A leveling kit is a handy device designed to raise the front of a truck such that the body moves further away from the axles. Besides increasing overall ground clearance, leveling your 4×4 will allow you to fit larger tires (if desired). So how do leveling kits work?
Leveling kits work by raising the front part of a truck so that its height matches the stock height at the back, which translates to more ground clearance. These important kits provide a lift of approximately two inches, thus removing the raked stance that most completely stock trucks have.
In this article, we’ll discuss how leveling kits work compared to similar tools like lift kits. We’ll also discuss the main advantages and disadvantages associated with using leveling kits. Let’s get started.
What Is a Truck Leveling Kit?
Truck leveling kits perform similar functions to lift kits as they provide a lift to move the truck’s body away from the axles. This is because, during manufacture, most car producers intentionally lower the top part to allow for a raked stance.
While not everyone will fancy raising their trucks, using a leveling kit can give you the much-needed ground clearance, which can come in handy when the truck is loaded. By adding a leveling kit to the OEM suspension, you can easily offset the rake, thus giving your truck an even stance.
A level stance comes with several perks, top of the list being the ability to purchase bigger tires for better load handling. You can also add a snowplow to the front side of your truck after raising its level. Therefore, leveling kits can be termed as must-have tools for truck enthusiasts looking to give their trucks a leveled look.
Some prefer leveling their cars for aesthetics. If you’re the type that loves a stock-style appearance, then you can pair leveling kits with space blocks on the rear springs to lift all four corners of your vehicle.
Different Types of Leveling Kits
Leveling kits aren’t one-size-fits-all types of accessories. These kits are designed for specific makes and models, whether for trucks, SUVs, or Jeeps. We highly recommend steering clear of leveling kits that are designed for universal use as they’re mostly just cheap fakes.
Below is a brief description of leveling kits you’re likely to encounter as you look to give your truck a more level stance.
Strut Extension Leveling Kits
Strut spacers or strut extensions are commonly used on vehicles whose front suspension comes with a coilover strut like the majority of mid-sized trucks and SUVs. This kind of leveling works by placing spacers at the bottom or top of the factory strut, which in turn raises the truck’s suspension by a couple of inches.
Strut extension leveling kits eliminate the need to replace your car’s struts as all you’ll need to do is place them on top, and you’re good to go! The beauty of this type of leveling kit is that you can easily remove the spacers in case they don’t end up working for you. Most strut leveling kits are made either from billet aluminum, steel, or PPA plastic (chemical, heat, and corrosion resistant).
You can expect this kit to serve you long enough, especially if purchased from a trustworthy source. And while you can easily install leveling kits as a DIY project, it’s best advised to leave it to the experts, more so if you’re relatively green in leveling trucks and SUVs.
Need more control of your truck’s stance? Then you’ll love that some strut extension kits come as adjustable units. And although the kits aren’t extremely adjustable, they give you the freedom to play around with the height. But you’ll need to know your way with leveling kits to make the most of an adjustable strut extension leveling kit.
Torsion Key Leveling Kits
Torsion key leveling kits are commonly used on trucks with torsion bar suspension systems. This leveling kit replaces the factory or stock torsion bar keys of your truck, thus lifting it one side or another. You won’t need to worry much about the quality of the replacement keys as they’re usually stronger than those from the factory (if bought from trusted suppliers).
Please note that it isn’t advisable to attempt adjusting the factory keys to get a lift. Using factory keys will pile extra pressure on the load, thus leading to damage. And the last thing you want is to incur extra costs when you could have used a simpler and cheaper alternative.
Coil Spring Spacer Leveling Kits
Coil spring spacer level kits are meant for vehicles that use coil springs. They work by adding spacers to either the lower or upper spring seats, thus raising your car’s body away from the front axle.
When purchasing the kit, check on whether it comes with shock extensions, as you might have to purchase them separately. The shock extensions help to compensate for the slightly increased lift, thus protecting your vehicle.
Coil spring spacer leveling kits work in a similar function to strut extension. However, the only difference is that you’ll be adding the spacer to your truck’s spring as opposed to the strut. Some kits might need you to remove the springs before attaching the spacers, but most installation procedures depend on your car’s make.
Advantages of Using a Car Leveling Kit
It’s almost normal to see stock trucks with a raked stance. But you don’t have to settle for the factory design-exactly where leveling kits come to play. Below are some of the main advantages of using leveling kits on trucks.
