Lift kits are common though pricey modifications that a lot of off-roaders make on their trucks and Jeeps to make them more proficient in different ways.
While the right lift can definitely improve your truck or Jeep’s ability to handle certain obstacles, it’s critical to understand the difference between a body lift and a suspension lift as well as when each is applicable.
Even though a body lift is considerably less expensive than a suspension lift and somewhat easier to do, it may not serve your needs the way you assume it will.
Don’t lift before you know which lift is right, plus the other things you might need to change along with them, like adding a set of open fenders to accommodate this change.
Why Do You Want to Lift?
The most important question that needs answering before installing any kind of lift kit on your truck or Jeep is why do you want to lift in the first place?
Typically, people lift when they want to add much larger wheels and tires, need more ground clearance, or want to increase the height of the vehicle.
By knowing these things as well as how much lift you actually want and need, you can determine whether you need a body or suspension lift.
Why does it matter?
Because once you enter the land of suspension lifts, the cost increases considerably and there’s a lot of other factors to consider as well.
What Is A Body Lift?
A body lift is just that: a lift that raises the body off the frame so it sits a little bit higher.
Body lifts which max out at about 4” in lift will give you a little more room for bigger tires, especially if paired open fenders and a bit more vehicle height overall, which may be all that you need.
The factory ride is unlikely to be affected since the suspension remains untouched.
Yet what a body lift won’t do is give you additional ground clearance other than the added height of your bigger tires.
If that’s not enough, you’ll need to resort to the suspension lift, which can do a lot more in the ground clearance department.
What Is A Suspension Lift?
A suspension lift replaces the existing suspension with a taller one, resulting only in taller vehicle height but also more ground clearance.
It raises the axles higher off the ground in addition to any added height from bigger wheels and tires, giving you as much as 4” of added clearance as opposed to the 2” possible from just the tires alone with a body lift.
Suspension lifts raise the body higher as well, giving you room for even bigger tires, though you’ll definitely need an open fender setup once you go past the limits of the stock fenders.
Suspension lifts can give you as much as 9” in total vehicle height.
In spite of the added ground clearance and overall vehicle height, suspension lifts do come at certain costs with the monetary outlay of a kit plus professional installation only part of the story.
The higher the vehicle is lifted, the higher the center of gravity is lifted and that affects vehicle balance and stability.
Your chance of rolling over increases, so you’ve got to accommodate for this by changing your driving habits plus your ride will likely become a lot rougher, too.
What Else Do You Need?
Whether you’re doing a body lift, suspension lift, or a combination lift to achieve more ground clearance below without affecting total height and ride so much, you might need to make other changes with your lift.
If your goal is to primarily add bigger wheels and tires, you’ll need to convert to open fenders so you can still have great articulation without interference.
If you decide on a whole suspension lift, you may end up needing not just the open fenders but also modifications to your steering system and certain other suspension parts that don’t have to changed with a body lift.
Which One Is For You?
Now that you know the similarities and differences of body and suspension lifts as well as when each is useful, what lift is best for your truck or Jeep?
There’s a lot to consider before diving in and making those changes!
Regardless of which one you go with or even if you choose a combination approach to achieve lift in some places and not in others, just don’t forget to include the cost of those open fenders in your estimating.
You can’t go with those giant tires without open fencers, no matter how tall your lift proves to be!