How to Upgrade the Rear Suspension on a Cadillac ATS for Better Ride Quality?

April 24, 2024

As avid vehicle enthusiasts, you may want to enhance the performance of your Cadillac ATS. The ride quality of a car often depends on many elements, but a crucial factor that contributes significantly is the vehicle’s suspension. This article will guide you through the process of upgrading the rear suspension on a Cadillac ATS to improve the ride quality. It will cover the importance of suspension, how it affects ride quality, and detailed steps on how to upgrade the suspension.

Why Does Suspension Matter?

The suspension system of a car is a collection of components, including springs, shocks, and tires, which connect the car to its wheels. This system is responsible for absorbing the impact of bumpy roads, potholes, and other road imperfections, creating a smooth and comfortable ride for the passengers. An upgraded suspension can also improve handling at high speeds, offering a more controlled and responsive ride.

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In a Cadillac ATS, the rear suspension plays a significant role in ride quality. This is because it affects the distribution of weight to the rear wheels during cornering, braking, and accelerating. If your rear suspension is worn out or not up to standard, your vehicle’s handling and comfort will be compromised, making your drive not as enjoyable or safe.

Components of Cadillac ATS Rear Suspension

The rear suspension of a Cadillac ATS includes several parts: rear springs, shocks, and height sensors.

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Rear springs, also known as leaf springs, are the backbone of your vehicle’s suspension system. These components absorb the majority of the forces from the road. They compress when the vehicle goes over a bump and then expand back to their original shape.

The shocks control the movement of the springs and suspension. They take the kinetic energy from the springs and convert it into heat, which is then dissipated into the atmosphere.

Height sensors, on the other hand, monitor the distance between the chassis and the ground. They send this information to the vehicle’s computer, which adjusts the air suspension accordingly.

Choosing Suitable Upgrades

When considering an upgrade, it’s essential to match the components to your Cadillac ATS’s specifications and your driving needs. Several aftermarket parts can improve the performance and ride quality of your vehicle.

For better cornering and braking performance, consider adding performance shocks. These will offer increased damping force, controlling the vehicle’s movement more effectively and reducing body roll.

You might also want to invest in larger springs for enhanced load-bearing capacity and ride comfort, especially if you regularly carry heavy loads or travel on rough roads.

Another upgrade option is to use performance tires. These provide better grip, allowing the vehicle to corner at higher speeds without losing traction. They can also improve braking performance.

Steps to Upgrade Rear Suspension

Before you begin the upgrade process, ensure you have all the necessary tools and parts. This includes a jack, a wrench set, the new suspension components, and a torque wrench.

  1. Raise the Vehicle: Use a jack to lift the rear of the car until the tires are off the ground. Ensure the vehicle is securely positioned on jack stands.

  2. Remove the Old Components: Start by removing the rear tires. Then, using your wrench set, remove the bolts holding the shocks and springs in place.

  3. Install the New Parts: Install the new springs first, followed by the shocks. Make sure all bolts are tightened properly. If your kit includes height sensors, fit them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  4. Reassemble the Vehicle: Once the new suspension components are installed, reassemble the vehicle. This includes reinstalling the tires and lowering the car from the jack stands.

After installing the new suspension, you may notice an immediate improvement in your Cadillac ATS’s ride quality. However, it’s advisable to have a professional alignment check to ensure that everything is functioning as expected.

Getting Professional Help and Online Support

If you’re not comfortable performing these upgrades yourself, you can always seek professional help. Many auto repair shops specialize in suspension upgrades and can help you choose the best components and install them correctly.

Additionally, you can also seek advice and reviews from online car forums, such as the Cadillac ATS forums. These online communities are full of knowledgeable individuals who can provide valuable insights and replies to your inquiries.

Remember, upgrading your vehicle’s rear suspension can significantly improve its ride quality and overall performance. However, it’s crucial to choose the right components and ensure they’re installed correctly for the best results.

Examining Performance and Premium Upgrades

When upgrading your Cadillac ATS rear suspension, you will encounter a wide spectrum of products ranging from performance to premium enhancements. Performance upgrades typically focus on improving the vehicle’s handling, reducing body roll, and enhancing the ability to corner at high speeds. In contrast, premium upgrades aim to maximize comfort, providing a smooth, soft ride that luxury cars like the Cadillac ATS are known for.

Performance upgrades might include installing larger, stiffer springs. These will have a higher spring rate, providing increased resistance to compression and expansion. This results in less body roll and better handling at high speeds. To complement these springs, you might consider performance shocks designed to handle the increased spring rates.

Furthermore, sway bars or anti-roll bars can be incorporated into your upgrade plan. These components help reduce body roll during rapid changes of direction or while driving on winding roads.

Premium upgrades, on the other hand, may include air suspension kits. An air ride not only provides a smoother ride, reducing the impact of bumps and potholes, but it also allows you to adjust the ride height. This can be particularly useful when carrying heavy loads or navigating rough terrain.

For those who want a combination of performance and luxury, air springs offer a suitable option. Air springs, unlike traditional coil springs, use pressurized air to absorb shock. This allows them to adjust according to the load and driving conditions, providing a balance of comfort and performance.

Vehicle Care Post-Upgrade: Tire Pressure, Maintenance, and More

Upgrading the rear suspension of your Cadillac ATS is not a one-time affair. Post-upgrade, it’s essential to check tire pressure regularly. Correct tire pressure can significantly affect the performance of your new suspension system, ride quality, and the overall safety of your vehicle.

Ensure your Cadillac ATS is regularly serviced to maintain the new components’ longevity. This includes having the shocks and springs checked for wear and tear, confirming that the suspension system is still in good condition.

If you have installed an air suspension or air springs, monitor the air bags’ condition often. Look for any signs of damage or leaks, as these can impact the system’s performance and your vehicle’s ride quality.

Finally, don’t forget to recheck the alignment of your vehicle after any suspension upgrade. This helps ensure that all components are working harmoniously, delivering the desired ride quality.


Upgrading the rear suspension of your Cadillac ATS can dramatically improve the vehicle’s ride quality. Whether you’re prioritizing performance or comfort, the market offers a plethora of options to cater to your specific needs. Remember, the significance of regular vehicle maintenance post-upgrade cannot be overstated. Whether it’s checking the tire pressure or ensuring the longevity of the air bags, proper care will ensure your Cadillac ATS continues to deliver the ride quality you desire. Should you need professional advice or assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to specialists or forum members in the Cadillac community. Your ride is an investment, and every step taken to improve it should be well-informed and carefully undertaken.