How To: Adjusting Your Coilovers

Impress your friends, and do it right the first time!

2y ago
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We all know someone who has coilovers and goes to a shop once, maybe twice a year to get their coilovers raised and lowered for “winter mode” or lowered for that “stance life, yo”. But what if I could save you money by performing a little DIY in your own parking lot or garage? What you need to do is adjust your ride height! The following how-to guide is for “fully threaded coilovers”, and not “partially threaded coilovers”, nor “gravel / non-adjustable coilovers”. Okay, let’s do this!

Tools You’ll Need:

Floor Jack, (preferably two if possible)

Jack Stands (safety is worth every penny)

Safety Goggles (safety is worth every penny, and it bears repeating)

Spanner Wrenches (usually come with your new coilovers)

(New) Toilet Scrubber from your local dollar store

Grungy Clothing / Work Apparel

White Lithium Grease (PB Blaster, etc.)

Breaker Bar / Impact Gun

Rubber Mallet and/or Metal Hammer

Short or stubby lug nut sockets (usually 18mm or 19mm)

Mechanic “wrenching” gloves. You can find these easily at Home Depot like “Mechanix” or “Grease Monkey” brand. Purposely buy the snug fitting ones. You want these.

Cold adult beverage of choice for later (put it in the fridge)

Instructions

Put on your wrenching attire, and your work gloves on, unless you have calluses, or are okay with cut hands.

Jack up your car with the bigger, better floor jack, according to your owner’s manual. Use the pinch welds if it is a newer car (and rust-free), or use the lower subframe behind the lower control arms if it happens to be a rust-bucket. Alternatively, go to a shop with a lift if they allow D.I.Y. work. Start with one side, not front or rear, but left or right instead.

Remove your wheels with a breaker bar, or an impact gun if you have one (lucky you!) Personally I like doing it by hand. It takes longer, but there is significantly less chance of stripping or breaking a stud by over-torquing the lug nut.

Put on your safety glasses. You don’t want sand or dirt in your eyes, nor that white lithium spray. Just do it, don’t argue. You’ll thank me later.

Clean the coilover threads with the toilet brush. Scrub them well! Get any of that remaining dirt and debris off the best you can.

Hopefully the threads are clean at this point… If not, spray that white lithium grease on the spindles. I can’t help you with seized, rusted or “frozen” coilovers because of salt spray or negligence. Let it sit, or scrub it in with that toilet brush. If they truly are frozen or seized, look into replacing them or let them sit in brake clean and ATF for a few… days. Again, wear chemical-retardant gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator mask if doing so. Safety is worth every penny.

In the order of top to bottom: A, B, and C. Unlock the bottom collar, “C”. Leave the “A” and “B” top collars alone. You shouldn’t have to adjust the pre-load. In most cases, the coilover is pre-loaded or when installed one has to pre-load it. Use the spanner wrenches to turn the spindle on collar “A” and “B”.

Adjusting Ride Height

Counter-Clockwise: Up / Raise

Clockwise: Down / Lower

Unlock collar “C” (the bottom-most collar, also called the “jam nut”) by spinning it counter-clockwise. Use the rubber mallet or a hammer with the spanner wrench if it is severely stubborn. If you put pressure on “B” collar, it might be easier to unlock it. If they’re Tein coilovers and the spindle is essentially upside-down, you’re going to probably cut your hands on the lower control arms. Fun!

Once the bottom “C” collar is loosened, you may want to use that second floor jack to take some pressure off the lower control arm using the jack, relieving pressure to slightly give yourself a little easier time turning the spindle. Raise the “C” collar to lower the car. Turn the spindle around to the desired ride height. Sometimes the coilover height adjustment equals to twice the ride height -- it all depends on your coilover. It comes down to guess-and-check method.

Turn the spindle counter-clockwise: Up / Raise

Turn the spindle clockwise: Down / Lower

Adjust to the desired ride height. Measure from the top center of the wheel arch on the inside of the fender, to the exact center of the centering cap or “centering ring” of your wheel. Leave room for tire clearance, or plan to get your fenders rolled. A good safe fitment is two fingers vertically (that’s what she said!), or enough to fit your hand horizontally. Again, wear gloves if you’re going to do this. No glove, no love. When you’re done, lock the “C” collar back in place.

To complete, reverse above procedures.

Have a cold adult beverage of choice from the fridge. You earned it, boss. Enjoy.

My Recommendations

In most cases, leave the camber alone, preferably at +/- 0 or as close to it as possible. This will eliminate early tire wear and tear, and cause for need of an alignment than not in most cases. Either way, get an alignment every season or when possible after changing ride heights.

If you have fully adjustable dampening coilovers (also called damping coilovers), this can adjust the rebound of the suspension or how stiff the ride is when going over bumps, etc. This is usually found on very high end suspension components (i.e. gravel / rally spec), and is cost prohibitive in most cases. One single good fully damping coilover can go for easily $5k. I’ve seen this once from the factory on the 2016 Ford Shelby F-150 (it’s an $100k truck). The rest of the time it is usually rally spec.

There are plenty of options out there for coilover choices; street, race, and rally spec. All of these have varying price points, ranging from the low end such as Godspeed and Raceland, all the way to kW and Bilstein. Do your research, and talk to your trusted tuner when considering purchasing. Ask around in your automotive circles about their experiences and go from there.

Ohlins Coilovers

Ohlins Coilovers

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Comments (3)

  • Hi congratulations - your post has been selected by DriveTribe USA Ambassador for promotion on the DriveTribe homepage.

      2 years ago
  • Okay, so i just got a set of coilovers and are there such a thing as non adjustable rise height but still have the locking nuts under the spring? Ive been trying to lowet mu car but my set doesnt have the third nut all the way at the bottom..

      1 year ago
    • Yes non adjustable ride height are often referred to as partially threaded coil covers. They have two locking nuts which allows you to adjust the preload on your springs. Preload is defined as the slack being removed from the spring and just...

      Read more
        1 year ago
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