The damper’s main function is to stop the suspension from oscillating. They work in both the compression (bump) stroke and rebound (extension) stroke. Compression damping effectively adds to the springs rate, reducing how much the suspension compresses for a given bump. Higher compression settings make the ride noticeably rougher. Rebound damping dissipates the energy stored in the compressed spring, preventing the wheel from being pushed back so fast that the car continues to bounce after the bump.
Springs that are stiffer than stock require dampers that are stronger than stock. Switching the springs and leaving the old worn out dampers or simply replacing them with OEM equivalents will leave you with a bouncy, floaty ride. If you don’t have enough money for good shocks and springs and you want to improve how your car handles, just get quality dampers—they make a bigger difference. Just swapping springs will lower the car, but it will be so unsettled through anything but smooth, constant radius corners that you lose much of the handling benefit of the stiffer, shorter springs.
Shock v. Struts
Third generation Accords do not have struts. Strut suspension (MacPherson strut) uses only a lower control arm, a toe link (rear) or steering link (front), and the strut to locate and support the suspension. Our cars use upper control arms to locate the suspension and coilover shocks to support the car. The springs surround the shocks so it is a coilover configuration—coilover doesn’t mean threaded and adjustable.
Damper options for the third generation Accord:
no longer made, but sometimes available used
Good for springs up to about 350 lb/in without revalving
Rebound adjustable; can be converted to external adjustable or rebuilt
Quality OEM replacements as purchased (not for use with stiffer springs without revalve)
Can be revalved with specified compression and rebound settings; instructions below
About 10% stiffer than stock
Many users with stiffer springs notice bounce, especially in the front
About 10% stiffer than stock according to KYB
Generally considered an OEM replacement
Everything else available is an OEM replacement.
Lowering much more than about 2” puts your shocks at the risk of being bottomed out frequently depending on the condition of your bumpstops. Shocks are designed to stop oscillation, not support the car. Bottoming them out can quickly destroy them. This damage is typically not covered under any warranty.
How to get Bilsteins revalved (from Jim):
If you purchase the shocks from www.shox.com, ask to speak to Darrell. Tell him you want Bilstein HD shocks for the 86-89 accord part numbers are B36-1135, B36-1136, and for the rears you'll need 2 B36-1089. Tell Darrell that you want them revalved by Bilstien and that you have the specs that Jack French at Bilstein needs. 100 for compression and 300 for rebound works well for H&R/Neuspeed. Stiffer springs willl probably work better with higher settings around 110 and 340. Factory Bilstein specs are 46 compression, 195 rebound. Speak with Jack French at Bilstein (1-800-537-1085) if you're unsure about what settings are likely to work well for you.
The price will be:
the cost of the shocks ~$370
the shipping to Bilstein
the revalve fee is $65 per shock $260
return shipping charges from Bilstein to you
If anyone already has the shocks or if they buy them off another vendor like eshocks.com you can send them to Bilstein yourself:
Krupp Bilstein of America
14102 Stowe Dr.
Poway, Ca 92064
Attn: Jack French
They will only work on your parts if you pay the revalve fee in advance or use a credit card. Turnaround time is about a month.
If you have anything to add or any questions post them below and I'll make changes as required.