I’ve rolled around the past week and a half on these cut springs and I can say it has been an uncomfortable week, at best. Just in the four minutes it takes me to get to work, I have several bumps over bridges that really shake and rattle the car, unless I drive ridiculously slow. How did those kids in the 90s with cut Honda Civic springs handle it?
Unfortunately, I can't uncut my rear springs, so I either had to fork over for a new set of springs or find some replacement stock springs and re-cut again.
I was lucky enough to have my friend pass to me his old Wagon R (MH22) lowering springs for free, as he upgraded to a full adjustable suspension set-up. While these springs aren’t exactly in the best condition with a bit of surface rust, they are functional as-is. I’ve heard that many kei parts are interchangeable, especially from the same manufacturer and similar years. Engines, suspension components, and some interior bits are reused from different years and models in order to cut production and manufacturing costs. These springs are about a decade newer, so will they fit?
Putting the cut stock spring and the Wagon R spring side-by-side, we can immediately see a difference in the spring sizes. While the perches and top hat diameters are almost exactly the same, the coils at the main body of the spring were much wider.
With a quick test for fitment, we decided to have a go at this set to get the height that I want.
Back to cutting... this time, I went off with only one revolution coil off the top. This ensures the spring perches would sit in the same locations and that it would not have a radically crazy drop. As much as I liked the low look, it was undriveable.
Before and cleaning materials shot
The rotors and drum were rusty, but it appears to be mostly surface rust and only minor pitting like almost every other car out there on the road; nothing to be alarmed about and certainly nothing worth replacing just yet. The front pads are relatively new and the rotors aren’t too worn.
While the wheels are off the car, I wanted to refresh the appearance of the brake system, since there is a lot of surface rust. I started off with coarse, 100 grit sandpaper and scrape off the rust, being careful to avoid sensitive rubber hoses and caps, then moving to a 240-grit to finish off. I wasn’t super thorough, as I could’ve removed the caliper to get an even better clean, but this is more than good enough. The rear drums were much easier, as they had a blank, flat surface.
After cleaning off with a rag and brake cleaner, I thinly layered around 3 coats of black high-temperature paint. This paint will supposedly endure up to 600° C (about 1112° F) which is seriously overkill for this application. (If my car started reaching those temperatures, flaking paint would be the least of my worries.) I opted for a regular flat black instead of a red color many people use when painting brake calipers, as these brakes are sadly nothing special that might warrant a flashy color.
This simple change really makes the open-spoke wheels pop, since they are not ruined by hideous brown rusted parts underneath and the color contrast is much stronger with the silver wheels against the black brakes.
Sadly, the car now rides a bit higher than it was with the previously cut Alto springs, but thankfully, it isn’t constantly riding on its bumpstops. It only has a slight squeak from the spring perhaps rubbing on the top hat, but I see no issues with its width or otherwise that might result from the increased size.
The car rides generally much better now. Perhaps partially due to the lower ride height, I think there is significantly less body roll in tight corners than it was with stock ride height. Unfortunately, with the soft springs in the rear and the increased (shortened) spring rate in the front, the car definitely doesn’t feel quite as it did before. It is definitely biased for understeer now, as the car is less apt to want to rotate unless I aggressively left-foot trail brake or "Swedish flick" the car to promote weight transfer. While that might not be particularly good for the track, this will be safe and adequate for driving around town.
A better suspension setup will have to come later when budget and time afford it.