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How to Soften Car Suspension

Posted by Switch Suspension on

Driving can be fun. But if your car or truck has a stiff suspension, it becomes a lot less enjoyable. If you’re unfamiliar with how a suspension works, then trying to solve the ride quality issue could be a small nightmare. What do you do and how do you handle the problem?

Let’s take a moment to break all of that down and figure it out. We’ll start with the simplest way to go and work up from there.

Look at the tires.

Ever had a vehicle that had stiff tires? We’re not just talking about a set that was overfilled with air, but ones that had sidewalls that were so hard that it was difficult to drive in without shaking out your fillings. Fact is, lots of tires are made for different things, and comfort isn’t always the main priority.

Look at low-profile tires, for example. These are typically used by performance vehicles or custom rides, and are made to improve handling. To really take on those corners, you want stiff sidewalls that won’t deflect and keep you flat on the road. Those kinds of tires aren’t going to ride like something substantially taller with a softer sidewall. It’s just not their purpose.

Look at your tires first. It’s an expensive proposition to change them out — believe us, we know. But if you go to your favorite tire shop and explain to them what you’re looking for, they’ll help you out. And make sure to tell them you want a smooth riding suspension, or they’ll never be able to help you.

Consider different springs.

Another way to soften your car’s suspension is to look into different springs. How old is your vehicle? Is it possible that your coils could be old and worn? Sometimes this can lead to a car having too soft a ride, but still, it’s a problem.

We sell a wide variety of different types of lowering springs, all designed to lower your car’s center of gravity and improve your handling. This won’t specifically help your car ride better, but if your stock springs are worn out, this is a definite improvement. If you want to handle better and look good in the process, consider a set of lowering springs for your car or truck.

If you don’t want to go low — that’s fine, we won’t take it personally — there are other options as well. Replace your worn out springs with new ones from the dealership. They’ll bring your car back to its stock ride quality — assuming you don’t have a problem like …

Are your shock absorbers worn out?

One thing a lot of people confuse when it comes to the suspension is the difference between the coil springs and the shock absorbers, so let’s clear that up now. Coils carry the weight of the vehicle; they do the heavy lifting, while providing some kind of ride quality. Shock absorbers dampen the up and down oscillation of the coils, smoothing out the ride. If you ever want an example of the difference, yank your shocks out from your suspension. You’ll float almost indefinitely until you stop driving, and your braking will suffer, too.

Replacing your shocks with new ones are a great way to soften your car’s suspension. Aim for a set that’s designed for a smooth ride and you’ll be good to go. We carry a bunch of shocks for your lowered car or truck, so take a peek over there, too.

Look at your bushings.

A lot of people don’t think about the bushings when it comes to ride quality, and that’s because not only are they labor intensive to replace, if you do it with a shop, it’s also expensive. That, and if your car is less than 10 years old, it’s probably not the problem.

But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you’ve got worn out bushings. That means your vehicle has a lot of miles on it, and/or is quite old. And if you look under your ride, instead of fresh, clean rubber or urethane where the suspension joints connect, you’ve got cracked bushings, maybe even with a few gaps here and there. No good.

The fix is to replace those bushings with new ones, and you’ve got two options: Rubber and urethane. If you want a softer ride, pick rubber. They won’t last as long, but they will ride smoother, and that’ll help you out in the long run.

Bag it.

Look, we’re fans of adjustable suspensions, so obviously we’re going to make a pitch to you for airbags. After all, you can tweak your suspension as much as you like to ride as firm or soft as you want. And it’s all under your control.

Airbag suspensions aren’t cheap, no (at least not when you use high quality parts). And when you throw in installation, it’s going to cost you a few grand to make sure everything is done properly. But will your car ride softer? Absolutely. No question about it.

Do a little bit of everything.

The solution to your problem may not lie in just one of these options. It could be that you need new tires and shocks. Or bushings and coil springs. Or bushings, coil springs, tires and shocks — there’s a lot of combinations here. But try them out, one at a time, and see what works for you. At the end of the day, if you want to soften your car’s suspension, you’re going to have to sink some money into the problem. It may not be cheap, but you’ll be happier in the long term.