Unless you’re speeding on a highway in the country, speed breakers and potholes are a regular feature in the life of anyone who drives. Every time your car is loaded to capacity and the underbelly of your car scrapes across a speed breaker, it feels like it is your heart that is being scratched as well. All that scrunching and scraping makes you wince and you wish that some of the comfort provided by the suspension of your car could be traded for a stiffer one.
How is it then that you can improve the ground clearance of your car so as to ensure that its underbelly doesn’t scrape against the ground? Well, there are a few ways in which you can go about raising the height of the car by a few millimetres (we’d suggest that you don’t overshoot the height since it can have an adverse effect on the handling and suspension of your car), by toying with the suspension of your car or by changing the size of the rims and tyres.
Getting taller tyres and rims with an increased radius is quite the fashion these days. Not only does it give your vehicle a slightly better ground clearance, but it also makes your car look better and improves its stance. Most top variants of different car models already have rims with a radius an inch longer than the lower ones.
However, upsizing your tyres (for example, from 185/60 R14 to 185/70 R14) and rims by more than a couple of inches leave your car at the risk of the tyres touching the inside of the wheel wells and limit the turning radius of the car as well. Doing this also tends to mess with the handling of the car and its acceleration, while also providing you with faulty odometer readings. But if you’re going to only increase the size of your rims and wheels by an inch or so, we’d recommend that you do it when you’re planning to change tires anyway and take them to a dealership so that they can buy the old ones from you, so as to save cost.
Working on the suspension
In all there are three types of suspensions in a car, a spring coil suspension, a leaf spring suspension or a torsion bar suspension, although the last one is no longer used and the leaf one is mostly used in pickup trucks and some rear-wheel drive SUVs (ground clearance, in this case, can be improved by re-cambering the leaf spring i.e. by bending it more acutely). The spring coil suspension is one that is largely used in light vehicles these days and consists of a flexible steel spring wound in a spiral formation.
You can increase the ground clearance of your vehicle by about 10 to 15mm by adding an assister coil (which is basically a coiled polyurethane part that is placed between the turns of the spring) to the spring coil suspension system. Not only does it increase the ground clearance, but it also prevents the suspension from bottoming out by making it harder and limiting its movement.
You can even opt for a stiffer suspension for your car by getting one of those aftermarket suspension kits available out there. The stiffness can also be set up to control various other characteristics of the vehicle. These ones are made for specific models and are considered to be better than the stock ones of the generic type that come preinstalled in most vehicles. Toying with the suspension, however, might cause the manufacturers of the suspension to void its warranty. So you’ll have to look out for that as well.