See also – Suspension Setup & Tuning Intermediate
Before we can go into details of how you can tune your car’s suspension and setup your suspension to your preferences we have to understand how to read the signals the car’s suspension is giving us.
Suspension Setup & Suspension Tuning Guide – Understanding the problem
There are 4 main characteristics a car suspension will have
1. Hard Ride & Body Roll – This is caused by overly stiff dampers paired with soft springs
2. Soft Ride & Body Roll – This caused by soft springs and soft dampers
3. Hard Ride & No Body Roll – This is caused by stiff springs and stiff dampers
4. Soft Ride & No Body Roll – This is caused by soft dampers and stiff springs
The reason dampers effect the ride more than springs is that dampers deal with fast motions of the suspension
Springs have more effect than dampers on body roll because springs deal with constant suspension loads
Of course the roles of springs and dampers overlap but these 2 points are the biggest factors
Suspension Setup Tuning Guide – Making Changes
|Soft Dampers||Stiff Dampers|
|Soft Springs||Comfortable ride with body roll||Hard ride with body roll|
|Stiff Springs||Confortable ride with little or no body roll||Hard ride and no little or no body roll|
To work out what you need to do to tune your suspension look at where your car is now in the table and look what setup changes you need to make to move the suspension characteristics in the direction you want.
For example if you want to reduce body roll you need to increase spring stiffness and so on
Suspension Setup & Suspension Tuning Guide – Fine Tuning
If your suspension setup is close to how you want it then there are additional things you change to fine tune your suspension.
For example if you want to reduce roll slightly, fitting a stiffer anti roll bar can achieve this effect.
Anti-roll bars or sway bar are designed for fine tuning of the suspension. If your suspension setup is long way away from where you want it you will need to make bigger changes than just the anti-roll bar.
To give another example of how you can fine tune your suspension, if ride quality is quite close to where you want it but you would like it to be slightly better, fitting strut braces or strut bars from quality manufacturers will give your car a noticeable improvement in ride quality, steering feel and grip.
If the suspension on your car is not adjustable the suspension tuning you can do is pretty limited. Basically you have to make wholesale changes rather than incremental changes like you could with coilover suspension.
Nevertheless the table above should give you a good idea of what to do if you want to improve the suspension setup of your car to suit your driving style.
Suspension Setup & Suspension Tuning Guide – Summary
My person golden rule when it comes to suspension tuning when you want your suspension to have more control is to increase spring stiffness first and then damper stiffness.
If you increase damper stiffness before spring stiffness you will get a more uncomfortable ride with little benefit in performance.
Increasing spring stiffness with quality lowering/sports springs such as those from H&R or Eibach will allow you to keep most of your ride comfort while giving you much more control of your car in cornering, braking and acceleration.
Sport dampers are really the cherry on the cake and for those drivers looking for the ultimate control without buying coilovers.