Lowering springs improve the look and driving performance/feel of many cars if they are installed correctly but what many people don’t know is that there is a lot more to reaping the benefits of this type of modification than just installing the springs. There are a few hidden costs involved in adding lowering springs before you can really enjoy the positive effects of altering your suspension.
Lowering springs can drastically alter suspension geometrically. The bigger the drop, the greater the change in the position of the wheel within the suspension’s normal range. One aspect of this change is called camber. Wheel camber is defined as a change in the vertical plane of the wheel in reference to the longitudinal aspect of the car.
When a car is lowered, the camber changes resulting in poor tire contact, reduced suspension performance and uneven tire wear. For this reason, any vehicle that is lowered should have the camber adjusted to properly calibrate the wheel’s orientation. More extreme drops may require a “camber kit” to make sure that the car’s wheels are able to maintain the correct in/out orientation since the stock suspension components may not be able to accommodate the amount of adjustment necessary.
Installing lowering springs requires removing a variety of suspension components, which affects the suspension alignment. That means that any car with lowered springs will probably need an alignment, regardless of desired height. On cars that require a camber adjustment, it’s likely that wheel alignment may be included with the camber adjustment however it’s never safe to assume this, and you should ask the shop performing the service to make sure. As a general rule, when a car is fitted with lowering springs it will need camber adjustment, alignment, or both.
Lowering a vehicle can require the shocks and struts to function at the extreme upper limits of their range. That means that if you lower your car it might be a good idea to invest in specialized shocks and struts that are designed for lowered vehicles to ensure that you are getting the most from your modified suspension. Although this type of specialized strut is not always necessary, it’s probably something that you should consider if you’re lowering more than about 1.5 inches on a typical car. Otherwise you will probably experience reduced damping from your shocks and struts which will result in poor and even unpredictable suspension performance as well as reduced service life.
There are a variety of other issues that may affect lowered vehicles over time, particularly on vehicles with larger drops. Drivers may experience reduced service life from suspension and drive components such as CV axles and suspension bushings as well as increased stress on hard components, like suspension mounts and control arms. The best way to avoid this type of wear is to invest in specialized components designed for lowered vehicles.
Installing lowering springs on your car can give it a more aggressive and sporty look, regardless of its make and model. If you are going to tackle installing lowering springs yourself and you don’t mind the costs involed, there are four essential tools you will need to acquire first.
An impact gun is a compressed air powered wrench that will allow you to remove the lug nuts, steering arm bolts, and the bolts mounting the compression springs in place.
Car jacks will allow you to raise the vehicle up in order to work underneath it and also assist in compressing the springs so that these can be mounted.
Spring compressors are tools that compresses the coil springs by attaching to the top and bottom, and then is adjusted so as to remove the tension from the spring on the control arm. The top of the control arm is then removed and the stock spring is replaced with a new lowering spring.
A torque wrench is a special wrench that tightens down a bolt only to a specified amount measured in ft./lbs. This assures that when you reassemble the parts of the car you disassembled for the lowering spring installation. They will be tightened down only as much as recommended by the manufacturer.
Each of the above tools is essential to a proper and safe installation of lowering springs on your car and will need to be obtained in good working order before beginning this project.