Low rider cars. What benefit (if any) is there?

I am sure most know what I am referring to…

There is a “style” that is often seen with a segment of young drivers who cut their car’s springs to lower the car as low as possible.

I get that they are going for a certain look. But is there any performance benefit they are getting, or is this simply a style thing?

Most of these cars look like their tires are constantly rubbing inside the wheel well, which would shorten tire life significantly. The ONLY benefit I can think of is lowering the center of gravity would make the car handle much better, but I don’t know if this is the main motivation for these folks.

Anyone out here do this/know someone who does this? If so, can you tell us how often (if ever) tires blow because of rubbing, how quickly tires wear down compared to cars that sit at OEM specs, etc?

Also, how do these cars pass inspection? Do the owners put standard springs back in their cars when inspection is due, and then put lower ones back in, or are these cars street legal and pass inspection at the lowered height?

Inspection? What’s that?

The majority of state have no vehicle inspections at all. In those that do, I’m not clear that ride height and practicality are given much consideration.

Benefit? Low riders emerged from California’s Latin culture - they were working with the cars they had access to, like a cherry '62 Impala. The tricks were how they creatively worked with what they had.

Like any hot rodding, you are often sacrificing efficiency to peacock it up. Nitrous and turbos and compressors add wear and risk; thin rims can be awful to drive, and yeah, all the stuff a low rider can do can lead to issues. But the good ones look so cool :wink:

ETA: I grew up in an area that had a strong Latin culture. If you can believe, pre-Silicon Valley Redwood City, CA. It still has strong Latin roots. I went to school with a big Latin population. We had low riders all around; I took Auto Shop with guys who offered up their cars for work alongside other guys’ muscle cars. They were fun and as deeply invested in the minutiae of their cars as anyone I’ve ever seen. Again - cool stuff.

It’s cool man, it’s how you impress the chicks


This Wiki article state that just 12 states that have no vehicle inspection at all. 31 states have some sort of periodic inspection (safety, emissions or both).

I haven’t seen a low rider in 15 or 20 years at least. Cutting the springs meant removing the shock absorber. The cars would bounce down the road and bottom out on the least little thing.

I remember one pulling up next to me at a light. I looked out and then down on a car full of testosterone trying to look cool. I had to bite my tongue to avoid laughing.

I understand wanting to customize a car but I will never understand riding around in something so woefully uncomfortable.

Not sure if we are all thinking about the same thing here, but maybe we are.

I know about the latino culture/low rider/chevy impala concept.

But that was years ago. What I see now are almost always small import cars, usually but not always a Honda Civic or similar.

They often have a high-pitched, whiny muffler attached. I have heard them called rice-burners, but I think that is a specific car culture too, and since I have seen these lowered cars with and without the muffler mod, I thought maybe there was something else going on here.

I see them all the time. Mostly driven by young men (under 25).

Honestly, I don’t know how they afford the tires. When I was a kid, I did what I could, and put the best stereo speakers I could afford in my car, but rubbing tires in the wheel well? I don’t see how that could even be comfortable to ride in… Forget about replacing a set of tires every 6 months.

…and they wear their pants too low, too! Damned kids these days, what with that hippity-hoppity music…

I don’t know how they wear their pants (nor do I care).

Now get off my lawn.

The low rider car builders do not cut springs any more. They used to, but now there is a huge after-market for shorter shocks, lowered control arms, springs that vary with both height and spring rates, the rate of recovery from the bounce.

And the cars that you see parked with their wheels tilted inward and the car body sitting on the ground, those have hydraulics that will lift the car up. Expensive. They are not rubbing the inner fender wells while the car is moving. The car will raise to what the driver sets.

I am really, really not a fan of this style of car. But it is Big Business for the after market.

I saw one of these guys the other day on the road, driving about 5 MPH and bouncing up and down like a damned frog. Was the most ridiculous thing I’d seen in a long while.

That map in the link is a little misleading. I live in Oregon and there is only DEQ testing in a few larger urban areas along I-5. For the rest of the state there in no testing at all.

There are no safety inspections unless a state trooper cites you for faulty lights or other equipment. Then in order to clear your ticket you have to get the issue fixed.

Once you buy a car and get it insured and licensed every thing else, renewal of registration, etc. is either done by mail or on line.

Right, but emissions and VIN inspections aren’t going to have anything to say about stanced cars. Only 17 states do safety inspections, and as I understand it almost no inspector is looking to ding well maintained but stupidly configured cars.

Brake light out? Fix that. Ridiculous ride height? Probably ok.

It’s called ‘stance’ by the kids these days…

This description is exactly what I saw. Following it from behind, the tires look like they are tilted inward, (top part of tire looks like it is closer to the car than the bottom of the tire.)

Sort of like this:

** /-----\**

I had no idea they had hydraulics, or there was more to it than lowered springs. I have seen the cars with the hydraulic systems that bounce up and down before, but these cars don’t strike me as that. But maybe this is exactly what they are.

This amazes me. These are small, older economy cars. If what you are saying is true, they must pour a ton of money into their cars.

I thought these were high school / college kids and there was a cheaper, easier way to create the look. In retrospect, these guys have much better paying summer jobs than I did.

Thank you. God, I AM old. (When did this happen?)

Appreciate the link!

We probably got old right at about the same time. On my watch, it was exactly the minute that the new trends stopped looking cool and started looking silly.

Many of the extremely lowered imports will use airbags (almost nobody does hydraulics on them), but the principal is the same. However, it’s not strictly necessary, as you can spent a few hundred dollars on some coilovers and get the same effect. Whether it rubs or not mostly comes down to execution, but rubbing is usually not an issue; ground clearance, of course, is. They’re pretty miserable to drive around, you have to crawl over any slight bump and attack driveways at an angle.

I explained the logic behind the stanced look earlier this year, but suffice it to say, yes, a lot of these cars have serious money in them. The difference between a $4,000 Jetta with a $6000 wheel/tire/suspension setup and a $4000 hand-me-down Accord with some $150 lowering springs and rattle-canned wheels is probably lost on most of the population. Most will achieve the look with maybe $1000 in suspension mods and another $1000 in wheels/tires; pricey but not out of reach for a dedicated high schooler. People who throw money at the “stanced” look are appealing to a very small subset of car culture.

You have a point there I need to consider. However, I would like to think I am pretty open-minded when it comes to car mods… This particular one, though… just NEVER looked right to me. I have never actually taken a ride in one, but each time I see one, I think to myself “that simply CANNOT be a comfortable ride.”

Thanks for the added info. I am one of those people that would not see (or appreciate) the difference between the two set-ups. The “look” just doesn’t work for me. It always makes me think that something squashed the car.

That is ok, though. They aren’t building their car for me. As long as the car is safe to be on the road, to each his/her own.

By the way, thanks for the link. That was a very helpful post.