Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What Are the Drawbacks Of Lowering My Car?

asked by on

What are the drawbacks of lowering my car?

While lowering a car or truck can make it look cooler, increase aerodynamics, and provide a lower center of gravity, more often than not there are downfalls to consider as well. This process can be done professionally but is sometimes done in less professional manners by heating the spring to weaken them or cutting a section out to reduce the overall height.

When lowering a vehicle, the first thing that comes to mind is the absence of the factory ground clearance that formerly existed. This can lead to bottoming out, even on relatively smooth roads. I have seen many lowered vehicles struggle to pass over average speed bumps. It is usually an extremely slow process, as they have to attack the bump on an angle and slowly crawl over the obstacle. Often, slight inclines when entering or exiting a driveway will also be a challenge to negotiate as well. You will also see these vehicles on the road going highway speeds when going over bumps and they will often bottom out, shooting sparks from the undercarriage. This can either be the exhaust hitting the ground or the frame itself, neither is good for your vehicle. I have also seen many lowered vehicles have difficulty just getting a standard jack underneath to change a tire in the event of a flat.

In fact, while I’m here let’s talk about the tires and wheel well area of the body of your vehicle. Now that the vehicle is lowered, the clearance in the wheel well is diminished and can lead to contact of the tire with the body, creating wear issues. The angle of the wheel assembly may also now be altered substantially from the manufacturer’s specification which can cause excessive wear leading to shorter tire life spans.

When trying to place the vehicle on an alignment rack, often times a special ramp is needed as the undercarriage can get hung up on the lift.

Next, I would be concerned about the handling characteristics that will be altered and the alignment angles which will need to be corrected in order to maintain proper handling. Excessive or uneven tire wear can also be a concern that you may now experience. Partially due to the change in wheel rim used or the excessive camber angle, the inward tilt of the wheel assembly, which are applied to allow the wheel assembly to clear the wheel well.

Depending on the suspension type: leaf spring, coil spring, hydraulic, or air ride system, the suspension can exhibit different kinds of fell issues when being set up.

Some leaf spring vehicles are lowered simply by removing one or more of the leaf springs from the assembly or changing the mounting position from above the axle to below the axle. The leaves can also be de-arced to reduce the lift but this actions will also reduce the springs weight capacity and performance.

When it comes to coil springs they can be swapped out for different or adjustable springs, or cut or heated to reduce the height. When heating or cutting the springs to shorten them, bear in mind that you are altering the springs basic metal characteristics. Another way to perform this would be by using or replacing the suspension supports with hydraulic or pneumatic air spring (https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/how-long-do-air-springs-last) elements. You will recognize these from any custom car show when you see the vehicles change height at the command of electrical switches or control sticks. They can raise and lower the front and rear of the vehicle together or independently which will even cause the vehicle to bounce or hop if done alternately. Installing these types of systems require battery packs which adds extra weight to the vehicle, they are usually mounted in the trunk for power. Other components that are needed include a compressor and plumbing lines to connect and supply the hydraulic fluid or air supply to the actual suspension unit itself.

One last thought is that most of these applications will give a much stiffer ride than the original setup, due to the loss of spring support. You could consider a body kit instead which would keep the original suspension intact and provide some of the same benefits. You may still be slowing down over those speed bumps, so remember look at the outcome before you start committing to your alterations.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: My car lean to one side after changing my upper ball joints

This vehicle has ball joints that are integral with the control arms and consequently the control arms are replaced if the ball joints are worn. Replacement of the control arms, particularly the upper control arm, implicates the air ride and...

Q: What would cause a front coil spring to come out of its seat?

Hello, thanks for writing in about your Dodge Ram 1500. Spring removal is not needed to change tie rods. It's possible the spring is broken, or the upper spring seat/cup may have broken off the chassis due to rust or...

Q: Suspension problem

Using descriptive words to give us an idea of what kind of problem your experiencing is very important in a situation like this. Descriptive words like moaning, squeaking, popping, clunking, etc., can really help give us an idea of where...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...