Which Comes First On Off-Roaders – Lift Kit or Tires?


Bigger tires and suspension lifts are two of the most common upgrades off-roaders make to their trucks, followed by protective steel truck bumpers and certain other performance enhancements.

Although modifications such as custom bumpers or aftermarket bumpers, winches, headache racks and more serves their own purpose, tire and suspension upgrades must usually work together to achieve the best results.

Yet which of these two modifications should you tackle first? While there is no hard rule on whether the tires or the suspension should come first, there are a few things to consider before you head out to upgrade one or the other.

Bigger Tires Versus Suspension Lifts

Before you can decide how to modify your truck with larger tires and a suspension lift, it is important to first understand their purposes and how they relate to each other. Of course, bigger tires give better traction and taller ground clearance. Suspension lifts can also offer more ground clearance and better wheel articulation.

Once you increase your tire size beyond the recommended diameter for the suspension on your off-roader, a suspension lift is required. Without one, bigger tires will interfere with the fenders and wheel wells which could reduce articulation and damage both the tires and fenders.

Why Add Bigger Tires First?

When you want bigger tires for your truck, the simplest and most popular solution is to decide on the tires and put them on, then add the suspension lift kit to match. The suspension must then be lifted enough to provide adequate tire clearance. If there is no lift kit to exactly match what is needed, you can always choose a suitable kit and add spacers for any additional lift required.

This should be mission accomplished, at least for most off-roaders. When deciding on the suspension after the tires, you might still have to deal with some interference. You should pay careful attention and watch for any tire wear that may indicate tire interference.

Why Lift the Suspension First?

The other option is to choose a specific lift kit first, then add truck tires according to what the suspension lift can accommodate. This does limit the size of the tires that can be added although there are some benefits.

Just like steel truck bumpers or other mods, there are numerous suspension kit choices. The manufacturers of these kits design their products for use on certain vehicles and test them using different tire sizes.

Rather than making a kit fit with spacers and other modifications, you can simply choose the kit designed to accommodate the tire size you want to install.

So What is the Best Answer?

Technically, industry experts recommend that you choose the lift kit for your off-roader first and buy tires to fit. When you start with the lift kit, it is certain you will buy the right tires and be much less likely to experience interference problems. Yet there is nothing wrong with doing it the other way if you have already bought tires.

It is important to understand that when you start with the tires first, you may need to add spacers or additional lift components if you start to experience interference. If you do have a choice and have not yet spent any money on either upgrade, choose the lift kit first.

Like any other modifications you may make on your truck such as special horns, distinct aftermarket or custom bumpers, and anything else, purchasing the proper suspension and bigger tires to work together is important if you want to achieve the best results while out on the trails!

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