Air Shocks vs Coilovers Choosing the Perfect Suspension Upgrade

When it comes to enhancing your vehicle’s suspension, two popular options stand out: air shocks and coilovers. Whether you’re a car enthusiast looking for improved performance or a regular driver seeking a smoother ride, understanding the differences between these two suspension upgrades is crucial.

In this article, we will dive deep into the world of air shocks and coilovers, exploring their features, benefits, drawbacks, and alternatives. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about which option suits your needs best.

Who Can Benefit from Upgrading Suspension?

The question of who can benefit from upgrading their suspension is one that commonly arises. The truth is, anyone can enjoy the advantages of a well-tuned suspension system.

Whether you drive a sports car, a daily commuter, or even an off-road vehicle, a suspension upgrade can greatly enhance your driving experience. If you frequently encounter uneven road surfaces, engage in spirited driving, or simply desire a more comfortable ride, investing in air shocks or coilovers could be the answer.

What Are Air Shocks?

Air Shocks vs Coilovers Choosing the Perfect Suspension Upgrade

Air shocks, also known as air spring shocks or pneumatic shocks, are a type of suspension upgrade that utilizes compressed air to absorb and dampen the impact of bumps and vibrations on the road. These shocks consist of an air chamber that can be inflated or deflated to adjust the suspension stiffness according to the driver’s preferences. This adjustability makes air shocks particularly appealing to those seeking versatility and customization in their suspension setup.

One notable advantage of air shocks is their ability to maintain constant ride height regardless of the load on the vehicle. This feature is especially important for vehicles engaged in towing or carrying heavy loads. Additionally, air shocks offer a smooth and comfortable ride due to their superior shock absorption capabilities. When encountering potholes or rough patches on the road, the air springs effectively absorb the impact, resulting in a more pleasant driving experience.

What Are Coilovers?

Air Shocks vs Coilovers Choosing the Perfect Suspension Upgrade

Coilovers, on the other hand, are suspension components that combine a coil spring and a shock absorber into a single unit. The coil spring provides support and maintains the ride height, while the shock absorber dampens the vibrations and prevents excessive bouncing. This integrated design allows for precise adjustment of both the spring rate and damping characteristics, making coilovers a favorite among performance enthusiasts.

One key advantage of coilovers is their ability to offer enhanced handling and cornering capabilities. By fine-tuning the suspension settings, drivers can achieve optimal balance and stability during spirited driving maneuvers. Coilovers also provide improved weight transfer control, reducing body roll and enhancing overall vehicle responsiveness.

When Should You Consider Air Shocks?

Air Shocks vs Coilovers Choosing the Perfect Suspension Upgrade

Air shocks are an excellent choice for those seeking versatility and adaptability in their suspension system. Here are some scenarios where air shocks excel:

  • Towing or hauling heavy loads: If you regularly tow trailers or carry substantial cargo, air shocks can help maintain a level ride height and minimize sagging, ensuring better safety and stability.
  • Off-road adventures: Air shocks provide superior shock absorption, allowing your vehicle to tackle rough terrains more comfortably. Adjusting the air pressure can further optimize your off-road performance by adapting to different conditions.
  • Variable load requirements: If you frequently switch between carrying passengers and transporting goods, air shocks’ adjustability makes it easy to compensate for varying weight distributions.

When Should You Opt for Coilovers?

While air shocks have their merits, there are situations where coilovers may be the preferred suspension upgrade. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Performance-oriented driving: If you prioritize handling and precision during spirited drives or track days, coilovers offer the option to fine-tune suspension settings to match your driving style and road conditions.
  • Lowered ride height: Coilovers are popular among car enthusiasts looking to achieve a lowered ride height while maintaining optimal suspension performance. Lowering the center of gravity can improve cornering ability and overall aesthetics.
  • Eliminating body roll: If your vehicle experiences excessive body roll during cornering or quick maneuvers, coilovers can help mitigate this issue by providing improved weight transfer control.

