Four Ways to Lift Your Truck for Less

Four Ways to Lift Your Truck for Less
By Dan Sanchez for PickupTrucks.com

Truck owners are always looking for ways to improve the appearance and performance of their vehicles. Raising the ride height is one of the most popular upgrades, as it allows you to add larger-diameter wheels and tires without any rubbing or contact against the vehicle’s fenders.

A slightly taller truck with some aftermarket all-terrain or mud-terrain tires not only looks great, but it can also dramatically add to ride comfort and improve traction in a variety of road conditions. Heavy-duty and work trucks can also benefit from being lifted, as bigger tires often carry an increased load rating, which can improve the ride and safety when hauling heavy tools or cargo, and for vehicles that constantly tow a trailer.

There are many methods to raise a pickup that range in price from under $100 for simple coil spacers to well over $3,000 for a full suspension system.

For the average truck enthusiast, a low-budget method is always the first choice. Here are the best low-cost methods to lift your pickup that won't void your truck's warranty, yet still give your vehicle the amount of ride height it needs to add the tires and wheels you want.

Torsion Keys

Aftermarket Torsion Keys
Aftermarket torsion keys can add 1 to 1.5 inches of ride height on pickups with a torsion bar suspension system. But unlike the factory torsion keys, these forged keys from Trail Master Suspension don’t add more spring preload and can provide a smoother ride.

Many four-wheel-drive trucks use a torsion bar suspension system. Torsion bars are actually springs that twist rather than compress like a coil spring. The vehicle's factory torsion keys hold the bars in place and provide some preload so the bar can keep the vehicle at a factory-set ride height. Adjusting the factory torsion keys is tempting and will add some height, but it can come at the expense of excessively preloading the suspension, which can result in a harsh ride and add premature wear to the rest of the suspension.

Aftermarket torsion keys cost anywhere from $100 to $150 and will add 1 to 1.5 inches of ride height that’s good for a tire about 1 inch taller than the factory size. Aftermarket torsion keys can also maintain the factory preload settings to maintain a smooth ride and will often come with shock extensions that keep the shock's range of travel within factory specifications.

Look for forged keys, which are stronger than cast units and will provide much longer service life, especially if the vehicle will be under heavy loads.

Leveling Kits

Leveling Kit Spacers
Leveling kits can consist of a variety of components. These steel spacers from ReadyLift fit on top of the coil-spring strut assembly to raise the front just enough to keep it level with the rear of the vehicle.

Leveling kits are extremely popular and can add 1 to 3 inches of ride height to most pickups using a front coil spring or coil-over strut suspension system. The term is derived from the fact that most pickups are taller in the rear than in the front, and raising the front suspension allows the truck to sit level.

Depending on the vehicle’s make and model, leveling kits can use a variety of methods to lift the vehicle. These include polyurethane coil spring spacers that fit between the coil spring and the inside of the spring perch. Some use aluminum spacers or strut extensions that sit on top of the coil-over strut unit. Others use blocks and U-bolts that will raise the ride height on leaf-spring vehicles.

Leveling kits cost as little as $30 for simple polyurethane coil spacer kits to $500 or more for kits that include shocks, anti-sway bar end links and other components needed to keep the suspension geometry in its original location.

Leveling Kit Spacers
Some leveling kits use a simple coil spring spacer that fits on top of the spring within the coil-spring strut. Shown here is a standard spacer (right) compared with a leveling kit spacer (left).

For the low cost, leveling kits work great for adding tires that are 1 to 2 inches taller than your truck’s original tires. They are also easy to install for the experienced home mechanic, but some kits may require a spring compressor tool. The tool is necessary to remove the coil spring preload on models using a factory coil-over strut assembly. If you don't have access to this tool, you should have a qualified mechanic or truck specialty shop do the installation.

The advantage of a leveling kit is that it doesn't affect the ride of the vehicle or cause any warranty issues. If your truck or SUV is on a lease program, the leveling kit can be easily removed and restored to stock. In addition, there are leveling kits for just about every make and model pickup available (front-wheel and four-wheel drive), making these kits one of the most popular methods to lift your vehicle.

Body-Lifts

Body-lift Block
Body-lifts are another popular and inexpensive way to raise a pickup truck. Shown here is a Performance Accessories body-lift providing 3 inches of extra ride height on an F-150.

Before trucks and 4x4s had independent suspension systems and integrated coil-over struts, body-lifts were a popular way to add as much as 3 inches of ride height. The advantage of a body-lift is that it doesn’t affect the vehicle's suspension and provides enough ride height to fit tires that are 2 or 3 inches taller than the original tires (typically a 32- to 33-inch tire).

Body-lifts are popular because they are inexpensive, ranging from $110 to $600. Depending on the truck’s make and model, they can provide more ride height than leveling kits alone.

Body-lifts use urethane blocks that are stacked on top of the factory body mounts to raise the body above the frame. Because a wider gap is formed between the truck’s body and frame, the bumpers and some components of the vehicle also need to be altered. This is accomplished with heavy-duty bumper brackets and spacers that are typically included in the kit. In addition, the steering shaft must be extended. Because of this, many truck owners look for kits that include a high-quality CNC machined steering extension as well as Gap Guards that fit in the vehicle's wheel wells and hide the space between the frame and body.

Body Lift Kit
Body-lifts also require readjusting the height of the factory bumpers. This Performance Accessories kit has bolt-on bumper brackets on this 2009 Nissan Titan.

Body-lifts typically take six to eight hours to install, depending on the vehicle, but the overall effect provides plenty of wheel and tire clearance for most popular tire upgrades. Furthermore, they don't affect the factory ride or cause any warranty issues with your vehicle.

Premium Lift Systems

Premium Lift Kit
A Premium Lift System combines a body-lift with a leveling kit to provide the same lift as a full suspension but at a fraction of the cost. Shown here is a PLS kit from Performance Accessories that provides 5 inches of lift to fit 35-inch-tall tires on a Ford F-150. The kit costs around $800.

A relatively new concept is to combine a leveling kit and body-lift to provide a comparable ride height to that of a full suspension kit at a fraction of the cost. Depending on the vehicle, a Premium Lift System can provide up to 6 inches of lift without affecting the vehicle’s factory suspension geometry and ride. For enthusiasts wanting to go big and add 33- to 35-inch off-road tires, a Premium Lift System makes a perfect choice.

Premium Lift Systems include everything from coil spring spacers, bumper brackets, body-lift blocks, hardware, a steering column adapter, Gap Guards and everything else you need to raise the vehicle in about six to eight hours.

Depending on the vehicle make and model, a Premium Lift System can cost $219 to $900, leaving you with enough cash to lift the vehicle and buy the tires you want all at once.

Lifted Chevrolet Silverado

Because these types of systems don’t affect the factory warranty, many truck dealerships are installing them onto some of their inventory, appealing to customers who want the look of a full-suspension system with aftermarket wheels and tires straight off the showroom floor.

No matter which method you choose, look for high-quality parts that are made in the U.S. Beware of lower-priced "bargains," as they often don't include all of the components and you’ll end up purchasing more parts to get the job done in one sitting. Either way, your final decision will ultimately depend on the size of tires you want to fit under your pickup. With the variety of inexpensive lifting methods, the cost of personalizing your truck has become much more affordable and enjoyable.

Comments

Notice how much better looking the Ford is lifted up over the Chevy!!!

when your right your right Bill!!

My dad's '93 Sonoma is lifted higher than that Ford. I don't even like GM, but Silverado is much better looking than F-150. I do like the wheels on the Ford.

@Bill - they both look good.
The Ford looks more "normal/natural" - like it's meant to be that way, whereas the Chev looks "forced" ie. a truck with a lift.

@Bill,

They both look awesome. STAY AWAY FROM THE BODY LIFT.

What is GM's deal with this IFS CRAP? If you want to use that low slung frame for the 1500's with torsion bars fine. It's a 1500... Ford and Dodge both do that. What Ford and Dodge Don't both do is use the Same set up for their HD trucks. GM is ripping off the consumer period. They're too cheap to put a sturdy solid front axle under their trucks. This is the number 1 reason contractors have all switched over to the Ford SD and many to the new Ram HD. Followed closely by GM's paper thin junk rotting sheet metal and their ultra cheap plastic Toy's R Us interiors..

