Your car's ride height may not be the be-all and end-all of adjustments, but its importance to the adjustments you make couldn't be more crucial. Because the chassis is the foundation of your car, nearly every suspension adjustment is affected by its height and pitch. Regardless of whether your car is on-road, oval, or off-road, knowing how to set ride height is simple enough to do and can result in more effective tuning.

Words: Erich Reichert
Issue 141 (August 2007)

1. Get it ready to race
First things first, get everything in the car (battery, motor, etc.) so that it's at full running weight. Then place it on a flat, preferably level surface, such as a setup board or a piece of glass.

Measure ride height with everything installed and wheels on the car to ensure that the car's weight distribution is the same as it would be on the track.

2. Push it
Push the car down to set the suspension, and with a ride height gauge, measure the space between the surface the car is on and the bottom of the chassis.

Giving the suspension a few squishes on your setup board will ensure that the shocks are supporting the weight of the car without any interference.

3. Measure twice, cut once
If you're using a ride height gauge, simply slide the gauge under the middle of the chassis in both the front and the rear. If you aren't sure if you are balanced left to right, measuring each corner of the chassis will let you see if your settings are off.
If you are using a digital caliper, just use the depth gauge side or slide it under and measure from the ground up. Record all the data

4. Lean back ... or front
By measuring both the front and rear of the car, you can get the ride height along with the squat of a chassis. Typical setups usually run more ride height in the front of the car than rear, but some situations may require the opposite.

5. How does it go up or down?
Adjusting the ride height is as easy as turning your shock collars down or adding spring clips to raise the ride height. To lower the ride height, turn the collars up or remove collars.

6. A good starting point for any car is to have the chassis level from front to rear with the axles just below level. Remember to reset your car's suspension after each adjustment to get a more accurate measurement.

Go high, go low
Being able to measure ride height is easy enough, but knowing when to raise or lower your car can be a whole other story. A few things to take into consideration are how bumpy the track is, and whether or not the chassis will need to clear any sort of obstacles. Another thing to keep in mind is the car's handling and ability to transfer weight. Setting the chassis lower drops the center of gravity and keeps the chassis flatter through a corner, which results in more steering. However, in some situations it may be better to raise the chassis a bit to get weight to transfer to wheels that need to do more work, such as on low traction surfaces. A rule of thumb is that the higher the traction, the less roll you need to get the car to turn. One final factor to consider is the angle the chassis is on from front to rear. Setting the rear ride height lower than the front will accelerate and brake better, making the car more stable and easier to drive. Leaning the chassis toward the front will move weight to the front end more effectively, resulting in increased steering and reduced rear traction, freeing up the rear end of the car.