Lift Kit: What You Really Want
When the look you’re after is modeled on Monster trucks and other mega-lifted machines you’ve seen on your local, everyday streets.
When off-roading for you isn’t just something you did three summers ago, but a way of life, part of breathing, your every weekend since you can remember when planned event.
When the idea of having to jack up your truck or Jeep just to change the oil hasn’t crossed your mind in years.
Yeah, you’ve probably already got a lift kit installed then, don’t ya. But if any of that sounds familiar or like something you’d enjoy, then guess what you need to purchase and install?
A Lift Kit.
All the Reasons you need a Lift Kit
What is a lift kit?
How much height will a lift kit add to my vehicle?
A lift kit is a suspension upgrade that increases the height of your vehicle. Suspension lift kits can raise up your truck or Jeep anywhere from 2 to 10 inches. Lift kits often require professional install and can even involve the purchase of aftermarket driveshafts. A full lift kit can cost anywhere between $1,000 to upwards of $5,000.
Why would someone need to install a lift kit on their vehicle?
What is the purpose of a lift kit?
A lift kit is often installed on a truck or Jeep over say something less expensive like a leveling kit for a number of reasons, including:
- Driving through difficult terrain like mud, heavy snow, or sand
- Off-roading through canyons and mountains, especially over large boulders
- Many find lifted vehicles to be pleasing to the eye as well
- Ease of access to undercarriage for purposes of maintenance and mechanical repairs
Why should I purchase a lift kit over a more affordable leveling kit?
What are the advantages of going with a lift kit over a leveling kit?
A lift kit will give you way more clearance than a leveling kit, so if you’re looking for visible height gains, a lift kit is a must. Lift kits give you nearly all of the benefits of leveling, only at even more extremes. If you want large rims and tires and are considering just a leveling kit, keep in mind that while you might be able to fit 35 inch tires on your truck or Jeep with just a leveling kit, a true lift kit will get you upwards of 40 inch tires.
Also, where off-roading is concerned, unless if you’re just hitting the farmland or pasture, a lift kit is practically required. Lift kits move the delicate parts of your suspension and powertrain away from the ground, allowing vehicles to climb over more difficult terrain with greater ease and less likelihood of damaging anything.
If you’ve ever bottomed out in a car while you rather large Uncle Pete was riding shotgun, then you know the kind of damage we’re talking about here. A lift kit keeps those parts out of harms way.
Furthermore, lift kits allow for more extreme off-roading, including fording shallow creek beds, driving through deep mud, and traversing swampland. Whether your a hunter who often finds himself out in the boondocks or just a off-road enthusiast who likes to hit the trail and then leave it to make his own, a lift kit is a must for your vehicle.
When might you consider going with a Leveling Kit over a full Lift Kit?
Are there any disadvantages to a Lift Kit?
The biggest disadvantage to purchasing and installing a lift kit is likely the price tag. Lift kits are considerably more expensive than Leveling Kits. However, if you are looking for a visible change in the height of your vehicle, Leveling Kits are not likely to give you what you want.
Towing: Leveling Kit is Easier & Cheaper
If you often tow trailers or campers around, then we highly recommend you stick with a Leveling Kit. Most trailers are designed with stock trucks in mind. So when you raise up your truck’s hitch level say anywhere from 10 to 20 inches higher, you are going to start running into some problems.
Many hitch companies do sell hitch attachments and adjusters that make it possible to tow using lifted trucks, but it is still not particularly recommended. First, you’ll likely have some issues with control (see Death Wobble below) that could hinder your ability to maneuver a trailer. Second, while your suspension will be built to handle just about anything the road can throw at it, your trailer’s cannot. And often times, those who’ve been driving around a lifted truck for sometime, forget that most vehicles can’t handle a large hill that becomes transformed into a ramp when you’re doing 75 mile per hour down that back road.
Finally, towing with a lift truck often causes the nose of the vehicle to angle upwards. Not only does this make it look very funny, it also makes driving the truck rather awkward. Now I’m not saying you can’t tow with a super lifted truck. But I am saying that it probably won’t be much fun. If you just have to haul a trailer a couple miles down the road, it’s probably not that big of a deal. But if you’re driving a few hours or more, this can become quite tedious.
Furthermore, the extra hitch equipment only adds to the already steep bill for the lift kit itself. So if you do tow regularly, really you are better off just sticking with a leveling kit most of the time.
Snow Plows: ???
This is a tough one. Here’s the conundrum: if you are just driving through heavy snow, using your big mud and snow tires, then this is a no brainer--lifted, all the way.
However, if you need to put a big a$$ snow plow on the front of your truck so you can help clear the way for other vehicles, now you’re getting into some precarious areas again. The thing is, kinda like dealing with a trailer, you’re going to see added weight only this time it will be on your front end instead of the back. Just as pulling the weight of the trailer behind is going to push your nose upward, adding a heavy plow to the front will weigh you down a bit.
You’ll likely need to have your truck’s suspension adjusted a bit every time that you put that snow plow on. And if this is a seasonal gig, that might not be that big of a deal, until you get that freak snow storm out of nowhere. But let’s face it, most guys driving around snow plows monitor the weather pretty closely cause it is either their major source of income or a great side gig. So this concern is likely overblown.
Just the same, a Snow Plow is likely a bit easier to install stock or on a leveling kit than a lifted kit. But honestly, I’m speculating a bit here. I would love to hear on the socials what other lifted truck enthusiast have to say about this, cause I’ve honestly never tried to install nor driven a snow plow that was installed on anything but a stock truck. And even then, it wasn’t something I did on the regular. Any snow plow men or women out there want to weigh in on this one on Twitter or Instagram, you know where to find me.
