Lowering a car can be expensive.
This is among the modifications that dramatically changes the way your car looks and feels to drive.
It’s one of the first big modifications my brother made to his Honda Civic when he was in high school – it gives a car a sporty, more aggressive look.
But what if your desperate to lower your car and you don’t have the money for better options?
Whatever method you choose to lower your car, it needs to leave your car safe to drive. Cheap doesn’t mean unreliable.
Here are some cheap ways to lower your car.
1. Cutting the Stock Springs
This is my least favorite method for lowering a car, by the way. When working with an automobile’s suspension springs, exercise extreme caution.
Coil springs are under a tremendous amount of pressure and disrespecting them can cause serious injury to you or anyone else around you.
You also need to keep a few rules in mind to avoid destroying your springs. The end of the spring tells you if it can be cut safely.
Coil springs have 3 different types of ends:
Tangential coil springs will fall over if you stand it on its end.
Square springs can stand on their own because the last coil bends back down to touch the one below it.
Pigtail coil springs have a smaller diameter than the coils in the body of the spring.
The safest spring to cut is the tangential coil spring.
Unlike square and pigtail coil springs, tangential springs aren’t designed to make full contact with their mounting points, so it doesn’t have to be reshaped.
2. Lowering the Torsion Bar
Also known as a torsion bar suspension, this is a long piece of steel making up part of a vehicle’s suspension – one end is connected to the control arm while the other is connected to the chassis of the vehicle.
It’s an outdated suspension that you’ll mostly find on pickup trucks and older cars prior to the 1980s.
Not only does this type of suspension make the ride more comfortable. But they’re durable and virtually maintenance free while being easy to adjust.
Torsion bars have largely been taken over by coil springs in passenger vehicles. Torsion bar suspension absorbs shocks by twisting (torsion force).
You can adjust the torsion bar bolts to lower your ride without damaging anything.
Just be aware that doing so also reduces the amount of suspension travel, which means you could bottom out easily.
3. Lowering Springs
Probably the most obvious and popular way to lower your car is by using lowering springs.
Lowering springs replace your car’s stock springs and fit into the factory shock absorbers. There are a variety of reputable companies that make lowering springs including Eibach and H&R.
Lowering springs are less expensive than coilovers – the price for a set of lowering springs range from $100 to $300.
Another reason why this is a popular way to lower your car is because lowering springs are relatively easy to install. And often, the ride isn’t any more harsh than stock suspension.
The problem with lowering springs, however, (besides the lack of adjustability) is that they don’t have the same spring rates as OEM shocks which is mostly a problem if you plan to mix and match lowering springs with your stock springs.
Just as popular are coilovers which also replace your stock springs.
The difference is that coilovers have adjustable springs and shock absorbers that allow you to adjust the height of your car and its handling characteristics.
Even though coilovers are more expensive than lowering springs, some options are cheaper than others – Prices range from $700 to as much as $3,000.
Another huge benefit of coilovers vs lowering springs is that it’s easier for shops to do alignments with coilovers since the camber and caster angles are adjustable.
But the spring rates are going to be stiffer than lowering springs.
5. Air Suspension
I love air suspension.
It’s the only choice that gives you full control over the suspension dynamics of your car on the fly with just the touch of a button.
Air suspension allows you to slam your car down for an aggressive show stance that’s lower than any other method of lowering a car.
An air suspension system upgrades your car’s stock coil with an enclosed flexible rubber bladder known as an air spring.
You can inflate and deflate the air spring at the touch of a button for instant adjustability.
Now mind you, this is not the cheapest way to lower a car. But the price does range making it a relatively affordable option for lowering your car.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $7000 to bag your car.
6. Hydraulic Suspension
This suspension option is the least common way to lower your car. You’ll mostly find competition low riders utilizing it.
Like air suspension, a handful of high-end vehicles also use hydraulic suspension. And like air suspension, there are aftermarket hydraulic suspension kits to convert your stock suspension.
But it’s not available to all cars, which means you’ll have to do some research.
This is one of the most complicated suspension systems:
- Hydraulic fluid creates pressure in a sealed system.
- The pressure creates power which is transmitted to other components.
- This power can be sent to all four corners of a vehicle dynamically.
You can expect to pay between $500 and $1000 to install hydraulic suspension on your car.
7. Hydropneumatic Suspension
One of my mom’s favorite cars is the Citroen DS.
One of her uncles owned one when she was a little girl and the feature that captivated her most was the hydraulic suspension which gave the car the ability to raise and lower.
It gave the DS a very cushy ride no matter what the tires were rolling over.
Hydropneumatic suspension uses a combination of air and fluid for shock absorption instead of a metal spring.
Another advantage to this suspension system is that it offers load-leveling, and it controls body roll.
Regrettably, you can’t buy this suspension system anywhere I’ve seen. And the company responsible for its existence (Citroen) is no longer offering it in its cars – the last car to offer it was the Citroen C5.
But I mention it as one of the cheap ways to lower your car because if you can get your hands on a car that offers hydropneumatic suspension, you can retrofit the system onto your ride.
8. How to Make Your Car Look Lower Without Actually Lowering It
Sometimes you want your vehicle to look like it has a lower stance, but you don’t actually want to lower it any more than it already is from factory.
Sports cars like the Ford Mustang and Porsche 911 come to mind.
As a teenager in the 90s, I loved the way ground effects made a vehicle look more hunkered down without actually changing the suspension.
The first car I ever noticed with ground effects was the second-generation Acura Integra coupe. Just adding ground affects completely transformed the way the car looked.
Even just adding a lip to the front end of the bumper makes a car look lower and more aggressive.
Cons of Lowering a Car
High quality lowering kits can get pretty expensive.
Cheap lowering kits while – they get the job done of giving your car a lowered stance – can end up giving your car a bad ride quality; makes it difficult to get a proper alignment; and may wind up destroying your entire suspension system.
Look, I know you clicked on this article looking for cheap ways to lower your car. But speaking as someone who didn’t have a lot of funds to do the things he wanted to his car and went for cheaper solutions.