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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my second post to this newsgroup, as my wife and I are still going back forth about whether to get a Pilot or an Odyssey.

We really like the added safety of the Pilot's AWD, having a Subaru Legacy wagon as the other car we will keep. Basically, if Honda made an AWD 8-seat Odyssey, we would go with that. We could get 8 seats and AWD on the new Toyota Sienna, but we don't like the dashboard or exterior styling, plus it has already been recalled due to a gas tank problem in a recent NHTSA test - makes us wonder how it will fare in the crash test ratings. My wife prefers the lower ground clearance of the Odyssey (easier to get in and out) and REALLY likes the automatic power back sliding doors for getting the kids in and out.

I can't do anything about the automatic power back doors, but I am curious whether there is any way to REDUCE the ground clearance on the Pilot a bit. I don't know anything about vehicle suspensions, but I am wondering is there are some shock adjustments or something else that can be done to lower the Pilot by an inch or so. That would get it closer to the Odyssey for around town use.

In info on whether this is possible, and if so, how, would be much appreciated.

P.S. Of course, purchasing runningboards would be one option to address this issue.
 

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gatoreng said:
This is my second post to this newsgroup, as my wife and I are still going back forth about whether to get a Pilot or an Odyssey.

We really like the added safety of the Pilot's AWD, having a Subaru Legacy wagon as the other car we will keep. Basically, if Honda made an AWD 8-seat Odyssey, we would go with that. We could get 8 seats and AWD on the new Toyota Sienna, but we don't like the dashboard or exterior styling, plus it has already been recalled due to a gas tank problem in a recent NHTSA test - makes us wonder how it will fare in the crash test ratings. My wife prefers the lower ground clearance of the Odyssey (easier to get in and out) and REALLY likes the automatic power back sliding doors for getting the kids in and out.

I can't do anything about the automatic power back doors, but I am curious whether there is any way to REDUCE the ground clearance on the Pilot a bit. I don't know anything about vehicle suspensions, but I am wondering is there are some shock adjustments or something else that can be done to lower the Pilot by an inch or so. That would get it closer to the Odyssey for around town use.

In info on whether this is possible, and if so, how, would be much appreciated.

P.S. Of course, purchasing runningboards would be one option to address this issue.
You can always go for lower profile tires and/or smaller diameter rims - kinda the approach many of the "low-riders" take. But it seems to me that running boards or side steps may give that extra little boost you may be looking for with a lot less hassle.

HTH
 

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Definitely do not go with lower profile tires because it will throw off your speedometer as well as your ABS. Our stock tire diameter is right around 29". You should always look for tire and wheel combos which will give you within 1/2" of that number.
The only way to lower the height of a car is by either using shorter springs (lowering springs) or if a shock absorber has adjustable spring perch settings, you can set it at a lower setting to drop the car down. The best way is to get an adjustable coilover suspension kit where you can adjust the height of your car between a specific height of 0-3". This way all 4 corners can be independently adjusted so the car will sit level.
I don't think there is a kit available for the Pilot to lower it but if there is, I would consider it as this will drastically improve the handling of the suv and reduce the chance of roll-over.
 

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Litespeeds said:
Definitely do not go with lower profile tires because it will throw off your speedometer as well as your ABS. .
I do agree that smaller/larger diameter will throw off your speedometer (and odometer), but AFAIK they will have no effect on the ABS. ABS simply monitors for lockup during braking and as long as all 4 tire/wheels are the same diameter, I see no way that the size could trigger a false output from the ABS.

I only tossed the idea into the pit as an option - it is not one I would pursue (course I don't drive a low-rider either). :eek:

YMMV
 

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My wife drives an oddy and I drive the Pilot, With the ages of our kids 5, 3, 1, she wouldnt trade the oddy for anything except maybe on 04. However as the children get older and out of carseats, I see her driving the Pilot more and more. I added Side steps to the pilot for my children, wife, and grandmother-in-law all of whom are short or physically challenged and they have no trouble getting in or out....except the 1 year old.
 

