Lowering is a key part of many Mustang builds. Not only does lowering the center of gravity lead to improved handling, but a lowered Mustang is more attractive as well. Here’s how to get the right stance for your performance and appearance goals.
Determine Your Ideal Ride Height
Ride height is measured from the ground to the fender. If you were driving an off-roader, you’d want a relatively tall ride height so there’s more room for suspension travel. But you drive a Mustang, which means you want a lower center of gravity for more precise, sporty handling.
Generally, you’ll only be lowering your Mustang by a few inches at most. But before you can decide on the right drop, it helps to know where you’re starting from.
Mustang Stock Ride Heights
It’s good to know where your stock ride is so you can get an idea for what an inch or two lower actually means. These are the base ride heights for the Mustangs by generation. Performance editions through the years dropped these heights significantly in order to improve handling, and you can too.
Mustang Ride Heights
|Mustang Generation||Front Height||Rear Height
What About Rake?
Rake refers to the effect of having either the front or rear of a vehicle higher than the other end. A negative rake is where the nose rides higher than the trunk. A positive rake puts the trunk up higher than the front end. Though Mustangs come with a slight natural rake, it is slight and has only decreased over time. Many enthusiasts prefer a more dramatic rake, which is accomplished by dropping the front more than the rear.
For the most part, rake has no real effect on handling. If anything, most drag racers prefer to have a leveled car.
How Much Can You Lower Your Mustang?
How much you’re comfortable lowering your Mustang is going to depend on how and where you drive it. For track Mustangs, lowering it 2” or more may be appropriate. For daily drivers, an inch drop is probably a better fit. You want to enjoy the handling benefits of a lowered Mustang without bottoming out on every speed bump.
Some drivers lower their Mustang more dramatically to get an aggressive stance. If you decide to lower your Mustang by more than an inch, you’ll need to reevaluate your suspension geometry afterwards.
Pick Your Lowering Method
The three main ways to lower a Mustang are by using lowering springs, coilovers, or air ride systems.
All three lowering methods have advantages and disadvantages. Which one will work for you depends largely on what your needs are.
Lowering springs are popular because they’re affordable and easy to install. Two major pluses.
Because they lower your center of gravity, lowering springs also come with some handling benefits. You’ll see less nose dive, more precise handling, and less body roll. Each set of lowering springs comes with its own list of additional benefits.
Spring rates are one factor that affect how lowering springs will respond to driving conditions. Spring rate is measured by how many pounds it will take to compress the spring by an inch. So, a spring with a rating of 600 lb/in will compress one inch when holding up 600 pounds of weight. Most rear-wheel drive vehicles will have higher spring rates in the rear than in the front. The OEM springs on the 2015 GT Mustang are 160 lbs in the front and 668 lbs in the rear, for example.
Linear and progressive lowering springs also have different properties. Linear lowering springs offer better handling, while progressive springs balance ride quality with handling. You can read more about the differences between linear and progressive spring rates here.
Coilovers are coil springs over shocks. They effectively replace two parts with one unified suspension component. Coilovers are adjustable, allowing you to customize how your Mustang responds, and how low you want it to go. Their customizability gives them obvious performance benefits. They’ll also improve your Mustang’s handling significantly.
Coilovers have a greater range of possible drops than lowering springs do. A single set of coilovers can give you a lowering range of 1-3” from stock height.
All of these benefits come at a cost though. Coilovers are more expensive and more difficult to install than lowering springs. In fact, most drivers will probably need to have them installed by a professional.
Air ride suspension is just what it sounds like: inflatable air bags that replace your springs. An air ride suspension gives you the ability to adjust your ride height and firmness with the push of a button. That means you can go super low on track days and then have a higher ride height on days when you’re driving around town.
Of course, just because it sounds simple doesn’t mean it actually is. These systems are complex and require professional installation. To pressurize the air, you need an air compressor, which usually goes in the trunk. Not only is it the most expensive suspension type, it also adds more weight than the others and has a high maintenance cost.
