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What’s Involved In Lifting A Truck and How Much Does It Cost?

What's Involved In Lifting A Truck

Are you ready to turn your car into a mean off-road machine by adding extra clearance? Or perhaps you’re interested in giving your truck a whole new cool look as you glide through the streets in your city. Whatever the case may be, lifting a truck is bound to give your vehicle a unique and rugged look that will turn heads. Your truck will also be better equipped to handle speed bumps, rocks, and other types of challenging terrain due to the increased functionality. 

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How much does it cost to lift a truck? Is the money you’ll spend really worth it?


What Does It Mean To Lift A Truck?

A lifted truck is a vehicle that has a specially modified suspension system. Typically, when a vehicle is lifted the body of the truck sits an extra 2 or 3 inches higher than normal. Lifted trucks are equipped with big tires that are usually 35 inches or larger. Lifting a truck or any vehicle involves altering the suspension system set in place by the manufacturer.  


While a lot of people decide to have their trucks lifted for a rugged appearance, the primary reason to modify a truck’s suspension is to increase ground clearance to boost off-roading capabilities. Yes, having large tires and added ground clearance makes it easier to navigate challenging terrain. 

How Much Does It Cost To Lift A Truck?

Regardless of why you decide to have your truck lifted, there are two primary methods you can use. Each of these methods will ultimately determine the overall cost. A leveling kit is the most cost-effective way to boost your vehicle’s suspension. A leveling kit can cost anywhere between $200-$1,000. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a dramatic lift then you could spend up to about $400-$12,000 or up to $14,000 on a major lift using a lift kit. 


Body Lift Vs. Suspension Lift – What You Should Know 

Whether you’re drawn to the look of a lifted truck or you require the enhanced performance capabilities when it comes to lifting your truck you’ll have two main options to choose from; a body lift kit or a suspension lift.


Body Lift Kit

As the name implies, a body lift kit raises the cab of the vehicle from the chassis while the suspension and wheels are kept at their original height. A body lift doesn’t create actual ground clearance however it does add extra space for the wheels. This type of lift uses spacers over the truck’s body mount bushing.


A body lift kit is the least expensive method to lift your truck because it doesn’t require modifying your truck or SUVs original suspension system. It also doesn’t fundamentally affect the handling or ride quality of the vehicle. 


Body lift kits have a reputation for being dangerous to a vehicle because it puts a strain on the different components which can lead them to break and generate massive repair bills. Body kits also don’t offer real ground clearance so if your goal is to turn your vehicle into an off-road machine a body lift kit isn’t the best option. 


Suspension Lift Kit

A suspension kit modifies the height of a vehicle by replacing essential components such as the spring coils, leaf springs, and the torsion bar keys with ones that are significantly higher. A suspension lift kit will give your vehicle actual ground clearance allowing for bigger wheels and tires. 


A suspension lift kit provides an overall better aesthetic than a body lift kit. There isn’t a gap between the chassis and it achieves clearance around the tires which improves wheel articulation and turning radius which is essential for navigating off-road terrain. It is important to note that a suspension lift kit will permanently affect the riding and handling quality of your truck. 


What Is A Leveling Kit?

Did you know that most trucks, especially ones with a high cargo capacity, were designed with a modest amount of rake in the front of the vehicle? This means that the front end of the truck was designed to be slightly lower than the rear end the vehicle. A leveling kit will raise the front suspension providing it with a balanced stance and look. A leveling kit will also allow you to put larger tires on the truck. 


Leveling kits are designed to provide a maximum of 2 or three inches of ground clearance. These kits are typically cheaper because they offer a modest lift and they use bolt-on spacers that are to be attached to the front and rear stock suspension parts. Leveling kits are much easier to install. However, leveling kits aren’t ideal for serious off-road driving and are recommended to add clearance for larger tire setups. 


Leveling Kit Components

What’s included in a standard leveling kit? Every leveling kit has strut spacers that vary in inches, typically between 1-3 inches. The spacers are to be attached to the chassis of the truck and the upper spring perch. These spacers are designed to slightly increase the height of the chassis without significantly altering the vehicle’s suspension. 


Depending on the height of the leveling kit it may also come with shock extensions. The extensions are installed in the bottom or the top of the struts to boost the height. 


Some leveling kits use Torsion Bar Keys which often involve replacing factory parts rather than adding to them to increase the suspension height. These keys are sturdier and more reliable than the factory ones. 


How Much Does It Cost To Install A Leveling Kit?

As with most automotive work, the more parts that are involved the more money you can expect to pay. The cost of installing a leveling kit largely depends on the type of kit you’ve purchased. A basic leveling kit that doesn’t include shock extensions or a Torsion Bar Key is cheaper to install. The cost of a basic leveling kit is usually under $500. Having a professional install it can cost anywhere between an extra $300-$500.  


