What is Bottoming Out a Car?

February 11, 2024

A bottomed out car is a vehicle that is scraping its undercarriage against the road or over speed bumps. This can damage the suspension components or cause cosmetic damage. It can also result in the need for an alignment or a new set of tires.

Formula 1 teams must carefully balance generating downforce with avoiding bottoming out, as this can significantly reduce their performance. The team's ride height and suspension settings are constantly monitored to avoid bottoming out. This is because the force from hitting the ground cancels out the downforce generated by the car's underbody, resulting in reduced acceleration and cornering.

In F1's challenging ground effect era, finding the right balance between downforce and avoiding bottoming out is vital for success. F1 teams use a combination of ride height and suspension settings to minimize the effect, but it is not impossible to bottom out at high speeds when traveling over large speed bumps or curbs.

The main cause of a bottoming out car is worn-out shocks or struts, which are no longer able to cushion the impact of road bumps. Lowered cars can also bottom out if the lowering kit is too severe or if the vehicle is carrying a heavy load in the trunk.

Another common cause of bottoming out is when the springs fully compress and collapse into one another. This typically happens as a result of using low quality springs with a small spring load, such as those purchased on eBay. This can cause damage to the springs, shocks and steering component.

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