Lift kits are a popular modification among truck owners who want to improve their vehicle’s off-road capabilities and overall appearance.
A lift kit can give your truck increased ground clearance, allowing it to tackle tougher terrain and navigate through deep mud or water. It can also provide a more aggressive and imposing appearance, making your truck stand out on the road.
However, choosing the right lift kit for your truck can be a daunting task, as there are many factors to consider and a wide range of options available.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of how to choose a lift kit for your needs, including how to determine your driving needs, how to set a budget, how to properly research different brands and types of lift kits, and a few other important factors as well.
By following these tips, you can confidently make an informed decision about a big purchase that will level-up your truck in numerous ways.
What Is A Lift Kit?
As the name suggests, a lift kit has one goal: to increase the overall height of a vehicle.
At the same time, the functionality of a lift kit is more complicated than that.
In more technical terms, a lift kit is a modification that is used to raise a vehicle’s suspension, giving it better clearance, improved stability on rough terrain, and a more imposing look.
Lift kits are popular among truck owners who want to improve their vehicle’s off-road capabilities and make their truck have a more appealing aesthetic.
Lift kits aren’t just for trucks though. They can be used on SUV’s, powersports vehicles, and really any other vehicle you can think of.
So, that’s just the basic knowledge you need to know about lift kits, but what are the benefits and potential risks associated with them?
Well, let’s talk about that.
The Benefits Of Lifting Your Truck
First and foremost, let’s talk about the benefits and drawbacks of lifting your truck, starting with the benefits.
Firstly, from an off-road perspective, a lift kit can give your truck increased ground clearance, allowing it to tackle tougher terrain and navigate through deep mud, water and even some extreme winter weather conditions.
It can also improve the vehicle’s stability and handling when driving over rough or uneven surfaces, but that’s not necessarily the case on all surfaces, which we’ll go over in the next section.
A lift kit is a must for rock crawling or off-roading for these very reasons. More ground clearance and improved stability is key for sport activities, but can come in handy for getting yourself out of messy situations.
Say you’re heading up a rough trail leading to a campsite. Well, you’re less likely to safely make it up that trail in a Honda Civic when compared to a lifted Toyota Tacoma.
Now, from an aesthetic standpoint, a lifted truck can have a more aggressive and imposing appearance, making it stand out on the road. Many folks think that a lifted truck is purely for aesthetics, which is true in some cases.
If you want your truck to be unique, and you can afford to upgrade it, then why not do it? The plus side is that there is plenty of functionality to adding a lift kit to your truck as well.
To that point, a lift kit can allow you to fit larger tires, which can further improve off-road capabilities and give your truck an even more rugged look. It’s a win-win.
Finally, a lift kit can improve the functionality of your truck by allowing you to carry or tow heavy loads more easily. In fact, improving the suspension on your truck in general will help with its towing capacity and its off-road capabilities.
If you want to have a bunch of toys one day and love going camping or off-roading, then you need to upgrade your suspension not only to make it to your destination, but also to haul your toys and camper there as well.
If that sounds like you, then it’s really a no-brainer.
The Risks And Drawbacks Of Lifting Your Truck
While lifting your truck can have many benefits, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and drawbacks.
In the previous section, we talked about how a lift kit can improve your truck’s stability and handling on uneven terrain, but beware. At high speeds on flat surfaces, a lifted truck can be a detriment to your handling.
To be clear, these types of lifted trucks are not meant to go 100 mph on the highway. It’s not only bad for the drivetrain and suspension components, but it can be potentially dangerous too.
The reason for this is due to the changes in its center of gravity. A lifted truck can be more prone to rolling over. This is only in certain situations, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
All in all, lifting your truck can put additional strain on the suspension, drivetrain, and other mechanical components, like we briefly went over a minute ago.
Mind your driving habits with the vehicle. Try not to put too much strain on it or drive it too hard. This will save you from having to fix more unnecessary problems in the future.
Lastly, lifting your truck transforms it into a land yacht, so to speak. Parking, fitting into garages or making it through low-clearance areas is definitely going to be more difficult. To most people, this drawback is negligible, but it’s still worth mentioning.
How To Choose A Lift Kit For Your Truck
It’s no secret that choosing a lift kit is a bit of a pain. This is not a straightforward process by any means, so be sure to take everything into consideration.
If, after talking about the pros and cons of lift kits, you still want to get one for your truck, then these 5 tips should help you in getting started with your research process.
