Many enthusiasts think a nice-looking ride is a slammed vehicle with oversized wheels tucked under the fenderwell and an ungodly amount of negative camber. We agree that looks "tight" while parked, but you probably wouldn't want to be caught dead riding in it. Don't get us wrong: It is perfectly acceptable to lower a vehicle, as long as it is done properly with the right parts and tuning equipment. Since its inception in 1985, Turbo has been at the forefront, bringing you the best breaking news in import drag racing and high-performance gadgetry first. So why are we doing an article on suspension basics? Knowledge is power and our mission is to give you the power to make the right decisions when lowering your ride. Although a set of lowering springs might attain the "look," there is more to lowering than adding springs and calling it a day. Camber and toe both come into play when the stock suspension is altered. Read on to find out what steps you should take in creating your own tight ride safely.
Wheel AlignmentOne of the easiest ways to increase traction on the strip or the street is by performing a two- or four-wheel alignment on your vehicle. A severely misaligned suspension can cause the car to pull to one side of the road, which is hazardous to you and other drivers. By performing a wheel alignment, a technician can adjust the toe-in and toe-out and in some cases the camber and caster on your vehicle. The modification can save tire life and increase contact with the road. An alignment should be performed every year or two, depending on driving habits.
Negative And Positive CamberAdmit it, many of you drive (or once owned) a vehicle so low that a cigarette box probably can't fit under the rocker panels. Well, the car looks cool, but it probably puts a mighty nice dent in the wallet when you have to fork over hard-earned cash every couple of months for new tires. Besides bleeding your bank account dry, the car may not be the safest of vehicles to drive, due to the negative camber resulting from the lowered stance. The two terms commonly associated with lowered or raised vehicles is negative camber and positive camber; since many of us only lower our vehicles, we will concentrate on negative camber. As you lower the vehicle from the stock height, negative camber generally occurs, (the wheel and tire angle toward the inner fenderwell). Although it produces a cool tucked look, the problem with the negative camber is the resulting tire contact with the road. Fortunately, the suspensions on some vehicles can be corrected without purchasing any products. A proper wheel alignment will correct the negative camber situation. Most rear-wheel-drive Toyotas, Nissans and Mazdas have adjustments for negative and positive camber built into the factory suspension. A few adjustments with the proper tools by a qualified technician can remedy the situation. Unfortunately, not all vehicles are equipped with built-in camber adjustment. As usual, it's the aftermarket to the rescue. There are camber adjustment kits available for many popular imports. The two more commonly used camber kits are adjustable pillow-ball mounts for MacPherson-style suspension systems and adjustable upper A-arms for vehicles utilizing a double-wishbone set-up.