Are you looking for a lift kit for your truck or SUV? Does the enormous amount of options available freak you out?
Lift kits come in many shapes and sizes and they all have different goals and different ways of reaching them. When you don’t know the difference between two terms, like ‘long arm lift kits’ and ‘short arm lift kits’, it can be frustrating.
Don’t worry about all that, because I’ll try my best to come up with everything that you may need to know about long-arm lift kits. And trust me when I say, and I’m talking from 12 years of experience as a mechanic, It’s not as complicated as it may sound.
So what is a long arm lift kit?
A lift kit that comes with replacement lower control arms that are longer and attach further back with the mount can be called a long arm lift kit. Lift kits that target a lift of 4 inches or more usually come packed with longer control arms.
- These lift kits intend to give the rider of a lifted truck more steering control and overall drivability while also keeping the longevity of the components in mind.
- While these lift kits try to offer more than their short control arm counterparts, they also cost more than them.
So, questions may arise in your mind– ”What makes long-arm lift kits superior to short-arm lift kits?” “Should I opt for a long-arm lift kit instead of a short-arm one?”
Let’s cut to the chase and know what a long arm lift kit is, how they compare with short arm lift kits and which should you prefer, the pros and cons of a long arm lift kit, and much more.
Don’t Buy Long Arms Until YOU Watch This Video!! Long Arms VS Short Arms!
Long Arm Lift Kits: What are They and Why Do They Exist
After a drastic amount of lift, one of the more significant changes that happen to a truck is the angle of the control arms. Control arms are the components that attach to the front axle to steer the vehicle.
After a truck is lifted, the back end of the control arms gets pulled up as well. As the axle sits in the same place as before, the angle of the control arms gets steeper.
What happens as a result of this is that the control arms go through more pressure and consequently, more wear and tear.
But the more significant drawback is that the vehicle becomes a lot harder to steer, as the steering mechanics are way stiffer for the drastic change in their geometry, which reduces drive quality on both on any road surface, especially on rugged terrains.
Lift kits with longer control arms tend to compensate for this change by making the control arms attach to the steering shaft farther back. This way, the angle of the control arms is kept low in order to keep the geometry as close to the factory settings as possible.
Some lift kits intend to keep the stock control arms but come with extensions in order to attach the control arms further back.
Lift kits that target a small amount of lift, for example, a 2-inch lift kit, will keep the stock control arms, and the more extensive kits in this category will have customized mounting brackets for better steering fluidity and durability.
Long Arm Lift Kits vs Short Arm Lift Kits
This is a frequently asked question by people looking for a lift kit for their truck or SUV. The fact that most people know so little about the difference it makes between lift kits having long and short control arms.
So, what are the differences between them?
In terms of affordability and ease of installation, short-arm lift kits are the better option. They are made up of a set of longer shocks and brackets that raise the front and rear axles. To reach the appropriate lift height, the brackets are made to work with the factory control arms.
The ease of installation and maintenance of short-arm lift kits is their major advantage. The downside of this design is that it restricts the control arms’ range of motion, which can result in issues when off-roading or driving over rough terrain.
On the other hand, long-arm lift kits are a more sophisticated and modern alternative. They feature control arms that have been specifically designed for them; they are longer than the stock arms and intended to enhance stability while also improving handling.
The longer arms extend the suspension’s and steering’s range of motion, resulting in a smoother ride and superior handling on pavement, asphalt, and off-road.
Long-arm lift systems have the drawback that they are more expensive and perhaps more complicated to set up and maintain.
In conclusion, your particular requirements and preferences will dictate whether you opt for long-arm or short-arm lift kits.
A short arm lift kit can be the better choice if you’re looking for a simple and cost-effective solution.
A long-arm lift kit might be the best alternative, though, if you’re searching for a more modern and complex solution that offers greater performance and handling.
Whichever approach you choose to take, make sure you first do your research, speak with a professional, and choose cautiously.
Pros and Cons of Long Arm Lift Kits
If you’re already impressed and ready to jump in for a long-arm lift kit for your truck, let’s stop for a moment. Take a little time to assess the pros and cons of long-arm lift kits so that you can make a more educated decision.
- Improved stability: Long arm lift kits feature custom-made control arms that are longer than the standard arms. They intend to keep the suspension geometry as close to stock as possible, providing improved stability.
- Smoother ride: The increased range of motion provided by the custom arms results in a smoother ride, both on and off the road.
- Better handling: The longer arms attach further back for their mounting angle so that the steering geometry stays as stock-alike as possible.
- Durability: The more refined design of long-arm lift kits puts less stress on key components like the suspension, steering system, and axle. So, the components go through less wear and tear and last longer.
- Used for higher lift: This is an important thing for many. The higher a lift kit raises a vehicle, the more changes are brought to it. Short-arm lift kits can only work with smaller lifts but for higher ground clearance, a long-arm lift kit is a must.
- More Costly: Long-arm lift kits are always more expensive than short-arm lift kits.
- More complex installation: Long arm lift kits can be more complex to install and require specialized knowledge and tools. So, they’ll cost you more in terms of installation costs as well.
- Takes up more space: The longer control arms take up more space under the vehicle, which reduces ground clearance a bit as well.
- Higher maintenance: Long-arm lift kits are more complex and require more regular maintenance.
- Reduced on-road handling: While long-arm lift kits provide improved off-road handling, they can be harder to handle on paved roads. The longer control arms have a larger range of motion, which can make it harder to steer quickly in dangerous situations.
If you’re only looking for a 2 to 3-inch lift, a short-arm lift kit can be a great option for you as it costs less to buy and install, as well as to maintain. The few drawbacks can be ignored if spending less is important to you.
Also, know that they will cost more in the long run by subjecting steering and suspension components to more wear and tear.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to lift your truck more than 4 inches, there is no other good option for you other than a long-arm lift kit. And, if you are an avid off-roader, a long-arm lift kit should be a no-brainer for you.
Common Question About Long Arm Lift Kits
Is a Long Arm Lift Kit Worth It?
Long arm lift kits are ideal for high lifting heights, so if you want a truck or jeep that rides smoothly and handles easily over any terrain. Also, if you plan on doing a lot of fast off-road driving, long-arm lift kits will be an absolute no-brainer for you.
Will a Long Arm Lift Kit Make My Truck Ride Rough?
A relatively small lift of 2-3 inches won’t require you to install a long arm lift kit. And if you don’t do a lot of off-roading, shorter control arms will do just fine.
But if you often drive off-road, or if your intended lift height is more than that, a short arm lift kit will make your truck ride really rough and make the handling tougher.
Do Long Arm Lift Kits Affect Ground Clearance?
Well, they technically do. Aside from the higher ground clearance you can potentially get out of a higher lift kit sporting longer control arms, these arms also take up space underneath the vehicle.
This means, they protrude under the vehicle and reduce a bit of ground clearance as well.