After all the weight reduction, the CLK was riding high and it needed to come back down to earth. The fender gap was 3″ in the rear and 2-1/2″ in the front. I wanted it closer to zero, with the top of the tire about even with the top of the fender, or within a half inch.
There are a couple different approaches to lowering a W208 CLK. You could buy a set of lowering springs, or just cut the appropriate amount off the factory springs. I decided to take the old-school route and cut some coils out of the springs instead of spending money.
The tricky part of cutting coil springs is figuring out how much to cut. You can always guess, but I figure it’s better to do a little measuring. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how I figured out how much to cut out of each coil.
How to Cut Coil Springs
- Determine “Before” Ride Height and Fender Gap
We will use the distance from the center of the wheel hub to the fender lip as our “ride height”. The picture below shows a ride height of 15.5″, with a fender gap of 3″ on the rear tire.
- Remove the coil spring.
With the car on jackstands, remove the coil spring, then loosely bolt the suspension back together so you can use a floor jack to place everything back at the ride height you measured in step 1. You don’t need to put the wheel back on; just measure from the center of the hub to the fender and adjust the jack until the value matches your original measurement.
- Measure Coil Spring Height
Now that the suspension is at ride height, take a measurement in-line with the coil spring. It doesn’t matter what you choose as your top and bottom points, as long as you are consistent and measure along the centerline of the coil spring. In other words, the point at which you measure should be the same distance from the outer end of the control arm as is the middle of the coil spring. In the picture I measured from the top of the coil spring bucket down to the top the lower control arm, coming in at about 6-1/2″.
- Raise the Suspension to the New Ride Height
Use the jack to raise the suspension so the hub-to-fender measurement is what you want for the new ride height. In my case, I wanted a fender gap of about a half inch, so I settled on a ride height of 13″
- Measure the New Coil Spring Height
Now that you’ve raised the suspension, the coil spring height will have changed, but not by the same amount as the wheel. Take a new measurement at the same place you did in Step 3. Here you can see mine came out to approximately 5-1/4″.
- Calculate How Much to Cut
Subtract the second coil spring measurement from the first to determine how much to cut off. In my case, 6.5″ – 5.25″ = 1.25″ In other words, a 2-1/2″ drop at the wheel only requires a 1-1/4″ drop at the coil spring.
It turns out that 1-1/4″ just happens to be exactly a full coil in the rear.
- Cut the Coil
I used my cutoff wheel to grind through the spring and remove a coil.
I forgot to take a picture of the rear, where I cut off a full coil, so here’s a picture of the front, where I only had to remove a half coil. You get the idea…
- Reassemble Everything
Now that the coil spring is shorter, it will go back in easier. Also, if you removed anything more or less than a full coil, be sure to adjust the rotation of the rubber upper spring cup so the cut end rests in the right place.
As it turns out, I lowered the car 3″ in the rear by taking out a full coil. This goes to show that even by taking careful measurements, you are only estimating what the drop will be. Also, don’t expect your car to behave the same as mine, as my ride height was artificially high to begin with because I have pulled several hundred pounds of weight out of the car.
The front only needed a 2-1/2″ drop. I followed the same steps and came up with needing to cut 1/2 coil out of the spring. The only difference was how I measured the spring prior to cutting it. If you have more or less than a full coil to cut, it can be tricky to figure out exactly where to make the cut. Here’s a little trick I came up with to figure it out.
Since I needed to take out exactly 1/2″, I put a piece of 1/2″ wide tap on my workbench. I placed the end of the coil spring lined up with the tape and rolled the spring until the coil was even with the opposite side of the tape. That’s where to cut in order to remove 1/2″ of coil. As luck would have it, it’s exactly half a coil!
I’m very happy with the way it turned out. The ride is not noticeably different, and I managed to hit my target ride height on the first try!