Do Coilover Leveling Kits Provide the Best Possible Ride Quality For Trucks?
May 10, 2022
Basic Leveling Kits vs. Coilover Leveling Kits
The cheapest leveling kit on our website is $50, and the most expensive? It's over $4,600. But, what the heck is the difference between the two, and is it actually worth it to spend decent money on a leveling kit?
That's what we're taking you through today - we'll be breaking down some of the key differences between your basic leveling kits and pricier coilover options, so you can make an educated decision on which one to get for your truck!
How Many Different Types of Leveling Kits Are There?
There are four popular types of leveling kits - spacer kits, lifted struts, torsion keys, and coilover kits. The cheapest option here will be your spacer kit, but even within that category, you'll find prices from $50 up to $300 at the highest. Torsion keys are in this same price range, with most being around $100 or a little more. Between these two, the spacer kit is definitely the most popular, but a lot of that has to do with the popularity of the trucks that they go on. For most half-ton trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs, the easiest and cheapest way to level them out will be by using a spacer leveling kit.
How Are Spacer Kits So Cheap?
Obviously, the goal here is to level out your truck and get rid of the factory rake that causes the front of your truck to ride lower than the rear. Most leveling spacers are installed on the top of our factory strut, and lift the front up about two inches or so. The cheapest options don't include anything more than the spacer itself, and maybe a little hardware to attach it - it's very basic, and that's why these components are so cheap.
Read More: Are Coilovers Worth It For Your Truck Build?
Are Spacer Kits Height Adjustable?
If you're an absolute perfectionist, there are options for adjustable-height spacer leveling kits, but they aren't designed to be taken in and out and adjusted all the time, since every time you want to change the height, it's like doing a complete install over and over again. On top of that, there really isn't more than an inch or so of adjustability. The biggest benefit of these simple spacer kits, on top of the low price, is that they're super simple to install.
What Are The Best Spacer Kit Manufacturers?
Rough Country, among other manufacturers, offers kits made from a strong composite polymer that will never rust. But to us, some people just prefer real steel - or in some cases aluminum - and Rough Country makes some great metal options as well. We also see a lot of folks running the Rugged Off-Road leveling kits and Wicked Manufacturing kits, the latter of which is CNC cut from real American steel. They offer one of the tallest leveling spacers in the business at 2 ⅞ inches - any larger than that, and you'll start to run into issues with the geometry of your upper control arms and CV axles.
How Do Leveling Keys Work?
Moving onto leveling keys - now, these are pretty similar to spacers in the fact that they're cheap and should be easy to install. We only say "should" because if you've got an older cateye Chevy that's rusty, you're gonna have a hell of a time getting the factory keys out.
Now, GM does still use torsion bar setups for the three-quarter ton trucks for some reason, but those kits start out around $100, and the biggest difference you'll see from stock to the aftermarket ones is the clocked cutout so that you can get more leverage on the aftermarket keys. Those are also forged, so they're super strong.
Leveling keys work by applying more downward pressure to your front end, which in turn lifts the front of your truck. There really isn't much to talk about here outside of that, because they really are that simple. The leveling key kit is two pieces and doesn't require anything else. As far as brands go, Kryptonite is definitely the leader in this category.
How Do Lifted Struts Work?
If ride quality remains a concern for you, we'd skip the spacer option and go straight for the lifted struts. The install is a bit more labor intensive, as you'll definitely need a spring compressor, and having access to a hoist makes the job much easier, but the added labor cost is definitely worth the improved ride quality. A lifted strut replaces your factory strut and actually utilizes your stock coil spring in a lot of cases, with either a coil spring spacer or a retaining mechanism for a spring perch set at the correct height for your new taller ride height.
How Much Do Lifted Struts Cost?
Pricing on lifted struts is a pretty big range, but the best value ones you're looking at will be at about $350 or so. Those are from Rough Country, and they do actually sell a complete strut - it's 100% bolt-on insulation and you don't need a spring compressor. Higher end kits run closer to the $1600 price range, but those also include shocks for the rear, which won't impact height, but will impact ride quality. You'll also get bump stops, billet coil spring carriers, roof guards, and a few other odds and ends - there's a lot of stuff for that increased price.
Why are Coilover Leveling Kits So Good?
Earlier, we were talking about how you can really only go up 2.5 or maybe 3 inches on a leveling kit before you need more than just a basic kit. Going into a bit more detail, it'll make sense as to why some of these kits are so much more expensive than the base kits that we've already covered.
The taller you go, the more important it is to run aftermarket upper control arms with upgraded ball joints. When you're going off-roading and beating the heck out of your truck, you're really pushing its angles to their max and can put some unnecessary stress on your suspension components. The upper control arms that we found were priced at around $850, which was a bit of a shocker, but that's why you'll see high-end coilover leveling kits with higher price tags, because they'll come with everything you need to throw some serious abuse at your truck. Coilovers are hands down the best ride quality both on and off-road, and are 100% worth the money in our opinion.
How Much Do Coilover Leveling Kits Cost?
Of course, on the topic of money, you'll find a wide range of prices when you're searching for a set. Rough Country, again, makes a two-inch level with their Vertex line of coilovers for under $1700, but on the opposite end of the spectrum you can get the best of the best with Cognito for $4600.
What Is the Best Coilover Leveling Kit Brand?
Cognito's top-of-the-line stuff is beefy, though, and a majority of you out there would probably never use it to its full potential. But if you demand performance then you need to consider Cognito, and probably for more than just their coilovers. They actually sell some basic kits too, like spacer kits for popular trucks. Outside of their bare bones economy kit, the leveling kits actually include more than what the other brands give you, so for $680, you can get a three-inch kit that includes nice tubular upper control arms, new ball joints fitted for proper angles, and all that good stuff.
Cognito components are actually engineered, manufactured, and assembled in the US, which is neat. And on the three-inch standard leveling kit, they take a different approach at getting that full three inches - they use an inch-and-a-half strut spacer, along with a half-inch preload spacer. Everything stays all nice and balanced, and of course, it comes with all the hardware that you need as well.
Are Cognito Coilover Leveling Kits Worth It?
So, is $680 expensive for a leveling kit? Sure, but perspective, right? The whole three inch kit is still less than some control arms we've seen, and their kit includes control arms. Like we said before, though, the best of the best is the Cognito coilover kit - it's amazing, and they let you choose between 2.5-inch coilovers, Fox Racing coilovers with remote reservoirs, or just basic Fox performance shocks. For around $2000, you can get a two-inch leveling kit that includes the Fox coilovers up front, rear Fox shocks, and upper control arms.
That's probably the best value that you'll find, but if you absolutely need the performance, that $4600 kit we were talking about earlier has reservoirs up front, remote rezzies in the back, and the shock bodies are two and a half inches rather than just two inches. You're looking at box steel upper control arms too.
Cognito does offer some upper middle-ground options too, with king coilovers for around $3900 - that still gets you some serious performance.
Shop Coilover Leveling Kits For Your Truck at Custom Offsets
Long story short, coilovers are the bomb, and Cognito makes some seriously good stuff. If you need a level to get by until you can save up for the big kit, the spacer kits are cheap to buy and they're easy to install, so you can go with those too.
If you have any questions on this stuff or need more information, be sure to reach out to our team - we're knowledgeable about all the best leveling kit brands and can help you find the right ones for your build!