After realising that he was spending a lot of money on repairing his car exhaust pipe that occasionally got damaged whenever he drove over high speed humps or rammed into potholes, Ronald Nsubuga decided to have his Mercedes Benz raised to avoid incurring more repair costs.
“Every time I would drive over speed humps, the lower parts of my car always got in contact with the ground. It happened a number of times and one time when I visited my mechanic, the exhaust had sustained many deep scratches and it was developing wide holes,” Nsubuga recalls. To drive over a high speed hump, Nsubuga says he would go over it by driving very slowly. This, he recalls, made him inconvenience other road users.
Currently, raising cars has become a common practice in Kampala especially with more people importing luxury saloon cars.
Why owners raise their cars
Eric Amadi, a mechanic at Dallas Auto Garage in Kibuli ,explains that the compelling reason why some people raise their cars is because most of them are manufactured with a ground clearance based on European and Japanese dimensions and roads, and upon getting onto Ugandan roads, the user or driver experiences difficulty driving over high speed humps and through potholes, hence the need to have the car raised. The only road in Uganda, where very low cars can be driven without raising them, is Entebbe because it has no speed humps and it is flat, he says.
Amadi adds: “The most common way of raising cars in Kampala is by use of spacers.These are placed on the tip of the suspension system to raise the ground clearance mainly in saloon cars like Toyota Mark X, Toyota Mark IIs, BMWs and other brands.”
Advantages of raising a car
Edward Jagwe, a mechanic at Luck Santos Garage along Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road, explains that due to the nature of potholed Ugandan roads, characterised with high speed humps, raising a car prevents damage to parts such as the suspension system that are costly to repair or replace.
The other advantage of raising a car, according to Jagwe, is that it can be driven in any kind of terrain whether on slippery dirt or potholed roads.
“When a car is raised, its gearbox plate can never get damaged by hitting high speed humps or pavements accidentally even if one is driving at a high speed,” Jagwe says. He added that it may not as well be easy for a car to slide off a wet dirt road and that its rims may not fracture or even tyres getting torn when a driver hits a hard rock. “When you raise your car, you should also change the tyre size,” he says.
Common mistakes when raising a car
The most common mistakes mechanics make when raising a car, Amadi says, is using rubber spacers instead of aluminium and also using different shapes on the shock absorber mounting.
“If a driver is to raise their car, the spacers to use should be similar to the initial shock absorber of the car mountain. If the mountain is triangular in shape, the spacer should also be triangular and if the mountain is circular, the spacer must also be circular,” Amadi advises.
He says using spacers of different shapes from the car mountain creates a working gap in the car’s suspension system, causing irregularities in the suspension system.
He cautions that when raising a car, the owner must make it a point to be around to see whatever happens to their car.
“There are many unqualified mechanics who will use spacers simply because they fit yet they may not be those meant for your car. For them, as long as the spacers fit properly on the car mountain, they never mind about what will happen to the driver when they get on the road,” Amadi says.
“To avoid all this, the car owner should not abandon and trust their car when they take it to the garage for raising with the mechanics,” he says.
With the many garages in Kampala, he explains that the cost of raising a car depends on where one chooses to do it. Normally, the charges for raising a car range from Shs100,000 to Shs150,000 depending on the car type.
Amadi also advises that when you decide to raise your car, you should as well change the tyre and rims.
“When you use a low profile tyre of size 215-45 and you want to raise your car, you have to reduce the size of the tyre and rim so that the car can have good contact with the surface for stability,” he concludes.
Therefore, while raising a car gives it a good ground clearance, for this to happen attention needs to be paid to the different car parts as explained above.
Disadvantages of raising a car
In most cases, Amadi says raising a car has a negative impact in that it affects its stability on the road since it’s raised above the recommended level of the manufacturer. “Spacers affect the steering dimension of the car since they are directly linked to the suspension system of the car,” he says.
Amadi adds that the suspension of the car becomes prone to premature wear and tear leading to poor handling because the recommended gap for spacers is strictly one inch.
“If a driver wants to raise their car, it is better to go for adjustable shock absorbers than spacers to avoid tampering with the dynamics of the car like the suspension system,” he advises.
Shafiq Kimera, a mechanic at CKK Garage in Wandegeya, explains that the commonest disadvantage of a raised car is that it does not get stable on the road. “When negotiating a corner and you are driving a raised car at a high speed, it appears to be bending even if the corner is not sharp. There is a gap that is created between the top part of the car and the tyres and this makes the car body appear as if it’s detaching itself from the tyre system,” Kimera explains, adding that it is for this reason that some cars are prone to accidents along highways because they are never firm on the ground.
The least price at which a saloon car can be raised at garages across the city.
The highest price at which a vehicle can be raised at garages across Kampala.