There are a number of reasons you may be wondering what is a lift kit?
You may know that your friend recently got a lift and want to know how it works, you may have a new car or truck and want to research the different types of lift kits, and you just might want to know what a lift kit will actually do to your truck.
Any of these questions will surely be answered in this article.
Lift kits are modification parts that can adjust the height of a truck. This can be done by adjusting the suspension or lifting the body of your truck. The main types of lift kits are: strut spacer, torsion key, coilover, strut replacement, and body lift kits.
We will go into more detail on how each of these work and what is best for you.
What does a lift kit do?
A lift kit raises your truck higher in some way. There are two main types of lift kit categories. These are body lifts and suspension lifts.
Since there are many components in suspension systems, there are 4 different types of these kinds of kits.
Commonly the terms lift kit and leveling kit are confusing to many people.
A leveling kit essentially is a lift kit for only the front of a truck.
Trucks, when manufactured typically come with what is called rake. This means that the front of the truck sits slightly lower than the back of the truck.
A leveling kit will lift the front of the truck to meet the height of the back of a truck.
If you need more explanation on leveling kits, check out this article.
Does a lift kit level my truck?
Most lift kits will in fact level a truck.
Let’s give an example. Let’s say your truck has a 2 in rake. That means the front of the truck sits 2 inches below the back.
If you get a 4 in lift kit, the components within the kit will allow you to add 4 inches to the front of the truck, but will only add 2 to the back so that your truck sits evenly.
This is not always the case, but it can be the case.
Sometimes due to adjustable components and lack of rigid heights, the final level of a truck with a lift kit may vary.
Need more information on a leveling kit vs lift kit? Read here for a thorough breakdown.
Pros of a lifted truck
When you lift a truck, you have the ability to travel over higher things. This is great for off-roading conditions and reducing the risk of bottoming out while driving.
Some, but not all lift kits include suspension upgrades. This can improve the overall quality of your ride depending on the application.
For those with tougher working conditions, you may be able to create a more comfortable ride while taking on larger obstacles.
Larger Wheels and Tires
As a truck gets higher from the ground, it allows for larger wheels and tires to be installed. The distance between the top of the tire and the wheel well increases for larger clearance.
A lifted truck can just look cool!
Cons of a lifted truck
For most lift kits, you can expect to pay $1000 for a quality lift kit. Higher-end suspension lift kits can cost $3000 or more!
And then there’s labor.
Most of the time a lift kit will void any warranty on the car since you have not altered some of the primary components of the stock car.
Poor fuel efficiency
I was watching a video the other day and they mentioned their car was getting nearly 8 miles per gallon, highway. I’ve seen even worse.
Larger tires, leveled trucks, and increased distance under a truck will all account for poor fuel efficiency and aerodynamics.
Decreased towing capabilities
When you lift a truck, you often lose power due to the changing mechanics within the system.
A truck high off the ground has a higher center of gravity making stability more difficult. Turns with a lifted truck will need more caution.
Do lift kits hurt your truck?
If installed correctly and used correctly, lift kits will not hurt your truck. However, if a kit is not installed with professional help, the likelihood of something going wrong significantly increases.
A lift kit requires a number of components and adjustments to a car, and we recommend you get professional help to do something like this.
Types of Lift Kits
There is not really a one size fits all lift kit. The parts needed and the best option is dependent on the make/model and the desired functionality of a truck.
You may not have many options when it comes to your truck depending on how it is made, but there are 5 main lift kits. Here’s a quick summary before we dive into each one in more detail.
|Type of lift kit||Pros||Cons|
Relatively basic lift
|Strut Replacement||Not adjustable||Stiffer than coilover|
|Coil Spring Spacer||Fewer installation components||Changes ride performance|
|Body Lift||Cheap components||Expensive installation|
Potential loss in electronic functionality
Before we go into the depths of each of these types of lift kits, this video is a great visual to help you understand what I’m talking about here.
By far the most common lift kit is the strut spacer. This is one of the cheapest on the market, and fairly easiest to install.
A strut is a shock absorber that is part of a truck suspension system that carries most of the weight of a vehicle. It typically is surrounded by a spring.
What this type of lift does is add a spacer block above the strut in your car to raise the truck over the suspension system. This allows the other parts of the stock suspension to continue to perform as desired. This allows the truck to maintain the stock ride.
The downside of having this type of lift kit is that it is not necessarily made to handle very large lifts.
The ride quality of this type of lift kit is best suited for those just looking for a simple cosmetic lift for their truck without wanting to add very large tires.
Strut spacers, do require other hardware components to adjust for the changes in the inner geometry. This is going to vary based on year, make and model.
For example, this F-150 2wd lift kit comes with 4 in spacers, but can also see the additional knuckles, torsion key, and other components.
Coilover Lift Kit
A coilover is a spring that is fixed surrounding a strut. As mentioned previously, a strut often has a coil spring surrounding the part, so the entire unit may be referred to as a coilover.
The biggest difference between a coilover and a regular strut is that a coilover is adjustable, sometimes in more than one way.
These lift kits tend to be more expensive than spacer lifts. They look very similar in terms of parts, but come with dampening adjustments and preload adjustments.
This means that with some coilover lifts you can actually adjust the lift of the car with a singular coilover, and you can adjust the dampening by either softening or stiffening the ride.
A coilover kit does not mean that you will get the softest ride, but it will typically lead to the best performance. This means the handling and drive quality will typically be better than other kits.
These kits are great for offroading!
Below is an example of one of the Rough Country Lift Kits with a coilover.
Similar to coilover kits, but not the same are strut replacement kits. These will actually replace an entire strut component to create a lift whereas strut spacers keep struts in their stock form, but add a block on top.
The strut replacement will not have any adjustable components to the suspension. It will, likely, still have a coil surrounding the strut and will require the uninstallation of a strut for replacement.
Coil Spring Spacer
As mentioned earlier, coilover kits can allow you to adjust the height of a lift kit, but you can actually add a coil spring spacer which seems to act similarly to the adjustable aspect of the full coilover kit.
What this spacer does is create spring compression that increases the spring rate so that the spring doesn’t compress as far when the body weight is added.
For example, a spring compresses 4 inches when the body of a truck is added, but if you add an inch of compression, the truck will only compress 3 inches, therefore, creating a 1-inch lift difference.
Below is an example of a coil spring spacer for the Ford Ranger.
Body Lift Kit
Body lift kits also tend to be cheap units in list price but can be costly when applying.
This type of lift kit adds spacers between the frame of the truck and the body of the truck.
This prevents any need for adjusting the suspension components in the truck. However, with new trucks, this can cause a problem in the electronics.
When you add a body lift spacer, you increase the distance between the frame and the body, so any electrical components need extra slack to be able to make the gap across the space.
Older trucks are less likely to have this issue due to the fewer electrical components and wiring installed.
Body lift kits will create some cosmetic issues within the truck. The space created between the frame and body will likely be visible, especially from the side above the wheel.
You may also notice some misalignment in the exhaust, too.
The type of lift kit you will need will depend on your make/model/year and how what you are looking for.
If you are going for pure aesthetics without a crazy lift, a strut spacer is best!
If you are looking to lift your car for offroading, you’ll want to use the coilover suspension lift kits.
I rarely recommend body lifts because they come with many risks and aren’t cheap enough to justify.
A lift kit will raise your truck higher than the ground, so there may be a few things you need to consider with this move. Not only will you need to need to find the right kit for your truck, you will also need to decide whether or not you want to add a running board to make it easier for you and your passengers to enter and exit your truck.