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Are you planning to lower your car to make it handle better and look cooler? If so, lowering the car’s ride height will change its suspension geometry and possibly throw off some of the factory alignment specs. Here is why you should consider having an alignment done after lowering your car.

Why is an alignment needed after replacing a car’s springs?

A lowered car with the fender touching the wheel
A lowered car | Getty Images

As stated, when lowering your car’s ride height, the geometry of the suspension components changes. Think of a bug with four legs sitting on the ground; if you were to apply pressure to that bug’s back and lower its center of gravity, its legs would bow out. The same thing happens to your car’s suspension when you lower it.

Aside from the suspension geometry changes after lowering a car, the installation process can also alter things. To replace the car’s springs, the entire shock body and camber/caster plates (in some cars) need to be removed. The camber and caster plates play a vital role in keeping your car’s suspension aligned:

  • The camber plates control the inward and outward angles of the tires
  • The caster plates control the forward and backward angles of the tires

Once you remove and reinstall these plates, the car’s alignment will be off since it would be hard to reinstall them in their exact original position. Fortunately, any alignment shop can bring the car back to spec with the lower ride height.

When should the alignment be performed?

The Car Performance Boss suggests not getting the car’s alignment done right after lowering the car. The new springs need to settle in first, which can slightly lower the car. This settling process usually takes about 10 to 20 miles of driving, so it could take a day or up to a week for the new springs to be broken in. Afterward, the car’s suspension can properly align with the factory specs.

What if you’re only lowering the car an inch?

A wheel alignment
A wheel alignment | Wikimedia Commons

It’s a common misconception that you don’t need to align a car’s suspension if you only lower it by an inch. However, the alignment will be out of whack once you remove and replace the suspension components. It doesn’t matter if you lower the car by an inch or three inches; have the alignment done so that the tires don’t wear out quickly.

How much does an alignment cost?

The cost to have an alignment done can vary depending on the shop you go to. Generally, a two-wheel alignment can cost around $80, and a four-wheel alignment can cost around $150. It’s pricey, which is why many drivers don’t like having to get it done. But having a properly aligned suspension can lead to safer driving, more even tire wear, and allow you to enjoy your newly lowered car without any issues.


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