Springs/absorbers Vs Tyres, how much does each contribute to overall handling?


Mazda3 2.0
I have a question..

If u decide to upgrade a car stock handling characteristics (let's just say cornering stability), will u change the suspension components (springs/abs/coilovers/anti roll bar) or the tyres first? When you approach the limits; your car tyres screeches or car understeering, which one causes it? which will have the highest marginal increase in performance for your money?

Am i correct to say that even if u change your tyres to grippier ones, the tyre screeching might be less and have higher cornering speed now, but under a stock suspension there will be still excessive body roll, floatiness, and hence less confidence in taking the corners?

i m just wondering does how much does upgrading bigger rims and wider tires will improve your handling vs changing to coilovers, etc. Both will definitely affect the comfort, without saying. Of course majority people just have bigger rims to look nice (same for lowered). I think in terms of cost wise, both are arguably costly depending on the brand.

Since both affect the car's handling and steering, but how does one affect the whole handling equation. How do u determine whether its the springs/dampers too soft or the tires not grippy enough?


Staff member
Deal, Kent UK
A3 1.4 TFSI 150 COD
Everything works together. Set up the wrong camber/toe and brilliant tyres will not save the cars handling. For street use the tolerances are much wider but on a track you will set the suspension up to match the track surface.

Tyres are your only contact with the road surface so if these are rubbish then the best suspension setup will still not help handling.

Some tracks are very smooth and others are pitted. The key to a nice suspension setup is removing the play ie replacing worn components and getting the geometry right. Soft and hard springs, damper rates bound and rebound are down to driver preference with some prefering mild oversteer and others like lots of oversteer and a few prefer understeer!:eek:

Bigger wheels will always wreck the handling and create tramlining, as you are increasing the unsprung weight. It will also alter your gearing. Wider tyres though will improve the grip and cornering.


Elan & Robin Hood
Whilst agreeing with most of what Waynne said, this is a subject that more rubbish is spouted as fact than almost any other in motoring!

A forum is not the place to get reasoned, comprehensive and accurate answers to your questions. Go on to Amazon and look up books like 'How to Build & Modify Sportscar & Kitcar Suspension and Brakes for Road & Track' by Des Hammill. This book, for example, will answer all of your questions and you will realise just how much cr*p is spoken on this subject by people who just haven't got a clue.

For example, simply increasing the spring rate can result in your tyres skipping over undulations, resulting in LESS grip, not more. This is a very complicated subject with no simple 'one size fits all' solution.

Rant over.
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TC ModFather
Alone in the dark.
Insignia SRI.
A very good pont there OG. Stiffer suspension may work amazing on a track but because our rubbish roads with bumps and potholes it will like you say make the car bounce and make a wheel leave contact with the floor. If you ask me in all honesty it's trial and error if you really want the best set up of all. And you'll never be satisfied but always trying to make thing better still.

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