We have noticed over the years that our customers realise that simply going faster through a good professional car service and car performance tuning programme is only a small part of a quality car performance upgrade. For example, they know it is not a good idea to enable the car to go a lot faster if it can’t stop or turn corners safely.
In the same way, customers are looking for car suspension upgrades to improve the handling at speed.
Improve Handling Through Car Suspension Upgrades
To help with understanding the issues concerning lowering your car suspension either by just lowering the springs or by fitting coilovers we need to look at what the suspension does. Basically, your car suspension is there to carry out three helpful functions.
Firstly your car suspension should help bring comfort to the journey with a smooth ride. Roads have bumps /potholes or corners that need smoothing out so you are able to sit straight not being thrown back and forward or left to right depending on where the car wants to go.
Secondly, you need to ensure all four wheels are in contact with the ground to help keep control of the drive and direction of the car.
Most of these suspension issues are tackled by the car springs however they only store a bounce and then release it straight away. That means you will bounce a few times for every bump or pothole you hit. That on its own would not be just uncomfortable to ride in but at higher speeds quite dangerous.
This is where the damper (aka shock absorber) comes into its own. The piston inside the cylinder has a number of small holes through which oil is pushed up and down to absorb the energy of the bounce. This is admittedly a very simple model as the struts, axles and hub and bearings and also the wheel tyres are absorbing some of the bounce. So making any type of car suspension upgrades can be complex and involve a few different factors to improve your car handling without creating any adverse effects.
Thirdly it is not just stopping wheel bounce but also road safety when cornering fast. When you turn left at speed the car will lean over placing more weight on the right-hand side and thus creating a centrifugal force. This can, if not counterbalanced, lift two wheels off the ground which could send you spinning off the road. Obviously similar but opposite forces applied on right-hand corners.
What About Car Suspension Upgrades
The main two alternative approaches to improving your handling at speed though car suspension upgrades would be:-
- Lowering your springs.
- Using coilovers as part of the car suspension upgrade.
Lowering The Car Springs
Lowering the springs as part of your car suspension upgrade will lower the centre of gravity and help with aspects of handling. Many people also believe it makes the car look impressive. However going too low with your suspension springs has some negative factors which need to be considered before starting the process.
How far can you go with lowering your suspension?
Questions about car suspension upgrades and how far to go will always be a difficult question to answer. In practice every car has its own collection of unique factors which can affect the positive feel and the negative side of adapting the suspension. Lowering a car suspension through the springs can be relatively expensive in terms of materials and labour so it will not be a case lets suck it and see. In addition going too far can damage your car. However the question about car suspension upgrades by lowering the car can be summed up with these generalisations.
- Lowering by up 30 mm will be relatively safe. It should not adversely effect the handling at any time or create any tyre scrub. But having said that if you have oversized rims or tyres wider than standard fitted to the car this may not be as safe as just stated.
- Lowering your suspension by 40mm will often result in some bump scrub for example a deeper pothole a speed bump of roadworks. But otherwise not adversely affect the handling too much.
- Going over the 40mm maximum you expect to expect regular tyre scrub and some adverse handling problems especially at higher speed, wet or icy conditions or poor quality roads. In addition there is every likelihood of tramlining and potentially very dangerous handling on even minor bumps.
- Lowering the suspension of a regular road car by more than 40mm would not be recommended
If you are looking to try improve your car handling by lowering the suspension using either coilovers or shortening the springs in any way as part of a car suspension upgrades come and talk to us about it first. Make sure you are point out any other modifications that you or others have already made including oversized rims or tyres. As said before car suspension upgrades is not just about lowering the suppression springs but balancing out other adverse effects as well.
Produced By Scott Cheyne