You know you want to raise your truck's stance to give it that aggressive look and get some extra ground clearance, but are confused as to whether you should go with a lift kit or a leveling kit. Here at Line-X of Louisville, we offer more than just bedliners. Since we also offer both lift kits and leveling kits, we get asked a lot about which is better for a given customer's needs. In this post, we'll take a look at the difference between the two options. By the time you're done reading this, you'll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your truck's next upgrade.
A leveling kit is the more affordable of the two options, so we'll start here. From the factory, the manufacturer assumes that you'll be using your truck to carry some heavy loads. Many of them brag on the payload capacity of their trucks. Because of this assumption, they set the rear of the truck a little bit higher than the front. You may have seen older trucks with worn-out suspensions carrying a heavy load (extra weight) with their rear end sagging (creating a higher front of the vehicle) as they go. This is not a good look and the extra height in the rear end helps to offset the difference in ride height when the payload is applied.
If your goal is not to haul heavy loads, then the lower in the front stance that this configuration results in might not be what you are going for. In that case, you can opt to raise the front of the truck by a couple of inches or so to even out the stance. This is where the leveling kit comes in. A leveling kit is essentially a set of simple spacers that will raise the front end of your truck.
These spacers may come in the form of actual coil spacers, or they may be torsion keys or strut extensions. The exact method of leveling the truck depends on its make and model. A leveling kit results in slightly higher ground clearance in the front and can allow you to run slightly larger tires.
You can raise the rear of your truck in a similar manner, using a set of spacers to give you extra ground clearance. This will provide an all-over lift to your truck and allow you to run slightly larger tires all around. Of course, these spacers do not do anything to alter your suspension, nor do they allow for the type of extra-large tires that you may want for off-roading.
Because the height increase is minimal and the suspension is unchanged, these types of lifts (types of lift kits) will not make a large difference in the way the truck rides or handles.
Suspension Lift Kit
You may have noticed that we used the words 'slighter larger' when referring to the additional tire height that a leveling kit or body lift kit will allow you. A truck can only go so high with spacers before its suspension no longer works as intended. In order to accommodate extra-large tires while retaining, and often improving, the performance of the suspension, a suspension lift kit is required.
Suspension lift kits are much more involved than leveling kits and body lift kits are because they require replacement of large portions of your truck's suspension. Like a leveling kit, the exact method of lift will depend on the make and model of your truck, but each lift kit will be designed so the suspension lines up like it is supposed to when running tires (bigger tires) within the range that the kit is designed for.
Because they involve such extensive modification to your truck's suspension, these (suspension kits) kits are the most expensive of the lifting options. They are also the most involved kits to install and will likely require installation by a professional, like the team at Line-X of Louisville. These extensive modifications to the truck's suspension will also have a much larger effect on the ride quality of your vehicle. How much your ride quality is affected depends, of course, on how drastically you change your truck from its stock height.
It is important to note that what may be considered decreased ride quality on the road could be exactly the type of suspension quality you are looking for when you take your truck off the road. Under those conditions, a high-quality suspension lift kit is almost always an improvement over the factory offering.
Which is Best?
Now that we've gone over the differences between the (each type of lift available to you) various lift options that are available to you, let's take a look at which option is right for your needs. We'll break down the potential use cases for your truck into 3 categories, and let you know the best option for each.
Almost exclusively on-road driving - If you will not be doing any serious off-road driving in your truck and just want to improve its stance, then a leveling kit with slightly larger than stock tires will suit your needs perfectly. You will not sacrifice ride quality, not spend a lot of money, and improve the look of your truck.
Light off-road driving with some on-road towing - If you need a little extra ground clearance for the occasional off-road jaunt, but still mostly use your truck on the road and plan on doing some occasional towing, you can opt for a body lift kit to give you a little extra height all around without sacrificing your towing ability or on-road ride very much.
Mostly off-road driving - If you want your truck to perform at its best in off-road conditions, do not plan on doing a lot of towing, and do not care so much about the on-road ride of your truck, then a full suspension lift (suspension system) will give you the best performance and clearance of the three options.
Line-X of Louisville installs lift and level kits from BDS Suspension, one of the most respected names in the business. With BDS, you know you are getting a lift kit that will maximize the performance of your truck and minimize the chance of breakage, even under the most demanding of conditions. In fact, they have one of the best warranties in the business.
(We carry an extensive line of custom truck parts such as jeep and truck aftermarket leaf springs, suspension systems, control arms, driveshafts, leaf springs and more.)
If you are looking to add some inches to your truck, contact us today and we'll be happy to take a look at your truck and discuss the best options for you.