SUSPENSION UPGRADES AND LIFTS
Look versus Function
Regardless of whether you are a truck or Jeep person, it’s hard to ignore a raised vehicle running big rubbers on the streets of cities anywhere. All sorts of questions go through your mind. Why did they do that? How much did it cost? How is the ride quality? What can they do with it? Is it just looks or is there a function? Does raising your vehicle impact warranty on the truck/Jeep? It looks crazy and fun!
A few years back, raising your truck or Jeep used to be something only an enthusiast would consider for an exclusive off-road experience. Today, even casual drivers are looking for a little added flare by either adding larger tires and wheels or lifting their rides with a lift or suspension kit. To think you can actually raise your vehicle for as little as $500 is pretty remarkable. Keep in mind that a body lift is different from a suspension kit, which can typically add 2-8 inches of clearance.
A body lift is achieved by utilizing blocks and spacers to lift the body higher on the frame, which allows for larger tires, but without any increased ground clearance. A leveling kit addresses the “rake” built into the suspension of most trucks, meaning the rear sits higher than the front so it can haul heavy loads in the bed. A leveling kit is primarily used for looks. A suspension lift kit however, increases your ground clearance and can run you several thousand dollars depending on the brand of product, the type of suspension, and the height of the lift. You will also need to look for other mechanical repairs and upgrades on used trucks to ensure safe installations and you will certainly be requiring an alignment afterwards.
There are a number of key aftermarket manufacturers in the lift/suspension field including Pro Comp, Zone, and BDS. Each offers a slightly different approach in their manufacturing and installation kits, as well as different warranty programs. BDS for example, offers a “no fine-print” warranty which essentially allows for any broken parts to be replaced for the life of your vehicle. This is something off-road enthusiasts really value on their weekend punishing off-road adventures.
As for ride quality and gas mileage, there is a difference, as you’d expect. Larger tires with bigger treads will be the main contributor to ride quality, but handling is also affected by tire size and a higher centre of gravity. While all suspension lifts from the major manufacturers are designed with safety in mind, it’s never a substitute for common sense and safe driving habits.
The most important part of any lift or suspension upgrade is the installation. Make sure you source professionals with experience and a good reputation. You don’t want to risk investing several thousands of dollars and not have the install done right. These days, with a little thought, research, and local expertise, you too can upgrade the look and feel of your ride with a lift, leveling kit, or full suspension kit at a pretty reasonable cost, making your truck or Jeep completely yours.