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Coilovers Vs Spring & Damper kit - Pros & Cons

Discussion in 'A3/S3/Sportback (8P Chassis)' started by Ads, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. Ads
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    Ads License to drive

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    I'm looking to lower my car in the next few weeks by about 40-50mm but I am torn between going for coilovers (probably v-maxx for around the £400 mark), or a spring/damper kit (probably H&R for around the £500 mark). I don't want to spend any more than that really.

    So my question..... apart from the obvious (coilovers are adjustable and can go lower) what are the pros and cons of both??

    Just want to make sure I consider everything and don't overlook something when making my decision.

    :icon_thumright:
    #1
  2. DPM
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    DPM Well-Known Member Site Sponsor

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    Springs and shocks are generally a more comfortable option over coilovers.

    Damian @ DPM Performance
    #2
  3. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My question to you is do you predominantly drive on pot holed british roads with speed humps etc. and want a minimum hassle set up, or do you spend hours at the track requiring detailed set up of your car using corner weights and a team of specialists who set them up and service them for you twice a year???
    If you feel inferior during pub chat saying you've got updated springs / dampers then maybe go with coilies;-)
    #3
  4. Ads
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    Speed humps and pot holes for me, 99.9999% of the time.
    So springs/dampers then, I guess.
    #4
  5. basssound
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    basssound Member

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    Unless your going down the cheap ass road with coilovers (sub £400) then go for coilovers.
    They're fully TUV tested to usually 60mm, H&R ultralows do 100m+ drop, KW's, Weitec and AP do 60mm drops.
    I've got the KW V1's Inox range and I think they're awesome for the pre-set setup from the factory.
    Around £800 but they're are worth it for the ride quality, better than standard, stiffer and a lot less roll ect...

    You could drop 2k+ on air suspension and then buy some rims and tuck them for the lazy way to stance, why peeps do this is beyond me!

    Shocks and Springs is a more confartable ride but then you don't ge the ride height adjustment ect...
    #5
  6. shady-ninja
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    shady-ninja Member

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    if you are not going on the track then go for springs and dampers.
    in my personal experience from coilovers (WEITEC HICON TX) ITS
    jaw breaking and you will spend most of the time on the road dodging
    potholes and driving slowly and carefully to the annoyance of other road users.
    but on a open road with s-bends its fun all the way provided you have good tyres.
    coilovers communicates very well with the road and let you know whats going on underneath.
    #6
  7. wez3570
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    wez3570 Member

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    What happens if u go springs and shocks and ur not happy with the ride height?
    #7
  8. Ads
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    Ads License to drive

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    So its sounding like springs and dampers for "urban" (London) driving then. So long as I'm happy with the fixed stance/height that the springs provide.
    #8
  9. basssound
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    basssound Member

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    I had this exact same predicament, I had cheap AP coilovers on my ibiza and they are spine shattering
    soI decided to spend 3 times as much on KW's and they're great!

    All depends on whether your desperate for the hieght adjustment!?!?
    #9
  10. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Personally I'd rather it rides right than worrying about ride height, you can usually spec springs at various levels of drop, so if you want bigger than 40mm then it's likely it's more a cosmetic effect change you are after rather than a quality drive.

    People are far to readily open to switch to coil overs, did it once myself and then saw the light. By all means if you show your car and you want to sink it into the weeds then get some coil overs, but for me I just never found I spent any time dialling the settings so they were a complete waste of time, and the car just felt skittish and unwieldy and lacked any real compliance.

    If you do get coils Ads, get them set up by people who know what they're doing as fitting cheap coil overs with a protractor and best guess may get you 'scene' points, but wears yours tyres fast and means your braking / handling will be a bag of pap. And having coils doesn't add an inch to your man veg (contrary to public belief!)
    #10
  11. Farhan
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    Farhan Active Member

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    Agree with warren, i had coilovers on my last car and we had a few set up, KWs, Teins, D2s, BCs, Im picky and im sick of bumps and crashes.

    I live in london to and its a nightmare, Coilovers are good for one thing only and thats to lower. Unless you pay big money for stuff like bilstein etc.

