Should You Lower a Tesla Model Y Suspension? Pros and Cons

Anything that wears the Tesla badge delivers neck-snapping acceleration and class-leading driving range. But, no vehicle is perfect, and the relatively stiff suspension of the Model Y is a noticeable drawback in an otherwise impeccable model. Fortunately, you can improve your Model Y’s comfort and performance by upgrading its suspension. So, what are the benefits of lowering a Tesla’s suspension?

Lowering your Tesla Model Y stock suspension offers several benefits. Aside from the improved aesthetics, lowering its suspension will also improve your Model Y’s ride quality and handling. It can even extend its driving range. You should be aware of some of the drawbacks nonetheless.

Keep reading if you’re still on the fence about modifying your Tesla Model Y’s suspension. This article will explain the different methods of upgrading your suspension and discuss the pros and cons of each.

What You Want in Your Tesla’s Suspension

Modifying your suspension can sometimes lead to better performance. However, you need to understand the suspension’s primary function to appreciate why this is so.

A suspension’s core function is to keep the vehicle’s wheels on the ground at all times. The springs should expand over dips and compress when going over bumps to keep the tires in contact with the road surface. As a result, the vehicle’s occupants won’t feel like they’re riding a skateboard.

The spring rates significantly impact how a suspension system performs; a high spring rate makes the suspension stiff, while a low spring rate makes the suspension soft. Many drivers believe that a stiffer suspension caters more to performance driving while a softer suspension caters more to ride comfort, but this isn’t entirely true.

Tesla-Suspension
“Tesla” by mangopulp2008 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Increasing the spring rate will give the driver a better road feel and make the car lean less when cornering, but it will also make the ride harsher and, in some cases, even compromise the car’s ability to grip the road. 

A higher spring rate increases the likelihood of the tires becoming airborne and losing traction since more weight is required to compress the springs to keep the tires planted over road imperfections.

On the other hand, decreasing the spring rate will deliver a more comfortable ride and offer a better grip since the tires remain in contact with the road across bumps and dips. However, if the suspension is too soft, the car feels floaty, and the body roll is more pronounced when cornering at speed. 

A good suspension system should be well-balanced, offering enough stiffness to keep the car from leaning when cornering while being soft enough to keep the wheels on the road and the ride comfortable.

The Pros and Cons of Lowering Your Tesla Suspension

The Tesla Model Y is a more practical alternative to the Model 3, but neither vehicle is said to deliver superior ride comfort. According to Motortrend.com, the Tesla Model Y has a stiff suspension, and “you’ll feel every imperfection in the road.”

The Model Y is also 181 mm (7.12 in) taller than the Model 3 and has a higher center of gravity. So, its handling is somewhat more compromised by a subpar suspension. Unfortunately, only the Tesla Model S and Model X have adaptive air suspensions, which offer better ride quality and improved adjustability.

A suspension upgrade should be able to improve the Model Y’s ride and handling, but lowering the suspension of any vehicle also has its share of disadvantages.

Pros of Lowering Suspension

  • Better handling: Lowering a car’s suspension lowers its center of gravity, which translates into less weight transfer, reducing body lean and the chances of a rollover. A lowered car gives the driver a better feel of the road and more confidence, particularly when cornering.
  • Improved ride quality: Some aftermarket lowering springs have a softer spring rate than the stock suspension. Choosing softer springs will improve ride quality, but many spring manufacturers also claim that their sportier options can deliver better handling without compromising ride comfort.
  • Longer driving range: Decreasing the ride height of your Tesla Model Y will significantly reduce wind resistance, making the car glide through the air more efficiently. The upshot of improved aerodynamics is a higher driving range with a fully charged battery.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: Looks may be subjective, but it’s hard to deny that lowering a car dramatically enhances its appearance. The absence of a wheel gap gives the car a cleaner look, and the lower stance makes the car look a lot sleeker.

