What is a Lift Kit – How Do Lift Kits Work

Many people love to ride off-road, and because of that, they modify their vehicles with lift kits for better suspension and space for larger tires. As a result, they improve the off-road experience and ensure better safety. But what is a lift kit, and how do lift kits work?

A lift kit is a set of aftermarket parts that help adjust your vehicle’s height at the front and rear. It increases your car’s ground clearance and matches the stock height from the factory settings.

Lift kits also give extra space to install larger wheels and tires, ensuring better performance at rough road adventures. In addition, you can adjust the 2 to 9 inches at the front mount.

It’s a good decision when you want some ground clearance to go off-road. But for regular driving, it’s not necessary. Let’s see some more details about lift kits.

What Is A Lift Kit?

truck lift kits

You may have heard of lift kits which are aftermarket parts. They help to adjust the height of your vehicles like SUVs, trucks, jeeps, etc.

A lift kit doesn’t come with the car or is not installed by the manufacturers. You need to contact a dealer or professional repair shop to install a lift kit in your vehicle. Such modification is preferable to many adventure enthusiasts who love riding off-road with SUVs or jeeps.

If you install a lift kit, it will increase the front and rear height of your vehicle and adjust it to the stock ride quality.

A brief explanation of Lift Kit

Purpose Of A Lift Kit

purpose of a lift kit

What does a lift kit actually do? The primary purpose of installing a lift kit is to increase ground clearance. That means there will be much space between the wheels and your vehicle’s body. Such modification will provide an aesthetic look to your SUVs, trucks, and other types of vehicles.

After installing a lift kit, you will have a chance to install bigger tires to improve your off-road adventure experience.

Lift kits also improve the suspension of your vehicle. So you can ride comfortably on rough roads or speed bumps. On top of that, you will have better handling because of the suspension lifts.

But they can affect the performance of your vehicle. For example, truck lift kits can reduce mileage and fuel economy. Your SUV might feel slower with extra loads. But some lift kits also help with the load capacity.

How Do Lift Kits Work?

Well, you just heard lift kits increase the front and rear height of your vehicle. But how does a lift kit work? Here’s how:

The lift kits are installed underneath the body mount to provide more space between the vehicle’s body and axles. You can also say space between the vehicle’s frame and the driving surface. It’s also called ground clearance.

As a result, it increases the suspension of your car. But you would need CV joints, axles, and larger shocks to optimize the ground increment fully. Therefore, you will get enough separation from the axles to install bigger tires for your off-road adventures.

On top of that, the vehicle’s body can easily avoid hazards compared to other non-lifted ones. The height increment can vary from 2 to 10 inches, depending on your preference.

But remember that the more you increase the height, the more your engine will be vulnerable to outside dust. Therefore, you might need to change the inner fender and install compatible tires.

Things To Know Before Lifting Your Truck!

Types Of Lift Kits

Lift kits also have numerous variations because of their functionality. But we notice two main types – suspension lift kit and body lift kit.

What’s A Suspension Lift Kit?

What's A Suspension Lift Kit?

Suspension lift kits are specially installed on your SUV to increase overall height and give some extra inches of ground clearance.

This modification helps with off-road performance and tackling or avoiding obstacles on the road. You can perform the conversion by replacing your SUV’s stock spring with bigger and taller ones.

The primary purpose of installing a suspension kit is to improve the suspension of your SUV, ride quality, and overall handling. On top of that, you can easily accommodate larger wheels with suspension kits. But for that, you must install larger shocks to resist the impacts.

How Does Suspension Lift Kits Work?

Typically, a suspension lift kit is nestled between the frame and axle of your vehicle’s body. So, it directly affects the suspension of your SUV. And that’s the whole reason to call it a suspension lift kit.

You will get more ground clearance by installing a suspension kit. Therefore, better suspension will help to ride on the rough road absorbing the heavy impacts due to the bumps, holes, and other obstacles.

It also provides better handling as you can control your vehicle much better on those terrains with larger tires. But the kits will be fully effective if you install bigger shocks along with them.

What’s A Body Lift Kit?

The body lift kits are a bit different than the suspension lift kits. This kit doesn’t provide ground clearance like suspension lifts. However, it increases the ride height by about 2 to 5 inches.

This is because a body lift kit only raises your vehicle’s body. But there’s no distance change between the ground and the bottom of your car.