Determine Your Needs
We talked about this briefly in the previous section, but the first step you need to take is to determine what it is you need from your shiny new lifted truck.
Do you plan on using it for off-road adventures, hauling heavy loads, or just for improved stability and a more aggressive appearance?
Different lift kits are designed for different purposes, so it’s important to choose one that meets your specific needs.
For example, if you plan on doing a lot of off-road driving or heavy-hauling, you may want to consider a suspension lift kit that provides additional clearance, improved articulation, better towing capacity and vastly improved performance.
On the other hand, if you just want to improve the aesthetics of your truck, then a simple body lift kit might be a cheaper, more suitable option.
What’s Your Budget?
Lift kits can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the vehicle it’s for and what type of lift kit it is, so it’s important to set a budget before you start shopping.
As with any big purchase, it’s important to find a balance between cost and quality.
Cheaper lift kits may be tempting, but they may not be as reliable or well-made as more expensive options.
On the other hand, very expensive lift kits may not provide a significant improvement in performance or appearance for the price.
It’s imperative that you spend a good amount of time doing plenty of research, which actually leads us to the next point.
Research Different Brands And Types Of Lift Kits
Research, research, research. That’s the name of the game when it comes to lift kits.
There are A TON of different brands and types of lift kits available, so it’s important to take your time and check all of the boxes here.
Suspension lift kits, body lift kits, and leveling kits are at the core of the main types of lift kits, and this is the area to start. We’ll throw you a bone and talk about those to kickstart your research process.
Suspension Lift Kits
Suspension lift kits alter the suspension of your truck to provide additional clearance. We’re talking about control arms, coil springs and struts, etc. These kits give you all of the suspension components you need to lift your truck and improve its capabilities.
Body Lift Kits
Body lift kits raise the body of the truck without altering the suspension. These types of kits use lift blocks or spacers instead of a multitude of suspension parts. This type of lift is generally cheaper, but they tend to lack in performance. The ride will be more stiff and the parts can potentially break down quicker.
Leveling kits are used to level out a truck that sits unevenly due to a heavy load or towing. This can be done in a few ways, but the most common is by altering the front suspension of the truck. Adding a leveling kit is a surefire way to improve the stance of your truck and improve its off-road performance. Leveling kits are widely popular due to the fact that they are less expensive while still being very effective.
To summarize, each type of lift kit has its own pros and cons. That’s where the research comes in. Once you determine what type of kit you want, then you’re off to a good start.
Seek Advice From Experts And Other Truck Owners
The most important thing you can do is to ask an experienced mechanic or longtime truck owner for advice.
An experienced truck owner or mechanic will let you know which brands are the best and will be able to help you determine what type of kit is best for your specific vehicle.
This can help you narrow down your options and make the whole process a little less overwhelming. Just be sure that the source you choose is trustworthy and is actually giving you good advice. Better yet, consider getting multiple opinions on the matter.
Double Check Compatibility
It’s important to consider the compatibility of lift kits with different types of trucks when choosing the right lift kit for your vehicle.
Different types of trucks have different suspension systems, so it’s essential to select a lift kit that is compatible with your specific truck. Some kits are designed to work with a specific make and model of truck, while others are more universal and can be used with a wider range of vehicles.
It’s a good idea to consult with a mechanic and do all of the necessary research to determine which lift kits are compatible with your truck.
Installing a lift kit that is not compatible with your truck can result in damage to the suspension system and potentially lead to very costly repairs. Double check and triple check your research if you have to.
Additional Factors To Keep In Mind
So, now that you know how to properly research lift kits for your truck, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before making your final decision.
These factors aren’t entirely a part of the research process, but they are still important to know seeing that they might have some ramifications on your vehicle.
The Painstaking Installation Process
The installation process for lift kits can vary depending on the specific type of kit and the make and model of your truck. In general, installing a lift kit requires a good amount of mechanical knowledge and experience, as well as specialized tools.
It is typically a time-consuming and labor-intensive process that can take several hours or even a full day to complete.
Some lift kits may require modifications to the frame or other components of the truck, which can be complex and potentially risky if not done properly.
It is recommended to have a professional mechanic handle the installation process to ensure that it is done safely and correctly the first time.
Some lift kit manufacturers may offer installation services or have recommended installation shops, which can be a convenient option for those who do not have the necessary skills or tools to install the kit themselves.
