If you are asking this question, I am guessing you are simply curious or you are just starting your journey as a car enthusiast.
I have seen a few blog posts on this topic – they are all brief and speak as if you already know everything. In this article, I will go easy on the jargons and make sure anyone can understand.
For a quick answer – people lower their cars to improve handling, acceleration and to look great. Lowered cars have a lower center of gravity. Thus, reducing body roll when you take corners and accelerate – allowing you to drive at higher speed.
What’s Body Roll, Squat And Dive In A Car?
Car Body Roll Definition
Do you ever realize that the body of your car shifts its weight to one side when you take a sharp corner?
Or the body of your car shifts forwards when you hit the brake hard? These movements are called body rolls and they prevent you from going fast.
When body roll occurs, one set of your tires have reduced grip to the road surface. This is because your car is leaning heavily to one side, reducing the amount of downward force for the opposite tires.
With uneven and reduced grip, a car cannot take corners at high speed. Otherwise, it will slip or worse – completely flip over.
Body rolls happen more often to cars that are riding high – think of MPVs, trucks, vans or busses that are high off the ground. This is why these vehicles have to considerably slow down when cornering.
Car Squat And Dive Definition
Unfortunately, body rolls don’t just happen when you corner, they also happen when you accelerate or brake.
As you accelerate with force, the body of your car will lean backward – this is known as squat.
Whereas, when you brake with force, the body of your car will lean forward – this is known as dive.
Again, because of the weight shift, downward force between the front tires and back tires will not be even – causing reduced grip that can impact the effectiveness of your acceleration or braking.
Car squats and dives are much worse if the car is riding high or the springs in the car are weak.
Are you beginning to see why car enthusiasts prefer to lower their cars? 🙂 Let’s now discuss what really happens when they do it.
How Lowered Cars Reduce Body Rolls, Squats And Dives
If your car is lowered, obviously there is less space for your car to move around when taking corners, accelerating or braking. This means body rolls, squats and dives are reduced – allowing you to go faster without restrictions.
There are many ways to lower a car, but the most common way is to replace the springs in the car – springs that are shorter and stronger.
Stronger springs will not compress as much when force is applied to them. Meaning, even lesser body rolls will occur to your car. This of course, must be done in moderation.
The stronger your springs are, the more stiff your ride will be. You will feel every small bump on the road. But cornering, accelerating and braking will be great though!
Now that you understand how lowering your car can reduce body roll, let’s discuss all the pros and cons of lowering a car in quick point forms.
Pros Of Lowering Cars
- Improved cornering. As I said, lowering your car will reduce the amount of body rolls that happen to your car when you corner – allowing you to take corners at much higher speed without flipping over. The difference could be night and day.
- Improved acceleration and braking. If your car is lowered, weight shifts when you accelerate (squats) or brake (drives) also reduce. This means you have maximum traction at all times – making your acceleration and braking more effective. If you are not clear on squat and dive, scroll up and read the sections covering that!
- Much better looks. A lowered car looks faster and much more aggressive than normal cars. I am sure this is influenced by all the fast furious and other movies that portray lowered racing cars.
- Even tire wear. Lowered cars always have more even contact to the road surface. This is because the car does not shift much on every corner – providing you with even tire wear.
- More feel on the road. When you lower your car, you must use stronger springs that do not compress much. This is required because lowered cars don’t have much space before bottoming out. When using stronger springs, you will feel every bump and potholes on the road. Could be good or bad – this depends on the driver (generally bad, though).
Cons Of Lowering Cars
So far I have only been talking about the pros of lowering cars. Actually lowering cars has much more cons to the average drivers than pros. Pay attention here if you are considering lowering.
- Uncomfortable ride. Lowering a car means the ride will be stiff and uncomfortable – especially to the average driver. Although, this can still be managed if you don’t lower your car to the extreme.
- Scraping every pavement. If you lower too much, you could be scraping every pavement on every driveway you go to.
- Regularly bottom out. Lowered cars have lesser ground clearance. If you are not careful and drive fast on a bump, you will probably bottom out every time.
- Reduced practicality. Practicality is a luxury if you have a lowered car. You have to pay attention to things that could lower your car even further. Things like a full gas tank, extra passengers, extra luggage in the trunk, etc.
- Uneven tire wear if not done right. If aligned right, a lowered car could give you very even tire wear. But if you forget to bring your car to realignment after lowering, then you risk uneven tire wear and even worse riding experience.
- Can be expensive. The best way to lower a car is to install a set of coilovers. An entry level coilovers from a reputable brand could cost $1,500. This does not include installation and tire alignment fee.
- Negative impact on warranty. Lowering a car could void the warranty on your suspension system. Not the entire car warranty – just the suspension system. I have another article about warranty here .
Best Ways To Lower Cars (With Their Cost)
1. Lowering Springs ($250)
Lowering springs are aftermarket springs that are shorter and stronger. They will replace your car’s existing stock and get installed on your existing shock absorber.
This is probably the best way to lower your car if you just want the lowered look and some improved car handling. Suitable if you don’t need fine tuned measurements and are not going to race.
Lowering springs will not make your ride quality extremely harsh – especially if you are using lowering springs that have a progressive spring rate.
A good set of lowering springs from a reputable brand like Eibach costs about $250 without installation. Pretty good price for car enthusiasts that simply want a lowered car.
You can find out more about lowering springs on my other articles:
2. Coilovers ($1,500)
Coilovers is an aftermarket suspension component that comes with a set of springs and shock absorbers.
Coilovers allow you to adjust various attributes of your suspension:
- Height of your car (Height Control)
- How fast weight moves away from your tires (Rebound Control)
- How fast weight moves towards your tires (Compression Control)
You should only look to install coilovers if you are serious about car handling and need that adjustability. Not to mention that coilovers are much more expensive than lowering springs and they can make your ride much stiffer and uncomfortable.
Good set of entry level coilovers start at $1,500 without installation fee and realignment fee. That’s significantly more expensive than lowering springs. But definitely a good purchase if you can take advantage of it.
Here are useful articles for you if you are interested in coilovers:
3. Cut Stock Springs
Cutting stock springs literally mean cutting the springs that are currently in your car so they become shorter and make your car ride lower.
I don’t recommend you to do this at all – many things could go wrong. You will run the flexing quality of your spring and you will definitely have an uneven ride height.
In the end, you will spend much more money to fix things and you would be wasting your time trying it in the first place.
If you want a lowered car and you don’t have budget, go for the lowering springs. As I said, a good pair costs $250.
How Much Lower Should You Go?
Don’t go to the extreme when lowering your cars. You need to make sure it’s also practical – especially if it’s your daily driver.
I would recommend lowering your car for only 1.5 inches. This is enough to give you the aggressive look but not too low that you consistently bottom out and scrape the pavement on your driveway.
I have another article discussing this in detail. How Much Should I Lower My Car?