Lowering Springs vs Coilovers vs Air Ride
||Lowest cost option
Small handling boost
Not very adjustable
Adjustable in terms of height and stiffness
|Probably need a professional install
|Air Ride Suspension
Generally pretty cool
Definitely need a professional install
Get Lowering Springs If…
Lowering springs are a great option if you’re…
- On a strict budget
- Mostly interested in appearance
- Making a modified daily driver
- Interested in self-installs only
These inexpensive suspension modifications are on many enthusiast’s “must” list. They look great and let you dip your toes into suspension modifications without the upfront cost of coilovers or air ride setups.
Get Coilovers If…
Coilovers remain one of the most popular suspension modifications for a reason. In many ways, they offer the perfect blend of features. Coilovers are probably the right suspension mod if you’re…
- Most interested in handling benefits
- Participating in (or thinking about participating in) motorsports
- Interested in personalizing every aspect of your handling and height
Get Air Ride If…
Air ride suspensions come at a premium cost, but there’s really no substitute for an air ride suspension. Its unique blend of benefits isn’t matched by any other suspension system. The cost of an air ride suspension might be worth it for drivers who…
- Care as much about comfort as handling
- Are looking for a luxury feel
- Want the most adjustable setup
- Love being on the cutting edge of tech
Consider Supporting Suspension Modifications
No matter which method you choose, lowering your Mustang significantly changes its suspension, steering, and handling properties. Before you take your lowered Mustang out on the street, you should consider a few more mods to make sure you have a successful first ride.
Caster, Camber, and Toe
These three terms refer to your tire and wheel alignment. You can read more about each here. When you lower your Mustang, it changes the caster, camber, and toe, so you have to readjust them. You can use caster camber plates or camber bolts to get your wheel’s back in alignment.
Lowering your Mustang without adjusting your caster and camber can cause your tires to wear unevenly. It’s a small mistake that can cost you a lot of money even in the short term. It can also negatively affect your handling, which is the opposite effect you were hoping lowering would have!
Caster camber plates are an inexpensive part that just make everything else work better, so there’s really no reason to skip them.
Adjustable Panhard Bar
If you own a pre-2015 Mustang, then an adjustable panhard bar is a great addition to your suspension. The addition of IRS on 2015+ Mustangs made panhard bars irrelevant for S550s.
Panhard bars prevent your rear wheels from moving side-to-side. This eliminates rear steer and gives you significantly better cornering. You can learn more about panhard bars and how they work here.
Many people install panhard bars separately, but if you’re already working on your suspension, this one’s an easy addition. You’ll also want an adjustable panhard bar with coilovers or air ride suspension so you can take advantage of the adjustability.
Mustang Lowering FAQs
Naturally, like with any mod, there are some things to consider before running out and lowering your Mustang. Here are some of the questions we hear most frequently from people unsure about changing their ride height.
Are Lowering Springs Bad for Your Car?
Professionally made high-quality lowering springs aren’t bad for your Mustang. Or at least they aren’t when you install them correctly. Poorly installed suspension modifications of any kind can damage your car, but usually not in a way that can’t be fixed.
Will Lowering My Mustang Make It Uncomfortable?
That’s up to you. Some methods of lowering your Mustang, like using an air ride system, can actually improve your ride. Even lowering springs have ways of preserving comfort though, like progressive spring rates. Ultimately, there is a trade-off between handling precision and comfort. But there are enough differences in suspension modifications that you can find the exact point you’re comfortable with.
Can a Mustang with MagneRide Be Lowered?
Yes! Just make sure you’re selecting parts that are guaranteed to work with MagneRide. There are a lot to choose from though.
Is Lowering My Mustang Worth It?
There aren’t a lot of stories about people who regret lowering their ride. Lowering exists at the perfect intersection of appearance and performance improvement. You’ll reduce body roll, improve your responsiveness, and love the way your Mustang looks (even more than you already do). With a wide range of options, there's a lowering method out there for just about any budget, as well.
Lower Your Mustang
There’s no doubt that lowering your Mustang results in a noticeable performance and appearance upgrade, no matter how you choose to do it. All three of these lowering methods are right for different enthusiasts.
Check out our install videos on CJ's YouTube channel for an idea of what it'll take to lower your Mustang!
Coilover Install Video | Lowering Springs Install | Air Ride Install Video