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#4611347 - 12/22/17 02:24 PM Shock and spring setup for better ride quality
EdwardC Offline


Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1864
Loc: Chicago, IL
I've been thinking about replacing the suspension on all 4 corners of my Honda Element. It has a pretty short wheelbase and with its age, it's become bouncier.

The Element is a keeper, so I was planning to buy whole OEM assemblies and do the installation myself. That should get me close to the original ride quality.

However, for an acceptable amount more money, there are custom coilover setups that I could get with custom springs and damper valving. Originally, the kits were made to be able to lower Elements one or a few inches. However, I can also order the kit with longer springs of varying spring rate, then adjust the spring perch up higher, getting the same ride height, but with more spring. I think I could also potentially get a dual rate spring setup.

So, help me understand what it takes to get better ride quality from the suspension. For now, let's assume the wheels/tires and ultimate ride height (stock) are constants, and that the shocks will always be valved appropriately for the spring rate. Is it just a matter of getting the softest spring that will hold the weight of the car?

Thanks for any thoughts!

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#4611353 - 12/22/17 02:29 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
BrocLuno Offline


Registered: 09/06/15
Posts: 5521
Loc: Kalifornia Kollective
OK, so fully 1/2 of ride quality is the tires. Higher aspect ratio and lower tire pressure will help a lot. So if they are riding on 60's, go to 70's and drop the pressure.

Next, a lot of the ride quality comes from the rubber bushings in the suspension. If the rubber is getting hard, that will lead to less compliance and that leads to harsher ride.

Very unlikely the springs are the issue ...

Shock valving can have a very dramatic effect on ride quality. How progressive the valving is is one way. Ranch0 9000 shocks have user adjustable valving and can get you the ride quality you want, just spin the dial smile
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#4611386 - 12/22/17 02:48 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
EdwardC Offline


Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1864
Loc: Chicago, IL
Oh, I agree completely. I have no doubt there's nothing "wrong" with my current (I'm certain I could save a few bucks by reusing my old springs), or new OEM springs. I'm just curious if I could potentially do better. I'm running the stock tire size, 215/70R16, with decent tires.

Shock valving is something I hadn't really looked into. I know the coilovers have adjustable valving, but I don't know the parameters of those adjustments.

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#4611429 - 12/22/17 03:36 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
skyactiv Offline


Registered: 03/02/13
Posts: 4404
Loc: The Midwest
It needs need shocks/struts to restore the original ride quality. Speaking of ride quality, I just looked at the road test on Consumers Reports, which usually has a bias towards Honda and Toyota. They state the Honda Element has a stiff, choppy ride.

While I would replace the shocks on all four corners since your describing your Element has become bouncier over time, I'd learn to live with the ride.
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#4611431 - 12/22/17 03:36 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
Char Baby Offline


Registered: 05/25/05
Posts: 10028
Loc: ROCHESTER, NY
Are you looking for a ride that is more absorbent to road irregularities or a ride that is a bit more cushioned/floaty?
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#4611444 - 12/22/17 03:58 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
LeakySeals Offline


Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 6578
Loc: Hudson, NH
Being bouncy is the biggest Element complaint, you're far from alone. Especially in the rear. According to many that have tried and failed, its the design, the shape. So its not something you can't easily get rid of if at all. Many say adding weight in the rear helps. That means maybe the springs are too high or too strong. Lowering the center of gravity, lowering the springs should help.
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#4611448 - 12/22/17 04:02 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: Char Baby]
EdwardC Offline


Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1864
Loc: Chicago, IL
Originally Posted By: Char Baby
Are you looking for a ride that is more absorbent to road irregularities or a ride that is a bit more cushioned/floaty?


I think I'd want... both? Maybe more the first, for road irregularities. I'm not sure if this answers your question, but the ride seems more acceptable at highway speeds, but harsher than I like around tow, hitting bumps and such.

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#4611457 - 12/22/17 04:14 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
Rand Offline


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 12651
Loc: NE,Ohio
What tires do you have on it?.. That is part of the equation as well.
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#4611469 - 12/22/17 04:23 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: Rand]
EdwardC Offline


Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1864
Loc: Chicago, IL
Originally Posted By: Rand
What tires do you have on it?.. That is part of the equation as well.


Since everyone keeps bringing that up, I have Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia in the stock size (215/70R16), but I don't plan on changing tires for better ride quality, however, if the type of tire I am using affects suspension suggestions, please let me know.

