Lowering a Car’s Suspension Is An Advanced Project for Most DIYers. Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Lower a Car at Home.
- DIY Difficulty Level: Advanced
- Time Required: 3 hours
- Tools & Materials:
What Is Lowering a Car?
Image via Flickr by Arturo Hurtado
Lowering a car means you make the body sit closer to the ground and reduce the space between the tires and the vehicle’s wheel openings, and this is accomplished by altering the suspension components. It is sometimes done for visual reasons, but it can also improve handling if it is done correctly. Some common modifications include shortening the coil springs, re-bending the leaf springs, or adjusting the torsion bar key.
Is It Safe to Drive With a Lowered Car?
If done correctly, lowering a car will not affect the overall safety. Since lowering a car is done for personal preferences, there is never a need to alter the suspension system, but if you do choose to lower your car, you might find some benefits, including:
- Lower center of gravity: It may increase stability.
- More aerodynamic: Less air goes under the car, which can reduce the amount of drag.
- Improved handling: A lower vehicle may stay flatter around tight corners, although it may not always be the case.
- Better visual appeal: Lowered cars look sportier and, for some drivers, increase the visual appeal.
There can also be some drawbacks to lowering a car.
- Reduced ride quality: Depending on how low the car sits and the type of shocks used, there can be a dramatic loss in ride quality.
- Increased chance of bottoming out: Lowered vehicles sit closer to the ground, which means they will hit the ground when going over speed bumps or up an angled driveway.
- Uneven tire wear: Sometimes lowering the suspension can cause uneven tire wear.
- Increased wear and tear: Lowered suspensions have less travel, or give, making it hit harder when driving over potholes or other road imperfections. This increases the chance of damaging the suspension and the wheels.
The cost to lower your car can range from just a few hundred dollars to up to $5,000. It depends on if you do it yourself or if you bring it to a mechanic. The job typically requires someone with automotive experience because many of the steps need to be completed in a specific order to keep the car’s suspension working properly. You also need some specialty tools and the knowledge to use them safely.
When to Lower a Car
There is no specific time that you would need to lower a car. New cars have more sophisticated suspensions than older vehicles and even sit lower anyway. If you choose to lower your car, there are a few different methods, but the easiest is to replace the springs with lowering springs. The more expensive and more difficult option is coil overs. These allow you to tune the ride height, unlike coil spring replacements, which are not adjustable.
What Are Common Symptoms Indicating You Need to Lower A Car?
There are no symptoms that indicate that you need to lower a car. It is a personal choice to make this type of modification.
Keep in Mind
Lowering a car correctly can improve handling, control, and speed, but if it’s done just for cosmetics, it can create more drag and make your car have to work harder.
Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and only lower your car as advised for your make and model.
When you lower a car, other components must be tuned to ensure it all works together properly. Some of the components you should look at include:
- Wheels and rims
How to Lower A Car
Step 1: Raise the front end of the car
Use a jack and jack stands to raise the front end of the car off the ground. Place wood blocks at the rear wheels and make sure to set the parking brake to prevent it from rolling.
Step 2: Remove lug nuts
Use an impact wrench to remove the lug nuts from the wheel and take the wheel off. Do this for both sides of the car.
Step 3: Remove front strut assembly
Once the wheels are off, remove the bolts that secure the front strut assembly and then remove it. Keep in mind that struts vary depending on the vehicle, but most have three bolts at the top and one or two bolts at the bottom. You will most likely have to access the top bolts from under the hood of the vehicle.
Step 4: Compress the strut ring and remove the coil spring
Use a strut ring compressor to compress the strut ring and remove the tension between the upper strut mount and the spring. Once compressed, use an impact gun to remove the top nut and then pull the upper strut mount off. Once the mount is off, you can remove the compressed spring.
Step 5: Install the new coil springs
Once the old spring is out, seat the new lowering spring correctly onto the strut assembly and replace any spring seats that come with the lowering spring kit. Double check that the spring is seated correctly because each spring has a specific way that it sits on the strut assembly.
Step 6: Reinstall the upper strut mount
You may need to compress the spring to reinstall the upper strut mount back onto the spring assembly.
Step 7: Reinstall the strut assembly on the car
Once the strut assembly is back together with the new lowering springs, you can reinstall the strut assembly back on the vehicle reversing the procedure used to take it off. It is usually easier to put one of the bottom bolts on first to secure the strut and then attach the rest of the hardware.
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Disclaimer: The guidelines in this article are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual, repair guide, or a professional before attempting repairs.
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