Will a Leveling Kit Affect Towing?


What is the difference between SLT and SLE in the GMC Sierra?
What is the difference between SLT and SLE in the GMC Sierra?

Are you looking into purchasing a leveling kit for your truck? You may be wondering how a leveling kit will affect your vehicle’s towing capacity and ability.

A leveling kit alone will not affect the towing capacity of your vehicle. A leveling kit may allow your vehicle to have more space for the suspension to adjust, which will aid in towing. However, adding larger tires to your vehicle will decrease your vehicle’s towing capacity.

Before completing this upgrade to your truck, it is important to understand the consequences– both positive and negative of a leveling kit.

What is the Purpose of a Leveling Kit?

The main purpose of a leveling kit on a truck is to raise the body of the vehicle away from the axles in order to fit larger tires on. Leveling kits are designed to only raise the front of the truck, not the entire body of the vehicle. This is to allow the front of the truck to become even with the rear stock height. Most leveling kits are only designed to raise the front of the truck a maximum of 2 inches. If you desire a stock-style stance, front-end leveling kits are able to be paired with spacer blocks on the rear leaf springs to provide a slight lift at all four corners.

How a Leveling Kit Will Affect Your Towing Experience

Installing a leveling kit on your truck will change the height slightly but in no dramatic manner. Due to the added room for the suspension, towing and hauling can be improved with a leveling kit. Having a leveling kit installed on your truck allows more room for the suspension to settle before bottoming out under the load.

With a higher truck, you are able to fit the truck to larger tires which will help with the control of the vehicle. The larger surface area which the big tires take-up will also help your truck have more control while towing and hauling heavy loads.

On the contrary, larger tires will negatively affect your towing capacity. Because of the extra energy going into turning each tire, the vehicle has less power to tow a heavier load. The larger tire surface area means you are able to tow more efficiently, but you are unable to tow the weight you once were.

The larger the tire, the slower it will rotate and the less torque it will transmit to the ground. Smaller tires, on the other hand, use less energy to rotate which allows the vehicle to use the rest of its power to tow. Smaller tires will equal a higher rpm (rotations per minute) but will emit more torque to the ground.

It is not the leveling kit which negatively affects the towing capacity, rather the larger tire size.

Pros of Installing a Leveling Kit

  • You can use wheels which are larger than stock on all corners.
    • Most vehicles have enough clearance in the rear to install larger tires, but installing a leveling kit allows for more room in the front of your truck to put in big tires.
  •  It allows you to operate equipment on the front of the truck.
    • The extra lift which a leveling kit gives to the front of your truck allows you to now use and operate equipment on your truck.
  • You can avoid the sag-to-flat issue on some makes and models.
    • Many trucks are “front heavy” to compensate for those who often tow. Towing heavy loads frequently can begin to pull the frame down in the back, which is why truck building companies have made many trucks “front heavy”.
    • Installing a leveling kit to the front of your truck and fix this issue which was manufactured on your truck
  • It reduces the braking pressure during an emergency stop.
    • When you install a leveling kit to your truck, you create a more equal and level truck. This allows for more even breaking. This will reduce the load on the front suspension and the brakes.
  •  A truck leveling kit will not impact the static weight balance of the vehicle.
    • This is not a positive which is added to your existing truck but is a positive when you are considering raising your tuck and looking into your different options. When you choose to install a lifting kit instead of a leveling kit, your truck’s overall weight will increase which affects the center of gravity.
    • Not adding any additional weight is a great positive when looking into raising your vehicle.
  • Fuel economy changes don’t happen with every make and model.
    • One disadvantage which most truck owners are already well acquainted with is the cost to run your vehicle. The good thing is, when installing a leveling kit compared to a lift kit, you are less likely to see a great change in the cost to run the machine.
  • There is better handling with a truck leveling kit installed.
    • When you install a leveling kit to your truck, it allows for more room to install larger tires. Having those larger tires allows your vehicle to have more surface grip onto the road. This allows you to have greater control over your vehicle as you drive.

How to Apply a Leveling Kit to Your Truck

When you begin looking into leveling your truck, and raising the front, it is important to understand the options which are presented for you. Choosing the best option for you is found by understanding what the components of each one holds.

Completing the Upgrade Yourself

This option is exceptionally more cost-effective. The downfall of completing the upgrade on your own is the time and the effort which this will require. When doing research on which option is best for you and your needs, it is important to understand what completing the upgrade will require. In order to install the leveling kit onto your truck, you must have these tools:

  • Floor jack and jack stands rated for the correct weight to support your make and model
  • Torque Wrench
  • Wrenches (various sizes)
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Extra nuts, bolts, and screws in case you misplace yours
  • Ratchet
  • PB Blaster

Once you have ensured you have access to all of the tools required to install the leveling kit to your truck, you should be prepared to begin the installation. Here are a few tips which should aid you in your installation process.

  • Open your kit and ensure all of the parts necessary for installation are there.
  • Read over all of the instructions before you begin anything.
  • Always block off your tires and ensure your vehicle is in “park” with your emergency brake on.
  • Gather torque specifications from the installation instructions. You can also find these from shop manuals for your vehicle.
  • Safety first – if you don’t feel safe doing something, do not attempt it.

Having a Professional Install the Upgrade

If you are not handy with the mechanics of your truck, you should not attempt to install the leveling kit yourself. It can be dangerous and could end up costing you twice as much to fix any problems which your installation may cause. Hiring a professional to complete the upgrade is the safe and most time-efficient option to go for.

Similar to doing the leveling kit on your own, before hiring a professional to complete the upgrade, you should do your research on the best place to have this upgrade installed. Different companies will have ranging reviews and price points, this will be the best thing to look into while completing research on which auto shop to have the leveling kit installed at.

Of course the best thing about having a professional complete this upgrade is the ease on your part, and the accerety of the job being completed correctly and efficiently. The greatest downfall of going to a professional is the cost of the entire installation.

The average cost for the installation fee at a garage falls into the same price range. You should expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500 just for the professional installation. It is also important to keep in mind that any change to your suspension or vehicle ride is going to need a professional alignment to ensure everything is lined up properly. These additional services will cost you on average around $80-200, on top of the installation fee.

Cost of Leveling Kits

No matter how you decide to install your leveling kit, the first step is to purchase the actual kit. If you choose to have a professional install the kit, it is likely they will have options there which you can choose from. Doing your research on the correct kit for your vehicle, needs, and price range is crucial to the success of the project.

Finding the correct price range for leveling kits depends on which version of a leveling kit your vehicle requires. There are three main versions coil spring spacers, torsion bar keys, and strut extensions.

  • Coil Spring Spacers average cost: $80 to $120
  • Torsion Bar Keys average cost: $240 to $380
  • Strut Extensions average cost: $40 to $1700+ (the large price range is due to the components which come in the kit)

Will Turner

Will has an absolute passion for 4x4s and loves discovering all of the small details about each model. Will joined the Four Wheel Trends team in early 2021 and has been a valuable contributor ever since!

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