With a show of hands, how many of you out there have installed coil-overs in your car without performing an alignment or getting it corner balanced afterwards? We are willing to bet there is probably a large number of you who are guilty. Hey, I was guilty of that too in my formidable years.
Having coil-overs on your ride is like having the Rolex of suspension modifications: CNC shock body, adjustable ride height, adjustable damping, pillow-ball upper mounts, etc. (You can stop drooling now.) Unfortunately, the glitz and glamour of owning coil-overs has twisted our vision of what it means to own them.
There are countless benefits of having coil-overs. The obvious advantage is being able to adjust the ride height of the vehicle with a turn of a perch without having to either swap out springs or add spacers. Another advantage is the ability to adjust the damping characteristics of the shock. Some shocks adjust with a turn of a knob while others require the revalving the shock body.
Many coil-over systems utilize a shortened shock body for a more comfortable ride on lowered vehicles. By reducing the length of the shock body the shock shaft sits at a more ideal spot for better damping, with more travel left in the shaft before full compression. When a vehicle is lowered substantially, the shaft sits near the bottom the shock body limiting the amount of travel.
There are limitless combinations that can be performed on a coil-over system with spring rates, damping rates, height adjustments and camber adjustments that are just not possible with the factory suspension components.
The biggest mistake many owners make after installing suspension components is not performing a four-wheel alignment. Anytime a suspension component is removed and reinstalled the suspension geometry may be altered. Lowering a vehicle will alter camber, toe and caster adjustments. A suspension technician can easily correct these adjustments on an alignment rack. However, some vehicles do not have the capability to adjust camber without the addition of an adjustable camber plate or arm. For Honda owners, an adjustable upper A-arm is highly recommended to get the front suspension back in alignment.
Several different manufacturers offer adjustable front A-arms and rear arms for Hondas/Acuras. Most four-wheel alignments run about $75 and are worth every penny. Not only will your vehicle perform better and be safer on the road but also it can save you money in the long run by decreasing excessive tire wear caused by, among other things, too much negative camber.
To obtain an even greater benefit from a coil-over system is to get the vehicle a corner balance and alignment. Corner balancing your vehicle will make it perform better in the turns and generally feel more "balanced" throughout.
Not a lot of shops specialize in corner balancing, but they are out there if you look hard enough. Although corner balancing is a term often associated with racecars, street driven cars can also benefit from it. Why spend thousands of dollars on your suspension without going the extra mile to make it perform to its maximum potential?