How to Lift Your Truck or SUV
How To Lift Your Truck or SUV
There are plenty of good reasons to lift your new or used truck or SUV. You might want to put larger tires on a truck and need the lift for clearance. A lift can also help with off-road driving, increasing approach, departure, and break-over angles, so you don’t get stuck on obstacles. And of course, there are the more aggressive looks a lifted truck projects as well as increasing their heavy-duty nature, which is a huge plus.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to lift your truck, it’s pretty easy to get confused by the many different lift kits on the market. They’re not all alike and making sense of the varied methods can be incredibly difficult. No one lift kit is superior since each has its good and bad points. In the end, it will come down to your needs and preferences, so knowing as much as possible about each option will help you make an educated decision.
You should know that lifting a truck or SUV might require you to add extra equipment. This is for a few reasons, so your 4×4 works correctly. First of all, lifting a vehicle can change the suspension geometry, and that’s bad for performance. It might also place extra load on certain portions of the suspension. These problems usually are common for lifts of 3 inches or more. Always pay attention to lift kit manufacturers when they recommend additional products for these two issues because they’re not just trying to up-sell and make more money.
If you look closely at the side profile of a new truck or SUV, you’ll notice the rear end sits higher than the front. This is done to compensate for when you throw a heavy load in the rear or hitch the vehicle to a trailer, which lowers the suspension. Some people aren’t a fan of this look, while others believe it negatively impacts performance. This is where lift kits come into play. They’re made for the specific make and model of a truck or SUV, so you must get the one which matches the vehicle you own.
Leveling kits generally can be separated into two groups. Most modern trucks use strut or coil spacers. They are round and sit at the top or bottom of the coil springs or strut assemblies. There are some which feature a strut-mount extension. Most of these spacers are made of steel or polyurethane, but manufacturers use an array of materials. Generally, older trucks and SUVs have a torsion-bar suspension, which allows you to use a replacement torsion key or torsion-key spacer to level the vehicle by lifting the front end. Not as common are leveling kits which outfit the vehicle with taller coil springs or lift struts.
While leveling kits can be used to allow for a slightly larger tire than stock, it doesn’t increase clearance like a lift kit. This method can also negatively impact the departure angle of a truck or SUV, so it’s not great if you plan on hitting trails.
Body Lift Kits
If what you want is to increase the ride height of your truck or SUV without enhancing the suspension at all, a body lift kit is an answer.
To achieve the lift, these kits involve installing spacers of different shapes and sizes, which go between the body and frame of your truck or SUV. This means improved clearance for oversized wheels versus a leveling kit. Of course, the vehicle must have a body-on-frame setup for a body lift kit to work. The big advantage of a body lift kit is it doesn’t affect the suspension at all. That means you don’t need an alignment or extra components for the suspension, keeping the cost down.
Of course, there is a downside. You’ll see a gap between the body and frame of your truck or SUV, which really bothers some people. With most kits, you’ll need to drill and cut for the installation, something not everyone is comfortable doing.
Suspension Lift Kits
For the greatest lift on a truck or SUV, a suspension lift kit is the best method. Even more than with the other types of lift kits, there are several varieties of suspension lift kits. Block lift kits works on vehicles with rear leaf springs. What the block does is work like a spacer between the leaf springs and the axle, using U-bolts. Another method needs to be used to lift the front of the vehicle, even if there are leaf springs up front since this method used at that end can make the truck or SUV unsafe to drive.
Shackle lift kits are also used with leaf springs. These kits replace the leaf-spring shackles on your vehicle, increasing lift by bowing the leaf springs more. You can even use this method to fix a sagging OEM leaf spring setup. Leaf spring replacement kits work one of two ways. Some, called add-a-leafs, come with a new leaf you add to increase suspension lift on the vehicle. Others swap out the entire leaf-spring assembly for a new one which provides improved lift.
Spindle lifts are usually featured in complete lift kits as one of several methods used to achieve suspension lift, but you can use them alone. The modified spindle can raise the front end of a truck or SUV by around 2-3 inches.
Shock absorbers are another common way to increase the lift of pickup trucks or SUVs using the suspension. These new shocks provide longer suspension travel, which is a good feature for off-roading. Plenty of factors go into selecting a new set of shocks for your vehicle, which basically comes down to how rugged of territory you’ll be driving through and how much towing/hauling you do. When buying shocks, read over the application for the specific model you’re considering, ensuring they match up with what you need.
Short arm shocks are cheaper and easier to install, but they don’t provide the kind of suspension lift you get with a long arm kit. Of course, with a long arm setup, you’ll need to perform some big modifications to your truck or SUV, plus the kit is usually quite a bit more expensive. Just remember, long arm shocks usually provide a smoother ride quality.
Whether you are looking for help installing your lift or looking for suggestions or tips on a new set of tires or need some auto repairs Viking Motors has you covered. Stop in and talk with our performance specialists. Viking Motors is located in Arborg, Manitoba and has been servicing the area since 1958 with the best service in Manitoba. Contact us today to talk to our factory trained technicians to get your SUV or Truck “Off the ground” in no time.