with the BILSTEIN EVO S.

If you are looking for absolute individuality and high-performance settings for track and racing, however, it is worth upgrading to a suspension with adjustable hardness, rebound and compression adjustment. For example, the BILSTEIN EVO T1 or BILSTEIN EVO R.

Drivers of vehicles with active damper systems should opt for an electronically adjustable coilover suspension. Such as the BILSTEIN EVO SE.

Depending on the product, the costs vary greatly. For a simple coilover suspension with installation and registration in a specialist workshop, you can expect to pay around € 1,000-1,250.

We recommend that the installation is always carried out by a specialist workshop. The suspension is a safety-relevant component of your car, and this is the only way to ensure that you comply with all the important criteria for the TÜV and the operating permit.

This might also interest you

Our guide to sports suspensions gives a good overview and shows that you can lower your vehicle sufficiently even without a thread.

And in our latest auto tuning guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about tuning this year.

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