One side of my car is lower than the other

January 1, 2011 | By Richard Prince


I’m new to this restoration game and I’m not a mechanic so I don’t know the solution to my problem. I am restoring a 1968 Oldsmobile 442 and have installed new springs and shocks that are almost identical to the originals. The rear air shocks have been fully inflated.

Then I put the car on a flat, level concrete surface, made sure the tires were equally inflated and took measurements centered on the hub to the bottom edge of the wheel openings.

The driver’s side at both the front and rear is 17⁄8 inches lower than the same measurements on the passenger side. I had the frame checked and it is straight. I had a mechanic follow me down the highway and the car seems to track OK.

Any ideas why the car seems to be sitting uneven?


Minor differences in chassis height, body height or wheel opening spacing from one side of the car to the other are normal but I do not consider a 17⁄8-inch difference normal.

You should determine whether the difference you’ve measured is in the chassis, the body or both.

With the car on a flat, level surface, measure the distance from the floor to the underside of the chassis front and rear on both sides of the car. Also measure the distance from the floor to a key point on the suspension (such as the center of each hub) front and rear on both sides.

If the chassis and suspension are level with the car on level ground then there is something amiss in the way the body is mounted to the chassis. Look for differences at the body mount points, such as missing or damaged mounts.

If the chassis or suspension is not sitting level on level ground then the chassis is bent/crooked or the suspension has a problem.

You say that you “had the frame checked and it is straight” but don’t say by what method it was checked. Relatively subtle abnormalities in the chassis can be difficult to discern but enough to cause the differential in measurements you’ve observed.

Differences in springs from one side of the car to the other is a common cause of the lopsided condition you’re experiencing. Practically speaking, you usually can’t see any differences in the springs so determining if that’s where the problem lies requires some work. One way to determine if the springs are the problem is to swap the two sides around. If the difference in measurement is the same but on the other side of the car then the springs are clearly to blame.

It’s also possible that the springs are good and well-matched but are installed differently from one side to the other. For example, the bottoms of the front coil springs in your Oldsmobile need to be correctly seated in their perches in the lower control arms and if they’re not it will impact ride height.