    Comfort is compromised and everything starts to rattle, I need to lower my car but im using it to often now to even think about it. I bought the A3 for a comfortable commute so if i did go down the lowering route i would probably just go for a decent spring set up.
    #11
  12. TimG
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    TimG Member

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    I've always had coilovers as like changing wheels and adjusting the height to suit fitment/stance/performance as needed dependant on the car/wheels. A fixed drop has never appealed to me as for the same money you can get something height adjustable to play with!

    Something to bear in mind is that all coilovers will get firmer the lower you go & set at the same height as a shock & spring combo there may not be much in it in terms of ride comfort (Obviously different price points/makes of product will impact significantly!).
    #12
  13. jungleman
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    jungleman Active Member

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    ive had this very discussion with the guy who tunes my car and he said unless you spend silly money on coilovers (500-800 per corner) youre way way better off with springs and dampers for both control and comfort, as warren said just make sure you sepc the right drop and your be as happy as larry!
    #13
  14. rockape
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    rockape Per ardua

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    I have to agree with warren. Coilovers are not needed imo unless you are into dropping your car to the deck you drive on German roads or live on a race track. If I were you Id save my spine and go springs and dampers kit....fit and forget!!

    Warren didn't you write a thread on scn about this very subject? I remember reading it a couple of years ago when I was looking into them. The op should have a read it was very informative from what I remember.
    #14
  15. rockape
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    rockape Per ardua

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  16. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I did mate; got bored ****less of hearing of people rocking up wanting praise for sticking some twiglets under their car and setting them up themselves and thinking because they were rolling on the deck they were the daddy mac. A good percentage of them don't even understand why, it's just blind stupidity, but then it's their cash. Spend all day tring to justify 'going their own way', but why would you spend good money modding your car and then spend as little as possible connecting it with the road? as long as you look good I don't suppose it matters if you car rides or handles like a plank!
    #16
  17. S3RYE
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    S3RYE Interior Next!!

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    TAKE A BOW....:applaus::beerchug:
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  18. Ash187
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    Ash187 Audi Retrofitter

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    Interesting...
    i was going to go down the coilover route myself but after reading this lot i am seriously reconsidering. I too am in London and the speed bumps do my head in so there is no way i am breaking my back to look good.
    how low a drop would look good on a set of 19's speedlines on springs and dampers? didnt need to think about that factor with coils...
    #18
  19. jungleman
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    jungleman Active Member

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    think with A3s all drops are takes from sport height? so youll need a 50mm drop to close out the arch gap (99.999% sure)
    #19
  20. Ash187
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    Ash187 Audi Retrofitter

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    so a 50 mm drop will loose the arch gap, and not leave me with back pain after a few weeks... and also no rubbing when i have passengers in the car? remember i want to run 19's
    #20
  21. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    25mm for stability and improved pitch / roll, if you go 40mm the damper stroke isn't likely to be operating that effectively to counteract the lack of side wall flex (tyres used to be part of the natuiral suspension action). Again it depends on which model you are running as to how much lowering it needs, but from S3 levels of ride height I'd only drop 25mm max.

    The STANDARD / TECHNIK / SE models run full ride height as standard

    SPORT model runs 15mm lower than STANDARD / TECHNIK / SE

    S Line model runs 10mm lower than SPORT

    S3 runs 'S suspension', but brochure doesn't quote it being any lower than S-Line, maybe just different springs

    So based on this I'd say if your car is STANDARD / TECHNIK / SE , it's likely to be running 25mm higher than S3, therefore you could lower by 50-60mm lowering springs.

    The Sport you could lower by 35-40mm

    The S-Line / S3 springs seem to be available at 25mm, and given the ride I'd say that's as much as you'd want.

    Ensure when you buy the lowering springs you get well matched / proven damper combo's as some work better together than others.

    All subjective guesswork, so probably best to check with someone like Damian at DPM.
    I
    #21
  22. Ash187
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    Ash187 Audi Retrofitter

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    ok that makes sense... im currently on sport springs so that would mean a 40mm drop for me...
    i know if i ran 18s i would get more of a ride comfort but i love the look of the 19's on our Audi's.

    so just looked over on DPM Performance and i see they do shocks and springs kit and a seperate damper kit... combining the 2 kits and the price goes up to the £1k mark... would it then not be worth just getting a decent coilover set?
    #22
  23. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Coilovers aren't better for road use, if anything they are probably worse unless you live in a land of perfect smooth tarmac.

