Why Do People Lower Their Cars? Is It Dangerous?

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Lowered cars seem to be a bit like Marmite, you either love them or you hate them, either way there are pros and cons for owning a lowered vehicle. If you are wondering whether it is worth lowering a car, if it is completely legal in the UK and what are they possible safety implications, then this article will offer some helpful insight to this topic.

Reasons why people lower their cars

The most common reason why people lower their cars, is the visual appeal. Some car owners love the look of a lowered down car because it can give any style of car a sportier appearance.

The lowering of a car not only creates a sportier appearance, it also changes the suspension of a vehicle which makes it sportier in its driving performance. The reason why lowering a car alters driving performance is due to the weight transfer and reduced aerodynamic drag resulting from less air traveling under the car. Tires are more efficient when weight is evenly distributed across a car.

Most modern manufactured cars sit lower than older previous models, as this style has been appreciated by many car lovers. Car manufacturers create lowered models by lowering a car’s suspension, which is something amateur car enthusiasts may be able to do themselves. If a car owner owns an older model car, they may lower the vehicle to make the vehicle look more youthful.

Car lowering is most popular with young men who purchase second hand cars and alter the look of their vehicle to suit their style. This is effective as many young men do not have the budget to splash out on a brand-new car, so they work hard to alter a more cost-effective car.

According to Autoblog (source), common lowering modifications include:

  • Shortening or softening coil springs
  • Re-bending leaf springs
  • Changing the spring or torsion bar mounting points
  • Adjusting the torsion bar key (torsion bar suspensions only)

Pros and Cons of Lowering Your Car

As with all things in life, lowering a vehicle has positive and negative consequences, we’ve summarised these here:

The handling of the car may increase as the suspension stiffens up after lowering, this allows the car to corner which minimises body roll.
Lowering of a car can increase the car’s performance which can lead to the car driving sportier.
Traction may also improve as the efficiency of the tires improve.
The aerodynamics of the car improve, so there may be a smoother ride.
It can improve the appearance of a car.
A car can feel less comfortable after being lowered and it can lessen the reliability of components such as: suspension arms, rubber bushes, sub-frame and shock absorbers.
If a car has been lowered, the insurance company needs to be informed of the modification, this could increase a car’s insurance policy.
Tires may become worn quicker than before the lowering and the tire wear may even be uneven.
If a car which is under manufacturer warranty is lowered, it may affect the warranty.

Don’t forget that you’ll need specialist equipment to work on a lowered vehicle such as a jack designed for lowered cars. You may also find some regular maintenance tasks a little more tricky.

Does Lowering your Car Make it Faster?

Yes, lowering a car can make the driving performance slightly faster, due to the aerodynamic drag being reduced, as the car then has a lower centre of gravity which helps the car to go faster.

However, it is likely that the results may not be dramatic as lowering a car does add power to the mechanics of a vehicle. If it is important for a car owner to have a faster car, there will be better results from adding a faster engine to a vehicle.

Is Lowering a Car Dangerous?

If a car has been lowered to a poor standard, many safety issues can occur:

As mentioned previously, a car which has been lowered may face more tyre wear than a car which hasn’t been lowered. Worn tyres can cause: reduced traction and it will reduce the speed in which a car breaks, which can lead to serious consequences.

The lowering may also alter the steering geometry and depending how much the steering geometry has changed, the car no longer be able to steer as safely as before.

The shock absorbers will face more wear and tear as there will be more pressure on them as a result of the lowering.

A final implication is that passengers may feel more bumps from the car being lowered. This may not be a direct safety issue, but passengers may feel very uncomfortable whilst travelling in a lowered car.

UK Law About Lowered Cars

Lowering a car isn’t against the law itself, however it can have knock on effects which is why police are often drawn towards lowered vehicles. A car that has been lowered cannot have any interference with a car’s ability to steer or the height of a vehicle’s headlights.

It is also important to remember that every car which is driven on the road in the UK needs to have valid car insurance. If you fail to inform your car insurance provider that you have modified your vehicle, your insurance could be invalid and if you need to make a claim, it will not be possible to make the claim.

In UK law, modifications to the suspension of a vehicle which is the fit of stiffer springs and lowering kits, can only be done legally where a car’s road handling will not be compromised (source). It is also important to note that this work must be carried out by a competent car technician.

Final Thoughts

A lowered car can improve the appearance of a vehicle (especially older cars) and they also add a significant fun factor if you are someone who loves a sporty drive. A vehicle which has been lowered can also make the driving performance of a car seem slightly faster.

Lowering a car in the UK is legal, but it is important to be aware of how a lowered car may impact on its components and the safety and overall quality of the vehicle. Lowered cars may be more popular in the younger generation, but there are perks for everyone to enjoy.