Is It Safe To Lift My Truck?
February 2, 2021
Lift kits are usually one of the first things everyone wants to install on their truck. Not only can lift kits dramatically change the appearance of your truck, especially with a wide wheels and tire setup, but they can also affect the handling characteristics of your truck. But, is it actually safe to lift a truck? We'll find out in today's post.
- Quick Definitions
- How do Lift Kits Work?
- Types of Lift Kits
- Rookie Mistakes & Risks Involved When Lifting a Truck
- What Lift Kit Should I Choose?
First, for those who need a quick reminder on the differences between a suspension lift kit and a leveling kit, check out the definitions below.
Lift Kit: A lift kit raises the FRONT and REAR of your truck with either a spacer or a complete strut assembly depending on the kit
Leveling Kit: A leveling kit equally balances the height of the truck in the front and rear through a spacer that goes on the top or bottom of the front stock strut
How do Lift Kits Work?
Like the definition above describes, a lift kit lifts your truck in both the front and the rear. But here's the trick. All trucks from that factory come with a "rake" that allows the truck to naturally sit lower in the front. For most trucks, the rake is about 2-inches.
This compensates for any weight added to the bed of your truck or when you pull a trailer so that your truck sits level.
When you install a 3-inch lift kit to your truck, for example, you first need to measure the distance between the ground and the top of your wheel well in the front. For simplicity's sake, let's say that distance is 35-inches.
When you install your 3-inch lift kit, assuming your truck has a 2-inch rake in the rear, your truck will raise to 38-inches in the font, but only 36-inches in the rear.
Again, this is because your truck is already technically lifted 2-inches in the rear to compensate for any added weight.
Types of Lift Kits
There are many different types of lift kits out there and we understand it can become confusing when considering all your options.
As much as it can be confusing, it's great that there are a lot of options to choose from. Simply put, there is a lift kit out there for every type of truck build.
Depending on your style and the purpose of your truck, the proper lift kit size will vary. Lift Kit sizes range anywhere from 2-inches to 18-inches, but more often than not, we see 3-inch and 6-inch lifts being installed.
If you go with a kit taller than 6", there are additional suspension components you may want to get to prevent anything from breaking. Also, you will see a big difference in the handling and driving experience with your truck.
Depending on the brand you decided to go with, you may get a spacer or a completely new strut assembly to lift your truck. If you go with a spacer lift kit, it will sit at the top of your stock strut. A strut lift kit will completely replace your truck's stock strut.
Rookie Mistakes & Risks Involved When Lifting a Truck
Now, to the big question. Is it safe to lift my truck? You may get different answers to this question depending on who you ask, but the general answer to this is, yes.
It is safe to install a lift-kit with a proper and professional installation, no crazy off-roading or driving habits, regular maintenance, and other suspension upgrades like CV axles, U joints, ball joints, bushings, bearings, and an add-a-leaf.
If you want to install a massive lift kit, it is inevitable that you will put more stress on your truck's other suspension components and therefore run the risk of something breaking.
As far as your trucks handling, it will likely not handle as well and for 6-inch+ lift kits, you do run the risk of rolling over if you take a corner too fast. But like I mentioned before, it is important to make the necessary upgrades to prevent anything breaking.
For less tall lift kits, there is still wear and tear to be expected as well as extra stress on the other suspension parts. For 3-inch lift kits, you will want to look into upgrading your upper control arm.
This is very common for the F-150 especially. All in all, don't cut corners if you want to build a truck that lasts and doesn't cost you thousands of dollars to fix in the future.
What Lift Kit Should I Choose?
Depending on your style and the purpose of your truck, the proper lift kit size will vary. When you're shopping for your lift kit, the first thing to think about your style. Ask yourself questions like...
- Do I want to build a show truck?
- Am I going to run a wide tire and wheel setup?
- Do I want to have a truck that rides comfortably for everyday use but still has that extra something to show off to my friends?
If you decided that you want to build a show truck, then you might consider going for a taller lift kit that will really grab the crowd's attention; lift kit sizes for show truck builds range from 6-inches to 18-inches.
For 6-inch and above lift kits, you'll want to consider getting an add-a-leaf installed. This will make your truck more stable and increase its carrying capacity.
If you don't necessarily want to build a show truck, but you want to run some wider wheels and tires for that bulldog stance, you'll usually need a minimum 6-inch lift kit. This doesn't have to break the bank either.
However, you may need to do some trimming in your wheel well to make this work depending on your truck.
If you just want something a little extra to show off to your friends without sacrificing the comfort and driveability of your truck, we would suggest you look at 3-inch to 6-inch lift kits. This will give you that needed boost without stripping away your driving abilities.
This doesn't have to break the bank either. Rough Country offers a lot of affordable options for these types of lift kits around 1K, depending on your truck.
The size of your lift kit ultimately depends on your truck and what your style is. Make sure to take the proper measurements and don't cut corners when installing your lift kit so it lasts and doesn't cost you money in the future.
What do you think? Are lift kits safe to install on trucks? Let us know what you think in the comments!