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I'm in need of new struts, and see that there are many suspension kits available, ranging from around US$100-$200 to close to $2000 for performance/sport suspension packages. What are the advantages of more expensive suspension systems, and what features should I be aware of, and what factors should I consider when choosing what to buy?

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What are you looking to get out of it? Do you want a firmer ride for better handling? Do you intend to take the car to the track? Usually the higher the price, the more adjustable the suspension setup. For 2k you'll get adjustable coil overs which allow you to mess around with ride height, they should also come with adjustable rates too... these would firm up the rebound and MAYBE even the compression. Lets hear back from you regarding what you intend to do with the car first! –  Dude318is Jun 15 '11 at 16:17
    
I'm primarily trying to get an understanding for what various suspension options do. Specifically, I'm driving in Mexico, where road conditions are horrible, and speed bumps abound. So I want a smoother ride, and to avoid bottoming-out on speed bumps as much as possible. In 6 months I'll bring my car back to the U.S., where I'll be more interested in performance, since the roads are so much more forgiving, so I may consider changing my suspension again at that point, or putting off the upgrade until then. But I don't really even know what "performance" means in the context of suspension. –  Flimzy Jun 15 '11 at 20:26
    
@Flimsy: "I don't really even know what "performance" means in the context of suspension" ya, it's complicated. ;-) –  qes Jun 15 '11 at 23:05
    
I would suggest getting the same shocks that came equipped with the car from the factory. This will have the most forgiving ride out of any of the possible suspension setups. You never mentioned what kind of car you have...that might help us get an idea. –  Dude318is Jun 16 '11 at 13:58
    
@Dude318is: I didn't mention my car, because I'm interested in general information about understanding suspension features. But that's possibly a bit off-topic here. I have a 2003 Jetta TDI. –  Flimzy Jun 16 '11 at 20:11
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If you don't even know what handling means or what different suspension setups do and you know for a fact that you need new shocks/struts, then just get direct replacements. The only advice I'd give is stay away from no-brands (especially if you go to places like Monroe Muffler Brake and ask for shocks) and go for something more well known but reasonably priced. KYB comes to mind. If your car happens to be Japanese or European, you may even want to consider direct OEM replacement (I might be biased here, but lately I have not been very happy with quality of parts US manufacturers put into their cars)

If you really want to know what factors play a role in suspension of a car, I suggest you pick up a book since real answer is probably going to be a lot longer than one or two paragraphs people would write here. A while ago, I read this book and thought it was great for a beginner. Not too much math, everything is in plain english but still plenty of real content that you can take away from that book.

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