Whether you’re a veteran seasoned off-roader or a beginner passionate about trucks and SUVs, I believe at some point in life you’ve heard people mention lift kits. If you’re curious like I am, you might have wondered about what they are, what they do, and how they work. If you’re that kind of person that I’m referring to, then understanding lift kits is an absolute must especially if you’re thinking of upgrading your Jeep’s suspensions.
Thankfully, this short guide has come to the rescue and has discussed everything you need to know about lift kits. Now, lift kits are popular upgrades that help to raise your Jeep, truck, or any other SUV vehicle to give it enough ground clearance to help it conquer the most vicious terrains. Besides, it allows you to fit larger tires without worrying about them bumping or scraping against the fenders. So, with that said, this guide will now go straight to the point to discuss what lift kits are, why you need them, and discuss the two main types of lift kits that are available in the market.
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Understanding Lift Kits: A Beginner’s Guide
What are Lift Kits?
Simply put, a lift kit is an aftermarket modification that allows your SUV, Jeep, or truck to rise higher from the ground for more improved off-road performance. Also known as suspension kits, these modification kits are not installed by the car’s manufacturer but rather by specialized companies or garages that specialize in making additional car parts.
Before the introduction of professional-grade lift kits, off-road enthusiasts used to raise their rides with their own personal modifications with varying degrees of safety and success. In recent times, however, this has totally changed as most manufacturers have introduced more reliable lift kits that not only raise your ride but also help to improve safety and stability.
Although I’ll explain this later in this guide, there are two main types of lift kits available in the market which are the body lifts and the suspension lift kits.
Should I Really Lift My Jeep?
Well, I was expecting this question. Now, equipping your Jeep with a suspension lift kit goes beyond improving its aesthetics. According to most city dwellers, giving your Jeep or truck a sexy look is usually one reason why you need a lift kit. That’s because trucks and most SUV vehicles have limited options when it comes to improving their aesthetics. Therefore, by lifting them just a little bit, you’ll be able to fit larger sporty tires and chrome polished side steps, nerf bars, and running boards.
But, it doesn’t always end there. If you’re a daily driver who happens to be a frequent off-roader, lifting your ride will not only supplement the aesthetic side of it but will also make your Jeep a perfect off-road toy. By lifting the body a few inches off the axle, you’ll manage to fit larger tires that will improve your Jeep’s performance in deep snow, mud, rocks, and deeply rattled trails.
So, to cut the long story short, installing lift kits helps to serve two main purposes which are style and function.
Types of Lift Kits
Whenever you think of upgrading your truck’s performance, lifting it a few inches is usually considered the best option. If you’re a beginner, however, finding the perfect lift kit to amp up your Jeep’s performance is usually difficult keeping in mind the market is already saturated with endless options. To help you out, we’ve discussed the two main types of lift kits that are available in the market.
Body Lift Kit
The first type of lift kit, which is the most common among most off-roaders, is the body kit. Now, car manufacturers usually construct vehicles using the “body over frame” method. This means the vehicle’s body is built on top of a metal frame foundation. With that in mind, if you’re looking to lift your vehicle a few inches up, what you do is that you install a body lift kit between the body and the frame of your vehicle.
This is done by physically removing the body to install the lift kit. When you’re done, screw the frame and the lift kit together using longer bolts to secure them tightly. Finally, reattach the body back on and secure it tightly.
The reason why body lifts are so common is because they’re the least expensive. By lifting the body, you create ample clearance where you can fit larger tires of your choice. Although that’s a huge advantage to enthusiastic off-roaders, one setback is that your truck will have a higher center of gravity which will generally impact your truck’s handling when driving on-road.
Suspension Lift Kits
With suspension lifts, what they do actually is that they raise your entire car’s body from the axle and the wheels. Unlike body lifts that only raise the body, suspension lifts raise both the frame and the body to provide enough clearance.
One major advantage with suspension kits is that they’re not limited. While body lifts are only limited to 3-inches, suspension lifts can go beyond this to a height of around 1 ft. and above. When it comes to your Jeep’s handling, these lift kits are considered the best as they’re not affected by the high center of gravity. They’re hence universal as they help to improve handling both in off-road and on-road conditions.
One major concern about these lift kits, however, is that they’re very complicated to install. Since they involve upgrading most of the car’s mechanical systems, the cost of installation can get really high. Also, these lift kits are not long-lasting. Since they’re fitted on crucial moving parts, they wear out over time due to frequent friction which causes metal fatigue.
Lastly, suspension lift kits don’t just come alone. They come in a few variations which we’ve listed below. Please take a look to learn more about them.
- Lifted Spring Suspension: This type of lift kit is the most commonly used especially by beginners. It comprises of a spring system that lifts the body and the frame off the axle to create enough clearance to fit larger tires.
- Coil Suspension Lifts: With coil suspension lifts, more work needs to be done during installation which goes as far as welding the parts. The results are a high-quality suspension system that provides tremendous articulation when driving on muddy and extremely rough terrains. While lifted spring suspensions are recommended for beginners, these ones are strictly designed for professional 4 wheelers.
- Spring Over Axle (SPOA): For those living on rocky and mountainous geographical regions, a SPOA type of suspension lift kit will be an absolute must. With these types of suspensions, the tires are left right on the ground while the springs and other components are perfectly lifted to prevent them from any harm when crawling up and down on rocks or uneven terrains.
- Shackle Suspension Lift Kits: If you’re an enthusiast truck driver and you’re looking to make it more aesthetically appealing, then this suspension lift kit is for you. Now, this lift kit is not designed to tackle rough terrains but rather to lift your truck’s body and frame a few inches off the axle to allow you to fit larger sporty tires.
As you can see, there’s a lot of information revolving around lift kits. If you’re planning to have them on board to stiffen your Jeep or truck for more improved performance, then you need to understand them quite well. Thankfully, this guide has done all the work for you by discussing some of the key factors you need to know about lift kits.
Although they do have everything to be celebrated for, one factor you must consider is the installation which must be done by a professional. Otherwise, by allowing an armature to install for you, then you’ll not be improving your ride but rather digging an early grave both for you and your loved ones.