blow-by-blow report on what's involved in lowering a light
today's vehicle manufacturers do a more than credible job
at suspension geometry and achieving the right height,
vehicle buyers often feel the need to alter the ride height
of their trucks. Two-wheel-drive trucks are lowered or slammed
by many enthusiasts. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are often raised
or lifted. The lifted 4x4 is a story for another time. Here
we'll deal with lowering street vehicles.
insist that their expensive custom wheels and fat tires look
better when they fill the wheel wells. Some say that lowering
helps achieve a better ride, better handling, or that it simply
makes the vehicle easier to get in and out of. It's debatable
whether lowering improves handling. Sometimes yes. Sometimes
no. Mostly it boils down to appearance. Lowered trucks simply
look better. And lowering is in.
it may be tempting to just jump on the bandwagon, there are
a few things you need to consider. Suspension modifications
can sometimes void the factory warranty relative to the vehicle's
suspension-related components. The best plan is to contact
an authorized dealer to determine exactly how the warranty
will be affected by your suspension changes. Warranty policies
vary from make to make.
be advised that when a light truck's suspension has been modified
it is imperative that the wheels be realigned. Because the
modifications have altered the suspension geometry, it's a
safer bet that wheel aligment has also been adversely affected.
A wheel alignment will correct any problems and prevent undue
important consideration is deciding how much to lower the
vehicle. Professional lowering kit installers are advised
to tell customers that too much drop (more than 3 inches in
front) can make a light truck tough to drive. If the vehicle
has an air dam in front it may bottom out, scraping the road
on bumps, driveways, and railroad crossings.
ground clearance can make a truck less fun to drive. The best
bet is to find a happy medium, one that enhances the look
of the truck while retaining good handling and a comfortable
said, the following is a step-by-step installation of a drop
kit and of suspension air bags from Bell Tech of Fresno, California.
Contrary to my conservative advice, we used Bell Tech's 5/7
drop kit to radically lower a '98 Chevy crew cab dually (five
inches in front and seven inches in the rear). For this installation,
performed by Mike Ibold of Dealer's Sport Truck and Automotive,
Los Alamitos, Calif., we used Bell Tech's C section brace
to help reinforce the frame. Installing the section brace
requires notching the frame rails at the rear so that the
axle can be raised up and the leaf springs relocated below
the axle, rather than above the axle which is the stock positioning.
these components results in a considerable lowering of the
rear. We've driven this dually about 1,000 miles since the
drop kit install and we're pleased to report that the ride
and handling are excellent. Yes, we must be careful at driveways
and railroad crossings lest we scrape bottom, but the truck
sure looks good - like a good custom should. The following
photos show highlights of the installation.