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Body Lift Vs Suspension Lift: Here's How To Decide Which Is Right For You

May 05, 2023May 05, 2023

Each method offers its own unique features, and the decision to employ one or the other depends on several factors.

Adding an aftermarket lift kit to a 4X4 SUV or pickup truck is one of the most common modifications owners make after purchasing their new vehicle. The raised body creates room for larger wheels and tires and improves road clearance.

While many owners ad lifts to their vehicles to improve off-road capabilities, some make the change simply because a lifted truck or SUV just looks "cool."

The two most popular lifting methods are the body lift and the suspension lift. Each method offers its own unique features, and the decision to employ one or the other depends on several factors, including the vehicle's structural design, ladder frame, or unibody configuration.

A 4×4 vehicle with a ladder frame is built with a separate chassis and body that bolt together. Ford, Chevy, and GMC pickups are all built with ladder frames. Either a body lift or suspension lift kit can be installed on the ladder-frame vehicle. The unibody 4X4, on the other hand, features a one-piece chassis and body, which limits the lift to the body-lift method only.

Other essential elements to consider when choosing between a body lift and a suspension lift include the particular 4X4 model, planned usage, and, of course, the budget.

Here are the issues to consider when deciding which lift method is best suited for your vehicle.

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A body lift kit is the easiest method to add height to a vehicle. It is composed of blocks or spacers installed underneath the cab and works independently of suspension components.

The spacers are available in various heights and widths specific to each vehicle type and are made from steel, aluminum, polyurethane, or high-grade, glass-reinforced nylon, capable of supporting as much as 60,000 lbs.

A complete body kit often includes gap guards to cover the frame and extensions for the fuel filler neck and the steering shaft. Brackets to realign the bumpers on the lifted body are often provided.

While installing a body lift kit is a simple process, most 4X4 owners will engage an expert to install. Some DIY owners opt to lift the body without a kit, but the results are unpredictable, and the difference from a kit install is usually obvious.

Body lift kits are less expensive than a suspension kit. However, they often leave (for some viewers) an unsightly gap between the truck frame and body. A few 4X4 owners install a suspension lift in conjunction with a body lift kit.

Autowise specifies several body lift advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of a Body Lift

Disadvantages of a Body Lift

Suspension lifts are more common than body lifts because they offer more height and vehicle performance enhancements. Standard lifts are between four and eight inches, but even higher levels can be achieved with custom parts.

The installation frequently impacts the steering geometry, driveshaft length, and the brake line routes. The process often requires a change of suspension, steering components, and the drivetrain.

A suspension lift provides longer travel and higher ground clearance, allowing larger and more aggressive tires to be mounted on bigger and wider wheels.

Off-road capabilities are enhanced but can be further improved with the use of performance coilovers. Adjustable spring rates allow the 4X4 to handle extra weight from steel bumpers and winches.

Owners who install more extreme suspension kits need to consult local laws that limit ride height and specify the placement of lights and bumpers.

According to Autowise, the following are the benefits and drawbacks of implementing a suspension kit.

Advantages of a Suspension Lift

Disadvantages of a Suspension Lift

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Choosing between a body lift kit and a suspension lift kit hinges on the owner's desired result.

For the 4X4 owner looking to give the vehicle a more aggressive look with moderately larger tires and a higher ride, the body lift kit may be the best fit.

A body lift only increases the height minimally, and the modification has no effect on the vehicle's performance and handling. A kit includes all the required equipment, and it is easy to install.

For the 4X4 owner looking to add some massive tires, create a unique style, or add enough ground clearance and suspension travel to conquer a mountain path impassible with a standard vehicle, the suspension lift kit is the logical choice. For most, professional help may be required to install the lift correctly.

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After evaluating the lift options, deciding which lift method is right for the 4X4 and the owner's priorities may boil down to cost.

Lifting a vehicle can be an expensive investment. While both the body lift and suspension lift offer several variations, there is a significant cost difference between the two methods.

A body kit includes lifting blocks, bolts, and a few other components. The simple kit keeps the cost down, and even the highest quality body lift kits are affordable.

Suspension lift kits, on the other hand, cost significantly more. They come with many more parts, some of which require advanced engineering to manufacture. However, for the additional cost, the lift result has superior off-road handling performance and better aesthetic appeal.

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Jeff has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering. He has a passion for automobiles and has written hundreds of published articles on every facet of the automobile industry. He has written articles on a variety of subjects including travel destinations, sleep disorders, electrical equipment, heat exchangers, and construction. Jeff has also written a book about a two-year experience as a volunteer living in Italy. His favorite pastimes include travel, reading, golf, tennis, and surfing.

HOTCARS VIDEO OF THE DAY SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT Ford How a Body Lift Kit Works Advantages of a Body Lift Disadvantages of a Body Lift How a Suspension Lift Kit Works Advantages of a Suspension Lift Disadvantages of a Suspension Lift Choosing the Right Lift Method Cost May Be the Determining Factor Sources: