Complete Guide to Buying a Suspension Lift Kit: Types, Factors, and Installation Tips
Suspension lift kits – Complete Buying Guide
When it comes to upgrading your vehicle, one of the most important components to consider is the suspension system. The suspension system is responsible for providing a smooth ride and maintaining tire contact with the road surface.
It also plays a crucial role in handling and braking performance. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to decide which suspension components are right for your vehicle and driving needs.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know when it comes to buying suspension parts, including the different types of suspension systems, important considerations, and top brands to consider.
Whether you’re looking to improve your car’s handling, increase load capacity, or simply replace worn out parts, this guide will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
Before starting let’s us clear a basic definition of suspension lift kit.
“The Ultimate Suspension Lift Kit Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Kit for Your Vehicle”
What is suspension lift kit?
A suspension lift kit is basically a modification to the suspension of a vehicle that raises the body of the vehicle off the ground. It consists of several components, including lift blocks, longer springs, and new shocks. People use lift kits to raise the overall height of their vehicle and to increase ground clearance to several inches.
With lift kits, you will also get an option of accommodating larger tires which enhances the looks as well make it look bigger. Moreover, larger tires also improve traction and performance of your vehicle in off-road conditions.
Lift kits can be installed by a mechanic or by someone with mechanical skills and the necessary tools. It is important to ensure that the lift kit is properly installed to avoid any issues with the suspension or steering of the vehicle.
Now after understanding what ae lift kits, let us move towards about the types of lift kit available in the market. There are 4 -5 types of lift kits available which include body lifts, springs kits, spindle kits ,struts kits, short arm lifts and long arm lifts or full suspension lift kits.
Generally, these are categorized based on maximum ground clearance, off-road experience and basically inches of lifts as in how much inches you need while lifting as it directly impacts on tire size and they both go hand in hand.
Types of Suspension Lift Kits
1.Body Lift kits:
If you’re looking for some 1-3 inches lift under a couple of hundred dollars then this is a lift kit you’re looking for. As it comes with spacers, blocks and bolts which are then installed in between the body and frame for giving your vehicle additional height without going out of your budget.
They do not modify the suspension, and they are generally the least expensive type of lift kit. However, they do not provide as much clearance as other types of lift kits.
Body lift kit are also known as spacer lift kit, because it uses spacers and block to lift the vehicle.
2.Spring Lift kit:
Spring lift kit is the second type of lift kit that uses longer springs to lift the body of the vehicle off the ground. They also include new shocks to accommodate the additional height. Spring lift kits are more expensive than body lift kits, but they provide more clearance and a smoother ride.
Components of Spring lift kit: You can get longer springs which is the main component of this kit and you can also get additional shocks that will provide additional height to the springs. These shocks basically designed to dampen the movements of the suspension, providing more stability during rides. You will get two types of spring lift kits which includes Coild Springs (in which coil springs are the main part and used for lifting the vehicle) and other is leaf springs kits (in which leaf springs are the main part and used for lifting.)
Again, this lift kit is for budget buyers. The amount of lift that a spring lift kit can provide depends on the specific kit and the type of vehicle it is being installed on. Generally, it can add anywhere between 2 inches to 8 inches lift in your vehicle. This is just for increasing the visual aspect of your vehicle as your vehicle looks lifted.
Now the question arises can you use spring lift for getting higher lift every time?
The answer is certainly no! It’s important to choose a spring lift kit that provides the right amount of lift for your specific needs. If you lift your vehicle too much using spring lift kit, it can cause problems with the suspension and steering, and it may require the use of longer driveshafts and other modifications to make it more stable.
So it is recommended to use the spring lift kit for getting around 2-5 inches of lift.
3.Spindle lift Kit
Spindle lift kit comes with front spindles that replaces stock spindles with taller once and raises the front of your vehicle. You cannot get new springs or shocks or spacers in this lift kit. Generally, these lift kits are more expensive as it comes with spindle.
These are the lift kits that can provide you lift of 2-4 inches by using front spindles.
These are better than spring lift kits in 3 ways basically:
Cost: If you using lift kit for less inches (let’s say for 2 inches), then spindles lift kit cost you less than springs lift kit.
Easy of installation: With no presence of shocks or spacers, this lift kit is easy to install than other kits.
Compatibility issues: Some vehicle comes with complex suspension system and it Is very different to upgrade the stock suspension and get a taller one- in those vehicles you can use this lift kit for getting more inches.
4.Strut Lift kits:
Strut lift kits are one step upper than spindle lift kits. These kits replace the front struts of the vehicle with new and longer ones to lift the front of the vehicle. They also include new springs and sometimes new control arms.
With new springs and control arms, these lift kits are made to enhance stability of your vehicle while offering smoother ride. These are basically expensive then previous lift kits.
You can only get around 2-3 inches of additional lift after installing this lift kit. But there are several benefits of using this kit.
Again, with struts – it is very easy to install just in no time. Moreover, Strut lift kit comes with additional springs and control arms that provides a smoother ride and better stability then spindle lift kits. Sturts and springs work together to provide better control over vehicle even in rough terrains.
Some strut lift kits also comes with strut spacers that can provide adiitonal clearance for larger tires. Some uses only strut spacers in the stock struts to get additional room for larger tires- but using only strut spacers is not a good idea . The main drawback is that they do not provide any additional suspension travel, so they may not perform as well off-road. Also strut spacers increases the the distance between the steering and suspension components, which can negatively affect the handling and alignment of the vehicle.
You can use strut spacers for light-duty off-road use or small lift. For more heavy off-road use or bigger lift, a full strut assembly replacement would be a better choice as it provides a greater lift, improved handling and stability and increased suspension travel.
5. Full Suspension lift kit:
This kit changes or lifts overall suspension of the vehicle -including the rear and front providing you best clearance and off-road performance. These kits are most expensive lift kits in the list and comes with every component which includes shocks, springs, control arms and more.
Talking in detail – Full Suspension lift kit includes coil springs or leaf springs (for additional inches), new shocks (for improved stability and absorb damping), New control arms (which can hold larger tires) and other necessary hardware with installation instructions.
Some kits also come with sway bar links (which helps to reduce body roll & improve stability) or brake line brackets (hold and route brake line so that during lifts brakes can work effectively). These basically improves position and function of suspension lift kit.
With this full suspension lift kit, you can get around 3-12 inches of lift depending upon the kit you are choosing.
Full Suspension lift kits are considered to be best type of lift kits for off-road performance and for better clearance. It lifts entire vehicle – starting from the front and rear, provide maximum ground clearance and room for larger tires also.
Consider buying a full suspension lift kit only if your budget is higher and you’re seriously looking for some high lift. Also, you can buy larger tires that will help you enhance looks and stability.
After checking all type of lift kits- you might come across a basic question that in which lift kit you can accommodate larger tires?
The answer is simple- Lift kits that comes with control arms are best for accommodating larger tires, as the control arms only hold and provide space for larger tires. With larger tires, there are higher chances of instability – so you can get it sorted with control arms and get control over your vehicle.
We hope you are now clear with types of lift kits. After knowing all type of kits- let’s discuss some of the benefits of installing a lift kit on your vehicle. If you’re planning to get one then you definitely need to know what are the advantages of having one!
Benefits of installing Suspension lift kits
There are several benefits to installing a suspension lift kit on a pickup truck:
Increased ground clearance: A lift kit basically designed to raise the body of the truck, giving it more clearance over obstacles such as rocks, stumps, and uneven terrain. This is especially useful for off-road driving.
Accommodate Larger tires: Lift kits provide you option to accommodate larger tires which can then improve traction, looks and overall performance during off-road rides.
Better Stability: Installing longer springs, struts and shocks will definitely enhances the stability of vehicle even during high speeds or during up-hills.
Improved towing and hauling capacity: A lifted truck will have a higher payload capacity, allowing you to haul and tow more weight. This can be easier with larger tires also.
Better Style: You can also install lift kit to enhance the looks of your vehicle. Many people install lift kits for the cosmetic improvement to their truck. A lifted truck always looks more aggressive and rugged than normal one.
After discussion some of the benefits of suspension lift kit- it’s time to check some of the basic points that will help you to buy or choose best suspension kit for your vehicle, if you’re really looking for one!
Points to Remember while buying suspension lift kit
Points to Remember While choosing Suspension lift kit for your vehicle:
1. Requirement/ Way of driving: This is first and foremost reason to buy a lift kit. Do you really need a lift kit or you just want it for looks? This is very important to understand as if you’re using your vehicle off-roads or in up-hills then you are definitely in the need to get a lift kit but if you’re using it to ride during weekends or using it for fun during your trips – then buying a suspension kit is not a good choice- Afterall suspension lift is one of the expensive upgrades for your truck. So, you need to think twice about your requirement before getting a lift kit.
2. Budget: The other most important point is your budget. Sometime you want a better lift kit without spending much. So, you have to choose accordingly. You can choose springs lift kit if you don’t want to spend much and want good lift but you have to compromise with the stability and larger tires.This is obvious, buying a full suspension lift kit always gives you lift you want but also goes out of your budget. And this is also true, that the more expensive kit you buy the better lift and stability you get!
3. Compatibility: This is another important aspect to consider while buying lift kit. Youi have to check your vehicle compatibility before buying any lift kit. Some kits are designed only for specific build, model and year. So, this is the first thing that you cannot compromise on.
4. How much lift you want: Consider how much lift you want or need. Do you need small body lift just for sake of lifting or want it for racing or off-road things, it depends upon you – that how much, lift you want. There are many options from 2 inches to 12 inches from where you can choose from. You can get additional lift with larger 35-37” tires.
5. Quality of Lift kit: Always choose the high-quality lift kit in which components are made of high-quality material and backed by good warranty. This is a matter of safety you cannot compromise on this. Moreover, better quality lift kit always last long and gives you better off-road performance.
6. Ease of Installation: This is also one of the factors to consider while buying lift kit. If you installing by your own then it will definitely save mechanic cost of installation. Some lift kits are easy to install than others while some required mechanic installation that will however increase additional overall cost of the lift kit.
7. Other modifications: Sometime with full suspension lift kits (generally with higher inches up to 12) you will require additional components to provide more stability and eliminate performance issues, which includes brake line brackets, sway link bars or wheel spacers that will increase overall cost of lift kit.
8. Legal Considerations: last but not the least, you definitely have to check that lifting your vehicle is legal or not in your state. In most of the states it is legal but some states required permit to lift your vehicle. So, don’t forgot to get one if you’re living in same state.
Apart from having multiple benefits of Suspension lift kits, there are some drawback also which we cannot ignore. Just check why sometimes having suspesnion lift kits is not that good.
Disadvantages of having a lift kit
Despite having lot of benefits, installing suspension lift kits sometimes leads to some disadvantages also.
Expenses/ Cost: Most of the time lift kits are expensive, especially when you’re going for full suspension lift kit and apart from that if you hire a professional to install them, then it will definitely hit your budget.
Impact on fuel efficiency: Lifting a vehicle can increase wind resistance and drag force, which in turn decreases fuel efficiency of your vehicle. You will feel it in longer run only.
Decreases Tire Life: If you’re lifting your vehicle than be ready to change your tires more often as lifting can cause the tires to wear out more quickly, as they will have to cover a greater distance due to the increased ground clearance.
Decreased stability and Controlling: Lifting a vehicle can decrease its stability, especially at high speeds or when cornering. At higher speeds if you’re having a lift of 10 inches, then it’s very difficult to control your vehicle as due to high ground clearance there are high chances of losing control and even rolling down due to shifting of centre of mass of vehicle which becomes at higher point now from the ground.
Decreased handling: If you don’t have hand-on-experience of driving lifted trucks, then it’s recommended not to drive at high speeds and directly off-road. It’s better to practice once as it is difficult to handle lifted vehicles then stock.
Increased maintenance cost: Lifting a vehicle can cause certain components, such as the suspension and drivetrain, to wear out more quickly, resulting in increased maintenance costs.
