Lowering the Suspension For Improved Handling
There’s a reason race cars hug the ground: it helps them go round corners faster. Now even if your car is only driven sensibly on the street, you might still want to improve how it handles, which means lowering the suspension. This is one of the more straightforward performance upgrades you can make. Here we’ll take you through what was involved in upgrading a customer’s BMW M3.
Why Lower is Better
When cornering there’s a centrifugal force that wants to push the car sideways. (To be accurate, it’s the car that’s turning and centrifugal force is trying to continue in a straight line.) This force acts through the car’s center-of-gravity (the “average” point of all the mass,) and because that’s some distance above the road it feels as if it’s going to tip the car over. This feels alarming and also shifts the loads to the tires on the outside of the corner, which reduces overall grip.
Put the car nearer the road and you lower the center-of-gravity. This reduces the tipping forces and results in more grip from the tires.
A second benefit is less airflow under the car. This reduces any tendency for the front to lift, which reduces grip, and when the car is really low even creates some suction that pulls the car down closer to the road.
There is also a third benefit, at least for some car owners: a car that sits lower tends to look cooler, and who doesn’t like that?
Lowering a BMW M3
Every generation of M3 is a classic, but for some the E92 coupe, sold from 2008 to 2013, is the best of the bunch. Not only is it beautifully proportioned, but the 420 hp V8 under the hood gives it serious get-up-and-go.
We had a customer bring one to us recently. He wanted to fit some M3 competition wheels and lower the ride height. Replacing the wheels is fairly straightforward but lowering the ride height is a little more involved.
One approach is to perform a coilover conversion but in this case we installed a set of H&R lowering springs. These bring the front of the car down about 1” and the rear by 0.6”. (On a car with the factory Competition Package the height reduction is 0.75” front and 0.25” at the rear.)
This job doesn’t stop at new springs though. Lowering the car changes the suspension settings, so then it needs a lowered alignment.
What’s a Lowered Alignment?
Car wheels never stand vertically upright. They’re always inclined slightly inwards at the top. This is called “camber” and it improves handling through corners and evens out tire wear. When you lower the car you change the camber, so it needs a very careful alignment to set all four wheels at the correct angles. Skip this lowered alignment and you’ll miss out on the benefits of a lower ride height. You’ll wear out the tires faster too.
Your Specialists for BMW Repair Work and Performance Upgrades
We’re passionate about high-end European cars and we have a lot of experience working on them. If you’re looking for BMW repair work or you want to upgrade the performance of your car you should talk to us, EurAuto Shop in Plano TX.. (But to be clear, we’re not a body shop: we specialize in mechanical and electrical work.)
You can make an appointment directly through our website, or if you’d rather, call (214) 552-4194. We’d like to hear what you’re looking for and we’ll be happy to explain your options.