How to Choose Between Air Shocks and Coilovers

Now that we’ve explored the benefits of both air shocks and coilovers, it’s time to delve into the decision-making process. Consider the following factors when choosing between these suspension upgrades:

  • Vehicle usage: Assess how you primarily use your vehicle. Determine if you require adjustable suspension for varying load conditions or if you prioritize performance-oriented driving.
  • Budget: Take into account your budget constraints. While both options offer unique advantages, air shocks tend to be more affordable compared to coilovers.
  • Customization needs: Consider the level of customization you desire. If you want complete control over suspension settings and aim to fine-tune your driving experience, coilovers provide greater adjustability.
  • Professional installation: Evaluate whether you have the necessary skillsand equipment to install the suspension upgrade yourself. Coilovers often require more technical knowledge and specialized tools for installation, while air shocks may be relatively easier to install.
  • Maintenance requirements: Think about the long-term maintenance needs of each option. Air shocks may require occasional air pressure adjustments or inspections for leaks, while coilovers might need periodic maintenance such as shock absorber rebuilds.

Pros and Cons of Air Shocks

To provide a comprehensive understanding, let’s examine the pros and cons of air shocks:


  • Adjustable ride height: Air shocks allow you to fine-tune the ride height according to load conditions or personal preferences.
  • Smooth ride quality: The air springs effectively absorb shocks and vibrations, resulting in a comfortable and smooth driving experience.
  • Versatility: Air shocks are suitable for various applications, including towing, hauling, and off-road adventures.
  • Load-leveling capability: These shocks help maintain a level ride height even under heavy loads, improving safety and stability.


  • Cost: Air shocks can be more expensive than traditional suspension components, especially high-performance models with advanced features.
  • Complexity: The adjustability of air shocks means they may require more time and effort to set up correctly compared to conventional suspension systems.
  • Potential for air leaks: The air springs are susceptible to leakage, which can affect their performance and require periodic inspections and maintenance.

Pros and Cons of Coilovers

Now, let’s explore the pros and cons of coilovers to further evaluate their suitability:


  • Performance-oriented: Coilovers offer precise adjustability, allowing enthusiasts to optimize suspension settings for improved handling, cornering, and overall performance.
  • Enhanced stability: By reducing body roll and optimizing weight transfer, coilovers provide enhanced stability during aggressive driving maneuvers.
  • Lowered ride height: Coilovers allow for easy adjustment of the vehicle’s ride height, which can enhance aesthetics and aerodynamics while maintaining suspension performance.
  • Durability: Coilovers are typically built with high-quality materials and components, ensuring long-lasting performance and reliability.


  • Limited adjustability: While coilovers provide customization options, they may not offer the same level of versatility as air shocks in terms of load leveling or adjusting ride height on the go.
  • Higher cost: Coilovers tend to be more expensive upfront compared to traditional suspension systems, making them a pricier investment.
  • Stiffer ride quality: The nature of coilovers may result in a firmer ride compared to air shocks, which could be less comfortable for everyday driving.

Alternatives to Air Shocks and Coilovers

If neither air shocks nor coilovers seem suitable for your needs, there are alternative suspension upgrades worth considering:

  • Upgraded Springs: Installing stiffer springs can improve handling and reduce body roll without the need for a full coilover setup.
  • Performance Dampers: High-performance shock absorbers can enhance suspension responsiveness and control without the complexity of coilovers.
  • Progressive Rate Springs: These springs have variable spring rates that adapt to different loads, providing a balance between comfort and performance.
  • Electronic Suspension Systems: Advanced electronic systems offer adaptive damping and automatic load leveling, providing a dynamic and customizable suspension setup.

While these alternatives may not offer the same level of adjustability or performance as air shocks or coilovers, they can still provide noticeable improvements in ride quality and handling.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Install Air Shocks or Coilovers

Installing air shocks or coilovers requires precision and attention to detail. Here’s a step-by-step guide for each installation process:

Installing Air Shocks:

  • Lift the vehicle: Use a jack or lift to raise the vehicle and secure it on jack stands.
  • Remove the old shocks: Locate and remove the existing shocks using the appropriate tools.
  • Install air shocks: Mount the air shocks in place of the old ones, ensuring proper alignment and connection to the suspension components.
  • Connect air lines: Attach the air lines to the air shocks, making sure they are securely connected and leak-free.
  • Adjust ride height: Inflate the air springs to the desired ride height using a compatible air compressor.
  • Test and fine-tune: Lower the vehicle and test the suspension for any abnormalities or excessive bouncing. Make necessary adjustments to achieve the desired ride quality.