Legal issues: In some states, lifting is allowed only up to certain allowable limit or if allowed only with permit, so if you lift your vehicle too high, you may be in violation of these laws and subject to fines or other penalties.
FAQs about Supension Lift kits Buying Guide
What lift kits rides the best?
Ans. There are some factors that decides which lift kit proves to be best, which includes vehicle type, model and your desired lift, secondly purpose of lift, then Desired tire size and lastly your budget. Just choose your desired lift and reason for lifting the truck then most important choose as per your truck model.
Can you accomodate larger tires with every suspension lift kit?
Ans. Lift kits that comes with control arms are best for accommodating larger tires, as control arms only hold and provide space for larger tires. With larger tires, there are higher chances of instability – so you can get it sorted with control arms and get control over your vehicle. You can choose lift kits that comes with control arms as it can hold larger tires easily.
What kind of lift kits are better and why?
Ans. There are different types of lift kits available for the vehicle with all the benefits and drawbacks . It depens upon you which one you want. We have discussed in this articel about all types of lift kits in details, but talking about the basic ones, These are
Body lift kits :These kits raise the body of the vehicle away from the frame, which can provide more clearance for larger tires– These are less expensive but create issue with alignment:.
Next type is Suspension Lift kits :These kits raise the entire vehicle, including the frame and drivetrain, providing additional clearance for larger tires and more suspension travel. Two types includes coil springs which uses coil springs to lift the vehicle – more popular in normal vehicle and leaf spring suspension lift kits which uses leaf spring for lifting- more rigid and better for heavy trucks and vehicles.
Thrid type is Leveling kits :These kits raise the front of the vehicle to level it out with the rear, which can improve the vehicle’s appearance and handling. Leveling kits are often used on trucks and SUVs that have a tendency to sag in the rear due to the weight of heavy loads.
How much does it cost to have a 6-inch lift installed on Toyota Tacoma?
Ans. If you’re looking to install a larger and extreme 6-inch- 12 inch lift kit, then be ready to spend anywhere between $1000-$2000. Generally, lift kits can range anywhere from $400 to well over $5,000 depending on the lift you’re looking for.
Does a lift kit void warranty?
Ans. Kind of yes and no also. Lifting your truck past 2” (in some brands like Toyota) will void the warranty on parts that are affected or damaged by the lift kit. However, anything not related to or affected by the lift kit will still be covered.
How tall is a truck with a 6-inch lift?
And. With 6-inch lift kit and 35-inch tires your beast will become as tall as 6.5 Feet. However imagine putting 37-inch tires and 8 inches or 6 inches lift kit..
Do lift kit hurt your truck?
Ans. An improper installed suspension lift kit will definitely damage the suspension, frame or even the body. So be very careful while installing the lift kit. It is recommended to take mechanic help while doing so if you’re not familiar with tools.
Does lifted trucks have performance issues or any other problems.
Ans. Yes, lifting your truck will impact on performance. If you’re using your truck for city or on highway then there is no actual need to lift the truck. However, lifting will provide additional benefits like off-road use, greater approach, breakover and surely your truck looks.
In conclusion, the suspension system is an essential component of your vehicle that plays a critical role in providing a smooth ride, maintaining tire contact with the road, and improving handling and braking performance. When shopping for suspension parts, it’s important to consider the type of suspension system your vehicle has, your driving needs, and the intended use of your vehicle. With the right suspension components, you can improve your car’s handling, increase its load capacity, and extend the life of your tires.
When making your purchase, it’s also important to choose from reputable brands that have a proven track record of producing quality suspension parts that are built to last. Some of the top brands to consider include Bilstein, Eibach, and Koni. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you can ensure that you make an informed decision when it comes to upgrading your vehicle’s suspension system. Remember to take your time and do your research, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect suspension parts for your vehicle and budget
Vicky Dwaj, Founder and CEO of TrucksEnthusiasts , is an automobile engineer passionate about pickup trucks and accessories. Follow his journey to discover the latest trends in off-road accessories, cars, and truck parts.