What is the Difference Between a Lift Kit and Leveling Kit?


Jeep Suspension, Fox Shocks, Coil Suspension, Stock Jeep Suspension

Not all trucks are the same- some are big, some are small, some are tall and others short. No matter what kind of truck you have, there are always modifications you can do to make your truck completely your own, such as adding a lift kit or a leveling kit.

Lift kits raise both the front and back of the truck by using either spacers or by replacing the strut. Leveling kits raise only the front of the truck to counterbalance the factory “rake” and make the entire truck level. Some kits can be a combination of the two and achieve both lift and leveling.

Why would you want to use a lift kit instead of a leveling kit? Why would you want to use a leveling kit instead of a lift kit? Read on to learn more about these two types of kits for your truck.

Lift Kits

So what are lift kits? They are parts and equipment you can purchase and install in order to lift your vehicle higher up off of the ground. These parts and equipment do not come with the vehicle from the factory, but rather the kit must be purchased after-market and by a company that specializes in lift kits for specific vehicles. Lifting your vehicle is a delicate process, and if it is done at home, or by someone other than a professional, the integrity and overall safety of the vehicle can be at risk. It used to be quite popular to lift trucks and other vehicles by yourself, but now many reliable companies make lift kits professionally.

Lift kits can be used on just about any type of vehicle, whether it be a truck, SUV, or even a car. Typically, these kits work best for trucks or SUVs.

So, why would you want to install a lift kit? “Trucks are already big enough,” you might think. There are many benefits to lifting your truck or SUV. If you are an off-roader who loves to rough it in the great outdoors, lifting your vehicle will give you even more clearance than you had before. With more clearance, you can drive over bigger rocks, rougher terrain, and deeper ruts. Adding lift and suspension to your vehicle allows you to have bigger wheels, which, aside from the outdoor benefits, can add to the appearance of your vehicle.

There are two main kinds of lift kit: body kits and suspension kits.

Body Lift Kits

A body lift kit is the easiest and most common type of lift kit. It works by first removing the body of the vehicle from the metal frame it sits on. Once the body has been removed, then the lift kit installation can begin. Spacers or blocks are then added to the metal frame. When the body of the vehicle is reattached, the spacers or blocks raise the body away from the frame, giving it the lift. Longer bolts are used to reattach the body to the frame now that the spacers or blocks are in the way.

There are some benefits and drawbacks to using this kind of lift kit.

Benefits:

  • Most cost-efficient option
  • Does not affect the driving quality
  • Allows you to have larger tires and wheels
  • Good for off-roading

Drawbacks:

  • Can add a gap in between the frame and the body of the vehicle
  • Gaps can look bad
  • Gap guards can be expensive
  • Moves center of gravity which can affect the handling
  • Can only raise vehicle 1 to 3 inches maximum.

Suspension Lift Kits

Suspension lift kits are more complicated to install than body lift kits. Suspension kits work by lifting the vehicle up higher from the axle and wheels. This process is different for each vehicle, whether it be trucks, SUVs, or cars. Additionally, installation may vary between the different models of car or truck within any given brand. Because each vehicle is different, the installation of suspension lift kits can be more difficult, and more expensive.

There are some benefits and drawbacks to using this kind of lift kit.

Benefits:

  • Your vehicle can be raised as high as you want
  • The handling is not affected
  • Added suspension can improve performance
  • Good for off-roading

Drawbacks:

  • More expensive and difficult to install
  • Can wear down over time and will need repair
  • If your vehicle is too high, it can roll easily and will need a stabilizer
  • Regular maintenance costs can increase

Overall, there are some other cons to installing any kind of lift kit onto your vehicle. Adding a lift kit to your truck, SUV, or car might void any warranty you have on your vehicle. Suspension lift kits are especially bad because they change the mechanical system. Aside from voiding warranties, some states have certain regulations for vehicles, such as bumper height, or light brightness. Always check with local regulations to make sure that you’re not changing your vehicle so much that it makes the vehicle illegal to drive.

Leveling Kits

Leveling kits are a little more complicated than lift kits. When trucks, SUVs, and Jeeps are manufactured, the company will lift the back of the vehicle so when it is either towing something or the back is full of something, then the vehicle will be level. However, if the vehicle does not have anything heavy in the back, or is not towing anything, then the front will be lower than the back. The difference in height from the front to the back is called the “rake.”

“A leveling kit is designed to be added to the OEM suspension, which will ultimately help offset this rake by bringing the front of the truck, SUV, or Jeep to a more even stance.”

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Adding a leveling kit to your vehicle does exactly what it sounds like it does– it levels out your vehicle so that the front and the back are the same height. But why would you want to level your truck? Aren’t they designed to be unlevel for a reason?

There are a few reasons why you might want to add a leveling kit to your vehicle. If you plan on using your truck for plowing snow, and you attach a heavy plow to the front of it, then the lowered front will be lowered even more from the weight of the plow. If your truck was level, then the heavy plow would not make as much of a difference to the height in the front. You can also put larger wheels and tires onto your vehicle if it is level. You’re able to gain larger clearance this way, without having to lift the entire vehicle.

There are a few different kinds of leveling kits: torsion key leveling kits, coil spring spacer leveling kits, and strut extension leveling kits.

  • Torsion key leveling kits: these kits should be used if you have a torsion bar suspension system. The vehicle has factory torsion bar keys, and the kit replaces these keys to lift one side of the vehicle. The new torsion keys are often better than the factory keys, and will not compromise your vehicle.
  • Coil spring spacer leveling kits: these kits should be used if you have a vehicle with coil springs. They work by adding spacers to both the upper and lower springs, which raises the front of the vehicle. For some installations, depending on the vehicle, the springs will need to be removed and reattached after the spacers are put in place. Some of these kits include shock extensions, but you might need to purchase them separately if they are required.
  • Strut extension leveling kits: these kits should be used if you have a coilover strut for your front suspension. This leveling kit works similar to the spring spacer, but instead of adding spacers to the springs, you add spacers to the top and bottom of the struts in your vehicle. You can just slide them on without having to take the struts out and replace them. This is typically the easiest kit to install and can be adjustable, so you get the exact level you desire.

Make sure that you purchase the right kit for the make and model of your vehicle. Each vehicle is different and will require different types of kits to achieve the best results.

What is the Difference Between a Lift Kit and Leveling Kit?

How Much Do They Cost?

Trucks are the most common vehicle to add a lift kit or a leveling kit to.

-Lift kits of the lower scale category can raise a truck by two to five inches and typically cost anywhere between $400 to $12,000. 

-Lift kits of the higher scale category can raise a truck by six inches or more and usually cost $10,000 to $15,000. 

-Standard leveling kits are typically in the range of $200 to $1,000.

Source

Installation is usually about the same price as the kit itself. So, if your kit costs $400, it will cost around $400 for installation as well.

Jeep lift kits range in price depending on the model of the jeep and can be anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. Leveling kits are much cheaper for jeeps than lift kits and can cost around $350 for both the kit and the installation.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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