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Choosing Between a Mustang Shock & Strut, Coil Over, or Air Lift Suspension

Written By: Stanley Sadowski

Building up your Mustang's suspension takes careful consideration. Depending on if your Mustang's a street machine or a track warrior depends on how stiff and how adjustable you want to go.

How do Mustang Coil Over Suspensions Work?

Coil-over kits replace the springs that are perched in-between the lower control arm and the body of your Mustang. These kits still utilize the current shocks and struts or come in a kit, but not all shocks and struts are compatible with a coil over system. If you are considering coil overs for your current setup make sure your shocks and struts are compatible.

Instead of conventional springs, coil springs use a compact, lightweight spring design that slides over the shock or strut and rests on two spring perches which screw on to the threaded sleeve that slides over the shock or strut. This is the ideal location for a spring because it allows the suspension to instantly respond to driving conditions, increasing stability and predictability.

Mustang Coil Over Kit

Benefits of Choosing a Coil Over Kit

  • Adjustable ride height
  • Adjust each wheel individually
  • Reduce body roll
  • Reduces nose diving
  • Increase general handling performance
  • Balance between comfort and performance

Going with a coil-over kit can be extremely beneficial across the board. If you are constantly striving to get the best out of your Mustang, then a coil over kit is the top of the line suspension upgrade you’ve been missing. Coil-over kits allow you to adjust ride height very easily and are overall the most responsive setup for the suspension while also shaving a couple pounds of weight from the vehicle.

Coil-overs also reduce body roll and nose diving which is created when excessive pressure is applied to the brakes and are the best overall suspension setup easily available for modern-day Mustangs. You can retain a moderately comfortable ride and still perform just as you want at the track. Another benefit is that each wheel can be individually adjusted.

What Coil Over Kit is Right For my Mustang? 

Coil-over kits are very specific for each application. Depending on how stiff or soft you want the suspension to be, or what kind of motor you have, there are different spring rates to accommodate each. For example, a 150lb spring set will be softer than a 175lb spring set. Also, if you are going to be using a tubular k-member setup then a coil-over kit is required since most of the tubular a-arms do not come with spring perches for conventional springs.

Lowered 2011 Mustang GT
BMR Suspension Mustang K-Member

Benefits of Aftermarket Mustang Shocks & Struts 

Using aftermarket shocks and struts on your Mustang will be a significant improvement over stock for performance and luckily, there are tons of replacement options out there. Picking the right set of shocks and struts is again determined by what you use your car for and your budget as each provides a different level of ride quality and comfort.

There are mono-tube designs that utilize one inner working cylinder and give you performance when you want it as they eliminate the foaming problem that occurs in twin-tube designs. Twin-tubes use two inner working cylinders that and usually provide the most comfortable ride while also having performance benefits.

There are adjustable shocks and struts that allow you to turn your suspension on the fly. This is important for any type of racing application because it allows you to tailor the suspension to your needs. Another benefit is that you can select a stiffer setting while at the track and them turn them down for a softer more comfortable ride home.

Koni Adjustable Mustang Front Strut

Do You Want New Springs With Aftermarket Mustang Shocks & Struts? 

The perfect way to compliment a good shock and strut setup is to pick up a set of lowering springs. There are springs out there that offer the same comfort as stock with added handling and performance benefits. Upgrading the springs will allow the car to transfer weight better, improve overall balance, and improve cornering and handling when taking turns and navigating a road course. Springs will also lower your Mustang a length that depends on which spring set you go with. This will lower the center of gravity, eliminate the stock 4x4 stance, and give your Mustang the aggressive look it deserves.

Ford Racing Mustang Lowering Springs

Differences Between Coil Overs and Shock/Struts

Coilovers, quality dependent, are normally better quality versus traditional shocks and struts. The adjustable ride height not only gives higher precision of quality but also newer technology in changing spring rates. This can also allow for better ride quality while still having practicality. Although they are more expensive, they are a newer, more versatile technology that can not only improve the ride height of the car, but also the ride quality. It can also allow for changing said ride height if one ever has to.

How Does A Mustang Air Lift Suspension System Work?

Air Lift works by regulating air flow to specialized airbags installed in place of your Mustang's springs. Air Lift allows you to lower your Mustang about 4” from stock ride height or raise your Mustang to about 1” over stock ride height.

The variable ride height can slam your Mustang for shows, create a lower center of gravity for racing, or raise the front end to get over speed bumps and up steep driveways. By raising or lowering the pressure in the airbags, the ride height of your Mustang changes.

The Air Lift kits also come with 30-way adjustable shocks and struts which control the rebound and compression damping. You can increase stiffness for racing or soften the settings for daily driving. The adjustability found in the Air Lift kit means that you can reliably daily drive, drag race, road race, and show off at shows with your Mustang.

Air Lift kits are available with manual controllers that allow you to adjust your pressures and height yourself, or digital controllers that offer preset heights along with a computer to maintain your settings.

  • 5" range of suspension adjustment
  • 30-way adjustable shocks and struts
  • Ride height adjustment at the touch of a button, automatic adjustment
  • Caster/camber plates included
  • Can be used on the street, drag racing, and auto-crossing/road racing

What Is The Best For Me?

Choosing between Air Lift and coil overs can be a difficult choice to make. An Air Lift is more expensive than most entry-level or mid-level coil over kits, but the versatility, adjustability, and superior ride quality that come with an Air Lift kit are hard to beat.

Air Lift kits come complete with everything needed to install including the compressor, air tank, lines, fittings, manifold, new shocks and struts, and air springs for all 4 corners. Air Lift also has caster/camber plates which give up to 3 degrees of camber adjustment.

Not all coil over kits come with caster/camber plates, but some do. Be sure to check your kit before ordering. When lowering your car beyond about 1.5", you will want to be sure you have some form of camber adjustment.

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