Air Suspension vs Coilovers: Exploring the Ideal Suspension System

When it comes to enhancing the performance and ride quality of your vehicle, choosing the right suspension system is crucial. Two popular options that have gained significant attention in recent years are air suspension and coilovers.

In this article, we will delve into the characteristics, functionality, pros and cons, alternatives, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to choose between air suspension and coilovers. By the end, you will have a comprehensive understanding of these suspension systems, allowing you to make an informed decision for your vehicle’s needs.

Who Can Benefit from Upgrading Their Suspension?

Before diving into the details, it’s essential to understand who can benefit from upgrading their suspension system. Both air suspension and coilovers offer advantages that cater to specific individuals and driving preferences.

  • Car Enthusiasts: Individuals passionate about high-performance driving and fine-tuning their vehicles can greatly benefit from upgrading their suspension.
  • Off-Road Adventurers: Those who enjoy off-road adventures and require adjustable ride height and improved off-road capabilities can find value in upgrading their suspension.
  • Luxury Vehicle Owners: If you own a luxury car and want to enhance comfort and ride quality, upgrading to air suspension or coilovers can elevate your driving experience.
  • Towing and Hauling: Drivers who frequently tow heavy loads or carry significant cargo may opt for enhanced stability and load-carrying capacity offered by upgraded suspensions.

What Are Air Suspension and Coilovers?

Air Suspension:

Air Suspension vs Coilovers

Air suspension is a suspension system that utilizes air-filled bags, also known as air springs, to support the weight of the vehicle. These air springs replace traditional coil springs and allow for adjustable ride height through compressed air. The system is controlled by an onboard compressor and electronic control module, enabling precise adjustment and adaptability to different driving conditions.


Coilovers, on the other hand, are a combination of coil springs and shock absorbers integrated into a single unit. The coil spring provides support and maintains the vehicle’s ride height, while the shock absorber controls the damping forces to improve stability and handling. Coilovers offer adjustable damping settings, allowing drivers to fine-tune their suspension setup according to their preferences.

When Should You Consider Upgrading?

Air Suspension vs Coilovers

Determining when it’s the right time to upgrade your suspension system depends on various factors, including your driving style, vehicle type, and desired improvements. Let’s explore some scenarios where upgrading to air suspension or coilovers can be advantageous.

  • Improved Ride Quality: If you find your current suspension lacks comfort or struggles to absorb bumps adequately, both air suspension and coilovers can provide a smoother and more controlled ride.
  • Enhanced Handling and Performance: Car enthusiasts looking to improve their vehicle’s handling characteristics, such as reduced body roll and sharper turn-in response, should consider upgrading to coilovers.
  • Adjustable Ride Height: Air suspension is ideal for those who require adjustable ride height to adapt to different driving conditions or want to achieve a specific aesthetic appearance.
  • Heavy Load Capability: If you frequently carry heavy loads or tow trailers, upgrading to air suspension can enhance load-carrying capacity and stability.

How to Choose Between Air Suspension and Coilovers?

Choosing between air suspension and coilovers can be challenging, as both systems offer unique benefits. To make an informed decision, consider the following factors:

  1. Driving Style: Determine whether you prioritize comfort or performance during your regular driving experience.
  2. Vehicle Usage: Assess how you primarily use your vehicle, whether it’s daily commuting, track racing, off-roading, or a combination of activities.
  3. Budget: Consider your budgetary constraints, as air suspension tends to be more expensive than coilovers.
  4. Maintenance: Evaluate the long-term maintenance costs and requirements associated with each suspension system.

Pros and Cons: Air Suspension vs Coilovers

Air Suspension vs Coilovers

To further aid in your decision-making process, let’s delve into the pros and cons of air suspension and coilovers:

Air Suspension Pros and Cons

  • Adjustable ride height for improved ground clearance or lowered stance.
  • Enhanced load-carrying capacity and stability, particularly beneficial for towing and hauling.
  • Superior comfortand ride quality, providing a smooth and luxurious driving experience.
  • Adaptive suspension that automatically adjusts to different driving conditions, ensuring optimal performance and comfort.
  • Ability to raise the ride height to navigate obstacles or uneven terrain.
  • Higher initial cost compared to coilovers, making it a more significant investment.
  • More complex system with additional components, potentially leading to higher maintenance and repair costs.
  • Limited aftermarket support and customization options for certain vehicle models.
  • Potential for air leaks or compressor failure, requiring troubleshooting and repairs.

Coilovers Pros and Cons

  • Improved handling and performance due to adjustable damping settings and stiffer spring rates.
  • Enhanced control and stability during aggressive driving, minimizing body roll and increasing cornering capabilities.
  • Wide range of aftermarket options, allowing drivers to fine-tune their suspension setup to their liking.
  • Generally more affordable compared to air suspension systems.
  • Stiffer ride compared to air suspension, which may result in reduced comfort on rough or uneven roads.
  • Limited or no adjustable ride height feature, making it less suitable for off-road or extreme low stance applications.
  • Less load-carrying capacity compared to air suspension, potentially affecting towing or heavy-duty usage.

Alternatives to Consider

While air suspension and coilovers are popular choices for upgrading suspension systems, there are alternatives worth considering based on your specific requirements. These include:

  1. Lowering Springs: Ideal for those seeking a moderate drop in ride height while maintaining a comfortable ride. Lowering springs offer improved aesthetics and slightly enhanced handling without the complexity or cost of air suspension or coilovers.
  2. Stock Suspension Upgrades: Some vehicles may have available suspension upgrades directly from the manufacturer or reputable aftermarket brands. These upgrades can provide improvements in handling and performance without the need for a complete suspension overhaul.
  3. Electronic Damping Systems: Certain vehicles come equipped with electronic damping systems that automatically adjust the suspension settings based on driving conditions. Upgrading to a more advanced electronic damping system can provide improved comfort and performance without changing the entire suspension setup.

