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What's the correct way to lower your car?

Do-it-yourself or hire a pro?

When a well-engineered car comes from the manufacturer, it rides out with parts designed to fit. Car makers design and produce with the knowledge that a flaw in engineering is potentially a safety issue that can lead to recalls, accidents and even insolvency for the maker. Most vehicles are very well thought out, and those that aren't live in the public memory for decades. Keeping that in mind before taking a torch or hacksaw to a suspension component is maybe a deterrent and a motivator at the same time, because it doesn't take much to lower a car badly.

There are some considerations to start with, and in lowering, options can crossover a lot:

  1. Kits. A huge array of body and lowering kits exist for just about any make or model. These kits provide a system for changing the look or lie of the car with everything provided in a box. Mechanics and skilled or even novice car owners have the option to jack up a car and replace just the springs with drop springs or lowering blocks, and most reputable kit makers consider the specifications of the car being modified. Springs can make just enough of a difference for some car owners, still others choose to go even lower, and improve their car's performance through the drop.
  2. Custom. Suspension keeps cars from snapping and spines from buckling. Dropping the entire body of a car is one way to maintain the factory suspension and improve performance, but lowering the suspension is expensive. A body kit or drop gives the look you may be after, but there is little suspense about what's under the car. And often, the suspense is in the suspension, which is as alluring for its outward capabilities as for its ability to elevate the riding experience for the driver and passengers.
  3. Shortcuts. There are plenty of arguments for cutting springs to lower a car, and a number of experienced mechanics, racers and enthusiasts can lay out how to do it. Taking a chance on making a proper cut is probably not a good idea for someone lowering a car for the first time. Spring rate, or the calculation of weight and tenacity, is compromised when coils are changed. The metal also weakens and becomes uneven during heat shearing, and even a minor chance of spring failure creates enormous risks for the wear and tear of the car, and the safety of the riders.

One area of lowering where shortcuts are fine -- and even encouraged -- is in the cosmetic areas such as sound, touch and look, which can round out the lowering project.