Allows You To Fit Larger Than Stock Wheels
A leveling kit comes with several advantages, one of them being the ability to fit new tires to your truck. While most trucks usually have enough clearance in the rear to fit larger wheels, they usually need a lift on the front to prevent the fender or bumper from getting in the way when turning.
A leveling kit gives you the required lift that levels the front and rear sections, thus allowing you to fit large-sized wheels that suit your preferences. This gives you a lot of freedom in terms of where your truck goes and the types of tasks it performs.
Allows Truck Owners To Operate Equipment on the Front
Do you occasionally run a plow at the front of your truck? If so, then a front raise is necessary to prevent sagging at the front end of your truck. And since excessive sagging can cause the front wheels to push against the bumper or front fender, using leveling kits can help you avoid a lot of potential damage.
However, if you’re leveling your truck to prepare it for heavy-duty operations, chances are you might need to lift the entire truck to give it a good enough clearance. Some loads can end up stressing (and potentially damaging) your truck, hence the need to consider maximum load before carrying extra-heavy loads.
Installing Leveling Kits Improves Overall Handling
Most go-fast trucks tend to have lifted noses to improve their overall handling around corners. And although the change isn’t drastic, especially when negotiating corners when fully loaded, you can notice some improvement if you’re driving weightless. Therefore, if your sole intention isn’t to carry loads, you might want to level the truck for a better driving experience.
Granted, a leveling kit won’t cause as much change as a lift kit. However, the extra lift towards the front can significantly change the appearance of your truck.
Some truck enthusiasts prefer leveling their trucks not only to enhance performance flexibility but also to improve the aesthetics. You can transform your truck’s appearance by installing leveling kits. And the best part is that these kits are usually inexpensive to install.
Easy To Install and Remove
Not satisfied by the 2-inch (5-cm) lift you gave the front end of your car? No problem! Unlike most foreign equipment, leveling kits are easy to install and remove. You can even install or modify the kits at home as a DIY project in your garage.
However, we strongly recommend outsourcing this light but sensitive project to experienced professionals to prevent damaging other parts. Some leveling kits are also adjustable, which allows you to modify the front lift for an improved driving experience. Again, you shouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to adjust your truck leveling kit if you’re relatively inexperienced in the world of leveling and lift kits.
Truck Leveling Kits Don’t Impact a Truck’s Static Weight Balance
Installing leveling kits is usually a breeze as there’s usually no need for additional installation or replacement. This allows you to maintain your truck’s static weight balance. Some installations usually need more work in terms of weight balance, which isn’t the case when dealing with the extra handy leveling kits.
Helps Reduce Braking Pressure During Emergencies
Higher rear ends are known to create slight issues when handling unloaded trucks, especially when it comes to stopping during emergencies. Leveling your truck allows you to achieve more balance by reducing the load on the breaks and the front suspension.
While leveling your truck might create some new stress points, you’ll overcome the higher bed issue, thus improving your emergency braking and cornering weight capabilities.
Improves Towing and Off-Roading Capability
A leveling kit is a great investment if you’re keen on improving your truck’s off-roading capabilities. The resulting higher ground clearance and ability to install larger tires means you can comfortably drive past dirt, mud, sand, rocks, and other tricky terrains.
A leveling kit can go a long way in protecting the front bumper from being damaged by debris and rocks underneath. These kits can come in extra handy for car owners who love adding heavy features like a winch or snow plow at the front. Not only will installing a leveling kit prevent sagging at the front, but it will also prevent other sensitive parts from getting damaged.
Leveling Kits Are Inexpensive
It’s almost impossible to believe how affordable these kits are. And although the prices of leveling kits tend to vary depending on vehicle make and size, you’ll find that most are highly affordable and won’t set you back much.
The affordability of leveling kits means you can choose high-quality ones without breaking the bank. Either way, you’ll still need to be extra careful to purchase genuine products as there are still some fake ones being sold.
Disadvantages of Leveling Kits
Don’t Alter Much in Terms of Appearance
You might end up disappointed if your goal is to use level kits to change your truck’s appearance significantly. Unlike lifting kits that can provide a lot more clearance, most leveling kits usually provide a maximum lift of 2-2.5 inches (5-6.4 cm), which can prove disappointing if you expected more clearance.
Leveling kits help to provide a more even stance for improved balance and control. Therefore, be prepared to experience enhanced balance (due to the even stance) than a height change when installing these kits on your truck’s front end.
