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How to Lower Your Import Car

Jul 26, 2008
One of the best visual and performance modifications that you can make to your import vehicle is to lower it.

Lowering your car gives it that slammed, aggressive stance, and also helps improve its handling. This is due to the lower center of gravity and reduced suspension travel. You've probably given quite a bit of thought to lowering your import, and you might be ready to start looking around for the parts you'll need to get the job done. This kind of mod does make some fairly serious changes when it comes to both your car's driving characteristics and the durability of certain automotive components. When you do decide to lower your car, it is important to do things properly and not cut corners no matter how tempting it might be to save a few dollars.

There are a lot of suspension companies out there that offer quality lowering kits. Eibach, Koni, Bilstein and Tokico all sell products that will both slam your ride and also increase its performance. When lowering your car, there are two main components that you will have to replace: you are going to need to install shorter springs to decrease your cars ride height, and you'll have to switch the shock absorbers to a model which can handle the new suspension travel.

Shorter springs are going to drop your car down to its new ride height, but its definitely a mistake to trim or cut standard springs in order to achieve the same effect. Stock springs are designed with a specific spring rate that allows them to respond to the movement of your car as it drives down the road. No matter what your buddies might have told you, by shortening these springs that rate is changed, and your car's performance will become a nightmare.

Body roll will get out of control, and your suspension may react in an unpredictable manner over rough patches. No one wants to end up in the guard-rail because they followed the wrong advice. Lowering springs incorporate a performance-oriented spring rate that will enable your car to respond quicker and with more stiffness when it comes to handling.

Likewise, shock absorbers need to be upgraded in order to better deal with your newly-reduced suspension travel. Performance shock absorbers will be able to handle the stiffness of the new suspension, and while you might notice a drop in comfort, your car will not pitch up and down nearly as much as it would with a stock suspension setup when the road changes elevation.

You should keep in mind that changing the ride height and the handling aren't the only things that a lowering kit will do to your car. For example, more extreme lowering can tilt the angle at which the tires contact the road. This is angle is called camber, and too much in either direction can be hazardous for your street-driven import, since it reduces the contact patch that your tires make with the pavement. If your camber is too extreme, you might have to install something called a camber plate in order to re-align the wheels so that they are oriented correctly. Your lowered suspension's new stiffness can also put increased strain on parts such as bushings and end links, causing them to wear out faster. You can sometimes solve this problem by using polymer bushings instead of rubber.

Replacing a stock suspension with a high-performance lowering kit can be one of the best modifications that you'll ever make to your import. Not only that, but these kits are often the same price as stock suspension components, making them hard to say no to when it comes time to update an older set of shocks and springs.
About the Author
Justina Mathews writes issues that currently affect the performance car enthusiast. She also writes about issues that affect the street tuner industry, as well as import scene lifestyle. She's a staff writer for fuel systems .
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