Henry's Honda Civic is Too Tall

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:
I am a 16-year-old boy living outside Seattle whose parents are generous enough to have purchased for me a 1996 four-door Honda Civic. Unfortunately, I have been struck with a disease that causes me to have a burning desire to modify my car. One modification I'd like to do is to lower this car about 1.5 inches. How would I do it?

-- Henry

RAY: Well, you want to lower it from the bottom or the top, Henry? If you want to lower if from the top, I'd suggest dropping a couple of 100-pound sandbags on the roof from a second-story window. That should knock it down at least an inch and a half.

TOM: Actually, the only way to do it right is to change the springs. They're a couple of hundred dollars a pair, and you'll need two pairs, plus installation. So figure on four or five hundred bucks.

RAY: And be sure you get them from someone who knows what he's doing. Because if you lower it too much, you can end up with the tires scraping on the wheel wells every time you turn left or right.

TOM: Then you'd need to get new, smaller wheels and different tires, too. That can run you a grand right there.

RAY: And while you're changing the springs, you might as well put in a set of high-performance shocks. Stiffer shocks will have a different damping rate and will keep the lowered car from bouncing and bottoming-out as much. Figure 800 bucks for a set of Bilsteins or Konis.

TOM: So when you're all said and done, you ought to be able to get rid of this unwanted height for about $1,500 an inch, Henry. Best of luck to you. (P.S. Tell your parents I feel their pain).

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One