Advantages Of A Lifted Car: Suspension Lift Vs. Body Lift

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Advice on whether to use a suspension lift kit or a body lift kit on your vehicle.

Read in this article:

How Does a Lift Kit Work?

The premise behind body lifts and suspension lifts is to increase the overall ride height of the vehicle. Reasons you may want to do this include improving off-roading capabilities, making room for larger wheels and tires, or just because it looks and feels awesome. To get the job done, you'll need to use a special kit tailored to the specific purpose. There is a difference between a body lift and a suspension lift, and the one you opt for will depend on your specific goals.

It is possible to apply these kits to most vehicles, so you could have a lifted coupe, SUV, minivan, hatchback, wagon, or convertible. But, while it is theoretically possible to lift a car that was never designed to go off-road, it will likely cause more problems than anything else. Even if you lift a minivan by five inches, there's a good chance you won't have enough room in the arch for a bigger tire.

Still, most people will be looking for a lifted truck, as body lifts on trucks have the most notable effect on off-roading, which is one of the primary reasons people do it.

Body Lifts Pexels.com

The Pros and Cons of a Lifted Car

As with all modifications, there will be certain consequences when you raise the riding height of a vehicle. These can be broken down into either good or bad results, though the severity of each will be rather subjective from driver to driver.

Body Lift Pros and Cons

  • Cheaper than a suspension kit
  • Minimal change in height means it doesn't affect the handling much
  • You can lift the body enough to put on larger wheels
  • No need to replace shocks
  • Less time-consuming to install than a complete suspension overhaul
  • A body lift doesn't necessarily mean greater ground clearance
  • A shift in the center of gravity can affect performance a bit
  • A simple body lift doesn't offer any tangible improvement for off-roading
  • The frame is often exposed if the body is raised too high
  • Simple lift places more stress on components not designed with changed parameters in mind
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Suspension Lift Pros and Cons

  • Allows for much higher lifts than a body kit
  • No limit to what size tires you can use, apart from laws that prohibit tire use on the freeway. When buying tires, ensure they're rated for freeway use by the US Department of Transport.
  • Has a marked effect on how the suspension performs and feels
  • It will cost more than a body kit and requires more maintenance
  • If you raise it too high, accessibility can be an issue. In addition to problems with ingress and egress, the center of gravity will be higher. A vehicle with a high center of gravity is more likely to roll over.
  • Ride quality will be affected, and you may void your warranty by replacing too many parts

Body Lifts vs Suspension Lifts

As you may have already surmised, body lift kits focus on lifting the actual body of the vehicle higher on the frame. A suspension lift kit, on the other hand, extends only the suspension, but this results in the raising of the entire vehicle, body, frame, chassis, and all. In general, car suspension systems are quite complex. Each of these lifting processes has its own goals, so you need to choose the one that best fits your own requirements.

The key deciding factors between a body vs suspension lift are as follows:

  • A body lift is ideal if you just want a slightly more imposing presence. It allows you to make minor adjustments and attach larger wheels without hindering the performance of your vehicle. A car body lift is also cheaper and easier to install. This is the way to go if you're interested only in aesthetics and don't want to deal with too many obstacles or problems down the line. It's worth keeping in mind that you can often achieve the same result by simply fitting a slightly larger, chunkier tire.
  • A suspension kit is for die-hard off-roaders. With no limit to how high you can raise the vehicle, almost any size tire can be used, as long as these are considered legal. However, you will need to change a lot more components, and this type of work on the shocks, axles, and suspension requires you to keep a close eye on it. It's worth inspecting at least once a month to make sure the new kit isn't placing too much strain on an existing part. For example, a new set of dampers might be able to take a hammering, but the mounting was never designed for that. A lifted suspension also has a much larger impact on how the car will handle. Find out more about off-road modifications here.
Suspension Lift vs Body Lift Ford

Is a Body Lift and Suspension Lift Combination Possible?

Technically, it is possible to install some kind of body lift/suspension lift combination. You may think this would compound the weaknesses of each method, but you actually get the best of both worlds instead. Because a body lift kit is often just a spacer, this doesn't necessarily improve ground clearance. But, by combining the two rather than arguing suspension lift vs body lift, you can increase ground clearance and make room for larger tires simultaneously while not significantly affecting handling or standard suspension geometry. It is also the cheaper alternative to using only a lifted suspension kit to achieve the same amount of height.

How to Install a Body/Suspension Lift Kit

While it is possible to install one of these kits yourself, it is always advised that you ask a professional auto shop to do it for you. But if you are confident in your skills, this is how to install a body lift:

  1. You will need the right tools. These include pry bars, a PB blaster, vehicle jacks and stands, a complete set of wrenches (including a torque wrench and lug wrench), various screwdrivers, a hammer, safety wire, and spare nuts and bolts. It wouldn't hurt to have an impact wrench, a breaker bar, a spring compressor, or an electric drill with the necessary drill bits.
  2. Make sure the battery is disconnected before you start your work.
  3. Jack the vehicle to the necessary height and put safety stands in place.
  4. Follow the instructions on your kit to the letter!

A body lift is not all that complicated, since the kits are self-explanatory and only include body lift blocks. You won't be fussing with the suspension or axles, which means you won't need to perform steering adjustments later.

Things get a little more complicated when you want to know how to lift a car suspension. Since you will be removing the wheels, shocks, U-bolts, and springs, you need to be knowledgeable about how to put them all back on. Some kits will also require a certain degree of assembly, though all the necessary accessories should be included. Luckily, they come with instructions, similar to body lift kits. Still, there is no comparison. A car suspension lift is a far more complex process. You also have to tackle the task differently if you are lifting a 2WD Chevy Traverse or a 4WD Jeep.

Suspension Lift Kit Toyota

FAQs

Are body lift kits bad for your truck?

There is nothing inherently bad about lifting the body of your truck. Problems can arise if you use a small washer on the bolts inside the cab, though, as this may cause the bolts to rip off. So long as the kit is properly installed and a large washer is used, there should be no serious issues.

Can I put bigger tires on my truck without a lift?

Depending on the size you want to upgrade to, most trucks will require a two- to three-inch lift as it's not just about the tire fitting into the arch, but also whether there is room for it to move around. It's worth remembering that bigger tires mean gear ratios are affected, as is the speedometer reading. Make sure to do your homework properly, and consult a professional where possible.

What is a body lift, and how is it different from a suspension lift?

Essentially, a body lift affects only the actual body of the car, without making changes to the chassis, frame, or suspensions. Since the bottom of the car remains where it is, there is no impact on ground clearance at all, until you attach larger wheels. A suspension lift will raise everything higher up off the wheels. This is useful if you want to attach particularly large tires or improve off-roading capabilities. Here are some of the best off-road SUVs to consider, if you'd like to avoid having to make these modifications yourself.

How much does it cost to have a car lifted?

You can expect the price for a minor body lift to cost between $500 and $1,000. If you get a professional to do it for you, expect to add $200 to $300 for labor. A suspension lift is more expensive and can cost as much as $5,000 depending on the height you want to achieve.

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