The primary purpose of installing a body lift kit is to provide an aesthetic look to your SUV. It doesn’t even increase the center of gravity by a significant number (up to 0.6 inches).

But there will be room for bigger tires. As a result, you can go for off-road adventures.

How Do Body Lift Kits Work?

Body lift kits are installed by inserting spacers between the frame and your vehicle’s body. And then, it lifts the front part of your vehicle’s body.

But it doesn’t affect the suspension of your car. So, you must install new shocks to absorb the impacts from your ride (rough terrains or flat roads).

However, it changes the overall geometry of your SUV. As a result, it affects the handling, which leads to instability and poor performance.

It’s easy to install the body lift kits. Even with your DIY tools, you can install them. Adventure enthusiasts sometimes prefer such easy moderation. You can check my other article where I explain: are body lift kit good or bad for your truck.

Other Types of Lift Kits

Apart from the body and suspension kits, some other lift kits are not commonly used in vehicles. What is a lift kit for a truck or SUV? Don’t know? Then jump into the details for better information about other types:

What is a Coilover lift kit?

A Coilover lift kit is basically a shock with a spring around it. It’s different from struts because it has a wide range of adjustability, such as spring rate, ride height, dampening, etc.

How Do Adjustable Lift Kits Work?

Adjustable lift kits like coilover lift kit work by letting you be able to change the ride height, spring rates, and more whenever it’s convenient for you.

What is a long-arm lift kit?

It’s another type of suspension kit that allows longer control arms. Typically, these arms are located or attached further back to your vehicle. It takes more space than short arms and changes overall geometry for smoother rides.

Read More Details: About Long Arm Lift Kits

What is a short arm lift kit?

Short arm lift lifts are used to handle the suspension up to 3.5 inches. And it won’t affect the ride quality. The short arm lift kits are better than the longer ones because the more extended kits will require several additional components like drop brackets to install. It will reduce ground clearance, while the short arm lift kits don’t affect it all.

What is an SST lift kit?

The SST lift kits are the perfect choice for “middle ground” lifts to your truck. It can give your vehicle 2.5 to 4 inches of lift at the front mount. So, you can fit a 35-inch tire on your car, which is more than a leveling kit.

What is a spacer lift kit?

Spacer lift kits are basically located on the top of the existing coil spring, and they can increase the ground clearance up to 2.5 inches. A spacer lift kit is made of polyurethane or steel. They come at a low cost and are pretty easy to install.

How Do Spacer Lift Kits Work?

Spacer lift kits work by fitting on top of your vehicle’s coil springs and raising your vehicle without adding more articulation to the coil springs or strut modules. 

But strut spacer lift kits can have more disadvantages than advantages, even though they are the cheapest form of a lift kit.

You can always go for a coil spring spacer lift kit, as they are also very affordable and yet adds enough ground clearance you need to fit bigger tires and get a smoother ride.

What is a spindle lift kit?

A spindle lift kit mainly replaces factory-made spindles and helps to utilize the stock ball joints. It can raise the front height to 2.5 inches. Therefore, you will get a slightly bigger space for larger tires.

What is a stage 1 lift kit?

Stage 1 is an entry-level lift kit for your vehicle. It can provide a level look and increase the tire size. A stage 1 lift kit can raise the front height to 2.75 inches. You don’t even need shocks or springs along with it.

What is a radius arm lift kit?

Radius arm lift kits help control the suspension and handling in the longitudinal direction. It can increase the front height up to 4 inches and the rear mount up to 3 inches which is more ground clearance than other leveling kits.

Pros And Cons Lift Kits

Obviously, every moderation has upsides and drawbacks. The same goes for lift kits. But that doesn’t stop users from installing the lift kits because the number of benefits is higher than the drawbacks.

Pros Of Lift Kits

Pros are the critical facts of installing lift kits in the first place. So, let’s see the advantages at a glance:

  • Improved ground clearance
  • Better appearance
  • Options for larger tires and wheels
  • Better drive capability
  • Smooth ride
  • Access to underbody
  • Better visibility
  • Safety on rough terrains
  • Big impressions
  • Off-road performance improvement
  • Extensive range of adjustment options

Cons Of Lift Kits

Despite such a vast list of advantages, lift kits have some downsides. It would be better if you knew the cons of installing lift kits.

  • Weight increase
  • Frequent maintenance and vulnerability
  • Decreases fuel economy
  • Quite expensive
  • Void warranty

Most Common Questions About Lift Kits

Does A Lift Kit Affect Ride Quality?

It’s helpful to ride on a higher vehicle on uneven roads, especially on sand dunes, steep hills, rivers, etc., when you have a lift kit installed. Of course, you would need the best performance to ride on those tracks.

A lifted SUV will ensure performance, robust ride, and higher traction. On top of that, being able to install larger wheels will aid the better drive capability. They will test the limit of you and your SUV.

Suspension is a much more significant fact when it comes to off-road rides. Suspension lift kits ensure improved suspension on your vehicle and give the space needed to absorb the impacts. It can even work with the loads and provides superior comfort to your ride while driving through rough terrains.

Obviously, the lift kits improve your off-road performance. The suspension lift kits are designed to provide better suspension and make room for larger tires. The combination will support you during your adventure off-road. 

What Is a Car Lift Kit?

A car lift kit is a type of lift kit that can increase the ride height of your car from 1.5 inches to 6 inches or more.

This type of lift kit will raise the ground clearance of your car. And this will give you a much smoother ride on both roads and off-road terrains.

Cars are not usually made for off-road adventures. So if you can increase the ground clearance of your car with a car lift kit, you will be able to take up more adventures on tough terrains.

Does A Lift Kit Affect Towing?

Lift kits affect the towing capacity of your vehicle. They can even increase the towing capacity of your car. And that’s because you will have bigger space due to ground clearance.

It becomes handier for those who do a lot of hauling. It also helps to lift another vehicle when it’s stuck. When you try to tow your truck with the bumper, the lift kits will definitely increase the height of the bumper.

In such cases, you must lower the hitch by dropping it and matching the trailer height. Therefore, a lifted truck can be towed though it won’t be an ideal setup for you.

Does A Lift Kit Affect Gas Mileage?

Lift kits affect gas mileage, and it’s negative. As the lift kits increase the weight of your car, they will reduce the mileage. And eventually, you will feel that your truck is getting slower than usual. It will need a higher power to carry the extra load than usual.

The car will feel slower when you put some load like passengers or stuff. Your vehicle’s speed will decrease even if you ride on flat roads. You will lose the fuel quickly to ride the same distance as before.

Therefore, you would need to spend extra money when using lift kits on your truck.

Do Lifted Trucks Ride Rough?

The lifted trucks can ride rough sometimes. And that’s because of the larger tires with extra air pressure on your vehicle.

Typically, lift kits affect the handling and degrade the ride quality. And because of the excess ground clearance, you will feel the roughness with every bump on the road. Your driving skills might lower the impact, but it won’t go unnoticed.

Therefore, you must make some arrangements to fix the issue. For starters, you must check tire pressure to see whether the tires are over-inflated or not! Such symptoms will notify you to take action rather than driving cluelessly.

How Do Torsion Key Lift Kits Work?

A torsion key lift is usually a leveling kit that raises the front of your vehicle to level it with the rear end.

This kind of torsion key lift kit puts force that you can adjust to your vehicle’s torsion bar and rotate it to give your vehicle the expected lift.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Lifters?

It will cost you around $1000 to $2500 if you choose a professional repair shop to get the job done. There’s no option to try it yourself. That’s because the procedure is complicated.

Replacing or adding lifters is expensive and labor-intensive. You can’t just replace lifters on your own with DIY tools.

The cost varies depending on the models, year, and design. Some regions also charge extra labor costs than other places. You can also contact your dealer for the replacement.

However, it’s not wise to ride with the bad lifters. Even if it costs you some extras, you must change the lifter for a better ride.

Is It Okay To Lift A Leased Truck?

Lifting a leased truck is inappropriate, especially when you haven’t gotten permission from the owner.

Some people want to lift the truck for more extensive tire replacement. Usually, there are no problems if you want to install lift kits on your leased truck.

But it would be best if you take permission from the owner or the dealer for the height adjustment. They might want their truck without the changed ground clearance when you return them.

So, if it’s necessary for you, install the lift kits. And when it comes to returning time, just remove the lift kits and keep the default settings. However, it might cost you some extra bucks.

Can You Put A Plow On A Lifted Truck?

You can’t put a plow on a lifted truck because plows are not designed for lifted trucks. So if you want, you need to modify the car.

Try to modify a blade and its brackets for your lifted trucks. And then adjust your vehicle. You will need a snow-moving machine at its maximum potential. Plow won’t damage your car if you understand its function and proper use.

Otherwise, a plow can damage your truck’s components without the proper knowledge. If not necessary, don’t try to put a plow on your lifter truck.

What’s The Lifespan Of A Lift Kit?

Typically, a lift kit can last about 8 to 10 years, give or take. But it depends on your usage and rides.

If you like too many off-road rides, your lift kits will wear off sooner than their average life expectancy. And the ball joints will also be damaged. Therefore, you will need to change the ball joint and lift kits. And fixing the stress ball joints is pretty costly.

But if you use it moderately, it can live up to your expectation and might add some extra years to the kit’s life expectancy. And there won’t be any need for frequent maintenance.

Can You Lift A 2WD Truck?

Well, you can lift a 2WD truck. But there are no practical reasons to raise a 2WD truck. And various opinions are behind it.

First of all, lift kits serve the purpose of improving off-road performance and a better look for your vehicle. But such modification is applicable for 4WD trucks as they are made for off-road adventures.

On the other hand, 2WD trucks are not designed to drive on rough roads. It can get damaged pretty quickly, and the engine will be exposed to mud and dust. Therefore, many experts suggest that using a lift kit on a 2WD truck is not worth it.

Do I Need New Shocks With A 3-Inch Lift?

You will obviously need new shocks with a 3-inch lift kit. As lift kits change the overall distance between the body and the ground, you will need better shocks to absorb the impact because of the changed distance.

It would be best if you accounted for the shocks’ top and bottom mounting positions. Handling your vehicle on rough roads will be difficult without the new shocks. Even the mountings can be damaged because of the impacts.

On top of that, check whether the previous shocks are compatible with the new lift! If it’s not, you must change the shocks immediately.

How High Can You Lift A Truck?

It depends on the local law in your area. That’s because different states have different rules on lift kits. Usually, you can lift your truck 1.5 to 6 inches. Every state allows such a lift for your vehicle.

But some states like Michigan, Missouri, and Nevada will enable you to lift your truck to 31 inches. However, such a colossal lift requires incredible experience driving on rough roads. And you must get the durable models in the market.

Average lift kits can increase the ground clearance up to 9 inches. But if you want more than that, you might need to ask for customized lift kits for your truck.

Can A 4WD Lift Kit Fit On A 2WD?

Well, the answer is positive. You can install a 4WD lift kit on a 2WD truck. And there are some valid reasons behind it.

First of all, the 2WD is known for being all-fit in trucks. On top of that, the 4WD and 2WD have the same suspension setup. And that’s crucial for installing lift kits. Therefore, you can easily fit the 4WD lift kit on your 2WD truck.

But it won’t be worth it because the 2WD is not made for off-road performance, just like the 4WD. If you want only for the look, you can go for this lift kit.

Can I Fit 33S With A 2-Inch Lift?

Yes, you can fit the 33S tires with a 2-inch lift kit. Typically, the lift kits can handle tires of 33 to 37 inches.

But to fit the 33S tires, you just need a minimum of 2-inch lift kits. Anything below the range can make an effort. And something above the range might create difficulty in handling. On top of that, you might need extra fenders and body mounts to fit the tires.

You will create more ground clearance when you try to fit a giant tire. And the method is pretty compelling. Don’t forget to put the correct rims to install the 33S tires.

Can You Stack A Leveling Kit On A Lift Kit?

Well, you can stack a leveling kit on a lift kit. It will add some extra height to your truck and ground clearance. However, some experts don’t recommend doing that.

First of all, it will be a headache and expensive at the same time. But it’s definitely possible. So the question is- “is it safe?”.

That depends on your truck and suspension kits. If your equipment is made of durable materials and your vehicle can handle such a stack, you can obviously go for it.

But before that, consult with your dealer or any professional. That’s because the concern will be suspension and steering as they are related to handling.

Can You Take A Lift Kit Off A Truck?

You can take a lift kit off your truck and return to the previous positions. However, it will need some caution.

First, you will need to re-align the truck when the lift kit removal process is completed. Otherwise, the overall handling will be imbalanced. Most people can’t regain their stock frame section. But if you take it to a professional repair shop, they can perform it.