Remember The Additional Maintenance & Upkeep
Lifting your truck inevitably comes with some additional maintenance and more consistent upkeep.
Lifting your truck changes the way it handles and puts additional strain on its suspension system, steering parts, and even the wheels themselves. That said, it’s important to regularly check and maintain every aspect of your truck.
It’s always a good idea to inspect your tires regularly for wear and to rotate them every 5,000-7,500 miles to ensure even wear, but you should be even more strict about it with a lifted truck.
You should also have your suspension checked regularly for any issues or wear and tear, as a poorly maintained suspension can lead to poor handling and safety issues.
Additionally, it’s important to make sure your truck’s alignment is properly adjusted after installing a lift kit, as misalignment can cause uneven tire wear and poor handling.
By maintaining your lifted truck properly, you can ensure it performs at its best and stays safe on the road.
The Fuel Efficiency Factor
Lift kits can have an impact on a truck’s fuel efficiency due to the additional weight and drag they add to the vehicle.
Larger tires and wheels, which are often included with a lift kit, can increase the rolling resistance of the truck and require more energy to move.
This can result in a decrease in fuel efficiency. However, the impact on fuel efficiency can vary depending on the specific lift kit and the type of truck it is installed on.
Some lift kits may have a minimal impact on fuel efficiency, while others may result in a more significant decrease.
Unfortunately, this is just one of those things you have to deal with when installing a lift kit on your truck. To be fair, this isn’t necessarily a major setback when compared to the benefits of having your truck lifted, but it is something you should be aware of nonetheless.
Don’t Forget To Get An Alignment
Proper alignment is crucial for ensuring the safety and handling of any vehicle, but it’s especially true for trucks that have been lifted with a kit.
When a lift kit is installed, the geometry of the suspension changes and the wheels are no longer properly aligned with the frame of the vehicle.
This can lead to issues such as uneven tire wear, handling problems, and reduced stability.
To ensure that your lifted truck handles properly and safely, it is important to have the wheels properly aligned by a professional after installing a lift kit. This will ensure that the tires are evenly distributing the weight of the vehicle and that the vehicle is tracking straight and stable.
Neglecting to properly align the wheels of a lifted truck can lead to dangerous driving conditions and costly repairs down the line.
Generally speaking, this is a job best left to a professional auto repair shop with an alignment rack.
Look At The Legal Restrictions In Your Local Area
In many places, there are laws that dictate the maximum allowed height for vehicles, as well as the maximum size of tires that can be used.
If you install a lift kit that causes your truck to exceed these legal limits, you could face a list of consequences.
It is also important to be aware of any other relevant regulations, such as those related to emissions or safety.
By researching and following the relevant laws and regulations, you can ensure that your lifted truck is legal and safe to drive.
In conclusion, choosing the right lift kit for your truck requires careful consideration of your driving needs, budget, and the various options available.
By following these tips, you can confidently make an informed decision that will enhance your truck’s performance and appearance.
Whether you’re looking to improve your off-road capabilities or just want a more aggressive appearance, a lift kit can be a great modification for your truck. All it takes is plenty of research, some helpful advice from a professional and a good and proper installation.
After that though, you’ll be ready to take on the back roads and make lifelong memories from some incredible adventures with your new lifted truck.
How much does a lift kit cost?
Lift kits can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the brand, type, and quality of the kit. Take some time and decide what your budget is and consider the balance between cost and quality before making a decision.
Can I install a lift kit myself?
It is possible for a skilled DIYer to install a lift kit themselves, but it can be a complex and time-consuming process. If you are not confident in your mechanical abilities, it’s recommended to have a professional mechanic install the lift kit to ensure it is done correctly and safely.
Will a lift kit void my truck’s warranty?
In some cases, installing a lift kit can void the manufacturer’s warranty. It’s important to check with the manufacturer or dealer to see if installing a lift kit will void your warranty.
Can I install a lift kit on any truck?
It’s possible to install a lift kit on most trucks, but some models may not be compatible with certain types of lift kits. It’s important to do your research and make sure that the lift kit you are considering is compatible with your specific truck model.
Will a lift kit improve my truck’s performance?
A lift kit can improve your truck’s off-road performance by providing additional ground clearance and improved stability, but it may negatively impact the vehicle’s handling and stability on paved roads. It’s important to consider your driving needs and how you will be using your truck before deciding if a lift kit is right for you.