Do Lift Kits Ruin Trucks?
May 12, 2022
Here's a question you probably haven't been asked before, unless something horrible happened - have you ever lost a wheel driving down the road? If you have, we apologize. And we'll also be taking you through why it happens and what you can do to prevent it.
In today's piece, we'll be taking you through whether or not a lift kit will truly ruin your truck - after all, we've been building trucks for quite a while and have seen just about every lift kit under the sun come through our shop. With all these lift kits, you tend to learn a thing or two about truck suspension and what happens when you lift it, so let's get into it!
What Happens To Your Truck When You Install A Lift Kit On It?
To really understand how a lift kit could ruin your truck, we first have to understand what happens to your truck when you lift it and the kit goes in. It's worth a note here that lift kits are going to be a little bit different depending on what type of truck you have. So, some of this may not apply to your particular case.
What Is Suspension Geometry?
With that said, a buzzword floating around when it comes to trucks and lift kits is "suspension geometry," but what does that even mean. We could get super technical here, but what really matters is that suspension geometry is the shape of your suspension components when they sit inside the truck.
Imagine if you were under your truck and you took a piece of paper and a pen, and you drew a line with all the control arms, shocks, tie rods, ball joints and all other components throughout the suspension kit. That's considered suspension geometry, as it's the overall shape of the kit as it's built underneath your vehicle. This also includes things like your steering knuckles and torsion bars if you're lucky enough to have a GM truck with an independent front suspension. All these things together make intersecting lines, which cause angles, which are what make the suspension work.
How Do Lift Kits Affect Suspension Geometry?
Popular measurements when it comes to suspension geometry are things like caster and camber, and of course, the angles of CV axles and upper control arms. What really comes into play is that as your upper control arms change in angle, it puts additional pressure on the upper ball joints. This upper ball joint sits in the control arm and essentially just holds the steering knuckle to the ball joint so your wheel doesn't come off flying down the road. The ball joint allows the steering knuckle to turn and flex as it goes down the road as your suspension normally does as it goes over bumps.
However, the increased angle and pressure that lift kits can add to these ball joints can cause them to wear out quickly, and in extreme cases, they can fail, which snaps the wheel sideways, leading you to end up on the side of the road - that's a bad day.
Do Aftermarket Lift Kits Come With Upper Control Arms?
Depending on what company you're looking at for your lift kit, there may be a chance that it comes with new control arms. These new arms are usually fabricated, meaning they'll be made of welded steel versus the old stamped aluminum control arms that your truck will have out of the factory. This tends to be the case on some of the more premium lift kits - however, some more budget-minded kits may not come with all those suspension components to replace your factory bits.
Take Rough Country, for example - Rough Country makes some of the best budget lift kits that you can buy on the market today. Their Vertex coilover kits are good, and even their standard spacer lifts are just as awesome. They have a ton of lift kits available that can fit pretty much every truck out there.
However, because they're more on the affordable side, they'll typically reuse some factory parts, like control arms and ball joints and things like that. This means that if your ball joints already have some wear on them, they'll wear out quicker than before.
What Are the Best Budget Lift Kits?
The good news here is that if you're looking for a budget-minded lift kit, you've got plenty of great options at your disposal. Companies like Kryptonite make replacement front-end parts for a ton of trucks that are made to be used and abused. The guys at Kryptonite are just like us and they love putting 14-wides on their trucks, so they know that you'll inevitably do the same. That's why they build their products to handle all the abuse you could throw at them. Plus, all Kryptonite parts come with a lifetime warranty, meaning that if you break one of your parts for any reason, they'll replace it for you.
Read More: Beginners' Guide To Buying Lift Kits
Other Things To Keep In Mind When Buying Lift Kits
On top of ball joints, there are a few other things to keep in mind when it comes to lifting your truck. While not technically related to the lift kit itself, we know that with a lift kit comes bigger wheels and tires, and that means that you're going to need to take a look at tie rots and wheel bearings. The added stress from 16-wides on 40s can cause additional wear and tear on tie rods as these new, larger wheels and tires weigh more than stock and take more pressure to turn. This is especially true if you have a GM truck, which are notoriously known for having weak tie rod ends.
The good news here is that, again, Kryptonite makes a ton of products that can help. Its Death Grip series of tie rods is some of the beefiest that we've ever seen, and they're all covered under the same lifetime warranty.
Shop Top Lift Kits For Your Truck At Custom Offsets
No matter if you're putting a leveling kit on your truck or you're looking to go with a full 16-wide SEMA-esque build, you'll need to take a peek at the front end of your truck. If you do, and you find you need some parts, check out our suspension store right now! We stock a bunch of Kryptonite's best parts so you can get it in just a few days - just sort by quick delivery and we can help you get your truck back on the road in no time.