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gatoreng said:


I can't do anything about the automatic power back doors, but I am curious whether there is any way to REDUCE the ground clearance on the Pilot a bit. I don't know anything about vehicle suspensions, but I am wondering is there are some shock adjustments or something else that can be done to lower the Pilot by an inch or so. That would get it closer to the Odyssey for around town use.

In info on whether this is possible, and if so, how, would be much appreciated.

P.S. Of course, purchasing runningboards would be one option to address this issue.
Yes, you can get shorter and firmer spring coil to reduce the high, but your ride feeling will change too. There is a good chance you won't like it. AND, it will cost more than running board. So running is a better idea.
 

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I have been thinking about lowering the Pilot. Here's my idea, since no aftermarket spring kits are out, how about replacing the Pilot's springs with a set from an Odyssey? Basically the same vehicle right? I believe the Odyssey sits lower, but I am not sure if it's the actual springs, or the way the suspension is set-up/mounted. I know you would be giving up towing capacity, but that only matters if you tow, and I don't. What do you guys think? Anyone have part numbers for the Pilot & Odyssey springs? We could start there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has replied to my initial inquiry. I really appreciate all the helpful ideas to consider. I am also glad to learn that I am not the only person who has wanted to do this!

Regarding replacing the springs, I don't know much about cars in particular, but I am an engineer (I actually teach the stuff - though that doesn't say much for practical applications like how to fix cars or appliances - I learned all that from watching my dad when I was young :) ). My one concern about changing the coil springs is what timchen pointed out - it will probably change the feel of the ride. I am sure that the Honda suspension engineers have tuned the natural frequencies of the Pilot in part by choosing coil springs with certain stiffness properties. If you change the length of the spring but want the same ride quality, you would have to find an "equivalent" shorter spring.

If you took the Pilot coil springs and clipped them to make them shorter (similar to Odyssey springs???), those springs would be stiffer (larger K value). That would definitely affect the ride quality. How much, and for better or for worse, is hard to say. It would depend in part on how much shorter the spring was made.

What would be needed is a shorter spring that ends up having the same stiffness as the original spring (I am assuming the spring is linear, that is, Force = K*Displacement). Furthermore, when the Pilot sits at its final lower height, the spring should have the same displacement (or compression) as the original spring (that is, be at at the same spot as the original spring on the force-displacement curve) to generate an identical resting force.

I saw 4 Pilots on the way home from church today (my Pilot radar is up since I am seriously considering purchasing one), and I noted that there seems to be ample space in the wheel wells above the tires to lower the chassis down 1" or so and still look good. I will be very curious to continue to follow this thread and see what everyone comes up with. The Odyssey springs idea sounds plausible (though with the concerns noted above).

What we probably need here is someone who works on car suspensions for a living to give us the low-down on how all this works in practice. After all, the "low rider" example highlighted by colorider is proof that lowering a vehicle's ground clearance can be done (though not having a low rider myself, I have no idea what the ride quality is like - I am guessing very stiff).
 

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Changing out springs for shorter ones (if even possible) will cause the suspension to "bottom out" more often on bumps, putting more stress on critical parts and may cause failures and void warranties. Except for specialized purposes, either lowering or raising suspensions should not be done. I was also interested in the different tire/wheel size idea and its effect on ABS. The repair manual describes a complex interaction that involves the ABS computer calculating the vehicle speed from the rotational speed of the wheel. It does this in real time as the vehicle decelerates, constantly updating whether or not the ABS should add, maintain, or reduce braking pressure to a wheel. I'm still not sure what all of it means, but I am sure I'm going to stick with tires/wheels that are very, very close to the stock diameter.

So, go with the running boards!
 