Typically, MPG’s aren’t a major concern among the lifted truck and Jeep community. I mean, if you’re driving a truck or Jeep, chances are pretty good already that you don’t get as good of gas mileage as that little Prius you keep passing on the highway every morning on your way to work. So why would we start worrying about it now?
Nevertheless, in the sake of transparency, obviously lifting your truck ain’t going to do anything to help your already not great fuel economy. Modern trucks are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. This reduces their drag and improves their MPG’s. Furthermore, the lighter material most trucks are made of today including aluminum bodies and for some makes even truck beds, improves your fuel economy.
A brand new, all metal suspension system isn’t doing you any favors on the weight front either. And putting you up further in the air, away from the ground, is only going to increase drag. Now you could always install a tonneau cover to try to reduce drag some, but that’s not going to offset the loss to MPG’s compared to a fully lifted truck.
Again, for most of us, this isn’t a concern, really. But if you are considering lifting your truck or Jeep and that baby is your daily driver and you’ve got a decent commute each morning, you might reconsider. A leveling kit instead of the lift kit still won’t improve your gas mileage, but it won’t hurt it as badly as a full suspension lift kit will either.
We just want you to be as informed as possible, so if you haven’t considered how a lift kit is going to affect your fuel economy, take a moment to do so now. You’re MPG’s could decrease upwards of 15-20%, especially on a higher lift, say 10 inches, with larger wheels and tires thrown in for kicks or necessity.
Not to belabor this MPG thing too long, but because percentages are often confusing: if you’re getting say roughly 20 MPG’s now, which would be pretty sweet, really for a larger pickup truck, once you add on a bigger lift kit and say 40 inch tires with the wheels to match, you could end up with more like 15-16 MPG’s instead. And we’re talking highway miles likely in that scenario.
Again, we just like to be transparent. Don’t let fuel economy alone talk you out of getting a lift kit. You just might want to get a second truck or Jeep or a little rice burner or Prius instead to be your daily driver if you’re going to super lift that truck or Jeep. No biggie.
The Dreaded Death Wobble
Don’t let all this potential shortcomings talk you out of a lift kit, by the way. Lifted trucks are da bomb, after all. But again, we gotta tell you all the pitfalls with the badassness thrown in too.
So the Death Wobble. This is when your steering becomes loose or uncontrollable and your truck starts to kinda sway a little bit this way or that. I find it particularly frightening during high wind activities on back roads, driving through the country, with barren farm fields on either side, in the snow--not to be too specific.
Now a proper lift kit install with stabilizers and the correct struts installed and all that jazz is going to be way less likely to experience this Death Wobble. And there’s even more your installer can do to help prevent the likelihood of this happening to you. But if it ever does, by Nelly, you’ll know why it’s called that and exactly what I felt that cold winter night.
Furthermore, if you’re rocking a Jeep, you already know all about this phenomenon. There’s plenty of forum posts and guides out there for how to deal with it and get through that first big moment of panic when the steering wheel starts to shake. Been there. Been there. But that would take another whole article to get you through.
Point is, if you’re going to lift your truck or Jeep, do it right. Don’t skimp. You’re going to want to get great parts from a reputable seller, like us, here at Midwest Aftermarket. We aren’t going to short change you. We only sell the best. And if we start hearing that this suspension kit is causing death wobble or isn’t up to snuff, we’ll pull that biotch so fast off our website, it’ll be like it never was even listed.
This really means though that you should be careful about buying cheap knockoffs of name brand parts for your new suspension. Whether that be struts or sway bars, spacers or torsion keys, don’t play around with that stuff. Make sure you’re getting the real deal from a source you can trust.
Also, make sure your installer knows what he’s doing. This probably isn’t a project you and your next door neighbor are going to want to attempt in your garage over a long weekend. I don’t know how DIY you are or have mechanically inclined, but for me, full suspension kits are nigh impossible to even attempt in my garage. Furthermore, it reminds me of doing a transmission job. I’ve dropped three or four trannies in my life into several different makes and models, and while I know I can do it, I really don’t wanna, if you catch my drift. It’s a hell of a lot of work, and if you screw up just one gasket, you’re gonna have leaks, and you might not know it until the whole kit and caboodles back together.
In other words, pay a professional to do this, unless if you yourself already are that professional who owns and operates his own garage. Kapeesh?
The Pros Outweigh the Cons: Lift Kits
At the end of the day, if you just gotta have that lifted look, if you off-road religiously, and if you want a bada$$ truck or Jeep that you can work on without ramps, then a lift kit is really the best option for you.
Modern technology has made a lot of these concerns fairly minimal, by the way. And unless you are a super niche case, like the snow plow thing, chances are the down sides of a Lift Kit either aren’t going to affect you or won’t even cross your mind or be noticeable. I’ve never had a conversation with a guy driving a lifted truck that started with these words, “Yeah, I love the way it looks, but damn that fuel economy…”
We just like to keep you, the consumer, as informed as possible. But when you’re ready to order that Lift Kit, know that we will have the best and most quality parts available for you, all at the lowest price, and with free shipping.
Midwest Aftermarket's collection of lift kits, struts, suspension parts, and much more includes all the leading styles and brands. Midwest Aftermarket is the #1 online retailer for aftermarket truck and Jeep accessories, selling products at the lowest prices and providing the best customer service in the industry. With the goal to provide the highest quality product with the fastest shipping at affordable prices, look no further for your vehicle’s aftermarket accessories. From UTV’s to Jeep-fanatics to F150’s or Chevy Silverado’s, Midwest Aftermarket will give you the customer support you deserve.