Your Guide to Buying a Suspension Lift Kit

Author: superspares  

There are many reasons to purchase a pickup truck or SUV. They are bigger than most cars on the road, and these vehicles can offer more power off the road. If a driver really wants to explore the off-road capabilities of a truck or SUV, then a suspension lift kit might be a worthy consideration. The suspension lift kit raises the height of the vehicle to provide a steeper approach, higher ground clearance, and the ability to accommodate larger wheels and tires.

Drivers should keep in mind that suspension lift kits, also called suspension lifts or leveling kits, reduce maximum safe operating angles and affect roadholding. Suspension lift kits can be purchased at most automotive parts stores. If one chooses to go online, then Superspares has an incredible selection of suspension lift kits for almost every make and model of truck and SUV. Off-road enthusiasts can often find great bargains on suspension lift kits as well.
 

Types of Suspension Lift Kits

While each type of truck requires a customized suspension lift kit, there are two main types: leaf spring and coil spring. The following sections will provide details on these types of lift kits and other considerations when decided which suspension lift kit is right for a driver's vehicle.

Leaf Spring Kits

Leaf spring suspensions are found in many types of trucks. The simple way to add height is to install new, bigger springs. Lifting blocks can be used to lift the rear of a truck, but are not usually appropriate for the front of vehicles because it causes issues with braking. The block moves the force caused by braking to higher above the axle, which can in turn cause the block to become displaced. A block is installed between the leaf spring and leaf spring perch. Longer U-bolts are also installed.

Bolts will need to be re-torqued from time to time to prevent strain. Lift blocks can add approximately four to six inches of height. Heavier springs can be used as long as the desired lift is no more than four inches. Drivers should avoid stacking blocks, which can collapse. Lifted springs and lift blocks can be used together if more height is desired.

Add-a-Leaf

If a driver would like to add a suspension lift kit to both the front and back of the truck, then the add-a-leaf method can be used. An extra leaf is inserted into the vehicle's leaf pack. Because of the added spring rate, the suspension can provide a rough ride.

New Leaf Spring Kits

Add-a-leaf relies on old springs, but drivers can simply replace the springs with a new leaf spring pack. With a new leaf spring pack, the springs will not be fatigued and the amount of lift can be customized to fit the vehicle and the desired amount of life.

Longer Shackles

The vehicle can also be lifted by using longer shackles. The shackles will provide 50 percent lift, so a two-inch shackle will provide a one inch lift. The downside of longer shackles is that they affect pinion and shackle angle. Longer shackles should be used in a limited manner as a corrective measure. Polyurethane spring eye and shackle bushings should be used because they are more durable than factory rubber bushings when there is a great deal of flexing.

Coil Spring Kits

In trucks with coil springs, a coil spring lift can be used. This type of lift uses a spring spacer or a longer coil spring. The spacer lift is more appropriate for a desired lift of two to three inches. The factory-installed springs can be kept and the shock absorbers may not need to be replaced, so the spacer lift is relatively inexpensive. Longer coil springs may improve load capacity of the truck, but are more expensive and harder to install. The downside of coil spring lifts is that the angles of the radius arm and track bars are changed. Axle location may also be changed with both axles moving toward the center of the truck.

Corrected Lift

For lifts of greater than two to three inches, a corrected lift should be used. New links are used in the corrected lift to adjust the lift. They may have a different shape with various offset bushings and drop bracelets to correct geometry issues of coil spring kits. Track rod correction can also correct changes in angularity of transverse track bars. A corrected lift can provide up to four to six inches of lift with acceptable street performance.

Long Arm Kit

Long arm kits are one of the more expensive options for suspension lift kits because they replace the suspension system of the truck. The long arm kit is designed to maintain street performance. Poly bushings should be used with long arm kits because they are more durable, even though they can create noise, vibration, and harshness in coil spring kits.

Other Considerations

When installing a suspension lift kit, there are a number of other variables to consider to maintain the drivability of the truck. Shock absorbers may need to be replaced. Most kits recommend a type of shock absorber. Adjustable shock absorbers can also be purchased, but will need to be tuned by the driver. Drivers may need to consider multiple shock absorbers to reduce vibrations. Swaybar disconnects, which disengage the part of the axle that a swaybar usually limits, maintain safe street driving, particularly with a coil spring lift. Other steering upgrades, found in the following table can be considered:
 

Steering Upgrade

Expected Result

Steering damper

Provides more responsive steering

Stronger tie rods and drag links

Reduced potential of twisted stock tie rods

Upgraded steering box, pump, and hydraulic assist

Provide more power to power steering

Power steering cooler

Cools power steering oil

Bracing and frame reinforcement

Strengthens steering box mounting


As one can see from the table, there is a variety of measures that a driver can take to provide better drivability even with a suspension lift kit.
   

Conclusion

Suspension lift kits offer trucks the ability to handle off-road driving better while trying not to affect the street performance of the vehicle. Most kits can be installed without the use of specialized tools by people that are only moderately mechanically inclined. This guide has provided an overview of the suspension lift kits. The main types of suspension lift kits, leaf spring and coil spring, were examined, including the benefits and potential risks of each type.

It should be noted that states have laws about the limit of lifting vehicles and these laws should always be adhered to. Insurance companies also may change coverage of modified vehicles. Once a driver has figured out what is allowed and what is best for his or her vehicle, superspares should be looked at because it has an incredible selection of suspension lift kits for almost every make and model of truck and SUV.