R&R Time and Pricing
240SX Cam Calculator
My 98 SE
Coilovers are one of the key parts that will make or break the suspension of a 240SX. The first thing to consider is not all coilovers are adjustable. Most will usually allow a certain range of ride height adjustablity and some will offer variable dampering rates. However, don't assume a coilover will do something you think it should unless it's specified. Same thing with 'parts lists', make sure you confirm with the vendor what you are getting...some have been known to repackage 'kits' at a lower cost (sometimes even at a higher cost) and then sell key components as options. Pillowball mounts, hardware kits, and sometimes even the 'decals' are pulled and resold, if you are a victim of this scam spread the word and send me an email, I am trying to figure out the legality in adding a vendor 'issue' section here. If I can do it, I will have it.
There are two basic methods of getting a coilover: the true coilover and the sleeve kit.
The true coilover usally comes complete and ready to bolt on. The only component you should need to reuse in a true coilover is the stock upper mounts, some will sell an upgraded upper mount (pillowball or otherwise) as an add-on cost. The more higher end coilovers are totally bolt-in. The nice part about these is the old strut and spring can also come out as a unit...no spring compressor needed.
The sleeve kit can be just as good as a true coilover, but more often than not they fall a little short once you are considering racing/competition. Most sleeve kits come with a two-piece threaded sleeve, the springs, the spring seats, a couple of adjustment nuts, and a locking ring or two. Some sleeve kits do not come with the springs, for these you usually can use a standard coilover spring and pick out any rate you want. The limitation is only in what struts are available. This is the biggest aspect that makes a sleeve kit fail, often times only true coilovers come with sufficient dampering ability for the highest spring rates...a mismatch here equals the typical pogo stick / bouncey ride you witness everyday. Usually the kits that include springs are designed to work with a certain strut that the manufacturer will clearly specify. Sleeve kits are known to 'rattle' (many coilovers also have added rattles/clicks as well, especially with pillowball mounts), but there are installation methods (caulking, glues, foam tapes) to eliminate most of this. If you are just going for 'looks' there is nothing wrong with just using a performance spring and/or strut with a set of coilover 'sleeves' as long as they are matched at least semi-decently. You can 'drop' your car down for shows giving a gapless wheelwell and even on some adjust for a softer or firmer ride. The advantage is since sleeve kits are designed to use common struts the cost if much lower than a coilover, however, if you need maximum spring rate, you also need high dampering and unfortunately only true coilovers are designed at these levels.
Now true coilovers are made in street-type rides ranging from luxury smooth to ultra firm and in race-types which can range from giving a decent ride to one that will knock your fillings out on a typical road. Most extreme race coilovers are assuming you are going to be on the track....tracks are smooth, city roads are not. Most drivers don't need a race coilover so don't choose one just because it's close in price to a street setup, unless you know what you are getting into. The main thing is, most coilovers make some compromises to a stock setup. Some is a ride quality the enthusiast will find better, but the average car buyer would find to harsh....occasionally some extra rattles, clicks, or vibration is added, however, there are a lot of added advantages for someone looking for a more performance oriented ride.
The last thing to consider are spring rates. Spring rates are much like horsepower ratings, very dependent on the weight of the vehicle in question. With spring rates unsprung vs. sprung weight is also important to a limited extent (unsprung weight is the weight that the spring/struts don't 'carry' such as wheels, tires, brake components, suspension arms, etc). Saying a spring has a rate of 700lbs/in. can be a strong race spring on a sport coupe or a stock spring on a truck or large passenger vehicle. This is where many go wrong. Fortunately, most manufacturers have 'street spec' setups clearly labeled as such, and 'race spec' setups equally labelled and often with the popular: "For Off-Road Use Only!"...with suspension components this should be taken more as good advice than a 'smog disclaimer'. Remember many performance parts, especially coilovers...if you don't like it once it's on, you are stuck with it. For most this is not such an issue for a $100-300 part...you can simply eat the loss or resell it and lose $50-$150 (most performance parts yield only 50% on a resell, even if new), but with the coilovers beyond $1000...it's something you just don't want to experience unless you are one of those people that either have more money than God, more money than brains, or enjoy S&M recreationally. Also many companies that offer full money-back guarantees do not apply them to special order items and many vendors consider coilovers special orders even if they are not listed as such.
Coilovers are often the most expensive single item the average driver will buy. Many approach the cost of an engine swap. This should be the one mod you think about first before ordering on a whim...this will determine the 'personality' your 240SX will have.
Some notes regarding the information within. While I have tried to make it as accurate as possible there are bound to be some errors/omissions. Also any dealers/vendors listed below are for price comparisions only...I have no experience with most and I don't want to become a 'biased' source here. I am open to adding more dealers/vendors and perhaps giving special treatment to authorized dealers. Also any images may or may not be representative of the actual 240SX unit.