How to cut springs to lower a car

Written by richard rowe
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How to cut springs to lower a car
Struts require a slightly different approach, but the principle remains. (Shock absorber image by Neryman from

The process of coil cutting has been around for (literally) as long as coil springs have been used on cars. The concept is simple: the coil springs hold your car off the ground, so making them shorter will move the vehicle closer to the ground. Modern "progressive" coil springs (which are stiffer on one end than the other) make this procedure a little more complicated than it was, but it's still quite doable for anyone with a modicum of mechanical competence.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Lug wrench
  • Floor jack
  • Two jack stands
  • Coil spring compressor tool
  • Full set of sockets, Allen keys and wrenches
  • Ball joint separator (a.k.a. "pickle fork")
  • Hammer
  • Brake line wrench
  • Grease pencil or marker
  • Metal cut off tool (grinder with metal cutting blade or reciprocating saw)

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  1. 1

    Raise the front end of your car until both front wheels clear the ground and place jackstands underneath. Remove only one of the wheels.

  2. 2

    Slip the spring compressor over one spring and engage it to relieve spring pressure from the suspension.

  3. 3

    Remove the lower ball joint, steering end link and sway bar link. On most vehicles, this will necessitate removal of the cottar pin retainer and "castle" nut. Insert the end of the ball joint separator forks into the joints and tap it with a hammer to separate the lower control arm from the steering knuckle.

  4. 4

    Place the spring on a steady work surface. Mark the side of the spring on each coil directly below the "unwound" tip of the spring. These marks will serve as your reference point to define where each "coil" ends.

  5. 5

    Starting at the topmost coil, cut along the reference line with your chosen weapon. After cutting, you'll wind up with a scrap piece of coil spring that resembles a ring.

  6. 6

    Reinstall the spring onto your car. Reinstall all of the ball-joints and end-links, but do not insert the cottar pins or torque them down to spec yet. Reinstall the wheel and lower the car. Take a step back from your car to determine if you've achieved the drop you were after.

  1. 1

    If you're happy with the drop: Raise the car again, tighten all of your fasteners to spec and install the cottar pins. Repeat the single-coil cut procedure on the other side.

  2. 2

    If you want more drop: Repeat Section 1 and cut another coil. Once you're happy with the drop, repeat the procedure on the other side.

  3. 3

    Take your car to a shop to have the suspension realigned.

Tips and warnings

  • The primary problem with cutting the coil on progressive springs is that in most cases you'll be forced to cut coils from the "hard" end of the spring. This will make the spring as a whole effectively soft, resulting in a jouncy ride, bad handling, a boat-like roll while cornering and bottoming out over imperfections in the road. You might want to at least consider installing softer bump-stops in place of your hard rubber factory stops; your back will thank you for it.
  • Once you're happy with the lowering job, take your car to a qualified shop to have the suspension realigned. Lowering in this way causes changes in the alignment that will result in unpredictable handling, bad braking and a phenomena called "bump-steer" (where the steering wheel jerks around every time you hit a pothole).
  • Don't use a torch or plasma cutter to remove coils; the heat from the torch will temper/anneal the metal in unpredictable ways and change your spring rate. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if you could heat and cool all four springs identically, but you won't be able to.

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