Ways to Lift Your Truck
Raising the height of your truck is a very popular and functional upgrade in the truck community. It not only provides extra ground clearance for bigger tires, more uneven terrain etc. but also provides a more rugged look to your vehicle. A lifted truck with aftermarket or all terrain tires equipped not only looks good but can increase ride comfort and tire performance in a variety of road conditions not suited for stock tires. Most of the benefits of lifting your truck come in the form of having a wider selection of wheels and tires to choose from to best suit your needs. Bigger tires can have special tread patterns for off-road use and add an aggressive look and bigger tires means increased load bearing capabilities also which provides a more comfortable and safer ride. This page will cover some ways to raise your truck ranging from quick and cheap to expensive and in-depth. Each setup having its pros and cons of course.
Your average truck enthusiast just looking for a simple lift for aesthetics will be looking for a lower budget option but keep in mind your goals for your truck and build. For more functional lifts you will end up spending more money if you had plans to do heavy towing or going off-road in tricky terrain don’t skimp on quality parts!
Replacing the torsion keys in your truck can provide and quick and simple way to lift your truck for aesthetic purposes. I wouldn’t recommend going all out off-road with these, I have come across some people who have used these off-road with little trouble but there are too many variables for me to recommend that. Keep in mind your truck must also have torsion bars to use torsion keys. You can brush up on what those are in this section.
Many 4WD vehicles opt for a torsion bar system over a traditional strut assembly. Torsion bars simulate springs by twisting under compression and decompression to absorb and release energy just as a spring would. Torsion keys are what hold the torsion bars in place and these are responsible for determining the pre load for your springs and partly responsible for your ride height. Most aftermarket torsion springs sit at a different position that your stock ones which is what gives your truck that extra lift. The downside to torsion key lifts is that some keys will actually add more preload to your springs and result in premature wear of your suspension components. This will lead to a slightly stiffer ride if using improper or poorly built torsion keys.
Most quality aftermarket torsion key kits will be made out of forged metal instead of cast metal. Forged keys last longer than cast ones, especially under heavy load so don’t skimp on this already budget mod! $100-150 will land you a solid set of forged torsion keys that will add about 1″-1.5″ of lift to your truck. This is good enough to squeeze about another inch of tire wall into your setup without any rubbing. A good set of aftermarket keys will also retain your factory preload settings and will often come with shock extensions to keep your shock’s range of travel within stock specifications.
Leveling kits are another popular and affordable option to getting some lift for your truck. As the name states, this mod only levels the truck out to have an even rake because more pickup trucks sit with the rear higher than the front. Raising the front suspension allows the truck to sit level. In most cases since no real lift is being made over stock height so you can expect the limitations of your stock suspension to still be in place, so if your goal is to fit bigger tires, this is not the way for you
Depending on the make and model of your vehicle there are plenty of contraptions and leveling kits out on the market for your ride. Some come in the form of polyurethane spring spacers, some are aluminum spacers or strut extensions that actually sit on top of your stock struts to provide the leveling lift. Some others use physical blocks to create a lift (not recommended) or U-bolts for vehicles with leaf springs.
Most leveling kits can range from below $50 for simple spacers to a few hundred dollars for complete leveling kits that would also provide you with sway bar end links along with other suspension components to keep your suspension geometry in line after your lift.
Leveling kit spacers are a quick and easy way to get an extra inch or two of clearance for your ride. Some kits require you to compress the spring with a spring compressor which you can buy fairly cheaply or you might be able to rent one from your local auto zone. If your vehicles instructions call for a spring compressor and you do not have one, don’t do it. Seriously. Find a professional or find another option. Leveling kits provide the advantage of not voiding your factory warranty as they can be easily installed and removed if necessary. Leveling kits are fairly common so with some searching you’ll easily be able to find a set that’s right for you.
Body lifts are popular because most kits cost under $750 and are fairly easy to install. Depending on your vehicle body lifts can provide more of a vehicle lift than a leveling kit alone. Most body lift kits use urethane blocks stacked on top of your existing body mounts to literally raise the body of your vehicle. Due to the wider gap between the bumper and frame there needs to be some alteration to the bumpers to make everything play nicely. Be sure to get high quality components that are heavy-duty especially the spacers and bumper brackets. Keep in mind your steering shaft must be extended for everything to work properly. Gap guards would also be a good investment and clean up the whole job and protect your newly exposed components thanks to the lift.
Most body lift kits can get installed in a weekend, ideally only one day with the proper tools, planning and research. Make a half-assed attempt and you’re gonna have a bad time. Once again you’ve got the added benefit of this being a simple spacer system which can be easily removed and set back to stock to avoid warranty issues.
Premium Lift Systems
Premium lift kits are a couple of steps short of a full suspension overhaul but at a fraction of the price. They are the combination of a leveling kit with a body lift to give you the most amount of clearance possible without altering and replacing suspension components with most kits giving up to 6″ of lift on some vehicles. This allows for even bigger tires to fit nicely under your frame.
These lift kits are usually under $1,000 and come with everything you need including spacers, brackets, body lift blocks, all hardware and a steering column adapter and in most cases gap guards too. Some truck dealerships even go as far as to install these kits on trucks in their inventory to appeal to people looking for a lifted truck for either looks or function.
It is recommended to get an alignment after any kind of suspension work to make sure everything is in line. Your suspension works as a system and making one change affects every other component involved. Sometimes these changes make a noticeable difference, some you might not notice but they are wearing your components prematurely and could end up costly further down the road so it’s best to make sure everything is literally in line.
Be sure to always invest in high quality parts and kits because you get what you pay for, plus you’ll end up spending more money in the long run fixing your issues from cheap and broken parts. Decide on a goal first and choose your build with that goal in mind. After you’ve completed your lift you’re going to want to get a new set of tires to so be sure to check out our tire selection guide here!