When it comes to lifting your truck, the wide array of parts available can make picking the right kit a challenge. Maybe you just need to clear a larger tire. Maybe you want your truck to stand out from all the others on the road. Or maybe you’re heading off the road and into difficult terrain. Whatever the reason, knowing what to expect from each kit available will help you make the best choice for your ride.
Leveling kits are used to raise the front end of your vehicle, making it level with the rear. This is usually accomplished one of two ways.
Strut and Coil Spacers
On modern trucks, leveling is usually accomplished with a round spacer placed at the top or bottom of your front strut assemblies or coil springs – though some designs use a strut-mount extension. The materials used to make these spacers vary from one manufacturer to another, but steel and polyurethane are most common.
Coil spacer lift kit
On vehicles equipped with torsion-bar suspension, a replacement torsion key or torsion-key spacer is used to lift the front of the vehicle. Replacing a torsion key requires use of a special tool (or some creative engineering), making this installation a little more involved.
Other leveling kit styles may include lift struts or taller coil springs to achieve front-end leveling. These styles are less common and usually found on older vehicles.
Relatively easy to install
Only lifts front end of vehicle
No significant upgrade to vehicle’s off-road handling
Body Lift Kits
A body lift spacer installed on a Jeep.
When you need to increase your vehicle’s overall ride height without enhancing your suspension, a body lift kit is worth considering. These kits use spacers of varying sizes and shapes installed between the body and frame of your vehicle. Body lifts can produce impressive ride height increases without affecting your vehicle’s suspension. In most cases, this means you won’t require an alignment after installation.
Body lift kits create greater tire clearance than a leveling kit, allowing you to install a taller, more off-road-worthy tire. This style of lift requires a vehicle with body-on-frame construction, and cannot be installed on unibody vehicles such as the Jeep Cherokee or Honda Ridgeline.
A body lift kit with spacers and relocation brackets
Significant lift without impacting suspension geometry
More affordable than suspension lift kits
Clears much larger tires
Leaves visible gap between body and frame
Not available on unibody vehicles
Drilling and cutting on vehicle usually required
Suspension Lift Kits
If you need to achieve maximum lift and improve your vehicle’s off-roading handling, then it’s time to look at suspension lift kits. The most diverse style of lift kit, suspension lifts can consist of anything from a simple combination of block and coil spacers to new spindles, shock absorbers, mounting brackets, and more. In order to better understand what you can expect to find in a suspension lift kit, let’s break down the function of these individual pieces.
This is used on the rear of a vehicle equipped with leaf springs. The block acts as a spacer between the axle and the leaf springs. A rear block lift is sometimes used in conjunction with a front strut or coil spacer to create a simple, inexpensive lift that can be installed with relative ease. Although some older vehicles do have leaf springs in the front as well as the rear, this style is only recommended for the rear as installation on the front end can lead to unsafe drivability.
A rear leaf spring lift kit with spacers and extended U-bolts
Leaf kit and spring replacement packs
SuperSprings Suspension Stabilizers
Leaf kits are almost exclusively used on the rear of vehicles. An additional leaf spring is installed on the existing spring pack to achieve lift. Some lift kits will include an add-a-leaf kit or an entire leaf-spring replacement pack to improve off-road capability.
Used to raise the ride height of leaf spring suspension, shackle lifts replace the existing leaf-spring shackles on your truck. These are sometimes used to restore sagging suspension to factory height.
A spindle lift employs a modified spindle to raise the front end of the vehicle. Spindle lifts by themselves can achieve about 2 to 3 inches worth of lift. However, these parts are often found in complete suspension lift kits, working in conjunction with other parts to create greater increases in ride height.
Many suspension lift kits will include new shocks designed to accommodate longer suspension travel. Some kits will offer options between hydro and nitro shocks, while others will include dual reservoir or dual front-shock options. Click here for an overview of shock absorber options to help you make the right decision when choosing a shock to suit your needs.
Short Arm vs Long Arm Suspension Lift Kits
A front end suspension lift kit
Depending on the application, you may find kits that are identified as either “long arm” or “short arm”. Of the two, short-arm kits are simpler to install and more affordable. Long arm kits require significant modification to the vehicle making them more difficult to install. These kits also tend to be pricier than short-arm lift, though they provide a smoother ride.
Maximum ride height increase
Can significantly improve off-road handling
Able to clear much larger tires than leveling or body lift kits
Biggest investment of both time and money
Extensive modification to vehicle
Requires alignment after installation
We hope this helps you choose the right lift kit to suit your needs. If you have additional questions about lift kits or any other parts for your vehicle, call or chat today to speak with one of our product experts.