Choosing the Best Lift Kit for Your Truck

Choosing the Best Lift Kit for Your Truck

You want a lifted truck.

If you’re still reading this, it’s likely a factual statement. Even if you’re still scouring your local used car dealership for the right pickup or SUV, it’s time to consider lift kits, whether your goals are purely for aesthetics or for off-roading.

Choosing the right kit, however, requires some thought. Do you want to raise it just an inch or two, or are you looking for a big 12” lift? Do you need performance or style? What kind of suspension is necessary for your style of driving?

Keep reading to learn more about various types of lift kits so you can make a smart purchase decision after snagging your new-to-you truck.

Lift Kit Facts of Life

Before we jump into the differences between suspension and body lift kits, there are a few “facts of life” that come with driving a lifted truck.

First, if you modify the chassis or ground clearance of your truck, you should assume it will need additional changes, including relocating engine components.

Second, you can expect reduced fuel economy with either type of lift kit. This is due to the vehicle being less aerodynamic and the rolling resistance of the larger tires.

Third, your lift kit also increases the weight of your vehicle, which means acceleration, braking, and handling may be compromised as your engine works harder to move your truck.

However, for people who love the lifted look or who spend their free time off-roading, these aren’t dealbreakers and are merely acceptable consequences in exchange for valuable benefits.

Function: You Need a Suspension Lift Kit to Go Off-Roading

Off-road enthusiasts need ground clearance beneath their trucks, which is why they opt for a suspension lift kit. This kit includes parts like torsion bar keys, leaf springs, coil springs, and spacers. A suspension lift kit also looks great because it doesn’t leave a gap between the chassis and vehicle body. As a result of its design, it is also sturdier than other lift options.

Bear in mind, however, that a suspension lift kit comes with a higher price tag than its brethren. Larger wheels and tires (and a realignment) for added lift and off-road traction are also necessary modifications to complete the suspension lift. And don’t be surprised if your truck requires additional modifications, such as the driveshaft, to keep your u-joint and axles from wearing out too quickly. But it’s worth every penny for getting to relieve stress as you off-road with your buddies.

Form: If It’s Style You’re After, Go for a Body Lift Kit

Unlike a suspension lift kit, a body lift kit simply raises the cab of your truck off its chassis by adding spacers over original mount bushings. Your wheels will remain exactly where they are – so you aren’t actually getting any added ground clearance.

If you’re after chunky tires, a body lift kit can get you there. And best of all, your truck’s handling won’t change too much, although you may notice a slightly rougher ride if you opt for all-terrain tires. Consider, however, that altering the body and chassis of your vehicle may cause faster wear and tear to certain moving parts, and there will be a visible gap between the chassis and truck cab. Your engine may also require modifications, such as relocating the radiator so as not to interfere with the lift kit. This isn’t the case on every truck, however.

Should You DIY Your Lift Kit Installation?

In an effort to save money, you may want to attempt to install your truck’s lift kit yourself. With a body lift kit, this is a reasonable task, particularly if you’re handy and have the tools and facility in which to do so.

However, installing a suspension lift kit is a much more complex and intensive process, so unless you have experience and equipment, you’ll want to rely on a professional to ensure the integrity of your truck.

Can I Buy a Lifted Truck Off the Lot?

If you’re in the market to buy a truck, you may find that from-the-factory makes and models provide the performance or style you’re looking for, without needing modifications. For example, the new generation Ford Bronco comes in a variety of trim levels capable of off-roading. Choosing an as-built truck or SUV can save you time and money, so you can enjoy off-roading or driving the dunes right away.

However, if you’re pursuing an ultra-high lifted look, it will be necessary to modify your truck with the right lift kit.

The Bottom Line

Depending on your goals for your truck, you’ll need to consider either a body lift kit or a suspension lift kit. There are plenty of options available, but any modification can affect your vehicle’s handling and fuel economy – but all that is worth it when you go mudding or turn heads driving down your city’s streets.