A truck without a suspension lift is like a steak sandwich without the steak. It just doe
Lift Kit: Mandatory Dirt Mod
Most of the suspension systems found under four-wheel-drive vehicles are designed to be a compromise between streetability and off-roadability with a slant toward on-road driving. Engineers know that keeping a vehicle low in the front can help increase fuel mileage by cutting down on aerodynamic drag. Keeping vehicles low also means a lower step-in height for passengers. Then there are the corporate lawyers who are paid to keep the manufacturers out of court and seem to be obsessed with analyzing ride height in respect to rollover potential. All these things work against us off-highway junkies to create SUVs and pickups that are good on-road but fall short in the dirt. Thank goodness for lift kits.
On a rig with solid axles, a suspension lift is generally quite simple to install. The beauty is that not only will you gain improvements in approach, departure, and rampover angles, you'll also be able to fit larger-diameter tires. The larger tires will improve the clearance between the axles and the ground, which will improve your minimum ground clearance numbers. The larger tires will also help create even better approach, departure, and rampover angles. The benEFIts of all these things will become crystal clear the first time you hit the trail and whiz by the unlifted rig that's stuck on an obstacle due to poor ground clearance. On IFS rigs, or rigs with IFS/IRS, the installation is a bit more complicated, but you'll get the same benEFIts.
Detractors of lift kits will argue that the increased driveshaft angles and/or CV axle angles will put stress on these components, which may cause them to fail prematurely. Not to worry. Lift kit manufacturers address these issues by including spacers and other components to correct issues like these. Heck, the last thing the suspension manufacturers want is a bunch of phone calls from angry truck owners with broken rigs. Detractors may also argue that the truck becomes too tall to easily enter and exit. Those people should get nerf bars, electric steps, or a Corolla. Some will argue that the cost of the lift and the installation isn't worth it. Those people must not wheel much. Anyone who has spent time on the trail knows that an unlifted rig has a far greater probability of suffering underbody damage than a lifted rig. Even a couple of inches of ground clearance can make the difference between making it down the trail or over the snowbank.
Unlifted and unsurpassed: The Jeep Wrangler JK Rubicon. Simply point, shoot, wheel, rinse,
Low + Long-Travel = The Logical Lift That Isn't
Dude, what's a snowbank? OK, in the argument for "no lift," I give you Exhibits A and B: The Jeep Wrangler JK and the Hummer H3, both superb off-pavement performers that'll go just about anywhere a modifed rig will-and most likely, some places the non-stocker won't, depending on its height and girth. Heck, we've driven unlifted TJs and YJs over the Rubicon, needing nothing more than a tow strap, skidplates, and rock rails to keep going. It's a simple formula: Stock Jeep + skilled driver = case closed.
Unless, of course, it isn't. For the rest of us who aren't buying a new Hummer or JK, we'll cheat a bit here and substitute "mini-lift" for "none at all." By "mini," we mean the kind of setup that'll allow tires up to 35 inches in diameter-maybe even 37s-without messing up your OE steering and driveline geometry. The kind of "lift" that'll keep your center of gravity low-where it belongs-and your vehicle 100-percent street-legal and daily-driveable. Of course we're talking about those so-called "long-arm" link suspensions-once only available for pro racers-that are offered by a number of companies and which can allow for fitting fairly substantial rubber underneath your rig without lifting the vehicle much, if at all.