Truck Suspension Lift Kits 101

October 31, 2012

Truck suspension lift kits are used to modify the suspension and give the truck a higher profile so the wheels will ride higher. This means larger tires can be used. Large trucks and 4x4 vehicles may already come with a modified lift kit. Many times only a few parts of the suspension need to be upgraded to achieve this lift. They can easily be purchased with a truck leveling kit or suspension lift kit. Be aware that when a lift is done, this can void any of the warranties on the vehicle.

Kits Types
There are many kits available, as each manufacturer will require its own specific kit. The kits are produced mainly on the type of drive train. While most kits typically include strut spacers, coil springs and lift blocks, they also may have replacement trailing arms and control arms. Because suspension lift kits effect the steering, additional work and alterations may need to be done on the brake lines, steering geometry and drive shaft length.

Body Lift
A body lift will raise the truck anywhere from 1" to 3" by lifting the body from the frame of the truck. This type of lift will not increase any of the ground clearance, though it does increase the height of the wheel wells slightly so larger tires may be able to be used. It is a very inexpensive kit with spacers or blocks which prop up the body from the frame. Depending on the type of vehicle, the bumpers may also need to be raised. This type of lift is not preferred for off road vehicles, as it is used mainly for aesthetics.

Suspension Lifts
This will raise the suspension of the truck, which produces greater travel and much larger tires can be used. This is because there is much more room between the ground and the axles, which is perfect for off-roading. To perform this type of lift, the front and rear shocks and leaf springs are replaced. While this suspension lift kit is more expensive than a body kit, the results are much better. A suspension lift improves the handling as well as the ground clearance. Normally it is possible to lift a truck 4" to 6", though the highest kits will raise the truck 18".

For trucks that will be lifted more than 4", additional stabilizers are recommended. The higher the truck is raised, then the higher the center of gravity. The higher the center of gravity, the less stable the truck when turning at high speeds. Additionally, banked turns found at freeway exit and entrance ramps can cause problems, as the truck will lean more. Steering stabilizers can help to deal with this, though extreme lifts are generally just used for hobbyist or showcase trucks.

Truck Suspension Buying Guide

Some of the common upgradeable parts include tie bars, springs, shocks, coilovers, sway bars and more. Before you decide to jack up the suspension to rival a monster truck, determine the main goal of the upgrade. There are many excellent aftermarket suspension part manufacturers that will provide any part you need.

Shock Absorbers
These are needed not only for safety, but they also provide control in all different types of driving conditions. Besides the shock absorbers many also include the dampers and struts as part of the shocks. Oil shocks are not recommended for driving in stressful situations due to the air pockets that can occur. Gas shocks are the best for unstable terrain because they can handle the stress over long periods of time and provide a smoother ride. Additionally, the higher the quality the shocks the better control and handling. The greater the absorption then the softer the ride is. Stiffer shocks will produce more vibrations.

Strut Tower Braces
When turning, energy travels from the wheel to the strut and eventually throughout the engine. If there is not any restraint on the struts, then all the energy is focused on the strut towers and can mess up the alignment of the suspension. A tower brace is an upper tie bar that connects the two strut towers. It will send energy away from the towers and provide some reinforcement. This will reduce side to side movement and can stop any misalignment or damage to the towers.

Coilovers combine the strut and the spring in one piece. These are ideal for those that want to change the height of the truck for off road driving and then lower the vehicle back down again for safer highway driving. Off road trucks need more room between the ground and the axle to clear rocks or to use larger tires. However, this changes the truck's center of gravity, which is less stable when driving at high speeds on roads. Coilovers can be used for excellent driving in both instances. These also eliminate issues with choosing shocks to match the springs and vice versa, because the dampers on the coilovers are matched to the rate of the spring.

Antiroll Bars
Many large trucks and 4x4 vehicles have issues with leaning when at high speeds. By adding antiroll bars the handling of the vehicle is improved. This bar links the left and right sides of the suspension and ensure that the compression is even when the truck turns or corners. This helps to balance the truck chassis and decrease the time needed to recover after a turn.

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