Consider these alternatives if air suspension or coilovers don’t align with your preferences or budget, while still aiming to enhance your vehicle’s suspension capabilities.

How to Choose Between Air Suspension and Coilovers

To ensure you make an informed decision when choosing between air suspension and coilovers, follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Identify Your Priorities: Determine whether comfort or performance is your primary concern.
  2. Assess Your Driving Style: Consider whether you engage in specific activities such as track racing, off-roading, or heavy towing that may require specific suspension characteristics.
  3. Research Your Vehicle Compatibility: Check if your vehicle model has compatible air suspension or coilover options available, along with any potential limitations or considerations.
  4. Set Your Budget: Determine the amount you are willing to invest in upgrading your suspension system, considering both initial costs and long-term maintenance expenses.
  5. Consult with Experts: Seek advice from experienced mechanics, automotive enthusiasts, or suspension specialists who can provide valuable insights based on their knowledge and experience.
  6. Test Drive and Gather Feedback: If possible, test drive vehicles equipped with air suspension and coilovers to get a hands-on experience and gather feedback from owners who have made similar upgrades.
  7. Evaluate Long-Term Maintenance: Assess the maintenance requirements, potential repairs, and associated costs for both air suspension and coilovers to gauge their long-term viability for your situation.
  8. Make an Educated Decision: After considering all the factors mentioned above, weigh the pros and cons, evaluate your priorities, and select the suspension system that best meets your needs, preferences, and budget.

Comparing Air Suspension and Coilovers

To provide a comprehensive perspective on the differences between air suspension and coilovers, let’s compare them side by side:

Aspect Air Suspension Coilovers
Ride Height Adjustability Fully adjustable with varying levels of customization Typically fixed ride height, limited adjustability
Comfort Excellent ride quality, absorbs bumps effectively Can be stiffer, offering less comfort on uneven roads
Handling Good handling characteristics, adaptive to different driving conditions Superb handling capabilities, reduced body roll
Load Capacity Enhanced load-carrying capacity, beneficial for towing and hauling Limited load capacity compared to air suspension
Maintenance More complex system, potential for air leaks or compressor failure Simpler system, fewer components to maintain
Cost Higher initial cost, potential for higher maintenance and repair expenses Generally more affordable than air suspension

Tips for Optimal Suspension Performance

Regardless of whether you choose air suspension or coilovers, here are some tips to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your suspension system:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your chosen suspension system. This may include inspecting and replacing worn-out components, checking for leaks, and lubricating moving parts.
  2. Proper Tire Pressure: Maintain the correct tire pressure as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Incorrect tire pressure can affect the overall ride quality and handling characteristics of your vehicle.
  3. Alignment and Balancing: Regularly check and adjust the wheel alignment and balance to eliminate any potential issues that may cause uneven tire wear or handling imbalances.
  4. Avoid Overloading: Be mindful of the load capacity of your suspension system and avoid exceeding its limits. Overloading can lead to premature wear and damage to the suspension components.
  5. Consider Upgraded Bushings: Upgrading the suspension bushings to high-quality aftermarket options can improve stability, reduce noise, and enhance overall suspension performance.
  6. Professional Installation: If you decide to upgrade your suspension system, it is recommended to have it professionally installed by experienced technicians to ensure proper fitment and functionality.

The Best Choice: Air Suspension or Coilovers?

Determining the best choice between air suspension and coilovers ultimately depends on your specific requirements and priorities. Consider the following factors to make an informed decision:

  • Comfort vs. Performance: If a smooth and comfortable ride is your top priority, particularly for daily commuting or long-distance driving, air suspension may be the better choice. However, if you prioritize enhanced handling and performance, especially for spirited driving or track use, coilovers are likely the more suitable option.
  • Adjustability and Customization: If you value the ability to adjust ride height, stiffness, and dampening settings to your liking, air suspension provides a higher level of customization. On the other hand, if you prefer a simpler setup without the need for constant adjustments, coilovers offer a more straightforward solution.
  • Budget Considerations: Air suspension systems generally come with a higher initial cost compared to coilovers. Additionally, ongoing maintenance and potential repairs may also contribute to higher long-term expenses. If budget is a significant concern, coilovers are typically the more affordable choice.


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

A: Yes, it is possible to switch between air suspension and coilovers; however, it may require specific modifications and adjustments to ensure compatibility with your vehicle.

Q: Are air suspension systems prone to failures or leaks?

A: While air suspension systems can experience issues such as leaks or compressor failures, proper maintenance and regular inspections can mitigate potential problems.

Q: Can coilovers be adjusted for different ride heights?

A: Most coilover systems have limited adjustability for ride height, allowing some customization. However, compared to air suspension, the range of adjustment is generally more limited.

Q: How often should I have my suspension system inspected?

A: It is recommended to have your suspension system inspected by a professional at least once a year or whenever you notice any unusual noises, excessive bouncing, or handling issues.

Q: Can I install air suspension or coilovers myself, or should I seek professional help?

A: While it is possible to install suspension systems yourself, it is highly recommended to seek professional assistance to ensure proper installation, alignment, and functionality.


Choosing between air suspension and coilovers is a decision that requires careful consideration. Both options have their own set of pros and cons, catering to different priorities and preferences. Understanding the differences, benefits, and limitations of each system is crucial in making an informed decision. Whether you prioritize comfort or performance, adjustability or simplicity, there is a suspension solution available to suit your needs.

Remember to assess your driving style, consult with experts, test drive vehicles equipped with different suspension setups, and evaluate long-term costs before making a final decision. By following this guide and considering all the relevant factors, you can confidently choose between air suspension and coilovers, elevating your driving experience to new heights.

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