Lowering a vehicle is a popular mod among car enthusiasts. Relative to how else one can mod their vehicle, lowering a car is more straightforward and often cheaper. This, however, depends on how you go about doing it.
For a more DIY and hacky approach, one could just cut their stock springs, thus decreasing the overall length of the springs and lowering the height. Or you could get custom mod coil-overs that plug into your ECU, provide dynamic ride adjustment, and lower the height.
These approaches may be wildly different, but that one thing that they all achieve and work towards is lowering the vehicle. Why would you want to lower your car, one might ask?
Ride height is a compromise and a trade-off between comfort and control. The car’s driveability in a real-world environment is made better by a higher car since you have more clearance to clear obstacles on the road and more available length in the car damping systems to absorb and dampen any disturbances.
All this leads to much-felt ride comfort. The trade-off here is of control and handling. As the car is lifted, the center of gravity moves away from the ground. The car is relatively more unstable, and there is a feeling of separation felt by the driver between them and the vehicle.
A lower car produces more traction and can accelerate harder and can turn better since the car weight can shift less and hence produces more consistent normal forces during braking and accelerating, leading to a more consistent and confident feel by the driver.
All these make the car feel snappier. This has more to do with car feel than actual car dynamics though they do play a part in it. A noticeable difference is going from a higher ride height to a lowered car.
Now we will talk more specifically about the Honda Fit and how you can go about lowering your car. The stock ride height for your vehicle is between 5.9 to 4.0 inches depending on the model and trim you have. There are different avenues available to you here.
01. Lowering kits
Lowering kits are mod kits sold by brands that package all the components you might need for your specific vehicle into one convenient, easy package. Though convenient, you lose out on some customizability since they are pre-decided parts.
These kits are comprehensive and include everything from the springs/coil-overs to the nuts and bolts you might need to fasten them. These vary in price, typically from under $200 to over $2000. As you go more expensive, your coilovers become adjustable.
You gain the ability to control the damping of your coil-overs and get packaged sway bars. Thus, you can just go online and search for appropriate models of the ones you want, and you will have the guarantee that they will work with your vehicle.
02. Cutting stock springs
There is another way. This method may seem dumb, and you are just asking for problems, and it probably is, but if it works, it works. The gist of it is that you cut your springs, leading to a stiffer and lower ride.
Cutting a coil spring will stiffen it and make the ride more firm, but this is good because lowering your car reduces how far up off the ground it sits. A firmer suspension means less whacking into potholes by reducing how far the suspension can travel.
When you are lowering your vehicle, measure how much of a reduction in height is desired. Cut 1/2 the length of the springs and reinstall them with enough force so they will seat properly without being too loose or tight (a little extra space works well).
After you are done with the installation, take the car for a drive. You should be able to tell a difference in how the vehicle drives. A lower position will allow for increased control while driving on slippery roads.
If you are still not happy, you can go back to the first step and cut some more.
03. Lowering springs
Lowering springs are a type of suspension spring that are used to lower the ride height of a vehicle. They are generally stiffer than stock springs and, as such, can improve the handling characteristics of a vehicle. In addition, lowering a vehicle can give it a more aggressive and sporty appearance.
There are a few things to keep in mind when considering lowering springs. First, they will generally lower a vehicle by 1 to 2 inches, so it is important to make sure that this will not adversely affect the clearance of the vehicle.
Second, since they are stiffer than stock springs, they may make the ride less comfortable. Finally, they may also require the use of beefier shocks and struts, as the stock units may not be able to handle the increased stress.
If you are looking to improve the handling of your vehicle, or simply want to give it a more aggressive look, then lowering springs may be the right choice for you.
Lowering your Honda Fit using coilovers is another recommended method by specialists. Coilovers are made up of two parts: coils and shocks. The coils are designed to compress and absorb shock, while the shocks provide resistance to prevent the coils from over-compressing. This combination provides a smoother ride and better handling than traditional suspensions.
Lowering coilovers are a specific type of coilover that is designed to lower the vehicle. This can be done for aesthetic or performance reasons. As discussed already, lowering the vehicle lowers the center of gravity, which can improve handling and make the car look more aggressive. It can also be used to adjust the ride height to clear obstacles or make the car more aerodynamic.
Installing lowering coilovers is a relatively simple process, but it should be done by a professional if you are not the best DIYer. Incorrect installation can lead to poor handling and ride quality. It can also void the warranty on your vehicle. If you’re thinking about installing lowering coilovers, make sure to do your research and find a reputable installer.
Will a lowered Fit drive better and safer?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer, however, depends on whether you care more about comfort or control. The fact that you are reading suggests that you might be interested in this; however, it is best to keep the cons in mind too. Listing them out, they come out to be
- Reduced ride comfort
- Impractical for rough roads
- Accelerated or uneven tire wear
- Chance of bottoming out
- Potential rubbing on parts or tires
- May have to use a custom jack
- Warranty issues
These should be self-explanatory, and knowing these, and you can make a more informed choice. The question of safety is also one that may have crossed your mind. A car with lower suspension means the center of gravity is closer to the ground; thus, the vehicle develops lower rollover torques when cornering. It is like a go-kart; you can’t roll over a go-kart in normal conditions.
This physical reality is also transmitted to the driver through the car’s handling characteristics. There are also lower pitching and rolling moments leading to less shifting around in your seats. Though a bump that bottoms your car could leave it catastrophically failed and cause damage that way.
So, while there may added safety advantages, the newly introduced disadvantages add a factor of unsafety. Therefore, it is better to leave it to the manufacturer to decide what height to leave your car at and look at safety tests and reports to understand better the safety factor associated with your vehicle.