You may have envied cars from the "Fast & Furious" movies and have wondered how much does it cost to lower a car? Lowering a car is a major enhancement that will greatly affect your car's performance and looks. Enhancements like these vary depending on the method, materials, and the type of vehicle you have. The cost will also depend on where you want to take your vehicle.
Why do people lower their cars? Is lowering your car worth it?
Why lower your car? People lower their cars for many reasons with visual appeal, the most common one. Depending on the reason you want to lower your car and how it’s done, it could be a worthwhile enhancement for you.
People want to lower their cars because of the following reasons:
Obviously, a lowered car looks sleeker, more awesome than regular cars. A lowered car looks more aggressive and will stand out in any crowd. Because lowered cars come with expensive custom wheels, these vehicles become more of an investment.
Improved road reel
Sitting in a car with lowered suspension lets you feel the road better. You’ll feel all the grooves and imperfections on different types of roads as vibrations travel through the car’s steering system.
Reduced lean especially on corners
There's an obvious reduction in lean when turning as the change in weight becomes lesser because of the reduced center of gravity. The section of the car that's found at the outside when making a turn is level with the part that's inside. A lowered car becomes more settled faster when making a turn and thus, you can move and recover faster as well.
A lowered car offers better handling as you're seated near the ground. The vehicle becomes more stable even at fast speeds. Lowering is accomplished by using stiffer springs and thus there is reduced weight transfer as the brakes are hit hard. As seen in movies, lowered cars accelerate faster and stop quicker.
Reduced air drag and rollover
Lowering a vehicle improves its aerodynamics. There is reduced air striking the wheels which, to start, are not designed to be streamlined. With reduced drag, cars become quicker. However, when a car is too low, wind drag may increase and this will eventually lead to poor gas mileage. Also, as you corner, there is less risk of rollover as there is a reduced center of gravity.
A lowered vehicle will have larger tires and wheels; these tires come with thin sidewalls and a bigger contact patch. This tire design lets more rubber grip the road and thus, improves traction.
Related: Average Car Weight
There are also some drawbacks to lowering a car. Understanding the disadvantages of lowering a car is as important as learning the pros. Knowing these will help you make a sound decision if this is what you want in your car.
First, riding in a vehicle with a lowered suspension is not as comfortable as riding in a car with a softer suspension. A lowered car is noisier as you’re riding close to the road. You’ll feel everything and hear everything too.
Also, you can only drive on well-paved, even roads. A rocky road or those with humps would be difficult to ride in. A lowered vehicle will have tires that are more prone to wear and tear. Lowering suspension will also affect the design or geometry of the wheel and tire. If the process is not carried out professionally, you can end up with a car with serious alignment problems.
A speed hump or even a small pothole can cause serious damage to the front of a lowered vehicle as well as the components found underneath like the oil pan and exhaust system. If you’re stuck and you need a tow truck, the back of your car could easily drag to the ground at a slight raise of the truck. Also, the lowered parts like suspension and steering system may contact the wheels and tires, even each other. The tires can also scrape the body during turns.
Some lowered vehicles can’t use a standard-type jack and this could be a huge issue if you’re stuck on the road with a flat tire. Also, some vehicle manufacturers don’t advise this enhancement and may even void your warranty.
How to lower a car suspension?
What do I need to lower my car? There are many ways this can be done. Here are the most common techniques:
Coilovers are a term for suspension parts that replace the spring coil. These come with an adjustable shock absorber and a spring that's wrapped around the component. When coilovers are installed properly, you can expect a lowering of your suspension up to 4 inches. But take note, this technique can lead to coil failure and tire wear due to repeated tension.
Lowering the springs
This is installing springs that are similar to the suspension system of the vehicle but are slightly shorter. With this method, expect lowering from 1 to 2 inches. You can DIY this method using kits that cost from $100 to $500 or more. Professionals will charge up to $500 for labor. This technique is also considered the cheapest way to lower a car.
Modifying the leaf springs
This is a method used in older cars. Modifying the suspension leaf springs is the easiest and the cheapest as these will only cost around $200 while professionals may charge up to $500 for labor only.
Replacing springs with adjustable airbags
If you want to lower and raise suspension, you can replace your springs with airbags. This method can give you around 3 to 5 inches of lowered suspension. This is also one of the most expensive methods as kits alone can cost anywhere from $400 to $4,000 plus, you need additional tools. Not all installers can work on this technique so expect expensive labor that can cost $1000 or more.
Just like using airbags, hydraulics can raise or lower the suspension as needed. Considered the best way to lower a car, hydraulics is what the professionals use to make cars “hop.” As this is a complicated technique, it is also the most expensive with DIY kits costing anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000++. Professional installers will charge you $2000 up to $5,000 for their services alone.
Installing a drop spindle
If you want to lower your vehicle height without affecting the suspension, a drop spindle is usually the best option. This technique can increase the wheel mount and thus, lowers the vehicle up to 3 inches.
Related: Average Car Length
Is lowering your car legal?
Lowering a car is illegal depending on where you’re located. In some U.S. States, there are limits as to how low you can lower your suspension. If you’re unsure, check local laws about the lowest point for a wheel rim. And as much as lowered vehicles are illegal, raised cars are also prohibited. In Australia, a lowered vehicle is illegal if this is reduced by more than 1/3 of the vehicle’s original height.
In some countries, a lowered vehicle attracts unwanted attention from police as car owners tend to violate speed limits and overlook local traffic laws. Therefore, if you plan to lower your car, you should also be concerned with local laws and traffic rules regarding vehicle modifications.
Finally, before lowering your car, consult your insurance company if this is a part of your coverage. Some insurance companies see this kind of modification as a risk and therefore, will recommend increasing your premiums.
How much would it cost to lower a car? Cost per method given
The following is a summary of the cost of lowering a car depending on the method and the lowering capacity. Take note that the price of professional installation and modification varies depending on where you’re located and the vehicle.
Type of Modification
How Low Can You Go?
Professional Install Cost
Changing Leaf Springs
Up to 2.5 inches
$100 to $200
Up to $400 + materials
Up to 3 inches
Up to $700
Up to $500 + materials
Up to 3 inches
Up to $1,300
Up to $500 + materials
Up to 4 inches
Up to $9,000
Up to $600 + materials
Up to 5 inches
Up to $4,000
Up to $1000 + materials
Up to 5 inches
Up to $10,000
Up to $5,000 + materials
How much does it cost to lower a truck? The price of lowering a truck may be somewhat similar to the price of lowering a car and again, it depends on the type of vehicle and the type of modification you wish.
Now that you have an idea how much does it cost to lower a car, you can plan and save. Usually, car owners who want to save on expensive labor costs resort to doing it DIY however, there is a downside to this especially if you're not a professional installer. Think of the price of a lower car as an investment. Indeed, it costs a lot when done professionally, but you'll get the best deal for your money.
Simon graduated with a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Degree. He has over 20 years of servicing experience in both Japanese and German car dealerships. He now acts as a freelance mechanic’s instructor for local schools.