Cons of Lowering Suspension

  • Bottoming out: Lowering a car decreases its ground clearance and increases the chances of parts of the car scraping the road. The low ground clearance can put specific components at risk of being damaged. Although the Tesla Model Y is relatively high and has a flat undercarriage, lowering the ride height can limit its off-road capabilities.
  • Risk of warranty issues: Modifying a car’s suspension may not void the warranty outright. However, the manufacturer may deny a warranty claim under the premise that the modification contributed to the issue. The burden of proof falls on the manufacturer to show what caused the problem, but they can deny warranty claims for certain parts, knowing that legal fees can cost significantly more than the part itself.
  • Potential uneven tire wear: Altering a vehicle’s ride height may affect the camber, angle, and alignment of wheels and result in accelerated or uneven tire wear. It is highly recommended to have a car’s wheel alignment checked after modifying its suspension. 
  • Increased chances of wheel rub: Aside from wheel alignment issues, lowering a suspension can also reduce the space between wheels and other components, like wheel wells and fenders. This can cause wheels to rub when rolling or when the steering is at full lock, particularly if you have bigger wheels. Wheel rub is annoying, increases tire wear, and can compromise road safety.

Different Methods of Lowering Your Tesla Model Y Suspension

Once you’ve decided that the benefits of lowering your car’s suspension outweigh any potential drawbacks, the next step is determining how to do it.

There are different ways to lower your vehicle depending on how much you’re willing to spend and what you want to get out of your suspension upgrade.

Lowering Springs

The most practical method of lowering a car is replacing the stock coil springs with aftermarket lowering springs. Lowering springs can easily replace stock springs without the need to modify anything else and are relatively affordable. They can cost anything between $100 to $700 a set.

Good quality lowering springs can lower your vehicle without compromising ride comfort. You can expect your car to drop about an inch or two depending on the type of lowering springs you purchase. Note that lowering springs that promise a more significant drop in ride height often also offer higher spring rates or lower suspension travel to prevent bottoming out.

With their dual-rate linear technology, Tesla Model Y lowering springs by Unplugged Performance give you the best of both worlds. Each lowering spring has two different spring rates for comfort and handling. 

Their primary spring rate is 15-30% softer for maximum comfort. But they can also become 30% sportier when they transition to a secondary spring rate when compressed under heavy load or during aggressive cornering.

If you plan on installing lowering springs yourself, watch the video below.

No matter how good lowering springs are, there will be inherent benefits and disadvantages that come with installing them. 

Pros of Lowering Springs

  • Lowering springs are more affordable. You can lower your car and spend much less than other suspension modifications using this method.
  • Lowering springs are easy to install. Any shop with a spring compressor can install them. No other modifications are needed since the lowering springs slot perfectly where the stock springs went.
  • Lowering springs offer decent performance. You can improve your car’s handling without compromising ride comfort by installing good-quality lowering springs.

Cons of Lowering Springs

  • Lowering springs are not adjustable. You cannot alter ride height, suspension damping, or spring rates. The lack of adjustability gives your car less versatility when switching from street to track use.
  • Lowering springs may overwork your stock dampers. Your car’s OEM dampers may not cope well with the spring rate of lowering springs. Unless your car has adjustable dampers, the lowering springs may cause its dampers to wear out more quickly.

Coil Overs

Coil overs consist of a spring that surrounds a strut. The coil rests on a perch, which you can rotate to set the vehicle’s ride height. Aside from adjusting your vehicle’s height, some coil overs will allow you to alter spring rate, dampers, and camber or caster angles.

Since some coil overs come with their struts, you don’t have to worry about dampers not being compatible with their higher spring rates. The adjustability you get with coil overs allows you to tweak them according to your needs.

Mountain Pass Performance offers comfortable adjustable coil overs for the Tesla Model Y. These coil overs can raise your vehicle by 10 mm (0.39 in) or lower it by 40 mm (1.57 in) below the original ride height. The adjustability and tuning of these coil overs promise exceptional comfort with handling comparable to a BMW M at its stiffest setting.

Like lowering springs, a few advantages and drawbacks come with using coil overs.

