Long Arm vs Short Arm Lift Kits: Which is Better?

Jeeps are very versatile vehicles that can survive a lot of beating on the roughest terrains. It is what they’re built for, and they handle exceptionally well, regardless of what you throw at them. But isn’t it nice to make them more equipped to tackle more difficult obstacles? If you want to modify your Jeep to handle them more adequately, a lift kit will be necessary.

When talking about lift kits, there’s a lot of things to consider: length, links, shocks and what size tires you’re accommodating, etc. But, you need to determine the kind of lift kit that you need. Aside from that, you also need to find the best deals online as lift kits can be costly.

So, what’s the difference? Read more below!

Why Do I Need A Lift Kit?

Now, while your Jeep’s pre-installed suspension system will provide excellent ride quality and handling on sealed roads, it might not be enough on the tracks. So, improve your off-road vehicle’s capability, you’ll need to upgrade its suspension by installing a Jeep lift kit. It will give it added height which will allow for more significant ground clearance and improved wheel articulation. Aside from that, it will also improve your approach and departure angles when you go over obstacles along the way.

Similar to the majority of custom modification that is usually done for off-road vehicles, getting your Jeep lifted should be done with the utmost consideration. You have to make that you get a compatible lift kit for your vehicle, your driving style and use case, and most importantly, your budget.

What Is A Long Arm Lift Kit?

Although they are considerably more expensive compared to short arm suspension systems, long arm lift kits are still popular among Jeep enthusiasts. This type of suspension lift uses more extended control arms that mount or attach further back on the car and takes up more space to lessen the overall angle of the arms and make them resemble stock-type geometry. The improved angles make for a very smooth ride compared to short arm lift kits.

The long arm lift kits are ideal for people who are looking for big lifts of 4 inches or more. However, they are a bit more challenging to install since they need to altogether remove the pre-installed Jeep control brackets and welding on new ones and the replacement of a lot of the driveline and suspension parts. As a result, you should consider getting qualified Jeep experts and a specialized 4×4 shop to deal with the welding, fabrication, and installation of the lift kits.

The main drawback to this suspension system is they tend to get caught on rocks when crawling because their control arms are hanging down further compared to short arm lift kits.

Pros

  • Higher ground clearance, articulation

, and wheel travel 

  • Gives a better ride quality even on challenging tracks and obstacles

Cons

  • Often gets stuck on rocks
  • Typically more expensive –both for the kit and labour to install it
  • The more complicated installation process requires welding and fabrication
  • Once the lift kit is installed, it’s almost impossible to go back to a short-arm suspension

A long arm lift kit is perfect if you want a lift of 4 inches or more and you want a vehicle that rides smoother both on paved roads and off-road tracks. It is also the best suspension system if you plan on doing a lot of fast off-roading over rough terrain.

What is A Short Arm Lift Kit?

Short arm lift kits are trendy due to their cost-effectiveness and easy installation. They often attach to the factory control arms of the Jeep and don’t require any welding or fabrication during installation. The kit will typically come with everything needed like sway bar links, shocks, brake line extensions, coils, etc.

A short arm lift kit can easily handle up to 3.5-inch suspension without affecting the vehicle’s ride quality. Installing a more substantial lift than that will demand the inclusion of other aftermarket suspension parts such as drop brackets, which can lessen your vehicle’s ground clearance.

The biggest drawback to short arm lift kits is they don’t have the same smooth ride on sealed roads. Since the shorter arm means a shorter length of travel for the wheel, which in turn enlarges stress on the suspension by always pushing it up and ramming it upward whenever you drive through bumps. So instead of a smooth motion, you’ll get a rough movement with a lot of shaking and rattling as you drive.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Increases wheel travel and ground clearance
  • More affordable
  • Can be converted to long arm suspension system if needed

Cons

  • Causes a rougher ride on sealed roads

So, a short arm lift kit is perfect for you if your car isn’t lifted more than 3.5 inches, not your daily driver, and you’ll be doing a lot of off-road driving/rock crawling.

