A comprehensive guide to suspension lift kits

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The purpose of a suspension lift kit when installed in a car, truck, SUV or van, is to improve its ground clearance. Improving a vehicle's ground clearance allows it to handle more easily on any type of unpaved surface such as gravel, desert, rocks, sand, mud and even riverbeds.

Don't skimp on quality truck lift kits. Get the best you can afford if you want to make off-road travelling smooth and comfortable.

Modifying a vehicle can be done with a body lift kit instead of a suspension lift kit, but the latter is a superior choice. With the first option, there are spacers attached to the frame on the mount of the body. This is done to add height to the vehicle, which looks great, but doesn't do anything practical.

Suspension lift kits are a better choice since they are practical and you can use them to make off-road travelling better. Suspension lift kits are more costly than a body lift but it's the best choice for those serious about travelling on different types of terrains.

Suspension lift kits are highly recommended for those who want to travel the most challenging trails and require adequate height, superior handling and ground clearance.

How a suspension lift kit works:

A suspension lift kit increases the height of your vehicle by replacing the front and rear leaf springs as well as the shocks on your vehicle. With the kit, the axles of the vehicles are raised significantly above the ground so that it's much easier and comfortable to travel bumpy trails.

Be aware that not every tuff country suspension lift kit is made the same. Some are more basic than others. There are kits that require the installation of additional components like steering stabilizers to offset the altering steering geometry of the vehicle. Expect a height increase of four to six inches typically, although there are some lift kits that will add a foot and a half of height.

While impressive, it's not suggested to use these specialized lift kits since they alter the vehicle's center of gravity which could make the vehicle unstable, alter safe handling and ultimately make driving the vehicle more dangerous. Extreme lifts are usually only installed for car shows and exhibits for hobbyists. They're meant to add to the look of the vehicle and are not meant to be actually used.


Choosing the height:

For off-road use, the standard height is four inches for a suspension lift. There is the option to install a lift kit that adds more than four inches of height to your vehicle, but a substantially raised ride can compromise safety.

It's important to be aware of all the safety precautions. Be aware that the higher the vehicle the more difficult it will be to make sharp turns or avoid any type of obstacle. A tuff country EZ ride that is higher than four inches can cause you to topple over should you find yourself in the situation where you need to quickly jerk the wheel.

In the worst case scenario, this could cause death. When driving in a vehicle that has been substantially raised, it's extremely important that care is taken when driving on off-ramps and along freeway interchanges with banked turned since the higher suspension will cause the vehicle to tilt over.

Also be aware that with a lift kit, you will get a change in perspective when you're driving. You'll be up higher so it may be more difficult to see smaller obstacles on the ground. Driving with a lift kit will affect your vehicle's performance and dynamics, so you'll need to once again learn what your vehicle can do and how to drive it.

Getting bigger tires with your suspension:

Many off-roaders like the idea of tires two sizes larger than the stock to provide more traction on bumpy trails and make the ride more comfortable. In order to accommodate such large tires, it's necessary to install suspension lift kits. Skyjacker lift kits are often used and if this is your goal, be aware that your vehicle's speedometer and odometer will no longer work.

These calculations are done according to the stock's circumference and your new bigger tires will have a completely new circumference. You'll need to re-gear the rear end to keep your mileage as close to stock as possible. This is done using gear ratio charts which are easily accessible online. To use one, all you need to do is enter the stock gear ratio and tire size or the VIN (vehicle identification number).

If you want to simply get a suspension lift, you can keep your stock tires, but they will look a lot smaller once you raise your vehicle. Your vehicle will look better with larger tires, but there are some downsides. Bigger tires are usually noisier and can be uncomfortable when highway driving.

They tend to wear out faster on paved roads and provide poorer traction on wet roads. Choose to switch stock tires to off-road tires if you're planning to enjoy a significant amount of off-road driving, but keep the stock tires if you'll be travelling mostly on paved roads.

Installing suspension lift kits:

If you've decided to increase the height of your vehicle, the good news is that there are many DIY-kits available for the handy person. They provide detailed instructions that walk you through every step. The skyjacker lift kits, for example, are fairly straightforward to install if you have the proper skills and tools.

But to make sure all the equipment is correctly installed, it's much more convenient to hire a professional mechanic to do this for you. This way you'll be guaranteed professional results which you may not get if you have no experience in automotive mechanics and dynamics.

Aftermarket suspension kits are available for all sorts of vehicles, and you may be surprised with the selection. But choosing the right one is crucial. Every state has laws regarding the height limits and legal suspension limits of vehicles.

Make sure you know what they are by contacting a local 4x4 shop before you buy a suspension lift kit. And be aware that any modifications to your vehicle may void the manufacturer's or dealership's warranty.

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