Thinking of lifting your truck or SUV? Welcome to the club. These days, more and more people are choosing to lift their vehicles. And while doing so used to require custom work and body modifications from a skilled mechanic, you now have more lift kit choices than ever.
There are a few ways to achieve that lifted look and performance you’ve been wanting. In this article, we’ll go over the main types of lift kits you can get to raise your vehicle anywhere from two to 10 inches. We’ll also dive into what a lift kit actually is and why people choose to lift their cars
What is a lift kit?
A lift kit is pretty much exactly what it sounds like—a kit of parts used to lift your vehicle up off of its suspension. Whereas lifting your vehicle used to require body modifications or springs meant for other cars, modern lift kits achieve the lift in a much simpler, less destructive, and less expensive way.
Why do people lift their vehicles?
There are a few reasons why people lift their vehicles. Here are a few of the most popular:
- Off-road performance. For people who like taking their four-wheel-drive vehicles off-road, the factory stance may not offer as much clearance as they’d like. Lifting your truck or SUV can help keep it from scraping rocks and other objects while off-roading.
- Visibility improvement. Some people enjoy sitting higher on the road to get a better view of what’s around them. If your factory ride height doesn’t give you the visibility you’re after, a lift kit can help you achieve that.
- Tires. Many people like to buy bigger tires than the ones that come stock on their vehicle. The problem is, those tires can rub against the fenders at the factory ride setting. Lifting your truck can allow you to go up a few tire sizes without damaging your vehicle or making it dangerous to drive.
- Towing capacity. Trucks sitting at the factory ride height can often bottom out while towing something heavy like a boat or RV. Raising your ride height can help prevent that from happening, thereby increasing your vehicle’s functional towing capacity.
- Looks. Even if they don’t have a functional reason to do it, some people just like the look of a lifted truck.
Advantages and disadvantages of lifting your vehicle
Lifting your vehicle can add both an aesthetic and a performance upgrade. But that’s not to say there aren’t some downsides. Here are the pros and cons of lifting your vehicle.
Pros of lifting your vehicle
- Better off-road performance
- Better visibility
- Increased towing capacity
Cons of lifting your vehicle
- Creates a need to recalibrate odometer
- Alters steering and handling
- Can reduce gas mileage
Different types of lift kits
These days you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to lifting your vehicle. Different kits approach the problem in different ways. As a result, they vary in price and in terms of what they’re best suited for.
Spacer lift kits
Spacer lift kits are usually the cheapest and easiest way to increase your vehicle’s ride height. That’s because they allow you to do so without needing to change out your factory struts and springs. Instead, these kits use heavy-duty rubber washers that attach to the top or bottom of a spring and strut to increase the distance between the axle and the frame of the truck.
This is a cost-effective way to achieve a lift on your vehicle. However, we only recommend using a spacer lift kit to increase your ride height up to four inches. While these kits are very safe and stable to use for small lifts, they don’t offer the structural support you need to safely lift your vehicle beyond four inches.
Performance lift kits
Unlike spacer lift kits, performance lift kits are anything but simple. Often referred to as “full suspension lift kits,” performance kits are a rework of your entire suspension. As their name would suggest, they’re also designed for high-performance usage like aggressive off-roading and climbing rocks and boulders.
These kits come with dozens of parts, including track bars, cross-base pieces, skid plates, trailing links, and even redesigned control arms. Many of them come with much higher-quality parts than you get on your factory suspension and components that are designed specifically for off-roading.
Because they’re designed specifically to give your vehicle both a height and performance boost, they’re the best option for lifting your vehicle anywhere from four to 10 inches. Importantly, all that performance and all those parts do translate into a much higher price tag. Performance lift kits are usually the most expensive option for lifting your vehicle. That said, if heightened off-road capability is your goal, a performance lift kit should be a serious consideration.
Replacement spring lift kits
Offering more stability and a higher lift than spacer kits at a lower price and easier installation than performance kits, replacement spring lift kits are the “goldilocks” option for increasing your vehicle’s ride height.
Rather than spacers and additional hardware, these kits swap out your current springs for longer ones, allowing for more vertical wheel travel in addition to raising your ride height. Most of these kits are the perfect choice for lifting your vehicle from two to six inches beyond the factory setting.
Some of these kits come with just springs. Others, such as ReadyLIFT kits, include upgraded monotube shock absorbers. These kits give you an additional performance boost compared to your factory suspension, offering superior off-road performance.
Most pickup trucks are designed with the front end sitting a little lower than the rear. This is called a “rake.” The idea is that, rather than sag down, your truck will level out when the bed is loaded up. But some people use front-end equipment like snowplows that damage a truck at its factory ride height. Others just don’t like the look of a rake.
Whatever the reason, a leveling kit lifts the front end of your vehicle, rather than the entire suspension. To do that, these kits employ some combination of spacers and new shock absorbers. Some, like ReadyLIFT leveling kits, include parts that are a significant upgrade from your vehicle’s factory components. If you’re happy with the ride height of your vehicle in the rear but want to raise the front, a leveling kit is the clear choice.
Should I install a lift kit on my vehicle?
You’re the only person who can truly answer whether or not you should lift your vehicle. By now, you know the different types of lift kits you can buy as well as the benefits and drawbacks to raising your truck’s ride height.
Before you decide whether or not to lift your vehicle and how you’re going to do it, here are a few things to consider:
- Budget. Do you have the money to buy a kit and either the money to have it installed or the time and skills to install it yourself?
- Purpose. Are you looking for that lifted look or a more serious performance upgrade?
- Lift amount. Are you looking for a small lift of just a few inches or are you hoping to significantly raise your ride height?
- Warranty. Some lift kits can void your vehicle’s warranty. Are you prepared to pay out of pocket for repairs if that’s the case?
Answering these questions can help you understand whether or not a lifted ride is a good idea for you at this time. They can also help you figure out which type of kit is the best for your situation.
If you know the answers and you’re ready to increase your vehicle’s ride height—and in some cases, its capability—you can search our website to find the kit you need for the vehicle you own.
Still, have some questions? You can call 866-597-2397 Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 9 PM and on Saturdays from 9 AM to 6 PM to talk to our Suspension Experts. Help is also always available via online chat support.