5 Things Everyone Should Know About Lowering Springs

Lowered Volkswagens are everywhere — and there’s a reason for that: they looks awesome! There’s something about the lines of the Volkswagen design that are seriously brought out when the body is a little closer to the road.

Blue VW

However, lowering springs aren’t exactly the easiest things to deal with — here are 5 key things you need to know about lowering springs BEFORE you install them. Hopefully, these tips will guide in choosing the right springs and method so you can lower your VW the right way, and also know what to expect.

Don’t Be Surprised by a Rough Ride

VW Bug lowered

This feature of lowering springs surprises most people, and unfortunately they don’t really know what to expect until the deed is done. When you reduce ride height, you often reduce suspension travel and/or increase spring rates. This effectively reduces the amount of “give” in your VW’s suspension, resulting in a rougher ride than stock springs.

But problems with a rough ride are often amplified when you:

  1. Keep using the original shocks and struts instead of upgrading them to match your new spring rates
  2. You add some seriously low-profile tires and heavy after-market wheels to your vehicle

The best advice for anyone installing springs is to plan to buy some new shocks and struts, and to wait to buy your new wheels and tires until after you have a chance to test the setup. That way, you’ll know if you really want those 35 series tires or not.

If You Drop It Low, the Road Might Jump Up and Bite You!

Bump caution signHave you ever noticed that some cars take speed bumps super slow and avoid potholes like they are hot lava? They most likely have a lowered car. The closer the body of the car gets to the ground, the more clearance problems you’re going to run into. Unfortunately, it’s not just speed bumps that you have to watch out for either!

A lowered car can have trouble navigating the entrances and exits of their own driveway and parking lots due to the change in angle. You’ll also come across sudden changes in the roadway that cause you to bottom out. This can cause damage to your exhaust, other undercarriage components, and in extreme causes, the body of your car! So, get used to the idea of losing some paint to the roads.

Think About Your Environment

Lowered VW rain

If you live in a place where it never snows or rains, go ahead and skip to the next paragraph. However, if you live anywhere else, beware of traction issues! Lowering your Volkswagen will result in some amount of traction loss over stock, mostly due to the fact that most people replace their stock wheels and tires with after-market wheels that are often incompatible with all-season tires. The new wheels and/or tires are also usually wider than stock too, which further decreases wet-weather traction.

Now this doesn’t mean that people living in seasonal climates can’t drive their lowered ‘dubs’ in the rain or snow, but it’s a good idea to think about alternate transportation on snowy days. Or at the very least, spend the money for a quality all-season tire.

Don’t Take on the Task Without a Spring Compressor

Spring compressor
This is vital to prevent injury and property damage during installation and problems post-installation! Never try to install lowering (or any) springs without the proper spring compressor. If you don’t have one, or for some reason can’t rent one from your local auto parts store, take the spring/strut assembly off your vehicle and let your local shop manage the decompression/compression process. It’s a good investment.

Bonus Tip: Do NOT Cut Your Stock Springs!

Just don’t! You’ve probably seen many-a forum write-up covering the “proper” procedure for cutting springs, but there isn’t such a thing. When you cut a spring, you fundamentally alter the spring rate. This changes your suspension geometry, ride quality, and can have a profoundly negative impact on performance at high speeds. Here’s a demonstration:

Cut springs make your vehicle undriveable at best. Pop for a new set of springs or just don’t bother.