And this ground clearance thing is a farce. To use those ridiculous torsion bars the frame has to hang down and out from underneath the truck. It completely ruins the truck for good ground clearance. Driving through 2 ft. of snow in the northern states is a joke in a GM truck. These things get hung up left and right. And when summer comes you're left with a rusty eyesore of a frame drooping out from underneath the truck. Low slung frames are junk and GM knows it. Look how they Try to hide it with their chrome step up bars in promotional pictures. It's insane a guy spends 50 grand on a truck and has to paint his frame with a fresh can of black Krylon each year.

Look at RAM or Ford SD! It's all clear under their trucks. I'm flat out disgusted in how GM has ruined the Chevy truck legacy over the last 20 years.

Someone here went to the dealer lots and did an informal investigation on the front ground clearance of the different makes and models of trucks. The Chevys front ends were the lowest to the ground by a significant number. I don't remember who it was and what the final numbers were but this is part of the reason the GMs look so bad lifted.

Lol chevys are bad for haveing a rusty frame that always walks hand in hand with them ! It must be that cheap steele from china lol

@Bob on acid - it was Toyota that had sticky pedals.

@Bob on acid quote"its not like trucks climb steep hills and moutains everyday" - Many PowerWagons are used by Park Rangers around the USA.
The Raptor is being used by Yuma County Sheriff's Office in the Arizona desert . Customs and Border Protection division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be using Raptors.
Both are factory lifted trucks.

Even if you do not drive a lifted truck - the front chin spoiler on the GM/Chev is the lowest of the domestic trucks. (!/2 ton trucks)
All that plastic is susceptible to damage - especially in the winter.
The Ram sits slightly higher but the front bumper is all metal.
The F150 sits several inchs higher than the Chev at the front bumper. That helps in snow, sand, water, mud or careless parking against a parking lot divider or high curb.

Relax acid Bob - you might hurt yourself.

Lou good post!!

A cheap and reliable way to lift a Chev is to put it on a trailer and tow it behind your Ford.

The f150 looks better than the cheese wagon. Lifted or not the f150 will always be better!
Expedtions too!

http://i1003.photobucket.com/albums/af159/robertpdp/DSC02946.jpg

@bill

Nah, Its scrap metal from rusting broken down fords.

The Ford looks like a pretty boy's truck!

@Anthony

Wow, That sure is cheap and reliable. Tho i dont blame you, with all those time your ford has gotten towed away its pretty easy to remember.

The Best Never Rest!

http://i1003.photobucket.com/albums/af159/robertpdp/post-ford-f150-raptor-svt-2copy.jpg

Hay acid Lou,
Ford has been getting a lot of complaints about the height of Ford trucks. Watch this video at the 2:27 mark. The Chevy Silverado is not the best work truck. A good example of that is Chevy being closer to the ground. The goal at Chevy is to give you more of what you want to make it more usable. It is lower so you can reach in and grab stuff from the bed and not have to jump up like a jack rabbit just to get into the cab. ooh, the "Fords have the steps" but like Chevy said Ford didn't fix the problem. The goal at Ford is to make everything so high off the ground so you have buy $300 steps. This is a ripoff. Nobody goes through snow or over offroad obstacles every day and if you damage it doing that is your problem. I am very happy with the ground clearance of the GMs and nothing you say will change that. I would rather have a truck that sits nice and low to the ground and you would rather have a high up ugly piece of crap that you have to buy steps for which are a ripoff and joke.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RQ6CBjGMpw

I meant Chevy is the best work truck!

"The Chevy Silverado is not the best work truck" - Bobby

Now your showing some intelligence.

What kind of beer do you want?

@xXChevy_ManXx

I agree. The interesting thing is the Chevy Silverado has been getting a lot of 3rd party endorsements lately. The Silverado is Consumers Digest Best Buy. Just recently the Chevy Silverado HD placed 2nd in the Popular Mechanics shootout. Just wait until the GM wins the pickuptrucks.com shootout. That will shut a lot of people up. Have a nice day now.

@Whathappenedtochevy?

Nobody gives a damn what you think. you don't like chevy? fine, its probably too good for ya anyways. You prefer the super-duty and dodge over the chevy? its fine also, since its pretty typical for pieces of crap to buy crap. "Toys 'r' us Interior"? maybe CAUSE ITS A REAL WORK TRUCK! not some wannabe luxury car. And who cares if the "Ground clearance" is an issue for chevy, its not like trucks climb steep hills and mountains everyday(Which im pretty sure the super-duty doesnt do, And the "PowerWagon" barks more than what it actually does). oh, and i rather have a truck with an " eyesore of a frame" than to buy a ford that has a tendancy of catching fire and falling apart or a dodge that has to be recalled over sticky pedals.

All i cant say is Ford posted a 2.6 billion buck profit today strong sales of the f150 is one of the reasons !!! That says something i will be part of there strong sales numbers once it comes this fall 5.0L f150 here i come ! I am gone for a beer its the weekend its party time !!

@Chevy

Dodge for sticky pedals? Dude, we are talking trucks here not cars. You're credibility just flew out the window.

You're saying trucks don't climb steep hills and mountains, I don't know where you are from but I am always in the mountains.

"Who care's for ground clearance" - Chevy

Wow, just wow. ASTOUNDING!!!

FYI, I use my F250 V10 to haul my quads, bikes in the mountains.

I'm sorry you don't share the same enthusiasm as I do with trucks.

@Blobby Go Chitty- All you posted was talk. Watch and learn!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lmNFlJj0lE

Keep the full-size trucks on road!!!

Torsion bar setups are weak and all domestic companies mount them to the lower a-arm thus no frame protection for off-roading.

And I do not even want to get into the rear lower shock mounts, just look at the Chevy above, how pathetic. That truck may be high up but it does not mean squat when you still lack ground clearance!

I am glad my 4x4 Tacoma is coil sprung up front, easier to lift and work with than weak t-bar setups.

I currently have the adjustable Bilstein 5100's up front set at 1.75 inches of lift as my leveling kit and running 265/75 on factory 16x7's...

The rear is stock as delivered.

Dakota, Ranger or Colorado, good luck mounting those size tires with a simple leveling kit!

For you full-sizers I have 12.5 inches of front ground clearance and the rear is about 10.5 inches with just a leveling kit and less weight and size, so good luck off-road!

@baby go chevy - The Chevy Silverado is not the best work truck. A good example of that is Chevy being closer to the ground.

Your therapist is doing great work.

@Lou

That typo doesn't take away from the other points I made and those you conveniently ignored.

Some of you people have serious issues. Lou, I would say you could have learned a thing or two from that video I posted, but you are likely too ignorant to be taught.

@baby - I've seen the video before. I don't pay attention to ANY advertising produced by ANY company.
I have yet to read a valid point made by you!

Your GM colored glasses distort everything you see.

If the next generation Silverado were to use the 1978 Oldsmobile Diesel, couple it to early '90's Dodge tranny and rear end, put it in a Tundra frame, use Ford's Texas Instruments cruise control switch, GM's explosion prone side saddle fuel tanks, and cover it with a Mahindra styled body -
you would still say it was the best truck on the planet.

You know what I drive!

What do you drive?

A 1974 Chevette minus the rear hatch does not equal a Silverado.

@Lou

The goal at Chevy is to give you more of what you want to make it more usable. It is lower so you can reach in and grab stuff from the bed and not have to jump up like a jack rabbit just to get into the cab. ooh, the "Fords have the steps" but like Chevy said Ford didn't fix the problem. The goal at Ford is to make everything so high off the ground so you have buy $300 steps. This is a ripoff. Nobody goes through snow or over offroad obstacles every day and if you damage it doing that is your problem. I am very happy with the ground clearance of the GMs and nothing you say will change that. I would rather have a truck that sits nice and low to the ground and you would rather have a high up ugly piece of crap that you have to buy steps for which are a ripoff and joke.

Lou

Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGI8IRXRqpo

Would you rather have a F150 with a man step or a Silverado that backs you for 100,000 miles and 5 years?

@whathappenedtochevy? Quote - Someone here went to the dealer lots and did an informal investigation on the front ground clearance of the different makes and models of trucks.

That was me - here is what I found out :
I measured the ground clearance on the lowest point of the front bumper of some 1/2 tons with "offroad" packages.
F150 FX4 offroad -----------15 inchs
Ram TRX4 offroad----------10 inchs
Sierra Z71/AllTerrain-------9.5 inchs
The Sierra was the lowest, but I was surprised by the Ram. It was similar to the Sierra. It looks higher driving around and on the car lot. It must be the shape of the nose.
I was aslo surprised that the F150 was much taller than the other 2.

@Frank

Hey pal, not everyone's a trailer trash living in the rocky's. And wow, you own a "V10"? pretty funny that the 2011 Silverado HD has more Hp, Trq, and even more towing and payload capabilities that that piece of crap(V10)... Hell, even my 93 chevy Silverado with a 350 V8 can probably tow more. But like i said in my previous post to "Whathappenedtochevy?", those who are crap, buy crap.

Ohh, and "FYI"(like you say), i live in oklahoma.

@oxi-moron- Fullsize truck work off-road alot better than you think. My 97 expedition did 10 yrs in border patrol duty when it was retired in 07. 120,000 mile of offroad abuse. rebuilt the front, new back seat (ha,ha), and two coilpacks. There are no rear shock mount issues you speak off getting hung up or bent. The torsion bar were not a problem at all. My 06 f150 spent 4yrs on pipe line duty stock supension. The only time it was on the road was to get tires,coil pack #8, and oil change. it has 130,000. You think you know but you have no idea. Please stop the nonsense you are really making you self sound like know it all and you don,t a MF thing about fullsize trucks so shut the F UP!!!

@oxi-moron

http://i1003.photobucket.com/albums/af159/robertpdp/mytruck.jpg

F OFF!!!!!!!

If you're not supposed to take Chevy trucks off-road and up into the mountains or woods, listen to the end of this commercial on youtube. This is right from the Chevy's mouth: "When you're *way out* in the woods, that's the wrong time to find out that you've invested in the wrong piece of gear."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P28XNwlViw

Also, if we are supposed to fix problems, isn't it a fact that Chevy/GM is the only company that makes you take the chin spoiler off their trucks to go off-road? Obviously they are having some kind of ground clearance issues on certain models so instead of "fixing" the problem they make you take the chin spoiler off. LOL.

Chevy is also overstating their case for the bed height. The couple extra inches isn't that much difference for reaching in. If it is, there is a step for reaching in. I would rather have to reach in a couple extra inches and have the extra height for carrying cargo.

Those extra inches make a big difference when carrying loads. I had a truck with lower bed sides several years ago. One time as I was making a turn through an intersection, a metal desk that I was carrying shifted and toppled over the bed side and fell right out in the middle of the road. Luckily the traffic was stopped at the time. I haven't had a problem with my new truck with the the higher bed sides. The trucks with the taller beds help keep cargo in the bed. It also helps when you're trying to cram a large load under a tonneau cover either as a business loading up for pickups and deliveries or as personal use driver going camping or vacationing with family.

The tailgate step would also be useful on a GM or Chevy pickup. The GMs are not low enough that you can just step in the bed. I hear from Chevy customers that would love to have the tailgate step. But it appears GM has been so heavily invested in bashing the steps, I think they feel it would make them look weak and hypocritical if they gave in and gave their customers what they wanted in a tailgate step.

Hey Frank, When you're way out in the mountains in a Chevy, you don't need ground clearance because you can call ONSTAR and road side assitance if you get stuck. How do you like them apples?

@ Raptor- Good piont about the height of the bed. It does hual tall bulky equipment better. The man step would help also for tool boxes when something are in the middle and deep in the center so you don't have to hop in the bed or jump and lay on top of the bed rail to reach what you need. The tall bed sides work better!