Installation prices increase for leveling kits that include additional components. Whenever there are alterations made to the suspension of your vehicle, you’ll also need to have the vehicle aligned. A professional wheel alignment costs about $80-$100. 


What Is A Lift Kit?

If you’re interested in turning your truck into the ultimate off-roading vehicle then an actual lift kit might be the best option. A lift kit is made up of essential components such as aftermarket shocks and springs. Depending on the type of lift kit you purchase, it may include; control arms and trailing arms. Lift kits are available in two primary versions; a small lift kit that will raise your truck or SUV 2-5 inches, and then larger lift kits that provide more than 6 inches of ground clearance. 


Lift kits are versatile and they were made to lift the body of a vehicle instead of just the suspension. If the goal is to lift your truck or SUV several inches then for real off-roading capabilities then you’ll need to invest in a lift kit. The extra height will go a long way in protecting the underbelly of your vehicle. A lift kit offers superior suspension and improved traction. 


How Much Does It Cost To Install A Lift Kit?

Depending on the lift kit you purchased it can take several hours to install on your vehicle. Since a lift kit requires actual modifications to the OEM parts it will cost more money to install a lift kit than it would a leveling kit. A professional lift kit installation can cost anywhere between $800-$8,000. Also, depending on the type of kit you have installed you may need to have additional alterations made to your brake lines, driveshaft, and steering geometry to help ensure driving safety and capabilities. Such mechanical work can add to the overall costs of installing a lift kit. 


Do It Yourself Or Professional Installation

Installing a lifting or leveling kit on your own might sound plausible especially if you have some mechanical experience. Lifting your truck or SUV yourself with these kits can help you save a lot of money. However, you’ll need to have basic tools such as a jack and a jack stand. Lifting a vehicle is a very time-consuming process. It can even take a professional over five hours to complete the entire task. 


In addition, when installing a lift or leveling kit you’ll have to take into account the age and type of vehicle you'll be working on. Installing a lift kit on a four-wheel-drive vehicle is slightly different from installing a lift or leveling kit on a two-wheel-drive vehicle. Depending on the vehicle the suspension pickup points might be different. Older cars might need to be altered to accommodate a lifting or leveling kit which might include welding or fabricating certain parts. 


Also, whenever you are adjusting the suspension on a vehicle you will need to make sure the steering linkage, sway bars, and brake lines are in alignment. You may have to perform additional mechanical tasks to ensure that you’re able to safely drive the vehicle after it’s lifted. 


 If you don’t have experience installing a lift kit or a leveling kit you should leave such a task to the professionals. When it comes to a professional installation you’ll have to consider labor costs which can vary by location. Typical auto shop rates are between $90-$150 an hour.


Although a professional lift/leveling kit installation job is expensive, a professional lift job by a skilled installer guarantees that you get the desired lift you were hoping to achieve. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing that the lift kit was properly installed and your vehicle is ready to hit the road. 


Bottom Line

Leveling kits and lift kits can be purchased from the dealer or your local auto parts. It’s always a good idea to stick to the OEM kits since they are designed to be installed on your specific vehicle. Yet, aftermarket leveling and lift kits are readily available. Modifying the suspension or body of your vehicle might void the warranty, so you’ll definitely want to keep this in mind. Make sure you do your research before you have your truck lifted so that you know how it will affect your vehicle.


Common Questions 

Q: What is the cheapest way to lift a truck?

The cheapest way to lift a truck is to purchase a leveling kit. A leveling kit can add 1-3 inches to the front suspension of the truck. Another option is to install aftermarket torsion keys which can add up to 1.5inches to your truck without you having to modify the original suspension parts. 


Q: Will a lift kit hurt my vehicle?

A lift kit will affect the way your vehicle drives since it involves the modification of the suspension components. The higher you lift the vehicle the rougher the ride will be. Adding bigger tires no matter how high or low you go will affect the fuel economy. 


Q: Does a 2-inch lift make a difference?

A 2-inch lift does make a difference. It provides two additional inches of clearance which helps decrease the risk of undercarriage damage and aids in improving take off and departure angles. 


Q: What is better: a lift or leveling kit?

Essentially, a leveling kit only levels the front of the vehicle to match the rear stock height of the vehicle. Leveling kits only provide a maximum of 2 to 3 inches in the front. A lift kit basically gives your vehicle a new suspension system. Leveling kits are ideal if you’re simply looking to switch up the look of your vehicle while a lift kit is better if you need actual ground clearance. 


Q: Do leveling kits require new shocks?

Not all leveling kits require that you install new shocks. However, if your original shocks have more than 20,000 miles on them it’s a good idea to install new ones. New shocks are mandatory with a new suspension leveling kit especially if you drive aggressively. 


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