Suspension Basics

All Eclipse/Talon/Laser cars use a simple spring/shock setup with independent MacPherson struts up front, and either independent rear suspension or a beam rear axle (on 90-94 FWD cars).

Note that "shocks absorbers" are technically different from "struts", but both words refer to dampening tubes that serve to soak up motion from the springs, keeping the car from bouncing forever after a pothole. For the purpose of this article, all shocks and struts will be known as "shocks."

Lowering a car entails installing a shorter spring in place of the factory unit. Shorter springs are always stiffer than the factory springs, since a spring with the same spring rate would cause the suspension to bottom out all the time.

Because the shorter spring requires a higher spring rate, additional shock dampening is needed as well. Normally, both springs and shocks are changed at the same time for effective lowering.

Of course, lowering can also make a car look good, particularly when the car has larger-than-stock wheels. Because a larger wheel requires a thinner sidewall to maintain factory rolling diameter, the ratio of fenderwell gap to sidewall increases as the wheel gets bigger. A 4" gap between tire and fender looks okay when the tire sidewall is 4" tall, but when it's 1.5" tall, the 4" fender well gap looks funny. Lowering the car down a couple of inches makes everything look proper again.