Whether you’re an avid off-roader or you’re just getting started, increasing ground clearance is definitely something you’ll want to address for your Subaru. Let’s talk about the ins-and-outs of why decent ground clearance is an important off-roading component. Then, let’s explore the various options available at RalliTEK.com to increase your Subaru’s ground clearance effectively.
What is Ground Clearance and Why Does It Matter?
Ground clearance is the distance between the underside of your vehicle and the ground; or, how high your vehicle's body sits so that it avoids contact with the ground or obstacles beneath it. Due to the varied and uneven road and trail surfaces you’ll encounter while off-roading, it's important to have ample ground clearance to protect the underside of your Subaru. Making contact with a jagged rock, stump, log, or other obstacle could cause serious damage to your car and leave you stranded.
Installing an aftermarket suspension kit can increase your Subaru’s ground clearance. In addition, outfitting your vehicle with a Subaru skid plate will provide underbody protection–helping avoid damage to the oil pan, transmission, and other vulnerable parts while keeping you safe and moving on down the road.
How Do I Increase the Ground Clearance on my Subaru?
There are many different options for achieving higher ground clearance, depending on your Subaru model, your budget, and the type of surface on which you intend to drive. Below are three common ways to increase your Subaru's ground clearance.
Coil Spring Spacer Lift Kits
Coil spring spacers are the most common type of lift for a Subaru. In this type of lift, a spring spacer is installed on top of the existing strut and shock tops to increase the ride height of the vehicle. This is a simple and effective way to lift a Subaru because it maintains the integrity of the factory moving suspension components, keeping them unaffected affected by this style of lift kit. Thus, the ground clearance and ride height is increased but the ride quality from the factory is preserved.
In addition, a good quality strut top lift will have camber and caster offsets built into the spacer, which can keep the vehicle’s alignment to factory specifications (up to a certain lift height). RalliTEK lift spacer kits are designed with this camber and caster correction, keeping your Subaru in proper alignment.
Keep in mind that lifting a Subaru beyond a certain lift height compromises the alignment specs and other features that are needed to maintain these measurements. RalliTEK’s higher ride lift spacer kits are designed to address this issue and feature a subframe drop kit that comes standard in these kits. These two components allow the vehicle to stay as close as possible to the factory alignment and suspension geometry.
- Versatility: Compatible with either factory or non-factory coil springs, regardless of their strength
- Some spacers may affect spring rate: It's possible that, in some applications, spacers will change the height of the springs when compressed and the angle at which they deflect. But in most cases, the changes are minimal and unnoticeable. Vehicle manufacturers spend millions of dollars testing and engineering stock coil springs and how they work with sway bars. Make sure you consider that investment when making a decision.
- Basically, spacers adjust the height of springs: Spacers provide a fixed amount of lift that won't change over time. If a coil spring is used in conjunction with a spacer, the lift height can change as the spring wears or the weight changes, but the spacer lift will never change.
- Ease of installation: A spacer is easy to install since most of the time it doesn’t require a spring compressor. Most spacer lifts simply bolt to the top of the assembled struts to give you the desired lift.
Suspension Lift Kits
A suspension lift kit uses several different components that, when installed together, can provide greater height for the entire vehicle. Most suspension lift kits include larger coil springs, shocks, and struts, resulting in an additional ¼” to 3” lift to your Subaru. Depending on the height of the lift kit, a subframe drop kit may also be essential.
- Adding new coil springs guarantees a fresh spring rate: Even if you replace your old coil springs with the exact same model (only new) you may see a change in spring rate. Springs can soften over time and/or change the ride height as they wear out and sag.
- Enhanced performance: Installing a coil spring that is designed specifically for your vehicle and its specified usage will make driving your Subaru a lot more enjoyable. RalliTEK coil springs tremendously improve the on and off-road drivability, especially with those factory Subaru platforms that have a softer spring rate unsuited for off-roading.
Installing bigger tires in conjunction with a lift kit, is an easy way to increase the ground clearance of your Subaru. Larger off-road tires help lift the Subaru axles out of harm's way. However, take time to do some careful research before purchasing new tires since certain wheel and tire combinations may not fit your Subaru wheel wells properly, which could have a negative impact on the vehicle’s handling and steering.
Whenever you change any suspension product on a Subaru, a re-alignment is necessary to keep everything moving smoothly and properly after installation. Poor alignment will also result in premature wear of your new off-road tires.