Installing Leveling Kits Can Make Your Warranty Void
Most manufacturers term the installation of a leveling kit as a non-authorized modification, which, according to most of them, can lead to faster wearing out of other parts. Therefore, taking your recently purchased truck to a dealer for leveling kit installation isn’t the best idea, not unless your truck is outside its warranty period.
But to be on the safe side, it’s highly advisable to consult with your truck’s manufacturer, either online or via call, to know whether this modification can affect your warranty.
Can Wear Out Your Truck’s Suspension Faster
While mostly harmless to trucks, leveling kits can place more pressure on your truck’s suspension. The additional stress resulting from the modification could lead to your suspension wearing out a lot faster than initially expected.
For instance, if you own a 4X4 truck, the front CV joints are likely to experience heavier stressors than would be the case. Moreover, any adjustment to the front suspension means you increase the rate of wear and tear of your ball joints. But to reduce the stress directed towards the suspension, it’s best not to use the leveling kits in their full length.
Reduce Fuel Economy
Although installing a leveling kit doesn’t completely alter your truck’s design, it changes its overall profile. The lifted nose translates to increased wind resistance, which means your truck’s engine will need to work harder, increasing fuel consumption.
And while the changes in fuel consumption won’t be too drastic, it can prove costly in the long run, especially if the truck is a natural gas guzzler by make. So it’s best to be prepared to spend slightly more on fuel if you decide to set up a leveling kit in your truck.
FAQs About Leveling Kits
What Is the Greatest Lift a Leveling Kit Can Provide?
Most leveling kits will give you a maximum lift of 2-2.5 inches (5-6.4 cm), while even some can provide significantly smaller lifts. However, the best type of leveling kit should depend on your vehicle model and the amount of rake in the stance. You’ll find that some 4x4s need slightly more lift than other trucks to achieve a level stance.
But if you’re planning to install leveling kits to enhance your truck’s overall lift, then it might be best to use a lifting kit instead. A full lift system will give your truck a significant lift further away from the axles, thus providing more ground clearance.
What Tire Size Can I Fit After Installing a Leveling Kit?
Since most leveling kits only offer 1-2.5 inches (2.5-6.4 cm) of lift, you won’t have too much flexibility when choosing tire size. However, the nose lift will allow you to fit up to two sizes larger than stock wheels.
Factors you’ll need to consider when determining your ideal tire size include vehicle usage, your acceptable tire rub limits, and whether you’re comfortable trimming your fender.
Will My Truck Need New Shocks After Leveling Kits Installation?
Not all Leveling Kits need new shocks as some kits retain factory shocks. But you might want to change your truck’s shocks if they’ve been in use for quite a while and you’re the aggressive off-road driver. Luckily, some high-end truck leveling kits come with performance shocks that help control the larger, heavier tires, especially over rough terrain.
Can the Least Expensive Leveling Kits Perform Well?
As with most products, cheaply priced units are usually lower in quality than their costlier counterparts. A low-cost leveling kit can come in handy if you’re just after a leveled stance. But for off-road performance and transportation of potentially heavy goods, going for high-end leveling kits is highly recommended.
Steel, Aluminum, or Polyurethane Coil Spacers: Which Is Better?
While all materials used in coil spacers come with their varying pros and cons, polyurethane stands out due to its imperviousness to common road chemicals and automotive fluids.
Polyurethane spacers also help reduce the chassis noise while its additional flex (compared to steel or aluminum) helps absorb the tension that would otherwise be transmitted to the frame.
Can I Install Leveling Kits at Home?
Leveling kits are arguably the easiest lift kits to install as a DIY project. However, your ability to get the job done greatly hinges on your wrenching abilities. You’ll need sturdy jack stands, a good floor jack, and several hand tools to lift the front of your truck successfully.
While installing these kits might appear straightforward to some car owners, leaving it to experts is highly advisable, especially if it’s your first time. Cars with independent front suspension need more work, exactly why you should outsource to experienced professionals if you doubt your ability to do a thorough job.
Leveling Kit vs. Lift Kit: A Comparison
Now that you know a thing or two about leveling kits, it’s only right that we discuss their not-so-distant cousins, the lift kits. These two kits are often mentioned in the same conversation, hence the need for examining what exactly a lift kit is and which of the two options you should settle for.
Lift kits usually come in two varieties, either as suspension lifts or as body lift kits. Body lift kits use blocks and lift spaces to gently lift the truck’s body higher onto its frame, but without altering the suspension geometry. Your ground clearance remains unchanged with body lifts, which means your steering geometry will also remain unaltered. But the additional height allows for the installation of larger wheels and tires.
