jacked-up truckFor those of us whose autos are vertically challenged, we all know that dreadful sound of turning onto a steep driveway. SCRAPE! That just can’t be good.  It does not have to be that way. Suspension height is something that can be changed. But many people who understand the ins and outs of suspension height would make the sacrifice of the occasional challenge at the base of a steep driveway, in order to have the benefits of low clearance.

Suspension height is a term used synonymously with ride height or ground clearance. It is the amount of space between where the automobile’s tires touch ground and the underside of the chassis or any part of the vehicle not meant to touch ground. In other words, it is the lowest part of the vehicle other than the tires.

Suspension height is an important characteristic of any vehicle. Different vehicles call for different heights, depending largely on the use of the vehicle. Trucks, for example, need more suspension height because when they carry heavy loads, it bears down on the suspension, causing the springs to sink down, lowering clearance. Cars handle better at lower heights. The aerodynamics are affected by raising the vehicle off the ground. The lower to the ground it rides, the better the vehicle grips the road.

Any vehicle with high suspension is at greater risk of rollovers. But any vehicle with low suspension is more likely to face damage due to the chassis and underbody being struck or scraped by uneven road surfaces like speed bumps, steep driveways, and potholes. Off-roading Jeeps are up high off the ground, able to ride over all kinds of uneven surfaces, to the point of being able to climb rocks and take steep embankments and hills. But there is a reason they have roll bars. A Lamborghini, on the other hand, hugs the road for smooth drives and tight curves.

Suspension height can be changed aftermarket. Reducing the height will offer better car handling, resulting from the lower center of gravity and the reduced amount of air that passes under the vehicle. For those who worry about taking on loads of passengers and/or equipment, there are many vehicles with self-adjusting suspension that adapts to the weight load, keeping the suspension level constant. But the most important thing is that the vehicle’s suspension works for your needs.