The Basics of Lifting Your Truck November 11, 2013
There’s a lot of lingo that gets tossed around when talking about making a truck a little taller, but what does it all mean? Most people have heard of a “lift kit” before, but what kind is best? Check out the basics of the five best ways to lift your truck below. While there are definitely more ways, these are ultimately the most cost-effective and most widely used. Body Lift A body lift is usually the first stop for someone wanting a little more height out of his or her truck and a first level off road upgrade. A body lift is pretty self-explanatory in that you are raising the body of the truck up from the frame. This does nothing to alter the suspension of the truck, which is great for drivability, does nothing to give additional ground clearance. This is done by using urethane blocks that go on top of the factory body mounts to give additional height. Along with the body, a few other items need adjusted when lifting the body. Bumpers need adjusted with new brackets and the steering shaft needs extended for the additional height. Body lifts are the most cost-effective way of lifting your truck and is best used when larger tires are added. Expect to pay anywhere from $120 to $650 for a good lift, depending on the height and make/model of your truck. Suspension Lift A suspension lift is far more of an involved process than a body lift. With a suspension lift, you’re replacing most of the major suspension parts with ones that give you the height you’re looking for. The main goal of a suspension lift is to give your truck ground clearance for off-road activities. Along with ground clearance, the additional parts needed for a suspension lift are there to make sure your newly raised truck handles and performs as safely as possible. When you lift a truck you’re changing the center of gravity as well as giving more room for travel. If you don’t adjust the suspension properly handling will suffer. Suspension lifts are far more involved than a body lift and as such, are more expensive. Expect to pay around $600 for a suspension lift kit and unless you’re very mechanically inclined, you probably want a professional to install this, too. Torsion Keys Torsion keys are used on trucks that have torsion bar suspension systems. They’re actually springs that twist instead of compress like traditional springs. A good aftermarket torsion key will not affect ride quality and should give you around 1 inch of ride height. Expect to pay around $150 for a good forged set of keys and to make sure ride quality isn’t affected at all, opt for a kit that comes with shock extensions. Leveling Kit Most trucks ride higher in the back than the front so when the truck is loaded down it rides evenly. If you’re not hauling heavy loads in the bed of the truck you can opt for a leveling kit to even the stance out. Leveling kits use a variety of ways to raise the front of the truck up. There are coil spring spacers, aluminum strut spacers, and blocks and U-bolts that raise up leaf springs. Whatever the case, these kits can add up to 3 inches of ride height when installed. Since there are such a variety of leveling kits, they range in price from $40 to over $500. Airbags Air lifts are probably the most expensive and involved type of lift available, but have been argued to be the best. Using airbags can allow you to adjust the height of your truck. This way, you can have a low ride height that’s great for the highway and add some lift for when you hit the trail. You can also use these to adjust based off of load, which a leveling kit can’t do. Installing an air suspension isn’t for the faint of heart or mechanical ability, however. The cost of an airbag kit will run you around $200-$1,000 for the parts alone. These need professionally installed as well, adding to the cost. Airbags are used less as an extreme lifting technique and more as a leveling and suspension-helping tool. You will get around an inch of lift, but the big gains are in ride quality. Wrap-Up Every type of lift kit has a specific use, and many are commonly used together. If you want more ground clearance and bigger tires, you need to do a body lift as well as a suspension lift. It’s the combination of these different lift kits that give the final result that most people are looking for. Remember, if you upgrade your ride height or tires, you need to pay attention to the suspension and brakes as well. You’ll be thankful you did when your truck can actually stop and maneuver.