Trucks are very versatile vehicles. If you want to use your truck as more than a daily driver and do some off-roading, you may be considering a suspension or body lift kit. So, which one is better?
Suspension lift kits are the superior choice if you are looking to enhance the performance of your truck. A suspension lift will increase your ground clearance, making them the best choice for off-roading. Meanwhile, body lift kits are better at enhancing appearance rather than performance.
Both suspension and body lifts have their own advantages and disadvantages. Before you decide on which lift kit is the best for you, there are some things to consider. Knowing what each kit does to your car, their pros and cons, and the price are critical factors in making this decision.
Overview of Suspension Lifts
We’ve already discussed that suspension lifts are the best choice for off-roading, but why? Before you decide it’s the right choice for your needs, you should know what they do and what they are suitable for.
What Does a Suspension Lift Do?
A suspension lift kit raises the height of your vehicle by several inches. This is done using bigger shocks, axels, and CV joints. Raising the entire frame of the truck allows for bigger tires as well as extra inches of ground clearance, making navigating off-road obstacles easier.
If you decide a suspension lift kit is right for you, I recommend going to a trusted, experienced mechanic for the installation. When you add a suspension lift to your truck, you raise your vehicle’s center of gravity. This can reduce safe operating angles and road handling, which can cause potential safety issues for both the vehicle and the driver.
Pros and Cons of Suspension Lift
The best way to make any decision is to create a pros and cons list. Check out ours on suspension kits!
Pros of Suspension Lifts
Adding a suspension kit to your truck will certainly turn heads as you drive down the road in a certifiable monster truck. The raised height will also increase your road visibility on both the highway and the trails. A suspension kit will also allow you to add larger tires which can further raise the riding height of your truck.
Cons of Suspension Lifts
When the height of a vehicle is raised, the center of gravity is also increased. Therefore, you may notice an unsteady feeling during turns after adding a suspension kit to your truck. This is due to the higher rollover risk associated with lifted trucks.
While a suspension kit can allow larger tires, you may notice some new things if you add them. Larger tires will make for a bouncier ride than factory tires. If you are using off-road tred, your truck will roar going down the highway.
With the added weight of bigger tires and a suspension kit, you will have lower miles per gallon and increased fuel costs. In addition to a higher fuel price, a suspension lift kit will also cost a pretty penny.
How Much Does a Suspension Lift Cost
Prices for a suspension lift kit range anywhere from $450 to upwards of $5000. You should also budget for installation costs which can range anywhere from $800 to $8,000 depending on the mechanic. You may also need to get your alignment redone, which can cost between $75 to $200.
Something to keep in mind when ordering your suspension lift kit is the higher you go, the higher the cost. For most trucks, suspension lifts over 3.5″ get more complicated and, therefore, more expensive. In addition, after a lift this high, your truck will probably need modifications such as extending the brake lines, adjusting gear ratios, alterations to the drive train, and an adjustable track bar, along with others depending on the vehicle.
Overview of Body Lifts
If suspension lift kits are so much more efficient, why does anyone get a body lift kit? Well, depending on what you need from your lift kit, a body lift might be the right choice for you.
What Does a Body Lift Do?
A body lift takes the body of your vehicle and raises it up. This type of lift leaves the suspension and wheels at the factory height. Therefore, body lifts don’t allow for higher ground clearance. However, a body lift will allow for larger tires, so your ground clearance will increase if you add bigger tires.
When a body lift kit is installed on a truck, spacers are added between the body and frame of the vehicle. Since the suspension and axels are not touched, a body lift should not affect your ride quality or handling at all. It would be best if you still had a trusted mechanic install a body lift kit as you are modifying a large part of your vehicle.
Pros & Cons of Body Lifts
Just like the suspension kit, there are pros and cons of body lift kits.
Pros of Body Lifts
Most recreational off-roaders will tell you the suspension lift is the way to go. However, if you are only looking to change the look of your truck, a body lift might be the better choice for you.
