Lifting kits for trucks are very expensive for the average person to buy, and so it’s natural to look for cheaper alternatives to achieve the same aesthetic function. Trucks have coil springs whether they’re lifted or not. Maybe something could be done with that?
While it is far safer to use coil springs in conjunction with a spacer, it is possible to lift a truck using only coil springs. In order to do so, the current coil springs must be replaced with longer ones designed for a taller ride. It takes about the same amount of time as adding in a spacer.
If you’re looking for a way to increase the height of your vehicle by just a couple of inches, then you’ve come to the right place. Using coil springs can be tricky and may not give you all the lift you want though, keep reading for more details.
How to Lift a Truck Using Coil Springs
There are two kinds of coil springs that you might be working with. The first is an ordinary coil spring, the other is a coil-over. There are different processes for lifting a truck using both.
We’ll start with coil springs. Replacing coil springs is literally one of the most dangerous operations that you could pull on your vehicle, but if it’s what you really want to do I’ll tell you how to do it anyways.
First, you’ll need to raise your car above the ground. You can do this using an ordinary car jack. Most people like to start with the front of the vehicle, but the same method works on both sides.
Once you can fit underneath, you’ll need to remove the relevant wheels. The system for removing wheels is different for each car, so I can’t tell you how to do this part.
With the wheels off, you’ll need to take the lower ball joint out of the control arm. The next part is critical, so I’ll quote someone with more technical knowledge:
“…use the pickle fork between the control arm and the spindle. This will separate the friction fit between the two. You will then have to jack up the rotor to remove the control arm from the spindle stud.” source
Next, you’ll need to remove the strut, which can be done by popping open the hood, removing the three nuts that hold the strut in place, and gently slipping the strut out of the car. You’ll need those nuts though. Don’t lose them.
Now comes the dangerous part. The coil is attached to the strut here, meaning that now is the time for taking the coil springs out of the car.
In order for the spring to be removed, it must first be compressed. If it uncoils, it can seriously hurt you, which means that you need to be extremely careful during this part.
Put the compression brackets 180 degrees opposite each other on the coil, then turn them evenly one at a time for 8 to 10 turns each before switching to the next one. When the coil looks tightly compressed you can take off the bolt on the top of the strut and remove the cold from it entirely.
Now you compress the new, longer coils the same way you compressed the old ones. With that done you can slip them right back onto the strut and keep them there with the bolt. There should be a small slit for the bottom of the coil, make sure the bottom of the coil gets in there.
With that done it’s time to put the strut back on the car. Congratulations, your truck is now slightly taller!!
Coil-overs are largely adjustable, and the easiest way to change the height of your truck with them is to take them to your local car shop and ask them to do it.
If you do really want to do it yourself, you will need a good number of tools in order to get started.
Using your jack, lift up either the left or right side. We’re going to be going from side to side instead of front to back, so this should be fun.
Take off the wheels and clean the coil-over with a toilet brush. Er, any kind of brush will do, but it is going to get super dirty, so make sure it’s something you’re okay with messing up.
You may also need to use a lithium spray for this cleaning. Be safe with chemicals! Wear protective glasses, gloves, and a mask!
Unlock the bottom collar, (also known as the jam nut) by spinning counter-clockwise. When this is done you can adjust the car’s height by pushing the lower spring platform closer to the top one.
Don’t worry about compressing the spring. As long as it doesn’t lock up it will still work just fine. If it does start to lock up, you’ll need to replace it with a smaller one in order to lift it any more.
You can then put the jam nut back onto the device and do the reverse of everything you did to take the car apart. You’ll probably want to replace it every place where you want the car to be raised.
When Is This Useful?
This is the most useful for leveling the back of the truck to the front. Most trucks are built so that the back is slightly higher up than the top. This compensates for the height that the back of the truck tends to lose when it’s carrying heavy cargo or towing a trailer.
However, a lot of people find this to be an aesthetically displeasing situation and want their truck to be even. Replacing the coils on the front of the car can easily help gain that extra two or three inches without actually doing too much lifting.
Does it have a practical purpose? Well, lifting your truck only a few inches in this manner doesn’t really improve clearance very much, and it doesn’t really make the truck tall enough to grant a better line of sight either. If you want to lift your truck to make it safer offroad, you should probably just get a lifting kit.
It is, however, a relatively cheap way to increase your truck’s height without shelling out for an expensive kit.
Is This Something I Can Do On My Own?
When it comes to car modifications, there are some things that a layperson probably shouldn’t do. Depending on whether you have coil overs or not, this can be an incredibly dangerous operation, so you may want to think about seeing a professional rather than installing the coils yourself.
On the other hand, the technical expertise required isn’t too much that it would be impossible to do on your own. If you feel confident as a mechanic, you might want to give it a shot after watching a few videos.
Either way, be sure that you know what you’re doing before you start. People have been seriously injured messing with coil springs. The forces involved are a little stronger than it might be a good idea to mess with if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Other Cheap Ways to Raise/Level Your Truck
If budget is the primary reason that you aren’t using a lifting kit, you might want to consider a few of these alternatives that could also add a few inches to your truck without breaking the bank.
- Leveling Kit: A leveling kit won’t technically raise your truck, it will mostly just increase the height of the front so that it equals the back. On the other hand, they are cheap, ranging from thirty to five thousand dollars.
- Aftermarket Torsion Keys: Aftermarket torsion keys are applied to the torsion bar, and don’t change any of the car’s other settings. They can add about 1.5 inches to your truck’s height after everything.
- Premium Lift System: A premium lift system has the tools to both lift the truck’s body and also level it. I’ve heard of people getting up to six inches out of a premium lift system, and it’s far cheaper than doing anything to the suspension. They do take six to eight hours to install though, so be prepared to make at least a day of this project
While it can be expensive, messing with the suspension is still probably the best way to lift your truck. Lift kits cost anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand dollars, and it costs money to have mechanics install them as well. However, they do work pretty much every time and will significantly increase the height of the car.
If you plan on doing everything you can to boost the truck’s height, having a lift kit installed might even be cheaper than doing all of the things listed above put together. Plus, you can definitely have someone else do it if you don’t feel confident, and that can be a big deal if you’re worried about injuries.
Of course, if none of this appeals to you you could always put your truck on top of a second, larger truck to gain over six feet of height in total. However, I’m not sure that anyone would consider this a budget solution, as the labor costs of getting people to lift the smaller truck up to the top would probably be higher than you might expect.