Not all lift kits are created equal. Over the years, vehicle manufacturers have paid more attention to drivability and ride quality. When properly modified, a slightly lifted vehicle will ride and steer as well as a factory vehicle, if not better. Before you consider how your ride will be affected, you should understand how to choose your lift kit.
Just the Facts
Choosing your lift kit is the first step to gaining the modifications you desire. Unfortunately, there is no "one kit fits all" option available, so finding and choosing your lift is very important. First, you must determine your budget. Once you have that established, you need to consider what the vehicle will be used for, what size tires you want, and the factory suspension specifications for your vehicle type. This will help you determine whether you need a body lift or a suspension lift.
A body lift uses blocks and spacers to lift the body 2-3 inchers higher on the frame without altering the suspension. This is a great option if you are looking to modify the look to allow for bigger wheels and tires at an affordable price! With a body lift, the stability of your truck can be impacted due to the increased ride height, so if you are looking to take your vehicle off-roading, a suspension lift is the right choice for you.
A suspension lift is the go-to choice for any serious off-road driving. It involves replacing everything from the shocks/struts and leaf springs to control arms, trailing arms and sometimes even the driveshaft and steering components. A suspension lift allows for more suspension articulation, more ground clearance, and the ability to run even larger tires and all-around increases off-road capability. Something to keep in mind, is that stability and driving dynamics can be affected because your vehicle will now have a higher center of gravity and altered steering and suspension geometry.
Once you have established your desired aftermarket equipment, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
When you lift a vehicle you increase its center of gravity. It is not unusual for vehicles with higher and wider tires to have greater stability, but you should still take the time to get to know your new modifications and their limitations.
Suspension and Ride
A rough-riding kit can cause unexpected issues—like additional fatigue on long trips and wear on the truck itself. Generic suspension tuning can lead to loss of suspension damping which could lead to a much more serious problem. You may consider torsion bar twisting to cut costs, but it's really only acceptable for the purpose of leveling. Torsion bar twisting only adjusts the level at which the truck sits in during its suspension travel. This means tires that rub at stock height will still rub with the twisting. To maintain smooth ride and suspension, consider spending the extra dime for reservoir shocks, coilover shocks, custom leaf springs, or traction bars to tame your suspension and improve your ride.
The vehicle's frame and body move up and away from the differentials when you alter a truck's suspension to make it higher. Driveshaft angles can become extreme and often cause vibrations, bind, and can experience premature wear. It can also cause issues with your CV joints. While many kits contain spacers, they are not always your best solution. Custom-length CV axles are the preferred method, but you can also consider installing pinion wedges between the axle and the spring pack to avoid driveline issues and extend the life of your lifted truck.
When you up the tire size, you lose engine power. The bigger the tire, the greater highway cruising power you get, but for pretty much any other kind of driving, it’s not an improvement. This can be avoided by ensuring your truck is regeared accordingly. A simple calculation tells you what gear ratio would get you back to your stock equivalent. It's derived from your new diameter, your old diameter, and your old axle ratio. Together they offer your new axle ratio. And if you drive a 4x4, you will need both your front and your back differentials regeared to the same ratio.
Off-road lugs can cause deterioration of on-road handling. It goes beyond the lack of spinouts. Wandering, bump steer, and slow reaction can all occur once you lift your vehicle, as well. This is because one of two things happen—1. your steering system is overburdened with the wheels/tires or 2. improper steering geometry occurs. As long as the tie-rod is parallel to the axle and the traction bar and Panhand bar are parallel to each other, this shouldn't be an issue. The addition of a hydraulic ram could help enhance your steering issues also. Don't forget that with all these modifications, you've lost your ability to emergency stop as you could before the lift. The best way to control your steering is to modify how you drive to fit your lift.
You asked, and we answered. Now that you know how a lift can affect your ride, let us assure you that a properly installed lift kit done by a professional is always the best way to go. Do your research into any company before you hire them. After all, just like lift kits, not all companies are created equal.
If you have any questions or need parts for your ride, don't hesitate to contact us at Carolina Custom at Carolina Custom anytime. We love customized trucks!