One of the biggest advantages of a body lift is the cost. We will get into what to expect with the price of a body lift in a minute. Additionally, body lift kits don’t affect the drive quality of your truck after installation. Another pro, similar to a suspension lift, is the increased tire clearance obtained when adding a lift kit.
Cons of Body Lifts
There are a lot of disadvantages to a body lift. If you are looking to do off-roading, then you should probably go with the suspension lift. Body lifts raise the height of your vehicle, therefore raising your truck’s center of gravity. When you turn a corner or hit a hard bump in the road, you will still feel the unsteadiness that you will feel in a suspension lift. However, since a body lift does not touch any of the springs, all of the pressure exerted on the frame while turning is placed on the bolts of the body lift. If too much pressure is exerted, the bolts may snap, whereas, in a suspension lift, the pressure is spread out through the springs and axels.
Since a body lift only affects the body of your truck, you will not gain anymore ground clearance. In addition to this, the frame of your vehicle is more visible with a body lift. You will also have increased noise when driving and lower miles per gallon, just like with a suspension lift.
How Much Does a Body Lift Cost
Body lifts are the cheapest option when trying to raise the height of your truck. Depending on your body lift kit’s type, brand, and height, the cost can range anywhere from $100 to $500. You will also need a mechanic to install the lift kit, which can range from $800 to $4,000.
Making a modification to your vehicle like this requires professional experience. This is not something you should attempt to do by yourself with some youtube videos at home. Furthermore, if your lift kit is not installed correctly, you are risking the safety of yourself, your passengers, and everyone else on the road.
Recommended Suspension Lift Kits
This kit is compatible with the Chevy/GMC 1500 4WD and is rated 4.5 stars on Amazon. This suspension kit does NOT fit the 1999 classic models or HD models but WILL fit the 2007 classics. Frame bracket and differential modification are required. The manufacturer strongly encourages buyers to get this kit installed professionally.
This kit is compatible with 2020-2022 Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierra 2500. With a consistent 5-star rating on Amazon, this kit is a good option if you are looking for a more minor lift than the above listed. The manufacturer strongly encourages buyers to get this kit installed professionally.
Recommended Body Lift Kits
This body lift kit is compatible with Ford F-150, F-250, and F-350 with 2WD or 4WD. With 4.5 stars on Amazon, this is the best-rated body lift kit for Fords. The manufacturer strongly encourages buyers to get this kit installed professionally.
This body lift kit is the same as the above listed but is compatible with Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, in 1500 and 2500, with gas 2WD and 4WD. With 5-star ratings, this is the best-rated body lift kit for Chevy and GMC. The manufacturer strongly encourages buyers to get this kit installed professionally.
We’ve talked a lot about the difference between suspension and body lifts. We know the terminology can get confusing, so we’ve made it easier! Check out this quick reference on the differences between body lifts and suspension lifts.
|Raises the height of the vehicle
|Increases ground clearance
|Lifts the body of the vehicle
|Lifts the entire frame of the vehicle
|Expert installation required
|Raises center of gravity
|Enhances road visibility
|Distributes weight evenly
|Increases rollover risk
|Pressure concentrated on small areas
|Allows for larger tires
|Enhances appearance of truck
Adding a lift kit to your truck is something that takes careful consideration. The first step is deciding what you need your lift kit to do. For example, do you want to go off-roading or just want to change the look of your truck? If you want to go off-roading, then, while more expensive, a suspension lift is the best choice for your need. However, if you just want to make your daily driver turn heads, then a body lift will probably do the trick.
If you are having trouble figuring out which lift kit is for you, weighing the pros and cons is a good idea. Even if you only want a daily driver, spending the extra money on a suspension kit might be better long-term for your truck. Whatever you decide, make sure to budget the cost of installation and other modifications you may need to account for the new height.
Of course, make sure you seek professional help when going through the installation process. If you try to do it yourself and mess something up, you will be putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk.