How many of you actually think about your shocks while you’re bouncing down the highway? I can tell you for a fact that I don’t. I just try to keep it in between the lines.
However, they dictate more than you might think. Everything from how hard you crank the steering wheel to the speed at which you plunge through the twisties is determined largely by your suspension.
This is one of those things where you directly trade performance for comfort. Soft and squishy cars might feel like a floating couch, but it takes rock solid springs and shocks to accurately guide yourself around a racetrack. Upgrading your suspension requires more than a fat wallet. You have to be comfortable with the bone jarring responsiveness of a race car.
Replace worn out parts first
Modern suspension systems are comprised of much more than you might think. The deterioration of any one of them can have adverse effects on your vehicles handling capabilities, and over time they all wear out together. If you plan to modify the suspension of your vehicle you need to set a good baseline. Any parts that you don’t plan to upgrade will have to be replaced with perfectly functioning equivalents of their unmodified predecessors.
The classic lowering spring and shock/strut combo
Lots of manufacturers make vehicle specific aftermarket springs and shocks for daily driven applications. While they are considerably less comfortable than stock suspensions they do allow much more precise cornering. Usually sold in kits, these things can typically be installed in your garage with basic hand tools.
This option combines the springs and shocks into self contained, fully adjustable units. Everything about how the suspension reacts to anything can be tailored to the needs of the end user. Whether you want stiff or spongy this setup can make it happen. It can be customized to deal with nearly any scenario you might have in mind.
To a true expert, absolutely nothing is left unaccounted for. Like everything else in an automobile, the mechanisms that isolate you and your vehicle from potholes, bumps, and other imperfections in the road are extraordinarily complex.
Hundreds of mechanical tidbits are employed in maintaining body roll, corner to corner transitioning, and thrust management. Many of them can be upgraded to provide a tangible increase in vehicle performance.
Throughout history the biggest focus has always been on going faster. But nobody ever really thinks much about controlling that motion. Incredible forces are involved in driving. Have you ever considered exactly what it takes to keep your wheels in perfect position relative to the rest of the vehicle?
Upgrades are always great, but truthfully the suspensions of most cars on the road could use a couple of replacement parts. Worn out bits and pieces often do little more than waste energy that could otherwise have been used for forward propulsion. If you’re trying to optimize a vehicle for ultimate performance then it’s suspension, stock or otherwise, must never be overlooked.