How Can I Choose the Right Lift Kit?

Suspension systems are a very complicated subject, involving plenty of math and physics. To understand the “why” of the long and short arm lift kits, we need to examine the physics first. Here’s a very brief breakdown of the bits that you should know:

There’s a thing termed reasonable force in physics, which “pushes back” with equal and opposite force when a force is exerted. Astronauts use reasonable force in zero gravity to move around, by pushing themselves off walls and other obstacles. So, the walls reflect the force exerted to push them through.

If a Jeep’s suspension is pushing down at a 90° angle, the ground is pushing exerting an equal amount of force, and both things are not moving anywhere. The upward and downward forces cancel each other out. If the suspension is pushing forward or back at a 0° angle to the ground (so it is parallel), there would be no force exerted on the ground so that the ground wouldn’t push back, and there’d be no movement.

Of course, none of these scenarios can happen in the real world. Other forces can influence it and make it more complicated, such as friction. But this is a hypothetical situation where only one force is dealt with at a time.

What is the Difference Between Long Arm and Short Arm Lift Kits?

A short arm lift is installed at the pre-installed control arm mount. Since the length of the short arm lift increases, the angle made by the arm and the downward force of gravity becomes smaller. It is the main limiting factor for this kind of lift kit: if the angle is very extreme, the force being exerted b and onto the vehicle is too vertical.

Having more vertical instead of horizontal force in a suspension system can be a bad thing. For example, it adds a lot of stress on the suspension by pushing up on it regularly and ramming it upward with every bump you encounter. Also, the engine will need to work harder to move it forward or back, because instead of the energy going into pulling the car along the ground, it is attempting to dig down into it.

Also, the shorter arm means the length of wheel travel available will have a more curved appearance than with a long arm. It gives short arm lifts a bad name for having a considerably rougher on the pavement. Instead of a smooth up and down action, the notable curve translates into vertical energy. This energy travels in the opposite direction that the vehicle is supposed to go. So, it makes rattling and vibration since the suspension system is going against physics.

Usually, a long arm lift will give a smoother ride on sealed roads as the wheel travel has a bigger radius and is less curved.

What Model of Lift Kits Should I Get?

With a lot of lift kits available on the market, it can be hard to find the perfect one for you. So, we have done all the work for you and listed some of the best lift kits. So, you should get:

  • Fabtech Spindle Lift System: This makes everything easy when it comes to lifting your truck or SUV. A press-in axle snub system gives you as much as four and a half inches of additional height and brings durability and strength to this set-up. This kit is compatible with your stock or oversized tires and is backed by a Lifetime Warranty.
  • Southern Truck Leveling Kit: Raising the front end of your vehicle will bring your rig a sturdy style and more ground clearance. So, the easiest way to achieve this is with a Southern Lift Leveling Kit. As it is made from very durable aluminium and steel, it can be installed in under an hour and will raise your rig’s front side anywhere from 1.5 to 3 inches for some seriously aggressive gains.
  • Belltech Lowering & Lifting Strut: Performance and handling are both the main focus of this kit. This system works best on SUVs and lowered trucks and allows you to reduce or lift your vehicle by up to 2 inches. This component gives a custom fit and is backed by a Lifetime Warranty.
  • Fabtech Lift Kit: If you want a more extreme lift, you should really consider the Fabtech Lift Kit. While specific lift amounts vary depending on your vehicle, the kit is designed to give up to eight inches of added height to your car. It is perfect if you’re rocking oversized tyres and are a regular out on the off-road trails, and will turn heads.
  • Ready Lift SST Lift Kit: A Lifetime Warranty guarantees this kit, so you won’t have to worry if it breaks down. It’s not only straightforward to install but easy to remove too – making it perfect for people who lease their vehicles. This kit also has rear lift blocks to improve your towing and hauling capacity in addition to heightening your off-road capabilities.
  • Pro Comp Nitro: For a very affordable lift kit, the Pro Comp Nitro Lift Kit fits the bill very nicely. This budget-friendly alternative to a complete suspension overhaul is engineered for a perfect fit and will comfortably accommodate oversized wheel and tyre combos. Plus, this kit is wholly manufactured in the USA and backed by a Lifetime Warranty.
  • Superlift Lift Kit: The exciting thing about the Superlift Lift Kit is that it doesn’t affect your steering or handling at all. This lift kit raises your truck, giving it a slick look and enables you to install oversized wheels and tyres, but the OE steering you’ve already grown to like will still be there. Also, each component is by a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
  • Daystar Comfort Ride Leveling & Lift Kit: Due to a custom-moulded polyurethane material, this kit gives you one to three inches of lift as well as a luxurious and comfortable ride. A torsion key system enables you to finetune the specific amount of lift that you want, and a Lifetime Warranty backs this whole kit.
  • ProRYDE LIFTmachine Leveling Kit: Adjustability is the main feature of this kit. Its ingenious Helix-Drive design gives you the ability to adjust it when it’s already installed on the truck. When you have it installed, you can roll with wheels up to 35 inches, and you can do it without removing your stock equipment.
  • Ready Lift Kit Leveling Kit: Mounting right on top of your factory studs, the ReadyLift Leveling Kit goes on smooth with no cutting or modifications required on your stock component. No changing from side to side, no over-extended ball joints, so it is the most cost-effective way to level your car. This versatile kit is meant to work very seamlessly with oversized wheel and tyre combinations.

