Buyer's Guides / Parts

Suspension Lift and Leveling Kits: How to Decide What’s Right for You!

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Lift or leveling kits are often among the first modifications made to a pickup truck. Yet, there’s still confusion among aftermarket consumers regarding body lifts, suspension lifts, and leveling kits.

We’ve already tackled the difference between body lifts and suspension lifts in this earlier post. Now, we’ll look closely at how lift kits differ from leveling kits, and review why you might choose one over the other.

Leveling Kits

As the name implies, leveling kits level your truck.

Most trucks come from the factory with a “raked” stance. This means the rear of the truck sits slightly higher than the front. This added height in the back prevents your rear suspension from completely bottoming out under a heavy load. The advantage of this design is two-fold: It stops premature wear on your bushings and shocks and maintains decent handling when hauling cargo.

A leveling kit involves hardware to slightly raise the front of the vehicle so it matches the stock height in the back. This is done primarily for looks, but a leveling kit can also added a small amount of ground clearance for slightly larger tires. And because a leveling kit raises the front of your truck without affecting the rear, the payload capacity of the truck won’t change.

Leveling kits are very simple and typically include things like coil spacers, strut extensions, or torsion keys (depending on your truck’s suspension). Many can be installed without having to jack up your vehicle.

Lift Kits

A lift kit provides a more dramatic lift to both the front and rear of your truck. You can purchase lift kits—body or suspension—that will raise your truck anywhere from two to 10 inches or higher. Body lifts usually consist of a set of spacers that separate the truck’s frame from its suspension. They are usually less expensive than full-on suspension lifts, but are on the lower end of the lift range. They also don’t provide any of the performance advantages of suspension lift packages.

For maximum lift, you can’t beat a suspension lift kitThese kits are much more comprehensive than leveling kits or body lift kits and may include new springs, shocks, control arms, torsion bars, spacers, and other components. Suspension lift kits are more expensive than other options, but will accommodate extra-large tires and increase suspension articulation and performance for off-roading. Keep in mind, suspension lift kits can affect ride quality on the road, and the installation process can be intricate.

Leveling vs. Lift—How to Decide

Leveling Kit Pros and Cons

  • Advantage: Inexpensive
  • Advantage: Easy to install
  • Advantage: Slightly more aggressive stance
  • Advantage: Can accommodate slightly larger tires.
  • Disadvantage: Limited amount of lift
  • Disadvantage: Minimal change to look and style of truck

Body Lift Pros and Cons

  • Advantage: Allows for larger tires than leveling kit
  • Advantage: Less effect on ride comfort than suspension lift
  • Advantage: Less expensive than suspension lift
  • Disadvantage: Less lift range than suspension lifts
  • Disadvantage: No performance advantage other than larger tires
  • Disadvantage: Can create a gap between body and frame

Suspension Lift Pros and Cons

  • Advantage: Enhanced looks
  • Advantage: Most lift-range options
  • Advantage: Increases suspension travel/articulation
  • Advantage: Can accept extra-large tires
  • Disadvantage: Most-expensive option
  • Disadvantage: Very involved installation; may require cutting/welding
  • Disadvantage: May affect ride quality

The bottom line is that leveling kits are great for street trucks that see hauling or towing duty. Body lifts are great for trucks that see extensive street and highway use. And suspension lift kits are the choice of hardcore off-roaders or those who want a show-stopping high stance for their rigs.

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8 Comments

  1. My husband and I recently bought a truck that we want to take off-roading for camping trips, so we are thinking about getting the suspension lifted. You make a great point that a suspension lift will provide the most options so that we can choose a suspension level that will be best for the make of our truck. Also, the fact that this type of lift will work well with large tires is a huge benefit because we have very large tires on our truck. I appreciate this information and I will definitely share this article with my husband!

  2. I want to buy a levelling lift kit for maintaining optimum ride quality. So I am confused which one kit is best for my truck. After reading your article, I clear about levelling lift kit. Thanks for sharing your information. It is very informative.

  3. Thanks for giving information about Leveling and lifting. I am using Toyota Tacoma 4WD Full Leveling Kit for my truck. It is best DIY projects. And making a smooth ride for us.

  4. Michael Clendenin says:

    Please provide a list of brands that you approve as well as those you do not approve of.

    Thank you.

    Mike

  5. Love the articles.

    I have a 2013 silverado ext cab 4wd.
    It has a 2.5″ leveling kit installed.
    I need to replace the front strut assembly and rear shocks.
    What front assembly and rear shocks can I use now, that would still be functional with a 4″ suspension lift in the future? Hope this made sense.
    Any info is greatly appreciated.

  6. Howdy, everyone. I am a new shopkeeper. And my shop has various kinds of car kits. As a beginner, I need some information about leveling kits and lift kits. Finally, I found a perfect place to know them properly. Here is full of valuable information about all kinds of car kits. And now I also know about the kits pros and cons. Finally thanks to Author to create this.

  7. 96 Dodge, 2500, diesel.
    Just removed stock bed (junk) and installed a flat bed. Want to lift rear of truck ONLY 2 – 2.5″ for stock tire clearance. Truck is 2WD. Online offers show ONLY 4WD. Didn’t know there was a difference in axle housings. Is there?
    Thanks.
    Tom C

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