Yes, a big ol’ lifted rig looks pretty rugged, but are looks everything? Well, to some, yes. Many see the epitome of offroading in a big lifted truck or Jeep. And who doesn’t think, “Wow!” when they pass by that big, muddy truck with the 4-wheel parts in a parking lot? But really, the look is such a small part of why lifting a truck is important.
And is there more to it than raising it up and putting on a gigantic set of tires? You should probably know what you’re getting into before you even loosen one lug nut. Let’s look at why we lift in the first place before we begin buying offroad parts to get the job done.
It’s All About Clearance
I probably don’t need to mention this, but I’m going to anyway. We do a suspension lift to gain additional ground clearance, increasing our odds of clearing rocks and other things rugged terrain can throw at you. The more clearance the truck has, the deeper the snow and mud and rocks and it can traverse.
Another aspect of lifting is that you are going to need a bigger set of tires. These also increase your clearance, and sometimes (but not in all conditions), the increased tire size can give you better traction.
Don’t even think about getting a mere body lift, as that does just what it sounds like it does. You won’t gain any clearance with a body lift. And what good is looking rugged and performing just like any old stock truck? If the end goal is off-roading, then the suspension lift is the only way to go.
Things To Think About
Do you know what you’re doing? A suspension lift kit can be easy to install, especially since most manufacturers provide step-by-step manuals to guide you throughout the process. Be warned: some will call for you to do things like weld, so read through the directions to make sure you aren’t in over your head. This is easily resolved with your gearhead buddy or even a trained professional you trust.
Can your truck handle the weight? If you aren’t doing anything to your suspension itself, you want to make sure your stock suspension can survive after the addition of weight in the form of larger tires.
Is it legal in your area? You’ll want to consult with suspension regulations if you intend to drive it on the streets as well as offroad. Some changes to your suspension system might result in you violating a reguation.
Are any other mods required? When you are putting bigger tires on your truck, you might find that you need to change out some stock parts with new 4 wheel parts so the vehicle can perform optimally. Need an example? Taller tires means you’ll need to adjust the gear ratios. To make sure you’re doing it right, your best bet is to talk to a fellow off-roader or mechanic with off-roading background to get their advice.
How will your driving change? This is a tough question to answer as it depends on your current driving habits. If this is your daily driver, you might not want to go all out on giant tires complete with offroad parts. It’s going to handle differently in inclement weather on typical paved roads, and the highway will chew through your tires in the form of uneven wear and tear. And did I mention how loud those tires are, and the fact that they just don’t ride like a dream once that suspension lift goes in? Not really the best rig to bring your date out for a night on the town, unless by “night on the town” you mean “bomb down the trail.”
Remember that at the end of the day, it’s your truck. Only you know the kit that will work best for your needs. When you’ve considered all of the 4-wheel parts you’ll need and the budget you have to work with, you can decide if it’s time, or if you should wait just a little longer. You wouldn’t want to hit the trail with half of the parts you need to get the job done right and end up stuck in the mud!