Lift Kits vs. Leveling Kits: What is the Difference?

bds lift

As a truck owner, you will generally lift your truck either for function or form. If you’ve never lifted a truck before you might be overwhelmed by all the different options that are available from a BDS lift to air suspension, leveling kits, load levers, and more! With so many options available, how are you supposed to make a choice? The two most popular options for truck owners is a lift kit and a leveling kit. But, what exactly is the difference between the two? Read on to learn how lift kits differ from leveling kits.

Lift Kits

When you install a lift kit on your vehicle, you are lifting the entire thing from front to rear. This lift starts at a subtle one-inch and goes up from there. Lift kits are available as either body lift kits or suspension lift kits.

Body lift kits work by using blocks and spacers to lift the body of your truck higher onto the frame without having to alter any of the suspension geometry. This will keep your ground clearance the same, the main difference is you will now be able to run with larger wheels and tires.

A positive result of installing a lift kit is that the steering geometry remains unchanged. This means that your vehicle is then able to retain the majority of its original driving and handling characteristics. One downfall is that with the increased height of your vehicle, the stability can be negatively impacted. Another advantage of a lift kit is they tend to be more affordable than their counterparts—suspension lift kits.

When you install a suspension kit, it is going to be costlier as you will be replacing everything on your vehicle—shocks/struts and leaf springs, control arms, trailing arms and in some cases even the driveshafts and steering components. When you replace and upgrade all these different components, you are providing your truck with more suspension, articulation, ground clearance, ability to run larger tires, and a more capable off-road vehicle. The biggest downfall to a suspension lift is that the stability and driving dynamics of your vehicle can be affected. This is because your vehicle will now have a higher center of gravity and an altered steering and suspension geometry.

Leveling Kits

When trucks come off the assembly line, they are equipped with a certain degree of “rake” pre-built into the design and suspension. What this means is the rear of the truck will sit slightly higher than the front end. The reason behind this design is because trucks were initially designed to be used to haul heavy loads. When the extra weight is added to the bed of the truck, the rear springs are forced to compress, dropping the back end to accommodate the extra weight. Because engineers considered this, when the back-end drops, it won’t create a dramatic “sag” in the back because it started out higher to begin with.

There are two reasons why it was designed for the back to sit higher. First, if both the front and back end of a truck sat flush, adding the extra weight to the back would then cause the suspension to bottom out. With the suspension bottomed out, the bushings, shocks, etc. would wear out prematurely. The second reason is that when you drive a vehicle where the suspension is completely bottomed out, it is extremely uncomfortable for those riding in the cab. It is also highly dangerous to drive with suspension bottomed out, as it will have a negative impact on your truck’s handling.

As its name implies, a leveling kit levels the truck—making the front-end sit as high as the back-end. Most often this is done simply for looks and to add a small amount of ground clearance to the front of the vehicle. Also, when a leveling kit is installed you are able to run larger tires if you wish.

A huge benefit of a leveling kit is that since you are only changing the front-end of the vehicle, your vehicle’s payload is not affected. You are still able to place mass amounts of weight in the bed of the truck without the fear of having your suspension bottom out. Leveling kits are simple and can often be installed without having to jack up the vehicle.

Whether you are wanting to install a BDS lift, a suspension lift, or simply a leveling kit, EZ Wheeler has what you need to truck look the way you want. Before deciding on what kit to purchase and install on your vehicle, it is best to understand your objectives and choose the kit that will allow you to best meet those goals at an affordable price.

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