3 Things To Think About Before Lowering Your "Weekend" Car
If you're seriously considering lowering your weekend vehicle, you're probably thinking about improved cornering ability and a nicer looking stance. A "small" drop of an inch or two is a great way to make most cars handle better, and a lot of the lowering kits available for performance vehicles also include upgraded shocks better suited to racing.
Of course, lowering a vehicle comes with some trade-offs. Here are three things to consider.
1. How Do You Feel About Bumps?
For a weekend car, bumps aren't a big problem so much as they are a nuisance. It's easy enough to avoid parking lots with speed bumps, and speed bumps on side streets can be avoided with some simple techniques.
But, if you're planning to lower your commute vehicle, bumps become a bigger problem. It's not always possible to carefully traverse speed bumps during rush hour. Sometimes, it's the parking lot at your office that has the big speed bumps. Sometimes it's the road itself that's the problem.
So, basically, you want to think about the number of speed bumps in your area and how they might impact your ability to enjoy your weekend vehicle if it's 1-2" lower. (Get more about scraping in this blog post.)
2. Is Your Lowering Kit Really Going To Help Performance?
There are two types of lowering kits in the world:
- Kits that are designed to make your vehicle corner better
- Kits that aren't
A lot of popular lowering kits don't help your car corner better. In fact, a lot of lowering kits can make your car corner worse than stock.
The reason? Lowering a car changes the dynamics of the suspension system in sometimes unexpected ways. Some suspension companies design for these changes, and some do not. Ford Racing and Chevrolet Performance, for example, offer lowering kits that are specifically designed to improve cornering. They can offer these kits because they have race teams, R&D departments, etc.
This is not to say that the only good lowering kits come from GM and Ford - just that these companies know racing. This is true of some after-market brands too. Ideally, before installing a kit, you can speak with some people who like to race their vehicles and get their opinion on the best lowering kit brands.
Finally, beware the most aggressive drop kits. The bigger the drop, the more likely it will have a negative impact on driving dynamics.
3. Bottoming Out
There's nothing worse than hearing that dreaded scraping noise when taking your car over a small curb or bump. Close contact leaves many of your vehicle's components vulnerable, so we don't blame you for being a little skittish around speed bumps. Bottoming out is especially cruel when a rolled curb sits between you and your driveway.
There are a couple of ways you can solve the curb problem:
- Replace the existing curb with a new one, jackhammering out the old concrete and pouring new. This will be difficult and expensive, because it will almost certainly require permission from the city.
- Buy a BRIDJIT curb ramp. This is a dead-simple solution to any driveway or curb scraping problem. The BRIDJIT ramp sits inside the rolled curb, flattening it out without compromising drainage. The BRIDJIT ramps are extendable, easy to install (but too heavy to steal), and can be pulled aside on street cleaning day.
While we don't have any specific suggestions for the best lowering kit for your vehicle, we do think that lowered vehicle owners should check out the BRIDJIT curb ramp system.
Before you go, take this ground clearance quiz to see what else you need to learn before lowing your vehicle.