Pros of Coil Overs

  • Coil overs offer excellent adjustability. You can tweak coil overs to give you your desired ride height and the most suitable driving dynamics for specific conditions.
  • Coil overs have interchangeable parts. Depending on your needs, you can change the dampers, coils, perches, and top mounts. And if one component needs replacement, you don’t have to purchase an entire assembly.
  • Coil overs offer the same benefits of lowering springs but can be tuned for more extreme performance.

Cons of Coil Overs

  • Coil overs typically have higher spring rates, making the ride less comfortable. Although, you can adjust your dampers to mitigate some of the stiffness.
  • Coil overs are relatively more expensive, costing between $700 to $3000.

Air Suspension

Installing an aftermarket air suspension system is another way to upgrade your suspension. Some high-end vehicles, like the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X, come with factory-installed air suspension, but there are also bolt-on systems for other models.

As the name suggests, air suspension uses an airbag in place of the coil spring. The airbag is usually made of rubber and is inflated with an air compressor which gets air from a tank. Air suspension systems also have a control module that allows users to set the ride height for each side of the car via a remote or smartphone app.

Aside from adjusting ride height, you can also change dampers and alter air compression and rebound speed, giving you your desired level of comfort and rigidity. Contrary to popular belief, aftermarket air suspension systems can improve ride comfort and handling and are not solely intended for aesthetic purposes.

Spinny.com states, “An air suspension is one of the most comfortable and load-bearing suspensions, which is why they are used on top-of-the-line luxury and sports cars.”

The complete air ride suspension kit from Air Lift Performance can lower your Tesla up to 112 mm (4.4 in) at the front and 145 mm (5.7 in) at the rear. This suspension system has 30 levels of damping adjustability, allowing you to set your suspension from ultra-soft for comfort to a stiffer setting for sportier performance.

Despite all the benefits you get from an air suspension system, they’re not immune to faults. Below are the pros and cons of air suspension.

Pros of Air Suspension

  • Air suspension provides unparalleled comfort. The use of airbags makes it feel like you’re riding on air. It’s no wonder this is the suspension of choice on high-end vehicles.
  • Air suspension offers more flexibility. Nothing beats the range of ride heights you get from an air suspension system. You can have the car sit extremely low or raise it to get over speed bumps.

Cons of Air Suspension

  • Air suspension systems are more challenging to install.  Since they use more components, air suspension systems aren’t as easy to install and may require modifications like cutting panels or drilling holes. The air tank and compressor also take up more space in a vehicle.
  • Air suspension systems are relatively more expensive. Expect to pay thousands of dollars for a reputable air suspension system, which is significantly more than you would have to pay for good-quality coil overs and lowering springs.
  • Air suspension systems are less reliable. The airbags on air suspensions can leak. Worse still, they are also costly to repair or replace.

The Best Way to Lower Your Tesla Model Y Suspension

Each method of lowering your suspension has its advantages and disadvantages. The ideal suspension for your Tesla Model Y depends on your specific priorities.

The table below ranks lowering springs, coil overs, and air suspensions from 1st to 3rd based on a range of attributes.

Lowering SpringsCoil OversAir Suspension
Affordability1st2nd3rd
Comfort2nd3rd1st
Performance3rd1st2nd
Ease of Installation1st2nd3rd
Adjustability3rd2nd1st

As you can see, lowering springs will suffice if you want to minimize the wheel gap for aesthetic purposes while squeezing out a little extra performance. If you want to turn your Tesla into a track weapon, coil overs are your best option.

But if you want the most flexibility and don’t mind burning a hole in your wallet, an air suspension is worth considering.

FAQs

What Tesla Suspension Upgrades Don’t Involve Changing Springs?

If you do not want to change your vehicle’s springs, you can get lighter and stiffer sway bars to improve your Model Y’s handling and road feel. Another option is to install adjustable upper control arms for your alter camber for road and track use.

Can You Improve Tesla Ride Quality By Keeping the Suspension Stock?

One way of improving ride quality without modifying your suspension at all is to get tires with a higher side profile. The thicker side wall will cushion road imperfections much better and help you enjoy a much smoother ride, even with a stock suspension.


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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting evspeedy.com. The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.