3 straightforward ways to BOOST ground clearance of your car

3 straightforward ways to BOOST ground clearance of your car

While our country’s car market is finally coming of age, its road conditions are still a far cry from the excellent roads in many parts of the world. If we had roads like the ones that many developed nations have, this story would have been totally pointless. However, Indian roads are far from perfect. From mindlessly designed speed-breakers to potholes that are the size of a Tata Nano – driving on our roads can get really terrifying at times. It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that SUVs rule the roost in India. However, in case you don’t want to buy an SUV and wish to stick to your current car, boosting its ground clearance would be a good idea. Here are three straightforward ways to do this.

[Image: Gawker]

Assisters for coil springs

Using assisters is an easy way to boost the ground clearance by 10-15 mm. Basically, an assister is pretty much like a space that can be installed on a coil spring. It’s a piece of coiled polyurethane that is positioned between the coils of a coil spring suspension. The assister limits the suspension travel and prevents the suspension from bottoming out. This, in turn, prevents the car from scraping its underbelly. An assister can be installed at three different places on a coil spring. Each position has a somewhat different effect on the coil spring’s performance. When installed at the top of the coil, the assister acts in all load conditions. If placed in the middle, the assister starts working only mild load conditions. If installed at the bottom, it works only under full load.

On what cars will this modification work

An assister can be used for any car that has a coil spring suspension. It can’t be used on cars with leaf spring suspensions, such as the HM Ambassador and the Premium Padmini. But that’s fine because these cars are hardly in use anymore and don’t suffer from ground clearance problems in the first place.

Costs and availability? 

You can get yourself a set of four assisters for as little as Rs 4,000. Generally, a set of assisters last for roughly 50,000 kms. You can buy these at AutoRunner.

What are the implications that I need to know about?

While using a set of assisters can easily help you prevent the car’s suspension from bottoming out, installing them will void your suspension warranty. That said, you can remove these before claiming warranty on the suspension. However, it’s not an ethical thing to do, right? Also, using these will change the suspension settings. Your car might not handle as well as it did earlier. Hence, we request you to drive carefully when you’ve got assisters installed.

Taller Tyres and Rims

Another simple way to increase the ground clearance of your car is to install taller rims and bigger tyres. There are a couple of ways of doing this. One of these is by increasing the tyre height by switching to a new set of tyres. The rims, however, can be retained. The other way is to have taller rims, too. However, you need to make sure that the upsized tyre doesn’t touch your car’s fenders on making a lock-to-lock turn. Switching from 185/60 R14 section tyres to say 185/70 R14 section tyres will provide you with an additional ground clearance of about 10 mm. Switching to 185/65 R15 tyres on 15-inch rims can also provide you with a significantly higher ground clearance.

On what cars will this modification work

The taller tyres and bigger rims can be installed on almost all cars. Almost all the cars sold in India can be upgraded with bigger tyres and larger rims.

Costs and availability?

Opting for taller tyres isn’t a very expensive option. You can visit a new tyre dealer and buy a set of new tyres after getting a good price for your existing tyres. This way, you won’t have to bear the full cost of new tyres. However, you’ll get a good price for your original tyres only if they are in a good condition. Don’t expect much in case your tyres are in the middle of their lives. Replacing both the rims and the tyres will be even costlier.

What are the implications that I need to know about?

Again, installing these might affect the suspension warranty. An upgrade of one or two sizes generally doesn’t have a bad effect on the suspension. However, new tyres and rims might change the way your car handles. You will have to change your driving style accordingly. Also, the larger tyres might lead to a lower fuel efficiency.

Stiffer Suspension

Some reputed aftermarket suspension specialists such as Koni, Tein and Bilstein offer suspension upgrades for many mass market cars. These aftermarket kits even offer a variable level of adjustability, which enables the user to control the suspension settings as per his usage. Making the suspension stiffer can help you prevent the suspension from bottoming out on bad roads. By making the ride slightly softer, you can have a very comfortable ride, while still having enough stiffness to prevent the suspension from bottoming out. The cheaper options stiffen the suspension but aren’t adjustable.

On what cars will this modification work

These suspension upgrade kits are available for many mass-market cars, like the Maruti Swift, Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo.

Costs and availability? 

You can expect a basic suspension upgrade kit to cost roughly Rs 50,000. These kits will stiffen the ride enough to make sure your car doesn’t scrape its underbelly on speed breakers. You can get these at famous car customisers like Red Rooster Racing and Methods Automotive.

What are the implications that I need to know about?

While an aftermarket suspension can give you much better results than a stock unit, it’s often difficult to choose the right suspension kits to suit your driving style. Hence, we request you to take the help of an expert and get the aftermarket suspension tuned as per your needs.


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