LIFTING A TRUCK’S SUSPENSION — WHY, HOW AND WHOA!
Have you ever thought about why lifting a truck’s suspension is desirable, or even necessary? Indeed, there are good reasons to lift your truck — and just as many good reasons to skip this popular upgrade. If you’re considering giving your suspension a lift, here’s what you need to know.
Why Lifting Isn’t Just About Looking Cool
Lifting a truck’s suspension isn’t all about looks, but many people do it just for that reason. Beyond looking cool, the main reason to lift a truck is to gain clearance and get the body, frame and differentials higher. Installing bigger tires is how you do that, and the only way to fit them is to lift the truck.
Off-roading is easier with a lifted truck because of its increased approach, breakover and departure angles. The taller tires boost differential clearance, and the lifted suspension keeps all four wheels on the ground for maximum traction.
Visibility is also better in a lifted truck. You can see much farther down the road when you can look over cars instead of trying to look through or around them.
Finally, towing and hauling can be easier in a lifted truck, because the suspension has more room to settle before bottoming out under the load.
How to Lift a Truck’s Suspension
There are two basic ways to lift a truck: a suspension lift and a body lift. You can use these two methods independently or together to get the right height. Take care, however, if you’re thinking of lifting your truck’s suspension yourself.
A body lift increases clearance for larger tires without affecting suspension height or alignment angles. Body lift kits are usually made of plastic or urethane and typically range from 1 to 3 inches. Body lift kits might include parts to correct the steering-wheel angle, brake lines or transmission linkage.
A suspension lift pushes the wheels down from the frame. Suspension lift kits come in many varieties, like coil-spring bushings, leaf spring shackles or full suspension kits. Suspension lifts require longer shocks and other components to correct driveline and alignment angles, along with brake-line length.
Whoa, Your Lifted Truck Will Never Be the Same
Lifting your truck might look cool and come with some benefits, but a lifted truck isn’t the same after you’ve significantly changed the parameters of its operation.
Handling is going to be worse, since you’ve changed your truck’s center of gravity. As the truck gets taller, it’ll roll more while cornering. In an emergency evasive maneuver, you could flip your truck.
Fuel efficiency decreases as your truck’s weight increases. Higher aerodynamic drag raises fuel consumption. With bigger tires, higher rolling resistance reduces fuel economy.
Convenience can also be a big problem, as taller trucks are more difficult to get into and out of. Definitely factor in this consideration if you use your truck to transport children or elderly family often.
It’s also essential to remember that you may void your new-vehicle warranty if you lift your truck. A truck that’s older and already through its warranty is a better candidate for modifications than a brand-new vehicle. Another reason not to lift a new truck is premature wear. Body lifts, suspension lifts and bigger tires all increase stress on shock absorbers, wheel bearings, suspension bushings, ball joints and tie rod ends.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of lifting your truck, consider the ways that you use it the most and how a body or suspension lift might affect those uses. If you’re an avid off-roader, the benefits may be worth the drawbacks. If your truck is predominantly a family vehicle, the cons may outbalance the pros. If you do decide to perform a lift, be sure to exercise the utmost caution when operating your truck and check it regularly for wear.
Check out all the steering & suspension parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on lifting a truck’s suspension, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.