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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Low-Down on Lowering
By Mike Bumbeck/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyDifficult
Estimated Time300 minutes
300 minutes
Anyone who watches car and truck building shows on TV knows that customizing vehicles is a snap. In TV land, custom and aftermarket parts always fit right, never require grinding, welding, fabricating, or a dozen trips to the hardware store to find specialty fasteners on a Sunday. TV is great like that. Reality, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story.
Low-down on Lowering Suspensions
Reality TV?
That little 3-hour project originally planned for a Saturday afternoon in the garage usually stretches into Sunday, and may even prompt the neighbors to cover the ears of children as bolt-in parts don't line up, much less bolt in. This is the unfortunate reality of a world in which design drawings and parts are often born literally a world apart, and the unsuspecting weekend customizer is left in the driveway holding the bag—missing a bolt or two.

Plan Ahead
While a certain amount of discovery is inevitable when attempting to customize any vehicle, certain steps can be taken ahead of time to keep the trips to the hardware store, and swearing, down to a bare minimum. First and foremost is preparation. With the miracle of the Internet upon us, instruction manuals can often be downloaded ahead of the project, or even prior to the parts purchase. In this way, one can peer into the steps of the project before it happens and plan accordingly.

Call Around
An instruction sheet, however, will never foretell all potential problems. It's also a good idea to call the manufacturer directly ahead of time and ask about the product as it applies to your vehicle, and any other parts included in the project. Chances are some other pioneering weekend customizer also has the same car or truck, and has run into similar, if not exactly the same problem before you.

In general, the more parts replaced, the greater number of problems will present themselves. This is especially true if different manufacturers come into play. In a perfect world, each manufacturer would check and see if slot A fits into slot B of brand C part for a given vehicle, but this is often not the way it works. Even when it comes to something as seemingly straightforward as lowering the suspension of a plain old Chevy pickup truck, things can quickly get complicated.
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