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Changing springs in your damper kit, and the difference between Tein and alternative suspension brands.

  • Posted: 06-14-2013 02:53 AM
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This article is written in response to a forum posting mostly championing BC Racing as a suspension company, and discussing the alternative spring brand and rate options they offer. Our thoughts on the matter hopefully bring balance to the debate, providing a perspective not usually given by the average forum poster.

The BC kits seem pretty decent from our customer feedback. We do direct experience with the product although we have not tested them in our own car. We do know there are a lot of coilover brands that are really the same thing with different boxes and colors. Perhaps different spring specs as well, but overall the same thing. We give less credibility to companies which do less of their own development and essentially just resell what another company sells and puts their name on it.

Tein is a suspension manufacturer on the other hand, whose product is designed and produced by Tein themselves. You can go to Tein and they have all the equipment to make most or all their own parts and buy only small components of their systems as needed. Tein is a suspension company which designs, tests, and manufactures its own parts. We see a dramatic difference between a company that buys an off-the-shelf kit in bulk from an outside manufacturer and maybe tweaks the springs it comes with, and a company that develops parts from scratch.

Tein even supports international racing efforts by sponsoring rally teams and follows the circuit providing damper support to teams at individual stages. Megan and D2 and some others have competition cars they sponsor with a big sticker on the side. There is a difference between sponsoring a competition car for marketing purposes, and packing your equipment and sending an engineer along with the team to provide track-side support by revalving or rebuilding dampers on the fly. This tuning ability is built into EVERY Tein damper, even the Basic/Basis.

So yes, when you look at the cost of a Tein kit versus the cost of a D2/KSport/Megan/BC etc suspension kit there seems to be more bang for the buck with the alternative brands. That's because you are getting something with less design development and engineering resources behind it. That does not mean that Tein is for everyone.

Getting back to BC. We think BC stands out as an alternative manufacturer because of the extra effort they put into their kits to meet a wider range of customer demands. More than slinging parts out the door to whoever will give money for them, they take the time to customize their kits for individuals who want such a service. They will change the spring rates for you at no charge. They have an option for customers to obtain lower ride heights with their extreme low option. Yes, Tein can do these things as well, but there is additional cost. This this does add some time to the order, the ability to customize a kit in this way is unique in the industry.

So as an alternative brand, we support and offer BC suspensions on our site.

On the last note, with regard to spring rates. We believe there is limited value in most customers changing the out-of-the-box rates. On the surface one would think that changing the rate or the brand of the springs would make the kit more to their liking. However these customers have no frame of reference as to how the baseline kit will be, and therefore making the change for the sake of making the change may move them in a direction they don't want to go. In other words, without having used the kit, how do you know you want to make a change, and how much of a change would be needed?

Comparing rates to other kits you have had is pointless. The shock tuning has a very significant role in the ride and handling, and so two different damper systems with the same spring rates are going to ride and handle differently. You can use past experience as an estimator, but really it will not provide the complete picture. Likewise, judging on other people's accounts lack perspective as well. One online friend giving his subjective opinion on the ride with whatever kit should mean very little to you, as you don't know him. We here online are all very different people. Some of us have very different life experiences, opinions, and other parts on our cars that will vastly vary our needs. Usually when someone says they really like their setup they rarely tell you whether or not they have kids in the car all the time, pound out mountain runs, how many miles they drive a year, or what other better or worse kits they had in the past they are comparing to.

Ultimately, when it comes to spending time being concerned about getting different springs in the box, or spending more money for other springs from other manufacturers, we say avoid it. Get the kit as the producer as spec'd it and use it before making changes. This leads to more intelligent changes. Also you need to consider your qualifications for making changes. You are not a suspension designer. If you think this kit is not going to serve your needs, maybe you are getting the wrong kit. Maybe consider something of a different option that better meets your needs.

That being said, if a customers to us confident with the changes they want to make we are happy to accommodate it. Definitely contact Heeltoe to discuss more on these matters, or to place an order. There are a lot of places where you can buy parts these days. Few will provide the support you will get from us, even down to giving installation or setup advice after the sale. Remember that we limit our customer base to give more specialized help.


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