It’s required when you are no longer adventurous, or your leased truck owner demands the previous stock height. If you maintain proper safety, you can go for it. But it’s not recommended.

Can You Fit A Lifted Truck In A Carwash?

Well, it depends on your lift kit and tire sizes. Trucks often need to go through washes, and it’s more accurate for lifted ones.

But it’s a matter of concern whether your lifted truck will fit in the car wash or not! Generally, car washes support heights up to 7 inches. And it implies 4-inch lift kits with 32-inches tires.

So, you must confirm the compatible measurement for your truck. Some car washes support 75 inches of width with 20 inches of height.

The best idea is to go for manual car wash rather than automated ones. Otherwise, it might lead you to some troubles inside the engine and other components.

How Does Anti Lift Kits Work?

An anti-lift kit needs to be installed on your vehicle’s front lower control arms to provide your vehicle with better and improved grip and traction.

This kind of lift kit increases your vehicle’s static caster, which improves the geometry of your front suspension. This is how it works.

Lift Kits Installation Cost

We have learned that lift kit installation is a costly undertaking. But how much exactly will it cost you? Here are the details:

Cost Of Body Kit

A body lift kit for your vehicle will cost around $100 to $750, based on your chosen brands. It will take 2 to 7 hours to install the body lift kits. That’s why the mechanic cost can vary from $180 to $630.

In addition, they charge an hourly rate of $90. However, it can vary based on the areas like big cities or urban regions. So, the overall cost of installing a body lift kit is around $280 to $1400.

But you can save the mechanic cost with the proper tools and experience. Install it at home with the appropriate procedure. 

Cost Of Suspension Kit

Based on your brand choice, a suspension lift kit can cost around $300 to $2000. Some kits even come with a replacement warranty after a specific period.

It takes 10 to 15 hours to install the suspension lift kits. Therefore, the mechanic fee varies from $400 to $2500 based on the hourly rate of $90. The cost can be at a peak point if you are in a big city.

But in the countryside, they are pretty cheap, and some don’t even charge an hourly rate. However, because of the complex procedure, you can’t install suspension lift kits at home.

Are Lift Kits Bad For Trucks?

It’s one of the primary concerns for owners whether the lift kits hurt your trucks or not! Are they bad for your vehicle?

If you install and use them properly, they are okay for your car. They won’t even cause any damage.

But without the proper installation, it can stress different suspension points. It will result in premature failure. So, the best way is to consult a professional while installing the lift kits.

With the height change, driving on the road won’t be challenging. That’s because your vehicle will have a higher center of gravity and be taller. Therefore, you must be careful while driving through potholes and speed bumps.

If you hit them too hard, it will damage your suspension. So, lift kits are okay for your truck if you use them sparingly. 

Ways To Minimize The Damages Of Lift Kits

Well, the lift kits won’t hurt your vehicle. However, even if you are worried about the damages because of the lift kits, you must take caution to minimize the risks.

The first and foremost duty is to consult a professional while installing a lift kit on your truck. They will help you with lift kit choices and proper installation.

Secondly, you must perform proper maintenance when installing a lift kit, such as tire pressure, fluid level, and so on.

Finally, try to avoid driving too roughly off-road, or else it will reduce the life expectancy of your lift kits and suspension.

The goal is to ease the off-road adventure, not to push the lift kit’s limit to its peak. If you follow the tips, your vehicle will be at minimal risk.

Are Lift Kits On Your Vehicle Worth It?

Well, the answer is tricky. That’s because it depends on your usage and your demand. Here’s how:

If you want more ground clearance for your SUV and bigger tires for your adventures, installing lift kits will be worth it. It will improve your rough road performance.

But remember, the lift kit doesn’t improve your overall performance when you drive on flat roads. So, if you look for performance improvement, you should know that lift kits reduce fuel economy and decrease mileage.

On the other hand, the lift kits are not for you if you don’t have such substantial height adjustments and larger tires. Just install some leveling kits for aesthetic purposes.

Bottom Line

You can go for lift kits if you want a better way to increase ground clearance and bigger tires. It will aid you with improved performance. However, they won’t come cheap. In addition, you will lose a big chunk of your wallet.

Hopefully, the discussion on what a lift kit is and how lift kits work has successfully covered all the answers. You should know the advantages and drawbacks of installing a lift kit. So, research a bit first and then decide. Enjoy the ride with proper modification!