@Lou

Chevrolet Silverado Z71 Off-road
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYaLz3-QRos

The legend Z71 is the toughest off road truck!

Bobby, I agree. There is no way Ford's have been good off road, they have been trailer pullers and stuff like a that but they can't compete with a z71.

z71 is a joke

Great. Another post ruined by Bobby and all of his (or maybe its a her) split personalities. I told you once before that GM is a company not a religion. I see now that you have not heeded my warning and you have gone way off the deep end. So I have to know when you go to GM church does Howie Long baptise you in a pool of Dexcool? And I suppose that if you want to hear your Almighty speak to you just press Onstar, right? You are GMs own personal Joan of Arc. (I think she dies at the end of that story). Hopefully you come to your senses before that happens. If you didn't take every criticisim so personaly people might not give you guys such a hard time. (okay Lou still might).

@ Jordan.... Lol the trash talk is amusing but the guys who lk chevy should rethink some ov those comments.. Stuff lk ground clearance doesnt matter in a truck..n if you get stuck OnStar will save u.. Come on guys ur walkin n2 a slaugter IJS

@Lou

You said you don't like to listen to ads. Well, this here is an unbiased review from MI Auto Times. I think you will be suprised that GM beats the F150 and Ram. Watch and give me your feedback. Thanks.

MI Auto Times GM Sierra vs F150:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xjmV_kbZEg

Mi Auto Times GM Sierra vs Ram:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trqlAFkgaxE

Bob-
"MI Auto Times" is fake. Those reviews are made to look like a Motor Trend, but they are really from GM's PR/marketing department. GM can't say they won anything on their own merit so they have to create some biased ad to make it look like they won an award. Open your eyes.

Lou

"A 1974 Chevette minus the rear hatch does not equal a Silverado."

Chevettes weren't available until the 1976 model year.

Leveling kits are extremely popular and can add 1 to 3 inches of ride height to most pickups using a front coil spring or coil-over strut suspension system. The term is derived from the fact that most pickups are taller in the rear than in the front, and raising the front suspension allows the truck to sit level.

Depending on the vehicle’s make and model, leveling kits can use a variety of methods to lift the vehicle. These include polyurethane coil spring spacers that fit between the coil spring and the inside of the spring perch. Some use aluminum spacers or strut extensions that sit on top of the coil-over strut unit. Others use blocks and U-bolts that will raise the ride height on leaf-spring vehicles.

Leveling kits cost as little as $30 for simple polyurethane coil spacer kits to $500 or more for kits that include shocks, anti-sway bar end links and other components needed to keep the suspension geometry in its original location.

I like the Bilsteins.

I think all this bashing of Fords, Chevys, Dodges, and Toyotas is pointless. Be glad there are alternatives for everyone. I have owned Ford cars but never a Ford truck, but that does not mean that I would never consider buying a Ford truck . I have owned a 1963 International which was one of the best trucks I ever had and regret selling. I have also owned a 1985 Mighty Max which I had for 14 years that gave me outstanding service. I currently own a 1999 Chevy S-10 with an extended cab and a 5 speed 4 cylinder that has been very reliable. I also currently own a 2008 4 wheel drive Isuzu crewcab (same as a Colorado but $10K less). As a consumer I buy what I think is the best product for the money. This is not to say that everything else is junk. I also want all the companies to stay profitable. Ideally the perfect vehicle would be to take all the good features of all the companies and combine them. This article is suppose to be about lift kits. Bashing each others brand of trucks is counterproductive. If you are a Ford person that is your choice. If you are a Chevy person that is the same. The most important thing is respecting each other and by buying either product you are employing hard working Americans. And yes the same is true for American workers making Toyota and Nissan trucks.

@oxi- I run 265/75r16 on factory rims and guess what I drive an '06' ranger, I don't even use adjustable shocks and everything fits perfect, I will give you the t-bar setup but that is it. I have never been stuck or damaged off-road. so maybe do some homework before you run your suck about things you don't understand!

@bobby- at least lou uses common knowledge and common sense with his end of the debate. He doesn't use proaganda like you. And personnelly I love the Idea of the "man step" guess what I have 15 years military and going... my knees are shot!



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