Struts are one of the most critical components of a vehicle. They connect to the front or rear axle on one end and the frame of the vehicle on the other.
The weight of a vehicle effectively passes through them to the springs and shock absorbers, and any bumps and jolts are dampened this way.
When lifting or leveling a particular truck or SUV, people tend to gain a little extra height by lifting the front and rear struts.
Lifting is raising the height of a vehicle from the ground using a kit consisting of some parts, and a strut is one of the major parts of your suspension lift kit as it supports stability.
As lifting a vehicle means lifting the suspension, a strut is very important because it gives the structural support
So, you may have questions about whether it’s a good option. Well, it comes down to this: what method are you using to lift your struts since there are multiple options to do so?
In today’s article, I’m going to talk in detail about lifting struts, the ways you can do it, the pros and cons of lifted struts, and a lot more, so do stick around till the end.
What are Struts and Why are They Important
A strut is a component of a vehicle’s suspension system that combines the functions of a shock absorber and a coil spring into a single unit. Struts are typically used in the front suspension of a vehicle, but they can also be used in the rear suspension of some cars.
Let’s take a detailed look at a strut’s assembly to gain a better understanding of how it works.
The strut assembly is made up of several components, including a strut housing, a strut mount, a coil spring, a shock absorber, and a bump stop.
- The strut housing is the structural component that supports the entire assembly and is attached underneath the body.
- The strut mount connects the strut assembly to the vehicle’s steering and suspension components.
- The coil spring provides the vehicle with support and helps absorb shocks and vibrations.
- The shock absorber helps control the movement of the spring by slowing down its compression and rebound to dampen sharp jolts.
- The bump stop helps prevent damage to the suspension system by limiting the travel of the strut assembly.
The strut assembly affects your vehicle’s handling and ride comfort. It plays an important role in maintaining traction and control of the vehicle by keeping the tires in contact with the road.
In addition, struts absorb shocks and vibrations from the road, so passengers and drivers can ride more comfortably.
How to Lift Struts
There are four conventional methods for lifting a strut. The most common is by using strut spacers.
There are also coilover suspensions and air suspensions that can be adjusted to ride higher or lower depending on your needs. And lastly, you can opt for a lift kit to lift your struts along with other components as well.
Let’s talk about each method in detail.
Cheap Coilovers Vs Expensive Spacer Lift
Strut Spacers for Lifting Struts
Strut spacers are probably the most popular and cost-effective method for lifting a strut. They are small metal or plastic pieces that fit on top of the strut assembly, between the strut mount and the coil spring.
They increase the distance between the top of the strut and the bottom of the strut mount, which in turn increases the ride height of the vehicle.
They come in various forms and combos. Most leveling kits use strut spacers as the leveling method. Also, many lift kits come with spacers to add a bit of extra height with the taller coils and shocks.
So, as a quick note, if you’re looking for a lift kit for your truck and already have your pickup truck leveled, check to see if your leveling kit used spacers and if the lift kit you choose comes with spacers.
The spacers are typically sold in sets of two and are available in a variety of sizes to achieve different levels of lift. They are relatively easy to install and require only basic hand tools.
- Relatively affordable compared to other methods.
- Easy to install and remove.
- Maintains factory suspension geometry.
- Can be used to achieve a modest lift height.
- May not provide as much lift as other methods.
- Can increase the risk of bottoming out on jagged terrains.
- May not be as durable as other methods.
- Does not improve the performance or handling of the vehicle.
Coilover Adjustments for Lifting Struts
Adjustable coilovers are advanced. And you should know this if you’re looking to move to coilover suspensions or if your vehicle’s suspension system is already equipped with these.
They allow for easy adjustment of the suspension stiffness and can be used to lift the vehicle by raising the spring seat, or preload. Let me make it easier.
You can adjust these so that even at zero loads, there is still some upward tension in the springs. This helps to get a consistent driving experience by compensating for the sagging caused by carrying weight. So, you can technically lift your struts if you have a coilover.
They are typically more expensive than strut spacers and may require professional installation and tuning.
The thing is, there are some setbacks to lifting coilovers because when you lift it, you increase the suspension’s stiffness. I have written a whole article on this topic and you can read it here to know more about using coilovers to lift a vehicle
- Provides adjustable ride height and stiffness.
- Can be fine-tuned to match specific driving conditions or preferences.
- Improves the handling and performance of the vehicle.
- Maintains proper suspension geometry when lifted or lowered.
