If you're in the market for your first lift kit, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. With so many options, where do you start? You'll need to consider factors such as the intended use of your vehicle, kit cost, warranties and fitment data. This guide is designed to help you weigh your options and make the best selection. Of course whether you're looking for professional installation or installing the kit yourself, we highly recommend consulting an expert early in the lift kit selection process to help avoid costly mistakes. Have questions? Need advice? Click Request-A-Quote to have one of our suspension experts contact you to help guide you through this process.
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In case you're only here for our list of recommend brands, we'll cover those first.
With so many brands to consider, here are a few of our most recommended brands at each price point. Use this as a starting point, but if you can't find something that meets your specifications, feel free to reach out. Our lift kit experts are happy to discuss your options and answer any questions.
Of note, our pick for #1 suspension brand is BDS Suspension. BDS offers the best overall on-and-off road ride quality along with an industry-leading "No Fine Print" warranty — including off-roading! BDS may not be your lowest-priced option, but it has earned a reputation for unbeatable quality, reliability and value for the money.
Good quality kits made primarily for highway use - all at a low price
Numerous options for a wide variety of YMMs
Improved ride quality at a moderate price - options for common YMMs
3 year/36k mile "worry free" warranty, then lifetime-limited warranty
Offers options for trucks specifc to highway and off-road applications
Also offers kits for less common applications (crossovers, SUVs...)
Specializes in UTV suspension upgrades and accessories
Plenty of options for Polaris RZR, CanAm Maverick, etc.
Consistently recognized as the finest ride quality
Industry leading "No Fine Print" warranty, both on-and-off road!
Just for Jeeps! These guys are true experts in Jeep suspensions.
Outstanding quality lift kits with a noteworthy warranty
Wide range of options for new trucks to classic vehicles
Quality lift kits, lowering kits & suspension parts
Premier suspension systems for a variety of vehicles — especially Toyota & Lexus.
Reputation built on quality, performance, and service
Designed for HD trucks (3/4 ton and larger)
Adjustable air suspensions made with comfort and quality in mind
Available for Ford F-250/F-350/F-450s only
Choose hydraulic or manual coilover mounts w/ lift up to 13"
Besides aesthetics, there are many practical reasons to add a lift kit or leveling kit to your truck or SUV.
Regardless of the reason for lifting your truck, selecting the right lift kit and the right installer are important decisions that require careful consideration. Keep reading to ensure you make the most informed decision possible.
The primary differences between a lift kit and leveling kit are the height and the areas of the vehicle being lifted.
A leveling kit raises only the front of the vehicle's suspension (usually 1" to 2.5") so the nose sits level with the tail. From the factory, most trucks and SUVs sit slightly tail-high (this tail-high stance is known as "rake"). Rake may also be increased by installation of a heavy front bumper or other accessories such as a winch. Rake is useful while hauling or towing, as the weight of the cargo pushes the rear of the suspension downward and actually causes the truck to level-out. However, many truck owners prefer to eliminate this rake so the truck sits level when not hauling or towing.
A leveling kit is typically a very simple part - often times a pair of strut spacers or coil spacers. Installation generally takes only 1-2 hours. The cost of a leveling kit with installation generally starts at around $300, plus the cost of an alignment. Common upgrades, such as adding new shocks or control arms, will increase the cost.
If you intend to haul or tow heavy loads after installation of a leveling kit, installation of air bags or upgraded leaf springs may be useful in preventing the truck from sitting nose-high under the weight of the cargo.
A lift kit raises both the front and the rear of the vehicle. Generally, lift kits are designed to raise the front of the vehicle slightly more than the rear of the vehicle, which should eliminate rake and actually cause the vehicle to sit level. For this reason, the specified height of a lift kit usually indicates how much the kit raises the front of the vehicle, as the rear may be raised 1-2" less.
Lift kits are much more complex than leveling kits, often composed of many additional parts and requiring significantly more time, knowledge and tools/equipment to complete the installation. Lift kit costs vary considerably from brand-to-brand. The cost of a mid-grade, smaller (3-4") kit with installation starts at around $750, plus the cost of an alignment.
It is important to note that whether you chose to level or lift your truck, your vehicle will require an alignment afterwards.
Use the chart below as a rough guide to determine whether your desired tire size will require a lift kit or leveling kit. If you're looking to go with tires larger than the chart indicates, you will likely need to opt for a lift kit instead of a leveling kit. Note that many other factors play a role in determining fitment, such as tire width, wheel size and kit height. For the most accurate wheel/tire fitment information, always consult the leveling kit manufacturer's product data prior to making a purchase decision. As always, minor plastic trimming may be required to eliminate rubbing.
Body lift kits use spacers to lift the body of the vehicle off the frame. Body lift kits generally require less time and knowledge to install. However, body lift kits do not actually provide additional ground clearance of suspension components and do not improve ride quality or off-roading capabilities. For these reasons, body lift kits are often less desirable than suspension lift kits.
Suspension lift kits are often much more complex than body lift kits. Suspension lift kits modify and replace certain suspension components to lift the frame further from the axles. Suspension lift kits create more ground clearance and typically enhance ride quality and off-roading abilities (depending upon the type and brand of lift kit, of course).
Maximum Lift Height
The list below provides some of the most important areas to consider when deciding between lift kit options. If you have any questions or need additional guidance, we highly recommend consulting a local suspension kit expert.
The first concern for many consumers is the price tag. Lift kit costs vary considerably between brands, often correlating with ride quality and warranty. See the Good, Better, Best section below for our recommend brands at each price point.
For a basic lift kit, you can expect to spend around $500 - before installation. For the average consumer, a lift kit will likely fall in the range of $750 - $2,000. Premium brands of lift kits, especially with add-ons or upgrades, can easily exceed $3,000. Competition-worthy kits can even exceed $20,000. Of course the number of options available to you depends heavily upon your year/make/model (YMM). If you own an F-150, you will have many more options at each price point than someone that drives a less common vehicle such as a Honda Ridgeline.
Next, to determine installation costs, begin by reference the kit's estimated installation time. Most manufacturers list this on the product's webpage. Installation costs average about $100 per hour, though labor rates can vary considerably by region. This should give you a rough idea of what to expect when you're shopping around.
Lastly, you'll need to factor in the cost of an alignment. Yes, an alignment is required anytime you make such major modifications to your suspension. Add about $120 for an alignment.
At a minimum, any quality lift kit should maintain your factory ride quality. Most mid-grade and premium kits should actually enhance your ride quality. Upgrading shocks, adding coil-overs, or adding steering stabilizers or traction bars are among a few of the upgrades you may want to consider.
In terms of improving ride quality, probably the biggest bang-for-your-buck is your shocks. If you're adding anything more than a leveling kit to your vehicle, you will almost certainly need to purchase new shocks along with your kit. Do not skimp out on the shocks. Most kits will give you a choice here. While you don't necessarily need to go with the most expensive "remote reservoir...fancy high tech shocks" option, really consider paying a few extra dollars for the mid-grade or premium shocks.
Not all lift kits are created equal. Some kits are purely for aesthetics (i.e. highway use only). If you plan on doing any serious off-roading, always check your lift kit's description and warranty information to ensure your kit is designed for off-road use AND has a warranty that covers such use.
Know your limits! Like many of us, you may live in the country but work in the city. This will certainly limit your suspension kit options. Need to fit in a parking garage at work? Does your home garage have low clearance? Consider the total height of your vehicle after installation of your new lift kit AND tires. To estimate the clearance required by your truck after lift kit installation. begin by measuring the total height of the vehicle over the driver side. Then add the height of your lift kit plus the increase in the size (diameter) of your new tires (if applicable). Make sure to allow for a couple of inches of buffer room as well.
Most lift kits do not offer increased hauling or towing capacity. If you wish to haul or tow heavy loads, you may need to consider additional suspension upgrades along with your new lift kit. Traction bars will assist in preventing axle wrap when towing. Air bags (a.k.a. air springs) will relieve some of the excessive weight placed upon the leaf springs and assist in keeping your vehicle level (instead of nose-high) under heavy loads.
Always, always, always read the manufacturer's complete product description, including kit notes and fitment data, prior to selecting a lift kit. Certain kits may be incompatible with certain trim packages or features on your vehicle. Some kits may prohibit the re-installation of factory wheels. Some kits may fit your specific YMM but require particular kit components to be swapped out. You can prevent many costly mistakes by carefully reading the entire product page before selecting your lift kit.
Know the specifics of your vehicle and always look at the kit description and configuration options to ensure your lift kit is compatible. Be especially mindful of the following details of your vehicle: drivetrain (2WD/4WD), engine type (gas/diesel), trim package, presence of any upgraded OEM suspension components (e.g. air-ride, magneride, XREAS...), and the presence of any Driver-Assistance Technologies (e.g. full self driving, lane keep assist, etc.). These factors may determine which kit (or kit variant) your vehicle requires.
Now that you've narrowed down your lift kit options, here's a few useful points to consider when selecting an installer. Bear in mind that you may want to purchase your lift kit from the same shop that will be installing your lift kit. Due to warranty, liability and fitment concerns, many shops may be hesitant to install a lift kit that was purchased elsewhere. If getting the lowest price is a concern, remember that most shops adhere to manufacturer-imposed Minimum Advertised Prices (MAP) which encourages price consistency across most retailers. Furthermore, most shops are also willing to price match other major competitors lift kit prices if you happen to find the kit at a lower price from a reputable source. Of course, do your research and know how much your lift kit should cost, then we recommend purchasing your lift kit through your installer.
Depending upon the brand of lift kit you are looking to have installed, you may want to ensure your installer is an authorized dealer for that brand. Some lift kit manufacturers may void your warranty if your kit is not installed by an authorized dealer. Furthermore, if you need to file a warranty claim for lift kit replacement parts later on, an authorized dealer may be able to facilitate this process a lot more easily than an unauthorized dealer. This is because authorized dealers typically have direct access to the lift kit manufacturer's technical support and sales representatives, whereas unauthorized dealers may lack such support and be restricted to purchasing parts through third-party distributors.
Lift kits can be extremely complex. Not to mention the fact that you've certainly got a lot of precious cargo relying on the safety of your suspension. While any auto repair shop or tire store may offer lift kit installations, it's certainly worth asking: Are your mechanics ASE certified (especially for suspension work)? How much experience do your technicians have with suspension kits?
While you've most likely considered your lift kit manufacturer's warranty, you may not have considered your lift kit installer's workmanship warranty. Mistakes occasionally do happen. Reputable installers will perform a quality control inspection before returning your vehicle to you. They will also likely offer an additional suspension kit inspection after installation. However, what if an issue surfaces months or years later? Be sure to read your lift kit installer's workmanship warranty policy prior to placing your deposit or scheduling any work.
Lift kits require maintenance! Once your lift kit is installed, head over to our page on Lift Kit Maintenance for more information on inspecting and servicing your new lift kit.
Trident Motorsports provides free lift kit inspections for all lift kits installed by us for the life of the vehicle.