Firstly, the install...
What a faff! Several garages wouldn't touch the job with a barge pole and I'm guessing for good reason. Firstly there's the issue competence/confidence in providing a satisfactory job on car balance and setup. There are many variables with a coil over install that several of my local garages weren't comfortable with. I found a place locally however who were experienced in building project cars, track cars etc and were happy to fit them. Although with hind sight they might not have been so willing.
Installing coil overs isn't a big job if you know what you're doing. These guys were even able to connect up the self-levelling headlamp sensor to the front shock, something the BC website says it's not compatible with, so kudos to them for that.
The problem comes with the age of the car. The rear suspension components were very badly seized and the outer, lower trailing arm bolts and bushes had completely seized to the trailing arm. The only option was to cut them out and replace the bolts and bushes (something not discovered until the first attempt at install). Due to the closeness to the hub, cutting them without impacting on the rest of the area was tricky. Using an electric saw and a thermal something or other they were able to heat and cut the bolts out. This left the bush in place. The bush has a heavy steel sleeve and this had completely seized and bonded to the trailing arm. No amount of force would do it, so they had to drill it out. A long and arduous process, as anyone who's ever had to drill through strong, thick steel will tell you.
This meant the car spent a great deal longer on the ramp than they expected and the cost therefore was significantly more than I expected, but they were really nice guys and stuck at it, and didn't charge me for all the time as they knew I hadn't budget for so many man hours. They were reasonable and met me in the middle of the original quote and what the final bill should have been. Much respect to them for that.
So I picked the car up yesterday (Friday) and today (Saturday) I did a couple of hours driving on A-roads and twisty country roads.
The car was already low. I'd lowered it several years ago on Apex Spring. The drop was about 35-40mm and at first things felt great, but over time it was clear my shocks weren't doing their job properly (premature wear due to the lowering springs increasing stress/load on the OE shocks). The car was bouncy, boat-ish and whilst it looked great parked up, it handled like plop and on winding roads I couldn't keep up with old ladies in silver hatchbacks as I didn't have the confidence in the bends due to significant body roll and lack of downward force on the wheels to the road. The car would skip and bounce over uneven surfaces, and sometimes under braking, which was a little scary at times.
That's all changed. It's currently sitting a little higher than it was on the Apex, but will likely bed in a few more millimetres over the coming days. They said to bring the car back in a week or so for any tweaks to height (free of charge). Despite being higher, it's way more composed and planted. I have so much feedback from the road and car in general. I can really chuck it into bends and it stays much more level and doesn't feel anywhere near its limit. For the first time ever today I felt like I'd be comfortable taking it for a track day (all be it a light hearted track day, nothing too serious).
It doesn't rear up when you put your foot down and it doesn't lurch forward and nose dive when you brake. As mentioned the body roll is significantly reduced, the stance is an even height on the front and back (it was always lower at the front on the Apex) and bumps are now happily tolerable. I've gone from having a car that was crashy and uncomfortable over bumps to one that absorbs and cushions without any fuss.
Whenever I've driven a newer car, I've always thought that whilst it was more boring than my Accord, it was much more comfortable and smooth over uneven surfaces. Not any more. From a smoothness over bumps point of view, the car feels like a new car.
To sum up my day of driving with my new suspension setup, the steering feels way more responsive, you can point and squirt through corners with confidence and the overall comfort is a massive step up compared to 125K old shocks that have done 60K on lowered springs. Road and car feedback is all there through the wheel and I feel like road noise is slightly reduced also. I could happily drive it and drive it...
It's not a cheap job. You can go look up the price of the parts and then add several hours labour on that. In my case, it slightly spiralled as extra labour, bolts and bushes came in to play. It's going to be a lean couple of months now to make up for it . If you're thinking of fitting coil overs, and like me, your car is early 2000s, have a trust worthy mechanic look over everything and check for seizing before embarking on an upgrade. That way you'll go into it with a better understanding of additional parts and labour, as opposed to having a sting in the wallet like I've had this week.
It's also highlighted the matter of the rest of my suspension very much showing its age. As I walked around the underneath of the car on the ramp, I could see that ideally all the bushes in the suspension will want replacing before too long as they look old and tired. Whilst out driving today I noticed a knocking rattle coming from the rear nearside which I'm suspecting is the something that's taken offence to all the work and install and is likely going to want replacing soon. Perhaps drop links, or another part of the trailing arms. I'll have them look at it when I drop it in to have minor adjustments next week.
BC Racing - BR Coilovers...
The Coilovers themselves, I can't fault yet. They were well packaged, very solid feeling, they look made to a very high standard. Once fitted you can adjust the firmness of the dampening by turning a knob on the top of each strut. Super easy to do. I've set mine in the middle and haven't tried firmer or softer yet. I expect I could go a few click firmer and a few mm lower on the springs in time. But right now the car is such a joy to drive, I don't feel the need to change things yet.
I massively recommend BC Racing. These were the only coil overs I could find in the UK for the Accord Tourer that weren't bonkers money. They're the BR Series, which is their entry level road and mild track use coilover set. They come with good info (and stickers ), are super easy to understand and adjust and I can't remember the car ever feeling so good to drive.
To sum up coilovers...
From now on, whatever car I have in the future, coilovers will always be the first mod. I've heard others say it, and they're right. The performance improvement from the handing has to be experienced to be understood. If I could do my car modding journey again, I'd begin it with coil overs as it's clear how they let you get the most out of a car. Fit them before the car gets too old and you can still undo and reuse bushes too .
If you're thinking of doing a similar thing to your car, feel free to ask questions in this thread. There's not much to photo really as you all know what coilovers look like, but I'll take some snaps tomorrow for anyone who's interested.