How Much Should I Lower My Car?

By November 10, 2020Coilovers, Lowering Springs

You should lower your car for maximum 1.5 inches. This is the best height to have the aggressive lowered look and still be comfortable to ride. If you go even lower, the ride will not be stiff,  you have a high risk of bottoming out and scraping against any driveways and speed bumps. 

By the way, bottoming out happens when the bottom of your car hits the road. In case you didn’t know 🙂 

That being said, let’s get into the details of lowering your car now. After this article you should know the perfect height for a lowered car and how to achieve it (along with estimated cost).

How Is Ride Height Measured?

You should measure your ride height before trying to lower it. This way, you know how much to lower it and the right mod to buy. 

Ride height is measured for the front and rear. This means the distance between the road to the front bumper and rear bumper. You can easily measure this using a retractable metal tape (if you don’t have it, holla at your dad. He has it).

[Image of retractable metal tape]

When measuring ride height, it’s important to measure it in its usual driving condition. Which means you need these:

  • A person sitting at the driver seat. 
  • Half filled gas tank.
  • Realistic load on the boot. (If you are a regular golfer, throw some golf clubs in there)
  • Another passenger if you are always driving with one.

These points are extremely important to get an accurate measurement. Don’t skip them.

What Should The Final Height Be?

I suggest the final ride height to be 12.5” front and 13” rear. This allows your car to look aggressive and can still drive through bumps and driveways without scratching. Occasional scratches still happen though – you can’t escape this when driving a lowered car.

13.5 inch car height
Ride height at12.5″ front and 13″ rear

The height at the front is usually lower than the rear (by about 0.5”). This is because the rear is naturally lowered when you fill up the gas or when you are loading up the trunk with items. 

Also, lower front means your tires have more grip during braking (notice your car leans forward when braking). I would say this is negligible. But you might need it when discussing with other car enthusiasts online!

Does Lowering A Car Make The Ride Uncomfortable?

This is the most frequently asked question. And unfortunately yes – lowering a car will make the ride stiffer and uncomfortable. This is because there’s not much room for the car spring to compress and absorb impact. This means the spring must be stiffer to absorb impact without bottoming out.

The good news is ride comfort can still be acceptable if you lower your car using springs with progressive spring rate. Spring rate measures how much load is needed to compress a spring by 1”. Higher spring rate causes more stiffness. 

Progress spring rate means the top part of a spring has a lower spring rate than the bottom. This allows you to drive comfortably when spring is not compressed (driving straight on good condition road). The spring rate will increase only when you corner or take big bumps, causing the spring to compress.

progressive spring rate
Lower spring rate on the top
Higher spring rate on the bottom

Is It Worth It To Lower Your Car?

Lowering your car is definitely worth it – you will have an aggressive looking car along with much improved handling. Making the car fun to drive and to view – what more would you want?!

Let’s list out the pros and cons of a lowered car and let me convince you with how the cons can be managed.

Pros:

  • Improved Handling. With a lowered car, you can corner at a much higher speed – you won’t feel the body roll as much. Not only will it be fun to drive, your car will also feel more premium to the driver and passenger. 
  • Looks Great. Let’s face it. Nothing looks better than a lowered, aggressive looking car. This will make your car a head turner – even for you! After parking your car, I am confident you will stop for a moment to admire your car.

Cons:

  • Bottoming Out. If lowered too much, your car bumper will definitely scratch against pavement in driveways. Or your exhaust hitting the bump when going over it. The solution? Don’t go too low! Lower it by 1 to 1.5” and you are good. 
  • Stiffer Ride. Your car will become stiffer than stock for sure. But it won’t be that bad if you equip spring with progressive spring rate. So take note of this if you care about ride quality or if you want to lower your daily driver. 
  • Can be expensive. If you want to lower your car  using coilovers, then it will be expensive. But coilovers do more than just lower your car. They provide height, rebound and dampening control. If you just want a lowered car, go for lowering springs. Excellent ones start at $250. 

 

See? All the cons are manageable. If you follow all my tips, the pros will outweigh the cons by a landslide.

What Is The Best Way To Lower Your Car?

There are various ways to lower a car. But I will only talk about the tried and true. Ways like cutting off your stock springs will only waste your time and make you destroy a perfectly well spring. Please don’t follow them. 

The best ways to lower a car is through lowering springs or coilovers. Lowering springs is suitable if you only care about lowering your car. Coilovers allow adjustability – more suitable for racers or seasoned enthusiasts who know what they want. 

Let’s cover each in more detail.

1. Lowering Springs

Lowering springs are aftermarket springs that replace your stock ones. They are shorter, have progressive spring rate and directly install on your stock shocks. Though you can get aftermarket shocks too if you want. 

Lowering springs give you lowered height (because they are shorter). Which means lowered car and improved handling. Unlike coilovers, they are not adjustable at all. Once you install it, your ride height will stay the same throughout its life. 

They are relatively cheap. Good ones cost about $250 / set (without installation and alignment). And should have a million-mile or lifetime warranty. If you are thinking of getting one, there are many factors to consider.

Check out my other article where I talk about what you should look at when purchasing lowering springs. Best Lowering Springs: Which To Buy And What To Look For? 

progressive spring rate
Lowering springs.

2. Coilovers

Coilovers are adjustable coil springs over shocks. This means coilovers come with spring and shocks that will replace your stock ones. Like lowering springs, coilovers aim to lower your car and improve handling.

And unlike lowering springs, coilovers allow you to adjust it’s settings like ride height, rebound and dampening control. This means you can tweak coilovers exactly to your needs. This is more suitable for experienced drivers who know exactly what they want. 

For its adjustability, coilovers are much more expensive. A good entry coilover starts at $1500 – and only provides adjustable ride height. Coilovers that provide maximum adjustability can cost around $3000, depending on the brand. 

If you are tight on budget, I suggest you look into lowering springs. You could also look into used coilovers – though I don’t recommend this. There are too many things to look for and too many things that could go wrong. Here’s an article I wrote about the topic if you are interested. Is It Okay To Buy Used Coilovers? (10 Things To Know) 

If you have the budget and want to go for coilovers, I also have an article where I talk about what you should look for when buying. Check it out. Best Coilovers: Which To Buy And What To Look For? 

Image of KW Coilovers
Coilovers.

How Much Does It Cost To Lower A Car?

There are 3 things you need to lower a car. They are:

  1. The aftermarket mod (lowering springs / coilovers)
  2. Installation fee
  3. Alignment fee

Are you wondering if you really need the alignment? The answer to that is yes. You need alignment for both coilovers and lowering springs for the same reason. I cover more about this here. Should You Get An Alignment After Coilovers?

Which muffler is your car right now?

Lowering Springs Cost: $650 (Estimate)

  • Set of Lowering Springs: $250
  • Installation Fee: $300
  • Alignment: $100

Coilovers Cost: $1900 (Estimate)

  • Set of Lowering Springs: $1500
  • Installation Fee: $300
  • Alignment: $100

Installation fees for both are about the same because the work required are generally the same. If you are getting the installation and alignment from the same shop, make sure you get a discount!

Ifandi S.

Ifandi S.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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