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Birdman said:
Changing out springs for shorter ones (if even possible) will cause the suspension to "bottom out" more often on bumps, putting more stress on critical parts and may cause failures and void warranties. Except for specialized purposes, either lowering or raising suspensions should not be done. I was also interested in the different tire/wheel size idea and its effect on ABS. The repair manual describes a complex interaction that involves the ABS computer calculating the vehicle speed from the rotational speed of the wheel. It does this in real time as the vehicle decelerates, constantly updating whether or not the ABS should add, maintain, or reduce braking pressure to a wheel. I'm still not sure what all of it means, but I am sure I'm going to stick with tires/wheels that are very, very close to the stock diameter.

So, go with the running boards!
Running boards are really the simplest (and probably the least expensive). As for ABS (as I noted before) it simply monitors for lockup during braking and as long as all 4 tire/wheels are the same diameter, I see no way that the size could trigger a false output from the ABS.


:)
 

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I actually saw a lowered Pilot on the way home from work one day. My wife commented that it made the Pilot look a lot sportier. However, driving behind it, you could see that all of that Pilot's underside was VERY close to the ground. Looked like it was almost scraping the road.
 

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Re: Re: Reduce Pilot ground clearance?

gatoreng said:
First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has replied to my initial inquiry. I really appreciate all the helpful ideas to consider. I am also glad to learn that I am not the only person who has wanted to do this!

Regarding replacing the springs, I don't know much about cars in particular, but I am an engineer (I actually teach the stuff - though that doesn't say much for practical applications like how to fix cars or appliances - I learned all that from watching my dad when I was young :) ). My one concern about changing the coil springs is what timchen pointed out - it will probably change the feel of the ride. I am sure that the Honda suspension engineers have tuned the natural frequencies of the Pilot in part by choosing coil springs with certain stiffness properties. If you change the length of the spring but want the same ride quality, you would have to find an "equivalent" shorter spring.

If you took the Pilot coil springs and clipped them to make them shorter (similar to Odyssey springs???), those springs would be stiffer (larger K value). That would definitely affect the ride quality. How much, and for better or for worse, is hard to say. It would depend in part on how much shorter the spring was made.

What would be needed is a shorter spring that ends up having the same stiffness as the original spring (I am assuming the spring is linear, that is, Force = K*Displacement). Furthermore, when the Pilot sits at its final lower height, the spring should have the same displacement (or compression) as the original spring (that is, be at at the same spot as the original spring on the force-displacement curve) to generate an identical resting force.

I saw 4 Pilots on the way home from church today (my Pilot radar is up since I am seriously considering purchasing one), and I noted that there seems to be ample space in the wheel wells above the tires to lower the chassis down 1" or so and still look good. I will be very curious to continue to follow this thread and see what everyone comes up with. The Odyssey springs idea sounds plausible (though with the concerns noted above).

What we probably need here is someone who works on car suspensions for a living to give us the low-down on how all this works in practice. After all, the "low rider" example highlighted by colorider is proof that lowering a vehicle's ground clearance can be done (though not having a low rider myself, I have no idea what the ride quality is like - I am guessing very stiff).
Amazing, the extent men will go to avoid a minivan! Now I know why you called NHTSA to verify that the Pilot would get a 4-star rollover rating like the Ody. I'm with you, bro, but we'll still like you if the wife makes you buy the Ody.
 

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Flashbacks...

Wow, I'm having flashbacks from my Vehicle Design class during my ME undergrade work...:eek:
 

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easiest cheapest way would probably be running boards
 

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Besides the side steps that we have installed, when I pick up my grandmother or anyone else that is older or has trouble getting into a high vehicle, I have an additional step that I made from a 4"X4". I cut it into four 16" pieces and nailed the four pieces together to make a 16"X16"X4" step/platform. In addition to this I took some extra carpet and stapled it to the outside, leaving only two sides uncovered and on one of those sides I attached a rope handle. Now I have another step, the carpet gives the people using it traction and even helps clean their feet off before entering the car. I keep it in back and the handle helps me move into position quickly.

Just another option to make an SUV easier to get into.
 
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