Suspension and body lifts provide room for larger tires and wheels and a taller ride. However, they come with their differences, such as handling changes, the center of gravity, ground clearance, and cost.
With that in mind, we will look at these factors in detail, pitting them against each other to hopefully provide a clearer idea of the lifting method that best suits your purposes.
Body Lift vs Suspension Lift: Definition
Before comparing both types of lifts, it is important to discuss what a suspension lift and a body lift actually do. The clue is in the names, as a suspension lift kit extends the suspension, raising every part of a vehicle, while a body lift kit raises each part of your truck.
A leveling kit is simply a type of front suspension lift that makes the front suspension level with the back in a raked stance-hence the name “leveling kit.”
Body Lift vs Suspension Lift: Factors to Consider
To highlight the differences between a body lift and a suspension kit, it is important to know what goals you have for lifting your vehicle. Here are a few reasons some individuals lift their vehicles:
- To install bigger tires
- To gain maximum ground clearance, which extends the offroad capabilities of the vehicle
- To have a taller ride height
There are many lift kits capable of achieving at least one, if not all, of these goals; however, they all have their tradeoffs. It doesn’t matter your budget, as purchasing the largest and most expensive lift kit and suspension components might not always be the best solution. This is especially true if you care how your SUV handles. With your goals in mind, you can then consider the various options.
You must consider several brands when searching for a lift kit that best suits your needs. It is imperative to select brands that have been rigorously tested to ensure they provide the best stability and handling possible.
Alternatively, you can take it a step further to only select lift kit brands designed and manufactured in the United States, as this provides a way to ascertain the lift kit’s quality.
Furthermore, the lift kit needs some form of warranty, preferably a lifetime warranty by designers that understand the eccentricities of a lifted SUV or truck.
Center of Gravity
Putting larger tires on your vehicle can raise its center of gravity and increase its weight. A suspension lift can also raise around 90% of your vehicle’s weight, thereby increasing its center of gravity by the number of inches of the lift.
On the other hand, body lifts only raise about 20% of your vehicle’s height, providing you with the lowest center of gravity increase out of all the available options. Lift kit installs also have the least amount of effect on your vehicle’s handling.
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A general rule to remember when trying to lift your vehicle is lift as much as necessary but as little as possible. While this might seem counterintuitive to what you aim to achieve, it is sound advice to remember.
It all depends on your truck’s center of gravity. Every vehicle has been designed to provide the best handling and ride quality in correlation to the vehicle’s center of gravity. The type of lifting method you select doesn’t matter, as the center of gravity changes when a vehicle is lifted.
This means you will likely experience a bit more body roll when you turn since the lifted vehicle weight is higher. An increase in the height of the center of gravity can affect the vehicle’s stability during a hard turn as the weight shifts to the outside of the vehicle.
A suspension kit is the way to go for individuals wanting the highest ride height available for their lifted vehicle. In theory, a body lift can give you a sufficient increase in ride height; however, your vehicle will look strange.
For most vehicles, around 3 to 5 inches is the maximum a body lift kit can provide. On the other hand, suspension lift kits can provide at least 9 inches of height. However, any higher will require wholesale changes to the suspension and steering. The result is a sky-high SUV or truck.
You should note that even the best suspension kits for a lifted truck cannot overcome the stability problems a significantly raised center of gravity provides.
Body lift kits can typically be installed at home, lowering their total costs even further. A full suspension lift kit, however, can be quite challenging for even the most experienced Modder, requiring the services of professional auto techs. This means you will have to consider shop fees and labor costs for the project’s entire cost.
Off-roading means the occasional miscalculation and finding yourself in a ditch. You’ll need a winch to get you out of that situation.
There isn’t a simple answer to the question, “how much does it cost to lift my vehicle?” this is because the price you pay can depend on if you are talking about ground clearance or ride height.
For example, a suspension lift kit is the only way aside from bigger tires to gain more ground or fender clearance, while a body lift is an inexpensive way to gain ride height.
If you are a car Modder on a budget, then the cost of attaining your lift will be an important factor to consider. In this instance, body lifts are the way to go. Body lift kits are simple body block kits that don’t require additional steering or suspension adjustment.
Since cost is a massive factor for a lifted vehicle, leveling kits are typically cheaper since they consist of two strut spacers. However, a full suspension lift kit can be an extremely complex project that requires modifications to the spindle, suspension, and steering. This form of lift can be twice the amount of a body lift.
A body lift is the most inexpensive solution if your ultimate goal is larger wheels and tires.
When it comes to ground clearance, a suspension lift kit wins. This is because body lift kits only lift the body, resulting in no change in the distance between the ground and the bottom of the car.
Suspension lifts raise the entire vehicle’s frame – minus the lower control arms and the axle—a 3-inch suspension lift kit results in three additional inches of ground clearance.
Leveling kits can only raise the suspension at the front since the front is typically the lowest part of the frame in an SUV or truck with a raked stance. The leveling kit gives the vehicle total ground clearance in relation to the height of the leveling kit.
Combining Suspension Lift and Body Lift Kits
You can get the best of both lift kits by installing a suspension lift and a body lift in your vehicle. It can be a great way to raise your ride height while maintaining the OEM characteristics of your SUV and truck.
Furthermore, you can also increase your ground clearance by adding larger tires to the body lift and suspension lift kit combo. This gives you the same ground clearance as a full suspension lift kit.
For instance, if you want to raise your vehicle about four inches off the ground to make room for 33-inch off-road tires, you could purchase a 4-inch full suspension lift for about $1800 before installation charges are calculated.
This might not leave sufficient room in the budget for you to purchase the tires you need.
Alternatively, you could combine a 3-inch body lift kit with a 2-inch lift kit, which runs at half the price of a 4-inch full suspension kit, leaving money for the 33-inch tires.
All of this will raise your ground clearance by 3 and ½ inches. It also means you have fewer adjustments to your vehicle’s handles and the factory suspension geometry.
Body Lift vs Suspension Lift: Conclusion
By this time, you should know the benefits and demerits of both a body lift and a suspension lift. As always, when it comes to lifting your vehicle: lift as much as required; however, as little as possible.
You also have to consider what your vehicle lifting goals are. For instance, if you want larger tires and increased ride height without significantly altering your vehicle’s handling, then a body lift kit is the least expensive way to go about it.
However, if you want additional ground clearance for off-roading and rough trails, you will need a suspension lift kit.
Most times, you are better off simply getting something in between, such as a leveling lift and a body kit, as this combination helps to balance results, cost, and your vehicle’s handling.