Edit: Also, I typically run at the stock tire pressure, 33 front, 35 rear PSI. I lower the rear one or two PSI sometimes as well since I rarely carry passengers and currently have the rear seats out.


Edited by EdwardC (12/22/17 04:25 PM)

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#4611511 - 12/22/17 05:24 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
eagle23 Offline


Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 504
Loc: Roswell GA
Originally Posted By: EdwardC
[quote=Rand]What tires do you have on it?.. That is part of the equation as well.


[I have Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia in the stock size (215/70R16), but I don't plan on changing tires for better ride quality, however, if the type of tire I am using affects suspension suggestions, please let me know.

Edit: Also, I typically run at the stock tire pressure, 33 front, 35 rear PSI. I lower the rear one or two PSI sometimes as well since I rarely carry passengers and currently have the rear seats out.]

Part of the ride harshness are the tire pressures you're using. For a vehicle that doesn't carry passengers, I would lower the rear pressures to 29, and the fronts to no more than 32. I suspect you'd see a noticeable ride difference.

Every front drive car I've had for decades I've done that with. Unless I've had a lot of passengers, I usually run a 3-5 psi difference front to rear. The centers don't wear out as quickly, either.

Also, consider changing to a softer riding tire. The Ecopias are not well rated in that category at Tire Rack. In a car that is already harsh riding, the tires make a big difference, as was said earlier. That would give better results that spring/shock changes that have a history of disappointing outcomes, and maybe for the same or less money.

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#4611525 - 12/22/17 05:44 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
slacktide_bitog Offline


Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 6176
Loc: USA
Just get the OEM Honda quick struts, and be lucky that Honda offers complete assemblies from the dealer smile

How many miles on your Element? What year is it? For the early cars 03-06, Monroe makes quick struts for all 4 wheels. For the later cars 07+ they only have the rears available. There is also a rebate if you buy by 1/30

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#4611564 - 12/22/17 06:28 PM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: LeakySeals]
EdwardC Offline


Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1864
Loc: Chicago, IL

Originally Posted By: slacktide_bitog
Just get the OEM Honda quick struts, and be lucky that Honda offers complete assemblies from the dealer smile

How many miles on your Element? What year is it? For the early cars 03-06, Monroe makes quick struts for all 4 wheels. For the later cars 07+ they only have the rears available. There is also a rebate if you buy by 1/30


It's an 07 with about 120,000 miles on it.


Originally Posted By: LeakySeals
Being bouncy is the biggest Element complaint, you're far from alone. Especially in the rear. According to many that have tried and failed, its the design, the shape. So its not something you can't easily get rid of if at all. Many say adding weight in the rear helps. That means maybe the springs are too high or too strong. Lowering the center of gravity, lowering the springs should help.


It's definitely does ride better with weight in the back. The coilovers do allow me to play with the ride height a little as well. I had thought about lowering it an inch or so to help prevent thieves from stealing the cat again. Better ride would be a nice bonus.

Thanks everyone! I understand that the Element won't be the smoothest vehicle ever, just wanted to see if I could gain anything since I'll be replacing the suspension anyway.

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#4611776 - 12/23/17 02:15 AM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
DoubleWasp Offline


Registered: 05/21/12
Posts: 5236
Loc: Fort Lauderdale, FL
The problem with the Element and similar vehicles is that the shocks are too short in the rear. This is a very common engineering problem that always causes bad ride behavior.

The coil over is probably your best way to go. I've done those on a number of modern Hondas, and was able to tune the suspension just right every time.

Ride, grip, handling, and absorption all improved without any changes to the tires or wheels.
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#4611791 - 12/23/17 04:31 AM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: DoubleWasp]
Char Baby Offline


Registered: 05/25/05
Posts: 10028
Loc: ROCHESTER, NY
Originally Posted By: DoubleWasp
The problem with the Element and similar vehicles is that the shocks are too short in the rear. This is a very common engineering problem that always causes bad ride behavior.

The coil over is probably your best way to go. I've done those on a number of modern Hondas, and was able to tune the suspension just right every time.

Ride, grip, handling, and absorption all improved without any changes to the tires or wheels.


^^^This seems like the way to go!
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#4611793 - 12/23/17 04:38 AM Re: Shock and spring setup for better ride quality [Re: EdwardC]
spasm3 Offline


Registered: 05/30/10
Posts: 8662
Loc: North Carolina
Is your element an SC? They had lowered suspension which means even less suspension travel.


Edited by spasm3 (12/23/17 04:38 AM)
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