Lift Kits vs. Leveling Kits: What’s the Difference?
Whether it’s for function or appearance, lifting a vehicle is a rite of passage in any owner’s life. Just like a Ferrari is supposed to be low to the ground— a truck is supposed to be high to the sky. It’s built into their DNA if you will.
So you decide to lift your truck and so you begin to do some investigating. Before long, your head is twirling from all the options — lift kits, leveling kits, load levelers, and air suspension — what the smack is the difference? Let’s explore two of the most popular options possible, whether for serious off-roading or just to provide a meaner posture: lift kits vs. leveling kits.
A meaner stance: lift kits vs. leveling kits.
A lift kit boosts your entire truck, front and rear, anywhere from a single inch to high enough where you sweat going under bridges. Lift kits come in two classes: body and suspension lift kits.
A body lift employs blocks and spacers to lift the body above onto the frame of the truck without altering any of the suspension geometry. With a body lift kit, your ground allowance remains unchanged, but the extra elevation allows you to run bigger wheels and tires.
The steering geometry endures unaltered as well, so your rig holds most of its initial driving and handling characteristics. Stability can be negatively affected, though, due to the increased ride height. Body lifts often are more affordable and simpler to install than their counterparts, suspension lift kits.
While the cost may be greater and the installation considerably more complicated with a suspension lift, the results are unquestionably worth it. Suspension lifts will involve replacing everything from the shocks/struts and leaf springs to the control arms, trailing arms and many times even the driveshafts and steering components.
Reconstructing and enhancing these components provides for more suspension articulation, more ground allowance, the ability to run even bigger tires, and an all-around more proficient off-road truck. Security and driving dynamics can be modified, but, as your rig will now have a higher center of gravity as well as modified steering and suspension geometry.
From the factory, most trucks ship with a certain degree of “rake” developed into their suspension, meaning the rear end sits up higher than the front. The reason for this is that trucks were created to haul heavy payloads in the bed. With an additional thousand pounds in the rear, the rear springs tighten and prompt the rear end to lower a few inches to accommodate the added burden. But since the rear started out higher than the front, this won’t produce such a dramatic “sag” in the back.
This is done for two purposes: first, if the front and rear were level and you then put 1,000 pounds in the rear end, it would bottom out the suspension and cause the shocks, bushings, etc. to waste out prematurely. Second, running with the suspension fully compressed is not only difficult for the vehicle’s occupants but also threatening because it rigorously and negatively affects your truck’s styling.
A leveling kit does precisely what it sounds like — it levels the vehicle. By raising the front up a few inches, you can reduce the industry rake in your vehicle and bring the front end and rear level. This is primarily done for looks, but it can also add a small quantity of ground clearance to the front end of your vehicle and give you the ability to run bigger tires.
Another advantage of leveling kits is that since they only support the front of your truck instead of lowering the back, your payload limit remains constant. You can still put just as much mass in the back without worry that the suspension will bottom out. Leveling kits are a very simplistic design, employing coil spacers, strut extensions or torsion keys and many can be fitted without having to jack up your truck. If your goal isn’t to turn your vehicle into an all-out off-road combatant, and just want an aggressive stance and look from your rig, a leveling kit is the way to go.
Which One is Right?
A lift kit can truly change your truck from a city cruiser to the off-road beast you’ve always fantasized about, but there are many determinants to consider before deciding as to which type of kit is best for you. Be sure your aims are clear and know what you’re getting yourself into before deciding on a particular type of lift kit. And luckily, ArmorThane has a myriad of customer reviews from people just like you that can help you in your choice, as well as knowledgeable team just a click or a phone call away, ready to answer any of your lift kit problems!