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Read This Before Lifting Your Truck

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Read This Before Lifting Your Truck

Rob Tendick
August 9, 2006

The lifted truck seems to be very popular among teenage and twenty-somethings over the last few years. Any why not? A lift kit can add tremendous style and performance to your vehicle, even if you don’t fit that age range!

Not to say lift kits are bad, in fact they are wonderful, but it is important to make the right decisions before installing a lift kit.

First and foremost is safety; Lift kits raise the center of gravity of your truck, making it more prone to rollovers. Lifts also raise the height of the bumper (and any reinforcement plates behind the bumper) which could cause serious injury in an accident. Bumpers were made to collide with other bumpers, not other passengers. Also, sitting up high can improve visibility for a driver who is looking straight ahead, but what about those pesky cars riding in your blind spot? Now all of these negatives aren’t reasons not to put a lift on your SUV, just things to consider before purchasing, ensuring you do a quality job that will last the life of your car.

Have you considered what your stock wheels will look like on your new “monster” truck? Many truck owners also purchase new tires and rims to match the look of their lifted truck. This is a great idea and continues to add to the uniqueness of your vehicle. However, don’t forget that this will likely add more cost to your project. Another drawback is that when you significantly change wheel size, it is necessary to recalibrate your speedometer. This can easily be taken care of by the mechanic who installs your lift.

Another thing to consider is ride quality. Is my new lift going to change the feel of my car? Will a drive down the highway become less smooth? What about fuel economy? Although lift kits certainly make an off-road trip much more enjoyable and smoother, the case may not be the same on the highway. Ask to test drive a lifted vehicle at your local dealer to grasp the feel of sitting higher than usual.

Once you have addressed the issues with lifting your truck or SUV, it is time to decide what kind of lift you need. There are two different options: a body lift or a suspension lift. A suspension lift kit raises the entire frame, engine, and power train using springs to your desired height. This option is ideal for the true off-road enthusiast. It is a bit more expensive than the other option, but provides you the best clearance for off-road capabilities. A body lift is just that, lifting the body. It does not lift the frame. This method is often a lot cheaper and looks great, but does not give your truck more clearance when off-roading. If you want to make your truck look unique and stylish, and only need to drive on established roads, a body lift is probably your best option.

The next step in your search for a truck lift kit is making the purchase. Most importantly you should shop around to find the best deals and quality equipment. Get quotes from your local body shop. Ask them what kits they would recommend and how much it will cost to install each type of kit. Don’t forget to get a timeline of how long the project will take. The internet is also a great resource. Search for different lifts online and compare prices to your body shop. A good way to save money is to purchase the kit of your choice online and then bring it to your local mechanic and have them install it for you. Another good place to look is in truck magazines. They not only have excellent advertisements selling the latest and greatest lift kits, but the magazine could also provide some insight into which companies have good warranties, and which kits have stood the test of time and durability.

Before jumping on the lift kit bandwagon, don’t forget the issues concerning your vehicle and a lift kit. By doing the research and finding the best lift kit for your truck you are ensuring thousands of miles of off-road bliss!

Jake Newberry sells for NuStar Motors, Sacramento used cars, which specializes in lifted 4x4 trucks and fast cars such as Mustangs, Cameros, and Honda V-techs.

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