- More expensive than strut spacers.
- Installation is complicated and often requires a professional
- May be more difficult to adjust than other methods.
- Can be hard to adjust sometimes, so you’re stuck with springs too stiff or too jumpy.
Lifted Air Struts
Air suspension is a type of suspension system that uses airbags instead of coil springs and shock absorbers. It can be used to lift the vehicle by adjusting the air pressure in the air shocks.
Air suspension is typically more expensive than other methods and may require professional installation. However, it provides a smooth and adjustable ride and can be used to adjust the vehicle’s ride height on the fly.
There’s a certain limit to the lift you’re getting, though. If your vehicle has air shocks and you want to lift it for a higher ride height, you should know that the air suspensions are not designed to be lifted, and doing so poses some challenges. You can read my article “Can You Lift a Truck with Air Suspension” to get a more complete idea regarding this.
And if you need to lift a good amount without having to deal with unsuitable suspension stiffness, you can look for lift kits that are armed with air suspensions.
- Provides adjustable ride height and stiffness.
- Improves the performance and handling of the vehicle.
- Offers a comfortable and smooth ride by fine-tuning the air pressure in the air shocks.
- Can be used to adjust the vehicle’s ride height on the fly.
- Lesser vibrations and shocks.
- Ensures more longevity of other components as well.
- More expensive and complex than other methods.
- Requires professional installation and may take longer to install.
- Requires meticulous maintenance and repairs over time.
- Can be less durable than other methods and may be susceptible to leaks that immobilize the vehicle.
Using Lift Kits to Lift Struts
Lift kits offer all-in-one suspension upgrades that include a combination of strut spacers, taller coil springs, longer shock absorbers, spacers, and other components necessary for lifting the vehicle.
They are available in a variety of lift heights, ranging from a few inches to a whopping couple of feet, and are designed to maintain proper suspension geometry.
They are typically a good option for those who want to maximize off-road performance and/or looks.
However, they can be more expensive than other methods and may require professional installation. They can also affect the vehicle’s ride and handling characteristics and may require additional modifications to maintain proper alignment.
Head over here to know more about how lift kits and lifting, in general, affect a vehicle’s riding experience, balance, handling, performance, fuel economy, and all that jazz.
The thing is, if you’re only looking to lift the struts while keeping all the other aspects of the vehicle intact, the options I’ve talked of earlier will be better for you.
- A complete system for lifting a vehicle.
- Provides a significant amount of lift.
- Typically includes all necessary components for a complete suspension upgrade.
- Maintains proper suspension geometry.
- Improves the performance and aesthetics of the vehicle.
- Can be expensive, especially for higher lift heights.
- Requires professional installation and usually takes longer to install.
- Can affect the ride and handling characteristics of the vehicle.
- May require additional modifications to maintain proper alignment.
Which Option to Choose for Lifting Struts
Each method I’ve just talked about has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best option will depend on the specific vehicle and your preferences a driving conditions.
It’s essential to consult with a professional and to carefully consider the effects on the vehicle’s ride, handling, and performance before making any modifications to the suspension system.
Other than using strut spacers or opting for lift kits, there are no other sustainable methods for lifting the struts of a vehicle.
The reason for this is that coilover adjustments or air shock pressure adjustments are intended for ensuring the best performance and ride quality out of a vehicle. They are not intended to be used for lifting.
To lift with these, you essentially need to raise these suspensions, which makes them stiff. And as you set the suspension stiffness to more than the suitable amount, there will be a noticeable drop in the drive quality in general.
When you use these methods to lift, there will be certain obvious drawbacks like rough riding experience, reduced handling and balance, decreased performance and fuel economy, etc.
So, assess carefully before making any definite decisions. There are quite a few articles regarding vehicle lifting on this website that you can take help from.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Strut Spacers Safe?
As long as the spacers you’re using are not too thick (do not lift the vehicle too high) and are installed correctly, strut spacers are a perfectly safe option.
How Do Spacers Affect Shock Absorbers?
This is a common concern for pickup trucks lifted with strut spacers. When there’s a heavy load on the truck, and it encounters a rough jolt or bump, the springs can compress fully and the shocks can bottom out before the bump stop is engaged. This may damage the shocks and lead to premature wear and tear.
What is a Leveling Strut?
This is a type of leveling kit that comes with front strut spacers in order to make a stock truck level. If you know the exact measurements, you can choose the right spacers yourself, skipping the need to go for any specific leveling kits available on the market.