The Do’s and Don’ts of Suspension Upgrades
So you’re ready to upgrade your suspension, but you aren’t sure where to start. Suspension upgrades provide multiple benefits to both aesthetics and handling when done well. However, it is easy to make mistakes that actually ruin your car instead. But these do’s and don’ts can help point you in the right direction for your new suspension upgrade.
Do: Understand your car’s current stance
It may seem simple, but the first thing you’ll want to do is measure your vehicle as it sits. Start with the ride height by measuring from the lowest point on the underside to the ground. This can be the transmission, frame rails, or even the exhaust. Either way, you want to know how much space currently exists between the ground and important parts of your car.
Next, measure the wheel gap. The area between the top of the tire and bottom of the wheel opening is important for understanding what you want from the end result.
Finally, measure the inset from the wheel face to the inside of the wheel opening. This will let you know how low you can go before you need to roll or pull the fenders to avoid rubbing.
Don’t: Buy the most expensive suspension upgrade on the market
Like most things, suspension upgrades come in all shapes and sizes. In this case, the most expensive option often isn’t the best for your application. If you’re looking for a moderate amount of lowering, you don’t need a five-figure air suspension setup. Meanwhile, if you’re modifying a daily driver, you probably don’t want the $4,000 racing suspension kit with the harshes shocks you’ve ever felt.
Instead, read reviews, join Facebook Groups and forums, or use the gallery on a site like Fitment Industries and find out which suspension upgrade best matches your needs. Often, a $2,000 coilover kit offers a better ride than a more expensive setup because it isn’t as aggressive. You’ll still get the lowered look and sharper handling without the need for a chiropractor on speed dial.
Do: Explore different stance options before you decide what you want
Personal style is everything when it comes to modifying cars, and suspension is no different. Just because all your friends have their GTIs dragging the ground when they hit the bank to make their car payment doesn’t mean you want or need that.
Maybe you want a more track-focused setup with some compliance and wheel arch. Or maybe you want an adjustable setup that lets you lift the ride height on bumpy roads. From stanced cars to track builds and modded daily drivers, there is a suspension system for everyone. Explore your local car clubs and look at some Instagram builds to find the look that speaks to you, then work toward that goal, even if it’s different than what your friends are doing.
Don’t: Lower your car without supporting suspension upgrades
It’s easy to jump into lowering your car with suspension upgrades and forget that it affects more than just the ride height. Oftentimes sway bar end links and even control arms should be replaced at the same time to compensate for the new suspension geometry.
It’s a simple fact that lowering your car alters how steering and wheel alignment components interact. Every car is different, but be sure to understand all of what your car needs to run a lowered suspension safely and reliably.