Stop Being So Shallow...

January 7, 2016

Sometimes, car parts are like one night stands.  You don't really care if that crinkle coat yellow valve cover really adds any hp's, but it you sure do like the way it makes you feel in the pants so you bring it home, use it, forget about it.  You also forget that you gave it your phone number in a drunken moment of idiocy.  It calls you a week later, says it might be pregnant.  You say "No that's not possible.  Come over to my place, I'm putting in an in-ground pool, maybe you can give me a hand while we talk about this.  Don't tell anyone though, its a surprise!"....  


Sometimes though, you are looking for a long-term relationship with your parts, like coilovers.  Its hard to pick out the fakes though, with their tarted-up coatings, unsupported performance claims, and "Tell-your-friends!" too-cheap prices.  So you need to invest a lot of time asking the right questions, finding out if they are a good fit for you, and ultimately you'll probably up spending more money on them than the "cheap" alternative.  


Here's some questions we suggest you ask your coilover manufacturer before you drop you time and money on a dud.
1.  "What shock oil do you use, and why did you choose it?"  Traditional shocks work by moving a piston through oil, varying the amount of resistance through a combination of shims and oil passages.  But how well that oil works depends on its viscosity, which can change based on operating temperature.  If you manage to get an answer, that's a good sign.  If they don't know what shock oil they use or why they chose it, slowly back away.  Maybe call PIC.

2.  "Can you explain your shock dyno to me?"  You sly dog!  You're basically asking two questions here - do they have a shock dyno for your particular model, and do they know how to read it if so?  Does it matter if its Force vs. Velocity, or Force vs. Displacement?   Or if YOU know how to read it?  Not really.  Just like with the shock oil, it is simply important that they have a positive answer.  

3.  "What spring rates do you offer, and how did you decide on those spring rates for my car?"  Hint:  nobody STARTS with track-testing, let alone arrives at the perfect spring rate combination after their very first try.  Spring rates, along with their accompany damping curves (they are matched, right?), can and should be calculated based on a variety of factors.  If you're lucky, you can get a fairly good idea here of how this particular set of coilovers will impact your car's handling.  Worst case scenario, you get another blank stare or awkward phone silence.  


There are other questions you can ask, but you are beginning to see a pattern here.  A company who manufactures a product should know the "how" and "why" behind that product.  If they do not, would you really feel comfortable giving them your money, let alone put their parts on your car?  If you do, better double bag it.

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