Installing Coilovers:

  • Lift the vehicle: Raise the vehicle using a jack or lift and secure it on jack stands.
  • Remove the old suspension components: Disassemble and remove the existing shocks, springs, and other suspension components as needed.
  • Install coilovers: Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to install the coilover units, ensuring proper alignment and torque specifications.
  • Adjust ride height and damping: Use the provided adjustment tools to set the desiredride height and damping settings according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Test and fine-tune: Lower the vehicle and test the suspension for any abnormalities or excessive stiffness. Make necessary adjustments to achieve the desired balance between comfort and performance.

Air Shocks vs. Coilovers Comparison

To help you decide between air shocks and coilovers, let’s compare them across various aspects:

  • Ride Quality: Both air shocks and coilovers can provide improved ride quality compared to stock suspensions. Air shocks offer adjustable ride height and a smooth, comfortable ride, while coilovers excel in performance-oriented setups, delivering precise handling and stability during aggressive driving.
  • Adjustability: Air shocks offer more versatility when it comes to adjusting ride height and load leveling. They allow for on-the-go adjustments depending on your needs. On the other hand, coilovers offer extensive adjustability for fine-tuning suspension settings, ideal for enthusiasts seeking optimal performance.
  • Cost: Air shocks generally have a higher upfront cost due to their adjustable features and convenience. Coilovers also tend to be expensive but may provide better long-term value for performance-driven applications.
  • Maintenance: Air shocks require periodic inspections for leaks and potential adjustments. Coilovers may need occasional rebuilds or replacement of shock absorbers. Both options have maintenance requirements, but the extent may vary depending on usage and conditions.
  • Versatility: Air shocks shine in applications where load leveling and adjustability are crucial, such as towing or off-roading. Coilovers excel in track-focused or performance-oriented setups, providing enhanced stability and handling characteristics.

Considering these factors will help determine which option aligns best with your specific needs, vehicle type, and desired driving experience.

Tips for Choosing the Best Suspension Upgrade

  • Know your driving needs: Identify your specific requirements, whether it’s towing, off-roading, or a balance between comfort and performance for daily driving.
  • Research reputable brands: Look for trusted manufacturers known for producing high-quality air shocks or coilovers. Read reviews and gather information on their performance, durability, and customer satisfaction.
  • Seek professional advice: Consult with suspension specialists or mechanics who have experience with air shocks and coilovers. They can provide valuable insights and recommend suitable options based on your vehicle and preferences.
  • Consider long-term costs: Apart from the initial purchase cost, factor in potential maintenance and replacement expenses associated with each option to assess the overall cost of ownership.
  • Test-drive and gather opinions: If possible, test-drive vehicles equipped with air shocks or coilovers to experience the difference firsthand. Additionally, seek feedback from other vehicle owners who have implemented these upgrades.


Q: Can I use air shocks for everyday driving?

A: Yes, air shocks can be used for everyday driving, providing a comfortable and adjustable ride.

Q: Are coilovers only suitable for high-performance vehicles?

A: While coilovers are commonly associated with performance-oriented setups, they can also be installed on a wide range of vehicles to improve handling and ride quality.

Q: Do I need professional help to install air shocks or coilovers?

A: While professional installation is recommended for optimal results, experienced DIY enthusiasts with proper tools and knowledge can install them themselves.

Q: What are the signs of worn-out air shocks or coilovers?

A: Signs include excessive bouncing, uneven tire wear, decreased stability, and reduced ride comfort. It’s important to inspect and replace worn-out components promptly.

Q: Can I switch from air shocks to coilovers or vice versa?

A: Yes, it is possible to switch between the two suspension options, but it may require additional modifications and adjustments to ensure compatibility and performance.


Deciding between air shocks and coilovers requires careful consideration of various factors such as ride quality, adjustability, cost, maintenance, and versatility. Each option has its own pros and cons, catering to different driving needs and preferences.

By understanding the differences and evaluating your specific requirements, you can select the ideal suspension upgrade that will enhance your driving experience. Whether you choose air shocks for their adjustable ride height and smoothness or coilovers for their performance-oriented capabilities, upgrading your suspension system can significantly impact your vehicle’s handling, stability, and comfort.

Choose wisely, install with precision, and enjoy the benefits of a tailored suspension setup that complements your driving style and preferences.

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