Drop it Like it’s Hot: 8 Ways to Lower a Truck
For many folks in the truck scene, low is the way to go. In reality, trucks are built from the factory to haul loads and the suspension systems were designed to handle that. Customizers like to improve things and making a truck more stylish is on top of the list. For those that don’t test the limits of a trucks’ hauling capabilities, a suspension drop is a good way to improve both form and function.
Besides the obvious reason of lowering a truck for the sake of style, there are some benefits that come along with it. A lowered center of gravity will help cornering and improve the overall performance. Also, lowered trucks are a bit more aerodynamic, which in turn makes them a bit faster.
There are multiple ways to drop a truck and results vary with the type of suspension set-up you choose. Some vehicles are harder to modify than others and cost is always a defining factor. Like all vehicles, slammed trucks can have issues with scraping driveways and speedbumps. The best approach is to figure out how low you want to go and what your needs actually are. To help explain the differences, we have gathered a list of all the available options.
1. Lowering Springs
Back in the day, customizers would cut or heat up springs to lower vehicles. Though it brought them down, these approaches sacrificed ride quality and performance. Today we have a multitude of aftermarket companies producing shortened springs that are designed to function properly. Swapping coils is an affordable way to drop a truck but ride quality will suffer, and suspension travel distance will be shorter.
2. Drop Spindles
Though purchasing a pair of drop spindles means you will maintain a smooth ride, you will fork over about double the cash. What these parts do is raise the front wheel mounting point while maintaining the factory suspension geometry. The typical drop is around 2-inches with spindles, but the installation is easier than swapping springs.
3. Torsion Bars
Many of the heavier trucks come with this type of suspension as they can handle larger loads. Though these systems are limited on how much drop you can achieve, they are very easy to adjust. All you need to do on these trucks is loosen the hardware on the torsion keys and your ride will drop instantly. For some models, there are aftermarket torsion keys that will allow you to readjust your suspension while having a more compact design to help with your vehicle’s road clearance.
4. Suspension Arms
There are some companies that offer these components as another solution. For those looking to lower a truck even further, you will need to combine parts like springs with custom suspension arms. If you have a moderate budget, this is a decent approach, but the modified geometry will alter how your truck handles. For some trucks this is the only way to get a front suspension down without having to heavily modify the chassis.
5. Leaf Springs and Shackles
This is a very budget friendly way to lower the rear of most trucks. Lowered leaf springs and shackles are a great way to shave a few inches off. Installation is pretty straight forward as you simply replace the old gear with new parts. Experts can even knock out this swap in less than an hour with only a few tools.
Keep in mind that when you drop the rear of a truck, the axle will get closer to the frame.
If you don’t haul heavy loads, bump stops can help lessen the feel when your suspension bottoms out while going over large bumps. To eliminate most of this, you can notch your frame for even more suspension travel. These C-notches are simple and can even be installed by novice wrenchers.
6. Rear Flip Kits
If you’re going for a more dramatic drop on your truck, a flip kit is a cheap and easy way to accomplish this. Rear axles are factory mounted under leaf springs and these brackets allow you to flip it all. By mounting a rear axle on top of the leaf springs, you get about a 6-inch drop while maintaining the factory ride.
Though this method will get your truck down low, it reduces the amount of load the rear suspension can handle. There is a fix for those that want to go low and haul heavy objects as well. Helper ‘bags can be installed to maximize load-carrying strength with added support. Inflating the ‘bags will prevent “suspension squat” and make for the ultimate functionality in these situations.
If you want to have your cake and it too, a coil-over conversion is the way to go. These systems allow for a substantial drop plus superior performance and handling. Previously, the common perception was that coil-overs were just for race vehicles and gave a terrible ride.
Companies like QA1 are changing the game with coil-overs that have adjustable dampers that can be softened for the street and tightened up for more performance.
There are many full suspension systems available that allow DIY builders to easily install them. Most of these kits are made just for classic trucks as they require heavier modifications to reap the benefits of modern components. Late-model trucks can also take advantage of coil-overs, but it will take some advanced fabrication to implement them.
8. Full Chassis Replacement
For those looking to get the most performance from a vehicle, changing out the entire chassis is a must.
Factory frames are constructed in the most economical way to operate within certain parameters for the average needs of truck owners. Those looking to go above and beyond will need a new frame, which is stiffer and designed to handle more power.
For common classic trucks, Total Cost Involved carries a full line of chassis solutions. However, there are trucks out there that don’t have any support with premade offerings. In these cases, you will need to have a chassis tailored to suit your truck. Chris Alston’s Chassisworks is one of the biggest suppliers in chassis components for builders looking to get more than the rest.
As you can see there are numerous ways to get low. You don’t need to empty your piggy bank in order to have some fun, but the sky is the limit if you want to get the most out of your truck. Our suggestion is to assess what fits your needs before going all out. Even a simple drop will make your ride better than most others on the road.