    In basic terms if you feel the compulsion to be constantly adjusting ride height between road use and doing track days then coilovers may be the answer, but given the range of adjustability, any average 'Joe Public' is very unlikely to have the tools or skills to optimise any real set up parameters and even rally / F1 teams can get it wrong sometimes. I can go and buy a scalpal, a stethoscope and a mask, but does it make me a brain surgeon.

    There's more to go wrong, most people don't even realise coilovers should be periodically serviced as the adjustable parts present an increased risk of seizure or failure, and if you think of the complexity of the set up alone, a less complex srping damper set up for £600 can't be worse than coilovers at the same price as there is less engineering / complexity etc. so something in the coilovers must have to be compromised qualitywise.

    At the end of the day mate, only you can decide when it comes to placing the order, but I'd say you're better off spending £600 on spring dampers, and £400 on driver training so you can improve your technical driving skills. Having coilovers on your car won't make you a driving god, it is just likely to make you like your car less in the long run!
    #23
  24. MartayMcFly
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    MartayMcFly Well-Known Member Regional Rep

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    So what is the default springs and dampers set up? Billy B8s and H&R or Eibach 25mm springs was the 8L favoured set-up, is there similar 8P-wide agreement that there is a commonly held "best bet" alternative to coilovers? Which is the best set-up for an S3, assuming there is a slightly different ideal from Sport or S-line A3s?

    I've been planning on coilovers for a while, but it was just a stance issue. I don't really want he hassle of servicing them regularly, and don't need the height and damper adjustment once they're where I want them to be. I'm getting 19s, so want to close the arch gap, but don't want to loose and comfort and especially don't want to lose any handling ability. Would springs on standard shocks work, or would there be a constant compression issue to worry about?
    #24
  25. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm not too sure myself.

    I was thinking of going for H&R Spring damper set up, but I've been browsing some other brand forums recently and a new contender is the Koni FSD (self adjusting) damper, possibly twinned with Eibach 25mm drop springs.

    Some do retain OEM damper and fit H&R or Eibach lowering spring with fair effect, so it can be done, but what I want to achieve is a ride that's very liveable with day to day when commuting, but then sharpens up with you give it some beans.

    The FSD Konis (supposedly - according to their marketing lies!) have a 'mechanism' in them that enables them to adapt to how you are driving meaning they stiffen up when you push the car harder, and soften off when you slow down (much akin to a a Specialized Brain rear bike shock system I would imagine). Makes sense as it adapts constantly without any driver adjustment required. Where this wins for me is that its ready to go from the off, and shold you find a decent bit of road your not compelled to pull over and dial in some turn to get a firmer ride.

    The theory is excellent, but whether they are as good in reality remains to be seen.

    I'm tempted by FSD's with Eibach springs, 12mm spacers front, 15mm spacers rear, Whiteline WALK's, rear ARB upgrade and rear engine mount upgrade (THS). This will pretty much complete my suspension mods. Just need to find a supplier who can offer all of that in oe package.
    #25
  26. rockape
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    rockape Per ardua

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    I think that ASN is suffering from the coilover obsession atm....along with dare I say it, 19" wheels! Now there's nothing wrong with obsessions and I have a few lol so before anyone gets defensive, I get the whole 19's slammed look and enjoy looking at the show pics it's just an observation of mine. There's some awsome looking cars of that genre on here as we all know, but for a lot of people coilovers and 19's are generally a "look" mod rather than a handling one. I wanted a lowered look too but stayed on 18" to retain some suppleness as I knew eibach springs would be stiffer. I'm still on original shocks but looking to change to sport dampers soon(big lesson learned there!). The car is more planted through corners with less roll but the shocks and springs sometimes feel like they are doing there own thing if that makes sense. I know I'm not getting the best performance and the original shocks are struggling with the extra spring rate.
    #26
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  27. Ash187
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    Ash187 Audi Retrofitter

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    ok im a newbie with springs and shocks... so dumb question coming up....
    are shocks and dampers the same thing or different? i am guessing very different hence different names... but from what i know they go in the same kind of place?? sorry but im a totally useless mechanic!
    im just trying to figure out which springs and shocks/dampers to go for...
    #27
  28. rockape
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    rockape Per ardua

