Thanks everyone. From the sounds of everything, it looks like cutting the springs is the easiest way to go. Now figuring out how to cut them is the question. I feel that I should just park the Geo in some highschool shop class and let them go to town (meanwhile forcing me to drive less ).
Don't forget to set you toe after you drop. It will probably be slightly out of whack, and it will be the only thing that should affect tire wear (camber won't unless it becomes excessive and castor [caster?] should not be affected).
Don't forget to set you toe after you drop. It will probably be slightly out of whack, and it will be the only thing that should affect tire wear.
Ok. I know I've been here for several months now, but what in the heck is a toe of a car? (I'm not mechanically inclined at all & will most likely pay someone else to do this for me) If "toe" means alignment, how would I be able to align the rear wheels?
Edit: Looked up what "toe" means. I'm more concerned about camber for the wheels.
The camber will change slightly, but SVO is dead on that toe is the tire killer. Big numbers on the toe in/out mean you will be just dragging the tire sideways across the pavement and that kills them. You can tell toe wear because the edges of the tread will be 'feathered' If you run your hand across the tire clockwise vs counterclockwise it will feel different.
Caster should increase slightly after lowering a strut-equipped car, but caster doesn't affect tire wear really. Plus more caster is typically a good thing unless you are getting double digits.
Definately the best way to lower the vehicle a large amount is with new springs. Cutting them increases the rate slightly, but not NEARLY as much as you need to increase it if you are taking off more than just a bit. A really low car needs to have stiffer springs to keep from hitting the bumpstops all the time because the suspension has less space to absorb the same forces coming in from the road.
** Attempt this at your own risk, I accept no responsibility for any injuries or loss as a result of these suggestions**
I have cut the springs on several vehicles, the last of which was my 84 rabbit. It has similar front suspension as a metro I believe(single control arm/macpherson strut). The back however; is a twist beam with a coil over shock. I believe the metros have independent rear suspension, Im not sure whether its a strut/spring combo or what. For the integrated strut spring type suspension most people remove the whole assembly, compress with a spring compressor, dismantle, cut the spring, compress, reassemble, then see if its ok.
I have found that you do not have to use a spring compressor in most cases.
Last time I removed struts I removed the nut at the top of the strut while the car was on the ground. This is the one that goes through the strut mount. I then jacked up the car and the suspension drooped, put the car on jackstands. The spring will completely relax and the strut shaft will come out of the mount. Leave the mount in place on the car unless it is shot, if its bad replace it. A bad mount usually can be identified by a clunking sound whenever you go over bumps. Make sure that the spring is not still compressed before you unbolt the bottom of the strut. If it is you may have parts shooting all over. you can unbolt the bottom of the strut and pull it out now. The spring will be seperate from the strut and is ready to cut. I usually start with 1 coil and usually end up taking another half to whole coil off after that. I would suggest you take a half a coil at a time to make sure you dont lower it too much. If your spring is not a constant diameter spring you cannot cut it and have it stay in place afterwards. If only one end tapers so that is will sit flat in the spring perch cut the end that does not taper. If both ends taper you will have to bend the spring afterward to ensure that it will sit flat on the perch. I heat it up with a torch just enough to soften the metal a half a coil from the end I cut and bend it so it will sit flat using a large wrench. DO NOT QUENCH THE METAL AFTER HEATING. Let it cool as slowly as possible so that is will not become brittle. After this is all done put the spring on the strut and bolt the bottom of the strut in place. Guide the strut shaft back into the mount as you slowly let the car back down. you could also jack the suspension up to compress the spring again, rather than just letting it back down. THIS IS A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUR JOB ATTEMPT AT YOUR OWN RISK
Another method I have used is to jack up one corner at a time till the suspension is completely drooped(tire off the ground). I then pryed the spring out if the perch with a crowbar and cut off a half a coil at a time with a pneumatic cut off disc till I had cut off a coil and a half. I let the spring relax back into place and then muscled it around till it sat correctly in the perch. all 4 corners took about a half hour total.
However you lower the car you will probably have to trim a little bumpstop off if you hit them often or if you can see that there is very little travel left before contacting the bumpstops. trim as little as possible.
Anytime you cut a spring the spring rate will increase slightly
Most production cars have a little bump steer which means that the tires steer in or out as the suspension moves up or down. This means that if you lower it you likely have changed the toe, you either have more toe in or toe out(fronts of tire closer together, farther apart respectively). You will probably have to get an alignment to correct this, or just wear your tires faster.
If you have stock or stock replacement struts you will blow them out quicker when the car is lowered. The best way to control the suspension on a lowered vehicle is with a stiffer shock/strut. There are aftermarket struts/shocks specifically valved for lowered vehicles. You might have more of a bouncy ride if you lower your car too much on stock struts because they are unable to dampen the inputs to the suspension and you now hit the bumpstops more often. If you dont go overboard in lowering on stock shocks/struts you will not have a problem and your handling will likely improve.
It is not a good idea to lower a car more than where the lower control arms are parallel with the ground. If you do you will possibly gain positive camber more easily in suspension travel, and your roll center will be too low. Lower control arms Parallel with the ground is the ride height to shoot for for performance.
Here are a couple lowered cars I have done. Every car is different so cut a half a coil at a time.
a coil and a half front and back
Coil and a half front and back
2 coils front, 2" lowering blocks back
and just for fun, no springs at all, sitting on the ground
^^It isnt easy to reshape the spring with it on the strut or car, it is much better to take it off and get it right. If you dont reshape or bend the spring after cutting it if it was originally tapered to sit flat, there is a risk of it slipping off the perch and the car dropping to the bumpstop. This would probably happen at the worst time.
Under no cercumstance should you lower a car by hitting the spring with a torch and relaxing a series of coils. Trust me. Im one of those people that has to find out why you are not supposed to do something if its not immediately obvious why not. I tried heating the springs on the back of my 66 suburban since they were tapered at both ends and could not be cut. It killed the ride. I figured they would have to be replaced anyway to get it lower so I would try heating them and see if it was a myth or not that you are not supposed to just torch the spring. Its true. its kind of cool though, I held the torch to the spring till the truck started slowly dropping, then I pulled it away when It had sank enough. Dont try it though....it will make it way soft and bouncy.
I forgot to mention about "indexing" the spring. This is where you orient the spring so that the end of the spring fits correctly on the spring perch. This must be done before the suspension is compressed if you dont use a compressor, or before relaxing the spring if you use a spring compressor. This is necessary to make the car sit as low as possible and also to avoid the possibility of the spring slipping off the perch.