There’s something undeniably cool about lowered cars. From muscle cars to family station wagons, a new set of wheels and just a couple of inches closer to the road make a huge difference. This custom modification doesn’t come for free, but just how much does it cost to lower a car?
The cost of lowering your car depends a lot on what you drive. In broad terms, lowering your car will set you back at least $500 with labor, with $1,000+ being a more realistic figure. The price can go up quickly as you increase the quality of components and opt for better methods of lowering the car.
Why is Lower a Car so Expensive?
You should look no further than the cost of the stock shocks for your vehicle to see why lowering your car can get expensive. To get the desired effect, you need a new set of shocks, or rather, coilovers that are rarely under $800 for a very basic set. Because changing shocks is a major task, you’ll likely need to hire a mechanic to perform this time-consuming task.
There are of course alternatives that may not give you an increase in handling and performance, but still, give you the desired effect. I’ll warn you that these methods can damage your vehicle and lead to disappointing results, but I’ll still cover them to give you the most comprehensive list available.
Coilovers are way too expensive if just want to lower your car. However, for a race-spec setup, coilovers are a must.
Most coil overs give you the option to adjust the height, but you should also consider other factors, like rebound and compression control. These two systems have to do with how quickly the weight transfers to and away from the tire. Adjustable rebound and compression control can be found on higher-end coil overs, so unless you’re making a dedicated race car, fixed settings will do just fine.
Spring rates control how much the car rolls in corners and how much pressure can it absorb from a pothole or a bump. It’s measured in the amount of force needed to compress the spring by one inch. If your car feels wobbly when you’re cornering, the stiffer suspension will greatly improve its balance. By stiffening the suspension, you’ll make the ride less comfortable and increase the risk of damage caused by crossing over a pothole, so try to strike a balance depending on the vehicle’s application.
The manufacturer’s warranty is also important, as coil overs are very expensive and are expected to last a lifetime. KW Coilover kit is one of the best in terms of value-for-money, so be sure to check their options and see if they stock a kit for your car.
Depending on how difficult they are to install, the cost of labor ranges from $100 to $500, with an additional $100-200 needed to get the right alignment. Given that you’ve got enough of a passion for cars to be looking into coilovers, this is the right time to start working on your ride at home. The money you would spend on a mechanic covers the cost of all the tools you’ll need, and at the end of the day, you get to keep them and make the next job even cheaper.
Mounting coilovers – necessary tools:
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With the miscellaneous items like antiseize and pentrating oil, the total comes to $250, which is less than what a mechanic would charge. The best part is, every single tool on the list is essential for a car-repair toolbox, so they’ll definitely see a lot of use.
Explaining the process of installing coilovers is too lengthy and complex for a written guide, so I would strongly advise checking out youtube guides for step-by-step instructions.
If you want to lower your car without breaking your budget, lowering springs are the way to go. Coilovers make the stock strut and coil spring assembly redundant, but with lowering spring you’re only replacing the stock spring. To compensate for being shorter, these aftermarket springs are more densely wound, which results in better handling but also a stiffer ride.
Lowering springs are significantly cheaper than coilovers – a good set will cost you $50 – 100 apiece, or $300 on average for a complete set. Companies like H&R and Belltech produce high-quality springs for owners on a budget, but for the best results, Eibach is a great pick.
I would not advise you to change springs at home, as the residual tension placed on springs is enough to cause serious injuries. I remember fixing changing springs on a VW Golf 2 with my grandfather, and how much force we needed to place on the spring to get it in place. Modern lowering springs are much tougher, so paying a professional around $200 to get them changed is better than risking injury.
3. Drop Spindles
Drop spindles are likely the easiest and cheapest way of lowering your car. The spindle raises the position of the shaft that is used to mount the wheel, bringing it closer to the fender and effectively lowering the vehicle without changing suspension components.
The stock suspension is adjusted to work best with the stock spindle, so using a drop spindle may slightly decrease ride quality. Drop spindles also have no positive effect on handling but they don’t make the ride stiffer either.
