Air suspension kits and coilovers are two of the most popular suspension kits available. They can transform your ride and change the way your car looks. They're both designed to help your car drive smoothly and efficiently, but you should understand which would most benefit your vehicle. Both air suspension kits and coilovers have their own pros and cons. To help you choose the right suspension kit, we've crafted this guide explaining the coilovers vs. bags debate and compared the most important factors for deciding which is the most suitable fit.
What Is an Air Suspension?
Air suspension systems are made up of air springs or air bags located at each wheel of the vehicle. An onboard electric air compressor inflates each bag until they lift your vehicle to your desired ride height. Automobile enthusiasts often refer to this system as an "air ride." It replaces the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) system to support your vehicle's weight.
In this system, air bags connect to an air reservoir and compressor. Due to the compressor, you can raise the car's height as the bags inflate. More air generally creates a rougher ride, and less air creates a smoother and gentler ride. You can easily control when the bags inflate or deflate via a control center in your vehicle to adjust it to your preferred height.
Benefits of Air Suspension
Installing an air suspension kit for your vehicle will present many great benefits. These systems are incredibly popular because they easily create a custom ride for each drive. Benefits of air suspension systems include:
- Smoother performance: Air suspension kits are known to deliver a smoother performance compared to other suspension systems. The air springs can more effectively absorb road energy, making them better able to improve performance.
- Adjustability: Air suspension kits are adjustable, meaning you'll be able to adjust the height and stiffness of the system to your exact preferences. With the simple push of a button, the compressor can inflate or deflate each air spring as needed to help your car produce the exact performance you want.
- Improve carrying capabilities: When your vehicle is lifted, the air springs can support any extra weight in the cargo area and passenger area. As you travel, your vehicle will stay level, reducing the risk of bottoming out, rear end sag, and excessive tire wear and tear.
- Preventing scrapes and dings: The ability to control your vehicle's height helps when riding on rough terrain. For instance, you can increase the height when crossing speed bumps to reduce the likelihood that your car scrapes the ground.
While air suspension kits help your car achieve great performance, there are a few drawbacks you should consider. For example, air suspension parts deteriorate and break down faster than others. This could lead to higher maintenance costs for repairing moving parts or replacing complex systems components. This system is also more costly upfront than other suspensions and may not last as long.
What Is Coilover Suspension?
Coilover suspensions use traditional coil springs to adjust your vehicle's height. You can use some kits to raise your vehicle, while others enable you to lower its stance for improved performance. They'll also work to support your vehicle to enhance its towing and load capacities.
However, unlike air suspension kits, coilover kits only use springs to help your car achieve a smooth performance. With that said, coilovers aren't as versatile as air suspension kits. You can switch out the coils to experience a softer or firmer performance or a different ride height, but it won't be as easy as pushing a button.
Benefits of Coilovers
Coilover systems have a few exclusive benefits. The simple mechanism works to ease your vehicle over bumps in the road to give you a better ride and easy transportation. Some benefits of coilovers include:
- Durability: Coilover suspensions are known to be more durable than air ride systems. This means they'll be able to withstand wear and tear more and last longer than air suspension parts.
- Adjustment range: These systems enable you to adjust height, caster, camber and compression for an enhanced ride to suit your needs and preferences.
- Price: Coilover kits can be more cost-effective than air bags, although customizing your kit affects the total. Due to the price and customization options of coilover kits, many drivers can opt for the features they need while staying within their budget.
Coilovers have unique benefits that draw automotive enthusiasts to them, but they do have drawbacks. For instance, they can produce a stiffer ride than air suspension. Additionally, you cannot adjust the ride height quickly and may need specialized equipment to complete basic maintenance. If you do need to change the ride height, you may need to remove the wheels and use tools, which is much less convenient than the push button feature of air bags.
Air Suspension vs. Coilovers
Both air ride and coilovers can transform your ride and create a unique and personalized experience. However, if you want to determine which system is most suitable for your vehicle, you should evaluate how they compare against each other. Here, we've detailed some of the most critical factors for suspension kits so you can determine the best system for your car.
Air suspension vs. coilover ride quality is among the first factor to consider when comparing these two systems. Ride quality defines your experience in the vehicle, so you want to ensure you consider this aspect.
Both coilover and air suspension systems can create a comfortable ride under any road condition. Although coilover systems can provide a stiffer ride over bumps, the proper adjustments and struts can make a ride similar to air suspension systems.
However, the adjustability of air bags makes them a superior choice for multi-functional vehicles. For example, you can easily adjust the ride height to account for extra weight if you're transporting materials or passengers. This will help prevent the vehicle from bumping or scraping the ground and reduce tire wear over time.
One significant difference between these two systems is how you adjust ride height. For air bags, you touch a button on the control center to raise or lower your vehicle. However, coilover systems work differently. Each time you want to make a height adjustment, you must take extra steps. You cannot adjust your car as seamlessly as you can with an air suspension.
The installation process for coilover suspensions is much more straightforward than an air suspension installation. Both require you to swap the OEM struts for newer ones, but the process is much longer for air bags. For air suspensions, you will need to find ways to run the air lines to the rubber bellows, whether you're creating a custom setup or choosing a simpler method. Additionally, you will need to run electrical lines throughout your vehicle to power the system, making this process lengthy and more costly.
Coilovers have the edge over air bags for improved handling. These systems can reduce the amount of body roll you experience, making them a better option for drifting and racing on tracks. Vehicles that will experience rough terrain or frequent bumps can benefit from the design and durability of coilovers. However, air suspensions may be the better choice for daily drivers. Those looking for a way to ease their commute can appreciate the smooth function and comfortable ride.
As we mentioned earlier, the suspension system you choose can change your car's appearance. Raising or lowering your car can be attention-grabbing, and if this is a goal for you, air suspension systems are a clear choice. You can change the looks of your vehicle seamlessly by operating the control button on air bags, while the process is much lengthier for coilover systems.
Choosing Your Suspension Kit
Both an air suspension kit and a coilover suspension kits deliver a great performance for most cars. With that said, choosing one for your vehicle will depend on your specific needs. Whether air suspension is better than coilovers depends on what you're looking to gain from the upgrade.
Ultimately, the suspension kit you need will come down to your purpose. If you're looking for a convenient way to adjust the stiffness and ride height of your car, consider an air suspension kit. If you want something that's durable and dependable, install a coilover suspension kit.
Coilovers vs. Air Suspension - Learn More From Strutmasters
Strutmasters specializes in suspensions, so you can always trust us to deliver affordable and complete solutions for any suspension concern. We've earned the title "The Suspension Experts" for more than 20 years of service. We turn complex air, electronic, magnetic and hydraulic systems into working solutions that meet your needs.
We're committed to exceeding your needs, and our professional, friendly and knowledgeable team makes it easy to find unique solutions for your vehicle. We're more than a nationwide provider — we're an industry leader. Our combined experience gives us more than 100 years in the industry, and we're here to stay.
We invented the first air-to-non-air conversion kit, and we've continued making strides in the industry since. You won't find another business that can say the same, and we know our experience makes us the best at what we do. If you want to know more about air suspension vs. coil suspension kits, you can contact Strutmasters online for more information. You can also shop our air suspension parts to find the right pieces for your vehicle.