How to Clamp Coil Springs for Loweringby Chris Stevenson
Lowering a car or truck has become quite fashionable, almost a throwback to the old days when cars and trucks were seen cruising down the street dragging a cigarette box under the suspension. These days, lowering a vehicle not only increases its aesthetic qualities, it also lowers the center of gravity and enhances the ride response. Cutting or torching factory springs can ruin the tensile strength of coil springs, which can be disastrous. Coil spring clamps, however, provide a safer and easier alternative. You can install the clamps in minimal time, for less money using fewer complicated tools.
Inflate all of your tires to the exact psi (pounds per square inch) recommended by your owner's manual. Park the vehicle on level pavement or asphalt and put it in park or neutral. Set the emergency brake firmly. Use a tape measure to record the distance, in inches, from the middle of the wheel hub to the underside lip of the fender well on all the wheels. Write the numbers on a piece of paper.
Use a floor jack to lift the front part of the vehicle up and place two jack stands under the frame at their maximum height. Repeat the process for the rear of vehicle. All jack stands must be at the same height. Start with one wheel by sliding under the vehicle in the vicinity of the coil spring. If working on the front, turn the wheel gently to allow access to the fender well. Notice how the suspension hangs, elongating the coil spring.
Position the lifting spoon of the floor jack directly under the lower control arm. Pump the jack up until the spring compresses. If the coils still appear too far apart, have an assistant use channel locks to compress two coils together while you lock them together with vice grips. Compress the spring on opposite sides this way, in the middle of the spring.
Open your spring clamp kit and spread the parts out. Place the two saddle clamp brackets around the compressed springs, with the bottom clamp facing up and the top clamp groove facing down. Insert two bolts down through the saddle clamps and put two washers on each bolt bottom. Screw the nuts onto each bolt by hand all the way to the top.
Tighten both clamp nuts with an end wrench, locking the spring coils to together. Compress the opposite side of the coil spring with the channel locks and vice grips, and repeat the procedure with the second clamp. Remove the channel locks and vice grips. Release the pressure on the floor jack and transfer it to the other front wheel. Repeat the process on the other front wheel.
Move to the rear of the vehicle. Slide the floor jack under the axle housing, as close as you can get to the wheel. Lift up on the jack, tilting the axle upward, taking the load pressure off the spring. If you need to, use the channel locks and vice grips to further collapse the spring.
Install the coil spring clamps in the same way on one of the rear wheels. When finished, release the floor jack, move it under the the opposite side of the axle, and pump it up. Repeat the process on the other rear wheel.
Use the floor jack to lift the vehicle and remove the jack stands. Take another measurement of all the wheels with the tape measure, from the middle hub to the underside lip of each fender lip. If there are any major discrepancies in height between any of the wheels, jack the car back up and make minor adjustments on the coil spring clamps by turning the nuts in or out evenly on any clamp set, per wheel.
Adjust the front end up or down as needed to set an even ride height on all four wheels.
- It's possible that once you decide to remove the clamps for any reason, the coil springs might not return to their original state of compression. They might appear deformed or uneven in some way. However, they will function normally.
Items you will need
- Owner's repair manual
- Tape measure
- Pen and paper
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- 2 pair channel locks
- 2 pair vice grips
- End wrenches
- classic car image by Mariusz Blach from Fotolia.com