Besides the tyres, your Mazda MX5’s suspension system plays a crucial role in how your car handles on the road. However, it also plays a crucial role in how your Mazda appears. If you want to make an already fun car even more fun to drive, turn even more heads when you cruise down the streets and take on turns better, then you’re probably looking for aftermarket Mazda MX5 coilovers. Aftermarket coilovers replace your stock spring and shock assembly in a single, full-bodied coilover known as a true coilover.
Just like you won’t use dance shoes to play football in, you don’t want to use coilovers that are meant for the track on your everyday Mazda MX5. Luckily, there are many different types of aftermarket coilover systems, so you’re bound to find suitable Mazda MX5 coilovers for your type of driving.
Usually, the higher your budget, the better adjustability the coilovers will provide, which is necessary if you’re trying to get the most out of your Mazda. That being said, it’s important to do your due diligence to avoid buying the most expensive coilovers just because they look nice.
Shock And Springs
The shocks and springs are the most important pieces of your suspension system, and they’re what comprise coilovers. Unless both these parts work together properly, you’ll get poor performance from your suspension system.
The springs are responsible for controlling your tyres when you go over bumps and preventing your chassis from bottoming out. Further, they reduce body roll, and ensure your front or back don’t hit the road when you accelerate and brake. You’ve probably heard of the term spring rates, which is basically the amount of weight needed to compress the spring per millimetre. For instance, your springs may have a spring rate of 5kg/mm. The larger the number, the stiffer the spring.
However, keep in mind that a higher rated spring doesn’t result in better performance. If your springs are too stiff, your handling will be worsened. If they’re too soft, however, the chassis will bottom out. Having said that, while the ideal spring rate comes down to personal preference, you should know that you can either make your drive more comfortable or handle better, rarely both. If you mostly keep your Mazda MX5 on the road, you probably want a lower spring rate.
Shocks, on the other hand, convert and transform the energy created from the springs into heat, which is then cooled down by internal fluids that pass through small holes in the piston’s head. If it weren’t for the shocks, the energy from the springs will continue to compress and decompress until that energy somehow disappears.
You’ll find quite a few types of top mounts on coilovers. Some use the OEM top mount, while others use pillow-ball or rubber coilovers. Some feature adjustable top mounts that allow you to change things like the caster and camber, which can be very beneficial if you want to tune your car properly.
The majority of coilovers come with a pillow-ball mount, which is basically a spherical bearing used as the connection point between the top-hat and strut assembly. Pillow-balls allow for more precise and sharper handling, but at the cost of increased vibration and a less comfortable ride. Rubber top mounts, on the other hand, while stiffer than the OEM top mount, is much more forgiving than a pillow-bar top mount. As a result, you get a more comfortable ride.
Coilover Preload, Compression And Rebound
Coilover preload is the pressure applied to the coilover springs depending on how far they’re compressed. By increasing the preload, you can help improve traction. However, too much preload will have a negative impact. Cheap coilover kits adjust the height of the vehicle when preload is applied, which isn’t ideal. Most coilovers don’t apply any preload, which is also why it’s important to choose the right springs with a suitable spring rate.
Compression occurs when the stock piston retrieves inside its own body, compressing the fluid in the chamber. Rebound occurs when the stock piston is pulled away from its own body, compressing the fluid again. In other words, compression is how fast the weight is applied onto the wheels and the rebound is how fast the weight will move away. Most coilovers feature a compression adjuster. However, most high-end coilover kits feature 2, 3 or 4-way adjusters to enable better tuning of these settings.
Adjusting Coilover Height
Before you start installing and adjusting your new MX5 coilovers, you’ll need a measuring tape. In the ideal world, all four corners should be at the same height. Measure the distance of the exposed threads on the coilovers instead of measuring the arch gap. Once you’ve installed them, set your Mazda down on the ground, and let the suspension settle for a bit. If you need to make adjustments, just jack your car back up and tweak the collars on the lower mount to lift or lower the coilovers. Repeat these few steps as much as you need to get your desired height.
There are a couple of things you should pay attention to when setting your MX5’s height. First and foremost, even if all the measurements match up perfectly, you still might have to set one side lower or higher than the other. This is because every car is made different and it isn’t always perfectly weighted on both sides. Then, you might want to consider placing a set of coilover sock covers to prevent them from taking a beating from the elements and prevent them from getting seized.
When measuring the arch gap, don’t measure from the ground to the arch. More variables come into play if you do this, so just measure from the top of the rims for better accuracy.
Lastly, if you want to optimise your setup for extra grip, the rake can help you adjust the balance of your Mazda. By increasing the rear ride height, can be an easy way to prevent a reducing grip at the rear of a front-wheel-drive vehicle. After all, the suspension system and its parts play a huge role in the handling and comfort of your car.
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