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    Afaik they're the same. I did a google for damper and found this though: damper = a device that decreases the amplitude of electronic, mechanical, acoustical, or aerodynamic oscillations.
    #28
  29. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
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  30. warren_S5
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    #30
  31. MartayMcFly
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    MartayMcFly Well-Known Member Regional Rep

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    I think the terms are just opposite side of the same cycle. The unit absorbs the initial shock, and dampens the rebound of the spring so you don't get bounced around forever. They are the same thing, I'd say.
    #31
  32. Ash187
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    Ash187 Audi Retrofitter

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    right so then i am right in thinking if i was to get a 'shock and springs' kit i would not then need to get additional dampers :)
    learning some good stuff here today :icon_thumright:
    #32
  33. Ads
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    Ads License to drive

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    Bloody hell... what a mine of information this thread has turned into. Very useful stuff, and has pretty much made my mind up on what to go for..... a spring and damper (shock absorber) kit.

    I'm on 18's so this is the one i'm probably going to go for --------> H&R 50mm Cup Lowering Springs & Shocks Suspension Kit A3 8P / A3 8P Sportback 1.6, 1.9TDi, 2.0FSi, 2.0T FSi, 2.0TDi FWD 05/03> - £541.27 : The premiere online mail order VAG suspension and performance specialists. We offer a wide range of all the be

    They also do the same kit in 35mm, and 55mm/40mm (front/rear).

    One question....... these kits come in 50mm and 55mm front strut diameter but are still for the same models. Anybody know which one is needed for a 2006 2.0T DSG FWD???
    #33
  34. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Pretty sure yours will be 54.6mm (55mm), but one way to find out is to get your VIN and call an Audi dealer parts dept. who will be able to x-reference the VIN and tell you for certain. Whilst you are inconveniencing them, it may save you a lot of hassle later on.
    #34
  35. ern
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    ern Member

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    For me lowering your car for the look is only effectively done with coilovers.. the adjustability is a huge essential. If you do get shocks and springs and then are happy with the aesthetics then its a rare occasion, i generally find if you do go down that route then you will always be a bit dis heartened it didnt turn out as low as you were hoping. And again the ride comfort on coilovers is not a million miles away from shocks and springs. Plus if you change wheels/tyres then you can adjust the height respectively.

    The whole problem of avoiding speed bumps and pot holes is just down to the amount of drop that you put on which is completely up the user with coilovers; if you want it on the deck and are willing to drive around these things then your paid with the look of the car. Similarly if you only want a 40mm drop and then decide its just not enough then there is the freedom to change it. With adjustable dampening coilovers the reduction in ride quality isnt a massive amount but you will have to play with the right combination until your happy with it. The quality obvious reduces the lower you go as there is less room for the dampers to reduce the oscillations of the car.

    Thought i would give my 2p to make the thread less one sided.
    #35
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  36. Ads
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    Ads License to drive

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    I'll give that a go. Cheers mate.
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  37. DPM
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    DPM Well-Known Member Site Sponsor

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    As mentioned you'll most likely need the 55mm option.

    Damian @ DPM Performance
    #37
  38. Westy
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    Westy Double Dark Side! Diesel & 8P

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    Ads, I went with 35mm KW shocks and springs as my standard kit was shagged. I only really do 1 Nurburgring trip a year so they are perfect for me. Reduced ride height (on 18s), better handling, but not too harsh.

    Coilovers tend to become 1 set ride height after a while anyway because they tend to sieze at whaever you've set them at and they're difficult to adjust again.
    #38
  39. Ads
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    Ads License to drive

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    Cheers Damian.

    This is fast becoming my next dilemma.... 35mm or 50mm???????

    I'm on Sport springs at the moment so I guess I'm gonna get an additional drop of 20mm with 35mm springs, and 35mm with 50mm springs.
    #39
  40. Westy
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    Westy Double Dark Side! Diesel & 8P

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    I can only give you my experience on 35mm springs on an 8L S3 mate. I feel that for the journeys I make that 35mm on 18" wheels is fine. I also have the LCR front bumper splitter and I'm just at the right height to clear all speed bumps and the ride is very comfy.

    Are you only replacing the shocks/springs for looks or are your standard ones a bit shot now?
    #40

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