Things You Need To Know About Lift Kits

February 8th, 2016

Drivers of 4WD trucks love to get extra ground clearance. It’s a must for installing larger tires and enabling the differentials, transfer case and driveshafts to clear Lift Kits in Abbottsville PAbrush and other obstacles off-road. What many drivers don’t realize, though, is that any change in ride height, whether it’s higher or lower, means a change in the steering and suspension geometry of the vehicle. The more radical the lift, the more that it will involve a total re-engineering of the truck’s suspension system, away from its original specs. People also don’t realize that some of the more extreme lifted trucks on the road are actually barely even roadworthy at all!

Here are some important things to remember when contemplating installation of a lift kit:

·         Larger tires can be a problem by themselves. They put more leverage on the entire suspension system, and their added weight means more rotating mass, which means more wear and heat on the brakes and longer stopping distances. The taller height of the tires will throw off speedometer readings and can change the transmission shift points governed by the engine control computer. Taller tires will also effectively change the truck’s final drive ratio, affecting acceleration and towing ability.

·         A taller ride height will mean a change of many other components. Brake lines will need to be extended, and a drop Pitman arm may be necessary along with (of course) bigger shocks and springs. It might also require driveshaft extensions and U-joint modifications; a disruption of ten degrees or more in driveline angles will put more stress on components, including the transfer case itself.

·         Alignments tend to be a real problem with lifted trucks. Usually shims are necessary to achieve a proper alignment, and often there’s a lot of trial-and-error involved in getting a lifted truck aligned properly. Improper alignment will overload and stress ball joints, wearing them out much more quickly (as well as premature tire wear, of course).

·         Choice of wheels can make a big, big difference. Considering that oversize tires are already heavy, it’s important to cut unsprung weight and rotating mass where possible. Steel wheels are strong, but heavy and rust-prone. One-piece alloy wheels are lighter but not easily repairable, and forged one-piece wheels are light and very strong…but expensive.

·         For extreme lifts, a steering damper and upgraded sway bar are recommended for lateral stability. Lateral stability can be a real problem with tall lift kits, meaning problems with wander, bump steer and a truck that’s generally “squirrelly” with poor road manners and unpredictable handling.

These are all important points to consider when you’re thinking about installing a lift kit. You really don’t want a truck or SUV that is going to be unsafe to drive and is going to have problems like tires that rub on the fender wells, incorrect speedometer readings, poor ride quality and suspension and driveline parts that will wear quickly. Rather than leaving it to guesswork and installing one modification at a time (followed by endless tweaking in the driveway), it’s highly advisable to get a complete lift kit package that’s engineered for your truck’s year, make and model.

At L & M Tire and Wheel in Abbottstown, PA, we can modify your truck with comprehensive, custom-designed lift kits from top aftermarket manufacturers. Our techs are trained and experienced in proper installation so that you end up with a truck that not only looks great, but is equally capable on and off the pavement. Whether you want to go with a mild lift or a much more radical modification, give us a call and make an appointment. It sure beats trying to take on this complex job yourself! 

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101