However, lift kits are known to affect a vehicle’s stability, which means you’ll need to get used to handling its new height. Body lifts are usually easier to install and more affordable than suspension lifts, making them great options when looking to raise your truck’s overall height.
On the other hand, suspension lifts involve replacing everything from the control arms to the trailing arms, shocks, and leaf springs. Your dealer might also have to change the steering components and driveshafts depending on your truck model.
While suspension lifts installation translates to additional costs and, of course, more installation time, it comes with tons of benefits. Besides increased suspension articulation and convenient-enough ground clearance, suspension lifts allow you to run larger tires without compromising your truck’s off-road performance.
Therefore, as per the above explanation about lifting kits, here is a brief list of the main differences between lifting and leveling kits.
- Lifting kits provide more ground clearance: Leveling kits can’t compare to lifting kits when it comes to ground clearance. Lifting kits are designed to provide a uniform height increment for a more complete off-road and load carrying experience.
- Leveling kits are ideal for balancing a truck’s stance: If you’re after a more balanced stance, then leveling kits are the better option. Leveling kits perform the important role of lifting the front end of a truck, thus eliminating the rake that minimizes ground clearance. However, leveling kits don’t lift the truck’s overall height; instead, they bring the front end to a level height with the rear end.
- Leveling kits are more affordable: Installing leveling kits on your truck shouldn’t be too much of a hard task. However, lifting kits require a lot more work as replacing some parts might be necessary. Either way, you should always consult with a trusted dealer before deciding on which kit to use on your truck.
- Lifting kits allow for larger wheels and tires: While installing a leveling kit will allow you to run larger than stock tires, the allowance is usually smaller than when using a lift kit. A lift kit generally lifts the truck’s body on all four sides, thus providing a much-needed lift. This allows you to install large-sized tires with ease.
- Leveling kits are easier to install and remove: Leveling kits aren’t permanent additions, and they’ll rarely need you to make wholesale changes and replacements. But with lift kits, the room for error is usually smaller since you’ll need to replace some parts. This means you’ll need to get everything right to avoid damaging your truck and incurring extra costs.
Lift Kits vs. Leveling Kits: Which One To Go For?
The best of the two kits usually depends on your truck’s intended usage, and of course, personal preferences. A lift kit is best when you want to raise your truck’s body by more than 2 inches (5 cm). But you’ll need to be prepared to incur additional costs in terms of springs, shocks, brake line, and control arms modifications and replacement.
Lift kits work best for off-road enthusiasts as you won’t have to worry about rocks or debris destroying your vehicle’s underbelly. You can also run extra large tires provided you give your truck a good enough lift. Larger tires will provide more traction, allowing you to comfortably navigate past mud, snow, and steep rocks.
Contrastingly, leveling kits work best if you’re looking to level your truck’s stance. Increasing your front end height by about 2 inches (5 cm) will help remove the rake, giving you more ground clearance up front. This allows you to attach snow plows and other necessary tools that enhance overall convenience.
Leveling kits will work best if you’re looking for a cost-friendly way to balance your car’s stance. It does allow you to run slightly larger wheels, but not extra-large wheels like those you’d manage with a lift kit. Either way, the level stance will improve your driving experience while also improving your truck’s overall aesthetics.
Leveling kits work by raising the front end of a truck, thus allowing for a more balanced stance. Besides being affordable, a leveling kit doesn’t require much work in terms of installation, making it a great option if you’re looking to save on cash and time.
And although leveling kits can be safely installed at home, consulting an expert or a trusted dealer is highly recommended. If dealing with a new truck, you should also first inquire about your warranty terms to determine whether it’s safe to make the slight modifications.
- Autoimage: What Is A Truck Leveling Kit And Why Do I Need One
- Trick Trucks & Care: Pros & Cons of a Front End Leveling Kit
- AutoAnything: Lift Kits vs. Leveling Kits: What’s The Difference
- Superlift: Your Complete Guide To Leveling Kits for Your Truck, Jeep, or SUV
- Auto Guysland: Truck Leveling Kit Pros and Cons You Need to Know
- 4wheelparts: (The Good, Bad & Ugly) The Truth About Leveling Kits
- GreenGarage: 14 Pros And Cons Of Truck Leveling Kits
- AlCircle: Top five aluminium alloy billet producers in the world
- Truckspring: What is a Leveling Kit?