Drop spindles are generally more expensive than lowering springs, costing $200 – 300 for a pair. Belltech offers the best quality for money, so feel free to go with their options. Changing the spindle is no easy task, but if you feel up for the challenge, take a look at the following video for a brief task overview.
4. Spring Cutting
In the days before the internet, many aspiring teenage street races took it upon themselves to cut down stock springs and lower the car that way. Nowadays, we consider this to be one of the worst ways of doing the job, and here’s why:
The process of getting to the spring is the same for both tasks, but with spring cutting you have the extra step of using the grinder. But the most important reason why you should opt for lowering springs is the results. Not only will you have far greater handling and stability, but the risk of messing up is also far lower than with cut springs. I wanted to let you know that this method exists, but I strongly advise against it.
5. Air Suspension
If you’ve seen the Still D.R.E. music video, then you know what this section will be about. The air suspension has been around for quite some time, but most people know it as the lowrider suspension. However, what they’re doing is considered the extreme – air suspension, or airbag suspension is meant to provide a more comfortable ride and adjustable height.
It’s used by high-end luxury car and SUV manufacturers, but also exists in the form of mounting kits which you can use to upgrade your suspension. The suspension itself isn’t too expensive and you can get by with $500 for an entire set, but the cost of labor can easily cross $1,000. You’ll also need an air compressor, air tank, control kit, and miscellaneous items that will raise the price to a few thousand dollars.
In my opinion, aftermarket air suspension is a modification made for classic-turned-lowrider, not common cars. I would rather opt for a vehicle with factory air suspension than attempt to install one myself or spend the astronomical sum to have someone else do it for me.
6. Leaf Springs
Trucks and SUVs may have leaf springs in the back to support the greater cargo loads. Lowering leaf springs is actually a cheap DIY task, but requires knowledge of welding, drilling, and working with tough metal. The following video provides a nice overview of how the leaf spring’s position can be flipped with the axle to lower the truck by a few inches.
Is lowering your car bad?
If done correctly, lowering the car shouldn’t accelerate the deterioration of components by a significant amount. The softer suspension will channel fewer vibrations through other parts, and more importantly does a better job of absorbing impacts from potholes and speedbumps.
What is the cheapest way to lower a car?
Spring cutting is the cheapest way on paper, but in practice, it’s likely going to break and cause damage to other components. The cheapest method that actually works is getting a set of lowered springs.
Does lowering a car affect insurance?
Over-lowering the car can lead to problems with handling and steering, which can be taken into consideration if there’s a crash. However, a sensibly lowered car with properly mounted parts is considered a cosmetic change and shouldn’t affect the premium.
Does lowering a car make it faster?
It does, in more ways than one. With shorter, stiffer springs, weight shifting is reduced, which results in faster acceleration and better braking. The center of gravity is also lower, making the car more stable in corners. The stiffer springs prevent body rolling, a common problem in cornering on softer suspension. Lastly, a lowered vehicle is more aerodynamic. However, to get most of these benefits you’ll need a set of high-performance coilovers..
Is lowering a car legal?
Broadly speaking, lowering the car should be legal, but different states have different regulations in terms of the amount. The legal issues can be traced back to the ’60s when lowriders began installing air suspensions to circumvent newly instated regulations.
Do you have to tell insurance about lowering your car?
As lowering the suspension is considered a modification, you need to notify your insurance company. Most people avoid doing this because they assume it’ll come with an automatic premium increase, which rarely happens. In case of an accident, undeclared modifications can void your insurance, so make sure your insurance company knows about the changes you’ve made to the car.
Are coilovers good for daily driving?
In short, coilovers will not be pleasant for daily driving because they’re too stiff to absorb road imperfections. Even the suspension of a budget car can beat coilovers in terms of comfort. However, coilovers are far superior when it comes to handling and performance, making the tradeoff well worth it in some instances.
If you plan on lowering your car, now you’re aware of how much money it’s going to cost you. For a race-ready car, coilovers will do wonders, but if you’re looking for a visual change, lowered springs are a much cheaper alternative. I hope this guide has helped you in your search for an ideal car setup, and if you’re looking for more information, check out some of our other guides!