Linear vs Progressive vs Dual Rate Springs

Linear vs Progressive vs Dual Rate Springs

"How to Pick the Best Lowering Springs for Your Driving Style"

Last Updated May 13, 2024 | Kevin Brent

Lowering springs are a popular aftermarket modification for performance cars, giving the vehicle better handling and a lower, more aggressive stance. Some springs offer a smoother, more controlled ride, while others transfer more vibration and road feel to the cabin.

Finding the right set of lowering springs can be frustrating due to the number of brands, types, and spring rates, but it doesn't have to be.

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There are three main types of coil springs on the market today: Linear, progressive, and dual rate springs. Each of these spring styles have their own distinct advantages and use cases, so let's go over each of them and compare linear vs progressive vs dual rate springs.

Progressive vs Linear vs Dual Rate Springs
Feature Linear Springs Progressive Springs Dual Rate Spring
Handling Best Better Good
Performance Best Better Good
Ride Quality Good Best Better
Adaptability Good Better Best

What Are Linear Springs?

A linear spring has a consistent spring rate throughout the entire spring. This means that first inch will take, for example, 200 pounds to compress. Every following inch of compression will also take 200 pounds to compress, meaning the rate of compression will stay consistent.

So, when you're taking corners with a car that's set up on linear springs, the resistance you feel through the steering wheel is constant. All things being equal, a car on linear springs maneuvers better on a road course or track, but with rougher ride quality than other spring types.

Mustang linear lowering spring sitting on a table

Why Install Linear Springs?

Linear Springs are more geared towards racing enthusiasts. For drag racing and autocross, you might want that specific rate because it'll be consistent in all track conditions. Every time you push it in the corner and launch into the track you'll get that same spring rate across the board.

Road race guys usually want a pretty heavy spring all the way around, while the drag race enthusiasts want a heavier spring in the back on a softer spring up front to transfer weight.

  • You want predictable performance and more road feel. Linear springs will feel more responsive and predictable through tight corners due to the constant spring rate.
  • You don't mind a rougher ride. If your car's a weekend warrior, or you just prefer a stiffer suspension, linear springs are a good choice. You'll feel more of the road's characteristics transferred through the steering wheel.

chart showing resistance difference between linear and progressive springs Linear vs Progressive Springs

What Are Progressive Springs?

The spring rate of a progressive spring varies based on compression. For example, your first inch might take 200 pounds of pressure to move one inch. The next inch might take 300 lbs, and 400 lbs of pressure for the inch after that.

As the spring becomes more compressed, the weight requirement will increase on a progressive spring. The more the spring moves, the more weight will be required to move the spring and the higher the spring rate will be at each compression interval.

Progressive springs are becoming more and more popular with performance car enthusiasts. You get all the benefits of a lowered car - better handling, reduced nose dive, and decreased body roll. Plus, progressive springs offer better ride quality than a linear spring. Sometimes, they're even better than the factory springs.

If you tackle an autocross or road course on progressive springs, they'll deliver with a higher spring rate that stiffens up the ride and makes your car more responsive in sharp corners.

Cars on progressive springs may offer the best of both worlds, but their performance can be tougher to predict on the racetrack due to their constantly changing spring rate.

Mustang progressive lowering spring sitting on a table

Why Install Progressive Springs?

If you're lowering your car for looks or it's your daily driver, then a progressive spring is the better choice. With progressive springs, you'll still get decent ride quality, but if you do decide to push the car in the corners, the spring will get firmer and perform better than stock.

  • You value performance and ride quality equally. Compared to linear lowering springs, progressive lowering springs offer a smoother, more enjoyable ride. But they also stiffen up when under pressure in tight corners, giving you some performance benefits. They're just a little unpredictable.
  • Your vehicle is your daily driver. If your performance car is a daily driver and you're constantly in the driver's seat, you're probably not going to want a rough ride.

What Are Dual Rate Springs?

A dual rate spring is like two linear Springs welded together. The front part of the spring will have a single specific rate, which is designed for a much softer ride. The remaining section of a dual rate spring will have a different rate designed to handle higher pressures. For example, it might take 100 pounds to move the spring for the first few inches, but it'll take 200 pounds to move each inch when compressing the rest of a dual rate spring.

Dual rate springs are great for drivers who want to live at the extreme ends of the usage spectrum. It can function as both a rigid spring in harsh performance conditions and a soft spring in casual driving conditions. You really get the best of both worlds with a dual rate spring.

The main drawback of dual rate springs is that switching from one spring rate to the other can be jarring for the driver. Going back and forth between spring rates can cause ride quality to suffer. So if you're planning on installing dual rate springs, it's best to stick to either high-speed performance or casual driving. Avoid switching performance demands back and forth too often with these springs.

Mustang dual rate lowering spring sitting on a table

Why Install Dual Rate Springs?

If you're an enthusiast who wants a daily driver, but still needs a consistent spring rate when you put the pedal to the metal, then a dual rate spring might be for you. Dual rate springs have the advantage of not having a constantly changing spring rate. They have one rate designed for weights of daily driving and one for performance driving.

  • You require springs with adaptability. Dual rate spring are great for daily drivers, while also having consistent handling and performance under high pressures.
  • You don't push it to the limit on the highway. If you're not constantly switching from low to high pressures, dual rate springs are great! But, if you're always pushing the spring past its inflection point, the transition can be jarring.

Progressive vs Linear Springs

Progressive springs are perfect for enthusiasts looking to have to have the looks and some of the performance benefits of a lowered car, but don't want to compromise on ride quality. You can run progressive springs on street or track cars and see impressive results.

Linear springs, on the other hand, are best suited for track use. They're considerably harsher than progressive springs but give you the most predictability at the track.

Progressive vs Dual Rate Springs

Dual rate springs are great for enthusiasts looking for the adaptability of progressive springs, but without the ever-changing spring rate. This makes them perfect for someone who wants a daily driver that they can take to the track. However, this adaptability comes with harsh transitions between spring rates.

Progressive springs don't have that same harsh switching associated with dual rate springs. They're much softer but still allow for performance driving.

Linear vs Dual Rate Springs

If you want to take your ride on a spirited drive while still being able to go rip it on the track, dual rate springs are perfect for you.

Linear, on the other hand, are very predictable when corning but can be very harsh. This leads them to be found almost exclusively on track cars.

Take Your Ride to the Next Level With New Coil Springs

With the information from this guide you should have a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of linear vs progressive springs. Adding new lowering springs can change the look of your ride, but it can also noticeably change the performance.

Once you've figured out what type of springs are best for your car, pick them up here at CJs. You can also check out how to install lowering springs on an S550, or an S650 to make sure you're prepared for every step of the process.

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.