Pickup trucks are America’s most popular type of car, and it’s easy to see why. They look awesome, they’re strong enough for any job under the sun, and their size makes you the king of the road.
But truck obsessives can’t be satisfied with the factory options. You don’t buy a truck to fit in, you buy a truck so everybody else on the road notices when you drive by.
Lift kits raise trucks higher off the ground, making them look burlier and more aggressive on the road. Depending on the type of lift, they can also turn your truck into a pro-level off-roading machine.
You may have heard that lift kits ruin towing capability. Don’t worry! If you choose the right lift kit, you can tow a camper while driving a truck that towers over the road.
Types of Lift Kits
There are three basic types of truck lift kits: leveling kits, body lifts, and suspension lifts. Which type you should choose depends on what you use your truck for.
Pickup truck suspensions usually create a slight downward angle from the back of the truck to the front.
The extra height on the back allows the truck to carry heavy loads in the bed. The higher the back end of the truck, the more weight it can carry without bottoming out. The downward angle also improves aerodynamic performance.
Leveling kits are the most subtle kind of lift kit. They use spacers to lift the front end of your truck around 2 inches. This extra height brings the front of the truck up to the same height as the rear.
Most people install leveling kits for aesthetic reasons. The higher front end makes your truck appear taller and more imposing on the road.
Leveling kits also give you a little more space to install larger custom tires, which can improve off-road performance.Leveling Kits and Towing
Leveling kits do not affect your truck’s towing capabilities. Your leveled truck should still be able to tow the same amount of weight as it could when it was stock.
Body lifts are the next step up (no pun intended) when it comes to jacking up your ride. This type of custom truck lift uses spacers to raise both ends of your truck’s body. Body lifts can give your truck 2 to 4 inches of extra height.
The main reason people choose body lifts is that they are cheaper than other ways of lifting your truck. Since only the body gets lifted, the suspension stays where it is. This means the truck drives mostly the same as it did pre-lift.
Body Lifts and Towing
You don’t need any special equipment to tow a trailer with a body-lifted truck. Towing performance should be about the same as it was before customization.
Note that this only applies if you lift the body of your truck 4 inches or less. If you go over that threshold, the added space between body and suspension will increase instability. This could make it unsafe to tow heavier loads.
Suspension lift kits are the best option if you want to use your lifted truck for serious off-roading.
In a suspension lift, the components connecting the wheels to the frame are angled down. This raises the axles, differentials, and body of your truck higher off the ground.
Suspension lifts are the most complex custom lift kits. Modifying the suspension requires custom springs and shocks to accommodate the extra height. The braking system also requires modification when the suspension gets lifted.
For all of these reasons, it is a good idea to get a professional to install your suspension lift kit. Installation errors can cause damage to your truck and even make it unsafe to drive.
The complexity of suspension lifts makes them the most expensive option for lifting your truck. However, if you’re lifting your truck for more than aesthetic reasons, suspension lifts are the superior choice.
When you lift your truck’s suspension, you reduce the chance of damaging the underside of your truck on off-roading trails. The increased range of motion on a lifted suspension improves off-road performance and climbing ability.
Suspension Lifts and Towing
While suspension lifts can improve off-road performance, they can negatively impact your truck’s highway driving and towing ability.
Trucks with lifted suspensions have a high center of gravity. That makes them less stable on the road and can make it less safe to tow heavy loads.
Lifted trucks usually have soft suspensions to improve off-road ride quality. This type of suspension is prone to sagging under heavy loads. The sag will reduce traction on your front tires, causing you to lose control.
The sag can also turn into a maintenance issue. A saggy suspension will cause components like springs, shocks, and brakes to wear out more quickly.
That being said, you can still tow trailers in a lifted truck. Depending on the height of your lift, you may need to install a drop hitch. This tool lowers the ball on your trailer hitch to the proper height for towing.
You can also install an air suspension instead of conventional springs. This allows you to adjust the height and firmness of your suspension, combatting sagginess.
Even with these adjustments, a suspension-lifted truck is going to lose some of its towing capacity. The good news is that unless you’re towing massive fifth-wheel trailers or toy haulers, you shouldn’t have to worry. A lifted truck is capable of towing a medium-sized camper or boat.
If you regularly haul huge goose-neck trailers with tons of weight, you probably shouldn’t use a lifted truck. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have the monster truck of your dreams! It just means you need 2 trucks: a work truck and a fun truck.
Creating Your Dream Truck
Lift kits don’t ruin your truck’s towing capability, but if you want a lifted truck that can tow you should rely on professional advice and expertise.
If you’re ready to own the awesome lifted truck you’ve always wanted, the San Antonio truck lift specialists at Outlaw can make your dreams a reality. Their experienced technicians can help you select the lift kits that are right for your needs.
Whether you’re looking for Jeep Wrangler lift kits or kits for your truck/SUV, Outlaw has you covered. Professional installation will give you peace of mind as you carve down the highway or bounce around dirt trails.
Outlaw does more than lifts, too. From vehicle wraps to custom truck grills, they offer everything you need to make your truck stand out from (and over) the pack.