Leveling Kit vs Lift Kit: Know The Actual Difference Between Them
Have you noticed how the front end of a new truck lies lower than the rear end?
This setup of the stock version is done so that the vehicle can carry heavy loads without hampering its overall balance. However, that does not make for a great look for those of you who do not use trucks for those jobs.
So what is the solution to this balancing issue?
A simple one! Just get a llift kit or a leveling kit to raise your vehicle to the required level. They both do similar jobs with some subtle differences. To know all about leveling kit vs lift kit, keep reading!
What is a Leveling Kit?
A leveling kit does exactly what the name implies - level the rear and front ends of the truck. This kit helps by lifting the front a little bit and balances it with the rear which is set a bit higher by default. The philosophy behind doing so is to prevent sagging during heavy loads on the truck or SUV.
Being a kit, this set can have many components. The most common ones among these are coil spacers, lift blocks, shocks, strut extensions and torsion keys.
The leveling kits made for specific vehicles like Jeep Wranglers come with a rear spacer. It handles the additional weight of aftermarket bumpers or a full-size spare one.
Advantages of Leveling Kit
Balance of Wheels
Trucks and SUVs are built so that the rear end stays a little higher than the front one by default. This rake will help with carrying a heavy load while not putting the wheels in imbalance.
The additional few thousand pounds of such load forces the spring rears to compress and get lower by a few inches. A leveling kit can resolve this issue by lifting the front end up to 2.5 inches. It will not alter the original ride quality.
Some leveling kits are able to lift the front end high enough to replace its tires with slightly larger ones. It gets rid of the factory rake to get your vehicle some ground clearance on front. So if you have been thinking of getting new tires for better performance on off-road tracks, leveling kits can help out.
Leveling kits come at a pretty economical price which means you don’t have to spend a fortune or rob a bank for getting the balanced ends. Many of them cost less than a hundred bucks and some even lower than fifty! So you can easily incorporate its advantages to your beloved vehicle.
Most of these kits offer an easy installation. You don’t have to jack up the truck to install a leveling kit. It is more focused on raising the front end rather than bringing down the rear end. Because of this, the overall payload balance stays intact.
Disadvantages of Leveling Kit
Installing a leveling kit can cause death wobble for some trucks if their geometry does not blend well together. The kit tends to stretch the stock suspension gravity which makes the diving of any wear more apparent. This leads to a death wobble where you experience a steering oscillation that is out of your control.
You must install it with precise measurements of the front end and then replace the worn parts. Some ways to fix this issue is to invest in adjustable track bars, dual steering stabilizers or longer control arms.
Using the lift kit may cause your gas mileage to reduce. With the front end sitting a little higher than usual, the wind resistance will increase in the vehicle. This additional airflow can increase its fuel consumption and thus leave you with more gas mileage than before.
If you want to bring new rugged looks for your truck, a leveling kit is not the way to go. It does not bring that much of a noticeable change to the vehicle. The simple kit only balances front end height with the rear one.
However, you can easily go for more stylish add-ons to the leveled truck since this kit won’t take up much of your budget.
What is Lift Kit?
Lift kits give your truck more height to work with. They lift up both front and rear ends from just an inch to much higher. This kit usually includes shocks, control arms, track bars, coil springs, bushings, sway bar links and more.
It comes in two types - suspension lift kits and body lift kits. The former is much harder to install than the latter since suspension lift kits require replacing almost everything including leaf springs and struts. This leads to more ground clearance, better suspension articulation and more room to install larger tires.
Body lift kits, on the other hand, does not change the ground clearance or the steering geometry. However, you can still get larger tires in there with these lift kits. It basically raises the whole truck body higher after an easy installation.
Advantages of Lift Kit
Lift kits are able to give your truck a makeover - both in looks and functionality. While the vehicle will look more appealing to others, you can enjoy the benefits of a huge lift! Depending on the variation, a lift kit can raise the truck as high as 10 inches!
Ideal for Off-road
If you are an adventurer and often go out to explore the off-road tracks, a lift kit can provide your truck with the essential boost. A properly lifted truck can glide over the rocky terrains as effortlessly as possible for a vehicle. By installing larger tires, you can make the experience even more smooth and enjoyable!
Original Ride Quality
Even though a lift kit can raise the full body of your truck, most of them do not bring much change to your riding quality. So you can maintain the original steering experience while getting a better view of the road ahead! There will be no need to get used to a newer style of riding with it.
Disadvantages of Lift Kit
As we mentioned earlier, installing suspension lift kits takes a little more effort than usual. They require replacing the springs, control arms, shocks and almost everything else to attain the desired height. Sometimes you will also have to make new driveshafts and bend brake lines.
While a lift of 10 inches is very impressive, such a height will also cause the center of its gravity to get higher as well. This can create stability issues especially while riding at faster speeds.
So we would recommend driving a lifted vehicle carefully on the highways and maintaining a decent speed. Otherwise, it may cause road accidents.
Lift kits are expensive compared to leveling kits. Their price range begins at a couple hundred dollars and can go way higher to as much as a few thousand dollars! Besides, if you want to install it by a professional, that will come at an additional cost of $400 to over a thousand dollars.
Lift Kit VS. Leveling Kit: Side by Side Comparison
While both leveling kits and lift kits raise your truck, there is a significant difference between the two.
The leveling kit only raises the front end to balance its height with the rear end, when you are not carrying heavy loads. On the other hand, a lift kit raises both the front end and the rear end giving the full vehicle a noticeable elevation.
The two kits offer different ranges of lifting heights for your truck. You can raise the front end of your vehicle up to 2 or 2.5 inches using a leveling kit. With a lift kit, especially the suspension type, you can boost both the front and the rear ends with a height of 10 inches.
Ease of Installation
Leveling kits are much easier to install and maintain compared to lift kits. For the latter, you first need to raise the body of your vehicle and then replace most of the components. Besides, the frame becomes more visible after installing the lift kit.
In contrast, setting up a leveling kit does not need any truck body lift or replacement of parts. You will only have to disassemble some components from the factory version. This takes less time and effort to install than lift kits.
If you frequently drive on rocky areas with tricky terrain textures, a lift kit will provide you a better experience. Since you can lift both ends of the vehicle significantly with this kit, it makes more room for installing larger tires and provides higher ride height in general.
While installing a leveling kit will bring the required balance for your unloaded truck or SUV, it may not be so noticeable for others. The difference between its new height and the old height will not be drastic enough to draw people’s attention.
So if you want your vehicle to have a stark contrast in appearance, lift kits are the way to go.
Since lift kits require more work involving the replacement of components and provide more height, it is no surprise that they come at a higher price point as well. The most expensive leveling kits land in a few hundred dollars while the most costly lift kits are priced at a few thousand dollars.
Bottom Line - Which One is For You?
Leveling kit vs lift kit, it all depends on which kit your vehicle needs to deal with your regular commutes and driving preferences. If all you want is a subtle lift, the leveling kit will be enough for you. However, if you want your truck or SUV to look beastly with several inches up the original level, go for the lift kit.
In terms of budget and easy installation, the leveling kit has the upper hand. But in terms of cost-effectiveness, the lift kit may take the cake because of its height and off-road performance.