Heeltoe Explains You Can Do It! DIYs

How to measure your car’s height

People often ask how much a certain spring or coil-over will lower their car. Others will ask how their car will sit with a given level of lowering. And still, others will install new suspension parts on their car and wonder how much the car was actually changed.

All the scenarios above involve the basic need to take measurements of the height of the car before and after making any changes. Sometimes taking a measurement is needed to simply decide what parts to buy! The popular “finger gap” test (see how many fingers you can fit between your car’s tire and the fender) has been used for decades to set vehicle height, in this internet age when things are already really vague this isn’t a very reliable and repeatable standard. This article is written in order to show you the proper method for measuring the height of your car so that you can share the heights and such of your car’s rides and have it really MEAN something!

First, you need a car, and a tape measure, and a flat, level surface.

Second, get some paper and a pen. You are going to need to take down the measurements to keep them fresh in your mind. On the paper draw a quadrant (a square with a cross in the middle to make a sort of “corner chart” to help you visualize the measurements).

Or Better Yet, Download the Heeltoe Vehicle Height Measurement Form in Excel format here. Input your “before” measurements and your “desired height” and the form will tell you how much of a change you need to make. This will help you choose suspension to fit your needs. Also, you can enter your “after” measurements later to see how close to your goal the parts got you and to see how accurate the manufacturer claims are!

Third, take some measurements off the car. Here are some pointers on how to do this:
A) Measure from the center of the wheel cap to the edge of the fender/wheel well. You measure from the center of the wheel because this will eliminate any variation in tire pressure or tread depth. This becomes especially important when you want to compare your height with stock wheels to your buddy’s donked out ride on 24″ wheels. The size of the tires makes a difference in fender-gap, and in-ground clearance, but in terms of vehicle suspension height, you want to eliminate this variable.


Measure from the approximate center of the center cap to the fender edge to get your suspension at each corner.


It is easy enough to get within 1/16-inch of the center for adequate measurement. You are only really measuring relative height and .0625-inch isn’t going to impact your accuracy greatly.


You’ll want the angle of the tape measure to line up with the angle of the shock or strut since these parts actually dictate the height of the car.

When measuring the rears on some cars, you may notice that the edge of the fender comes down and curves inward toward the wheel well. There is a sort-of lip there that makes the gap to the tire smaller than the visual height of the car when looking at it. I suggest measuring to the edge if the fender rather than the lip that protrudes inside, just because it provides a better visual reference to the state the height of the car.

Last, write down the measurements at all 4 corners of the car. Note that with nobody in the car it is most likely going to be within 1/6″ all around and this can partially be attributed to variance in the measurement and it OK. If you have variance more than 1/6″ and you know for sure your car is not corner-weighted, you may have a problem with the suspension causing an imbalance.

After installing a new suspension, you will see exactly what the impact was in the car. Make sure you do a brief test-drive to make sure the car is sitting properly before taking an after-measurement.

Brakes Heeltoe Explains

Tech Info: Is it ok to use new pads on used rotors, and vice-versa?

There is a myth in the automotive world that tells us new rotors should be installed with new pads, and vice-versa. And that if you are not going to replace the rotors, they should be resurfaced to generate a new friction area for proper bedding.

Heeltoe says this is false, with one minor exception.

When properly bedded and used over time, a thin layer of brake pad material is transferred to the brake rotor surface, and this helps create optimal friction for stopping. When a set of pads is worn out and need to be replaced, it is perfectly ok to install a new set of pads on the old rotors. The fact that a layer from the old pads has “contaminated” the surface of the rotor means little once the new pads are bed in.

Bedding in the new pads will wear off the old pad material and replace it with the material from the new pad. This is especially true when the pads you are installing are more aggressive than the old pads. The relatively weak material from the old pads is readily replaced with the stronger material of the new pads. Even when changing pads like-for-like, it is easy to recognize that the material on the rotor face indeed does not need to be replaced at all!

The exception to this assertion comes in when you are replacing pads with weaker ones than you have already installed. In my personal experience working with Japanese cars, I find that it is most often the case that the OEM pads really are quite weak, and nearly any grade of aftermarket pad that is installed will readily replace the material left by them. In fact, the OEM pads more often than not as so weak they have a layer built up that is uneven and causes shaking. This is often confused with the idea that the rotors might be warped. In fact, installing more aggressive pads on shaky rotors can many times FIX the shaking completely. This concept is put to work in our HT-Spec Stage 0 brake kits.

Sometimes, the rotors on the car are creating shakes that are so violent simple rebedding and pad replacement are not adequate for mitigating them. In some cases, the brake rotors may indeed be beyond hope and are needing to be resurgaced or replaced. Likewise, if you are putting on the same or milder pads than those you are taking off, the shaking won’t only persist…it will get worse. The good news is, if you are getting the shaking it is a sign that you definitely SHOULD be getting slightly more aggressive pads. That will ensure that your braking will be smoother and more consistent which will make you a much happier, more confident driver!

But, if your brake pads are going to be replaced, and the brakes cause little or no shaking in the wheel or pulsing in the pedal, a simple replacement with something a bit more HT-Spec will be all that is needed!