Conclusion

Choosing the best lift kit for your Jeep boils down to your preferences and needs. Your Jeep needs to be right for you, so make sure to test drive both lift kit types to get a feel for their differences before choosing one to install on your ride.

Related Questions

Should I Lift My Jeep For 33 Inch T

yres?

On sealed roads, the JK Wrangler can handle most 33 inch tyres without needing any modifications. But if you plan on making some 4WD trips, you’ll need a slight increase in the lift to give you the proper amount of clearance for 33s. Otherwise, a 1.5-2 inch lift will do the job.

How Do You Tell If Your Jeep Is Lifted?

An easy and accurate way to know how much lift you currently have on your vehicle is to measure the springs. The pre-installed springs measure around 12″ in the front and 8″ in the rear. Anything above those lengths is lifted. But you shouldn’t include the depth of the coil isolator at the top of the spring.

Is A 2 Inch Lift Kit Worth It?

Yes, a 2-inch lift is worth spending on because it enables you to reach more places or the same places with a reduced risk of sill and undercarriage damage, and it also increases your takeoff and departure angles which is a plus.

How does a lifted Jeep ride?

Since stock Jeep control arms are a fixed length, lifting a Jeep will cause the axles to move toward the centre of the vehicle. … Adjustable control arms correct pinion and caster angles as well as wheelbase. Typically, adjustable control arms have higher quality joints for less bind and clearance for bigger tyres.

How Much Is A 2 Inch Lift?

Based on the size of your lift kit, getting and installing a lift kit can easily cost anywhere around $400 to $4,000 if you install the package yourself. If you hire a professional, it could cost between $800 and $8,000. But if you have a tight budget, you should do your research.

Why Are Leveling Kits Bad?

As with any modification, changing your truck’s suspension isn’t without risks, but a quality levelling kit that is correctly installed will not damage the car permanently. A levelling kit indeed alters the geometry of the vehicle — most kits lift the front of the car a few inches, levelling it with the back.

Is A Body Lift Better Than A Suspension Lift?

Body lifts only raise the body, so there is no change in the distance between the bottom of your vehicle and the ground. A suspension lift raises every part of the car, so a 3-inch suspension lift nets you 3 inches of ground clearance.

Can You Fix Death Wobble?

Something as simple as a tyre that has a misaligned camber or toe could make the right amount of vibration to cause it to the wobble again. One thing a lot of people do to solve this is to install a steering stabilizer, but this is just a bandaid solution. Jeep steering stabilizers can get rid of death wobble for the time being, but it hides a more serious problem.

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