It’s amazing to know that you can customize the ground clearance of your truck to match the off-road terrain you frequent. A leveling kit gives you the freedom to install larger wheels and drive through rough terrain without damaging your bumper.
The few inches it lifts your truck sound insignificant to the uninitiated, but they make such a huge difference when you’re behind the wheel.
One question that’s bound to be on your mind as you consider this device is, how much is a leveling kit?
Let’s find answers below as we compare leveling and lift kits.
Is It Worth Installing a Leveling Kit?
Yes, it makes a notable difference in your car’s ground clearance and lets you change to larger tires. Such changes are necessary when driving through rocky terrain or in snow, as there’s a significant difference in costs between repairing a damaged bumper and installing a leveling kit.
Further, it’s the best option if you’re looking for a simple leveling, not an eyebrow-raising 6-inch lift. When you’re only looking to fix the unevenness between the front and rear, you will not need a lift kit.
On top of that, a leveling kit’s installation isn’t as complicated as adding a lift kit; therefore, you can make this a DIY project that takes just about two hours, depending on your skill level.
What’s the Cost of Installing a Leveling Kit?
A leveling kit costs between $200 and $1,000, and this price depends on your truck’s make and model. There is no shortcut to this, so you cannot go for a cheaper kit because the one engineered for your car’s make is expensive. On the same note, you can’t compromise the quality of the kit’s material for a cheaper counterfeit.
Installation by a mechanic costs more than a DIY. When a mechanic installs a leveling kit for you, the installation costs are almost the same as the price of the kit. Therefore, the total cost of installing a leveling hit is the price of the kit added to the installation service cost.
You can opt for a DIY to eliminate the installation service, but you’ll still pay some money for a mechanic’s evaluation of your installation.
The first step before you install a kit is to compare the prices in the market. For example, the Rough Country 2-inch kit suits the Sierra 1500, Chevy Silverado, and Yukon XL, among other trucks and SUVs. It’s an easy DIY leveling kit you can install at home. It’ll take you about a day or less if you have experience. However, do so when you have the skills, or you’ll incur more to repair the damage.
What Are the Pros & Cons of Leveling Kit Installation?
First, we’ll look at the benefits of installing a leveling kit, such as,
Improves Off-Road Driving
It boosts your truck’s off-road capability when it increases its ground clearance by one to three inches. Hence, you’ll not scratch your front bumper when driving through rocky terrain.
Good ground clearance makes your driving experience worthwhile by taking away the many mental calculations needed in rough terrain. Maybe all you need to explore more off-road places isn’t a new SUV but a leveling kit to lift your present ride.
Improves Towing and Hauling
One of the reasons we use SUVs and trucks is their large towing and hauling capacities. Therefore, we can do anything to enjoy the maximum hauling or towing capacity, even if it means installing a leveling kit.
Towing becomes more fulfilling as you don’t have to watch out for rocks jutting out along the way. Also, it’ll take a shorter time to cover a distance that would be difficult for fear of scratching the bumper.
We’ll look at types of leveling kits later to show you leveling installation and removal processes are simple. There are no modifications to the car’s frame or the wheels during installation.
Reduces Sagging Effect of New Equipment
Trucks need devices like winches and snow plows because of their many uses when driving off-road. After you install these devices or carry other heavy equipment in the truck’s bed, the car may sag.
A leveling kit comes to the rescue and lifts the front of your car such that it is level with the rear and the bumper doesn’t scratch.
When you install large wheels, you need a leveling kit to lift the car to avoid scratching the bumper when you turn. Most cars have such clearance on the rear tires, but the front ones need an element to lift the truck from the axles.
You can fit tires between 33 and 35 inches by lifting the truck’s height by only 2 inches.
You can install a leveling kit on your SUV for the aesthetic value of lifting the front. The lift is minimal, about 3 inches max, which doesn’t stand out as much as a 6-inch lift kit. Plus, it’s a lift that doesn’t modify the truck drastically except for the ground clearance.
Improves Factory Sag
Some trucks come with low front height right from the factory. Such engineering prevents the front from hanging in the air when you haul heavy items at the back. A leveling lift improves the height of such models.
Additionally, you’ll have better braking pressure in an emergency because leveling will reduce the tension on the front suspension brakes. That way, you’ll have balance to use the brakes appropriately.
The cons of using a leveling kit are…
It Wears the Car’s Suspension Out
Increased pressure on the suspension makes it wear out faster because the modification makes the parts work in a way not envisioned in their engineering.
Affects Fuel Economy
Raising the front of the car increases wind resistance, which makes the engine burn more fuel. This change in fuel consumption won’t be seen dramatically overnight, but you’ll notice it eventually.
Inaccurate Data on the HUD
Changing the size of the wheels can alter vital data like the gearing and traction control because such readings use the diameter of the tires. Therefore, by installing larger tires, you’re changing the standard features engineered to work with the odometer, among other devices.
What’s the Difference Between a Leveling Kit and a Lift Kit?
A lift kit raises the whole truck by as many inches as you want to make off-road driving manageable. However, a leveling kit lifts the front and leaves the rear at the manufacturer’s height. It lifts the front of the truck to the same level as the rear. As their names suggest, one kit’s purpose is to lift while the other kit levels your SUV or truck.
You can choose between a body lift kit and a suspension lift kit. A body lift kit raises the truck on the frame using blocks and spacers so that you can install a set of bigger wheels. On the other hand, a suspension lift kit replaces components like the springs, the driveshafts, and the struts to attain a new height. These features make both the body and suspension lifts more complex than using a leveling kit.
Another difference between lift kits and leveling kits is the height you can get after modifications. A leveling kit limits you to under three inches, but you can go higher with a lift kit as the options range from 2- to 10-inch kits.
You can even go higher than 10 inches, for instance, when you’re customizing a truck for visual appeal on the road. Based on this difference, a lift kit allows you to install tires between 35 and 40 inches, while a leveling kit limits you to 35 inches.
Difference in Cost
There’s also the cost difference between a lift and a leveling kit. You’ll spend up to $1,000 for a leveling kit, but a lift kit can cost up to $14,000. If you’re lifting a small truck by only two inches, you can spend between $400 and $12,000. On the other hand, if it’s a large truck, and you want its height increased by six inches, it’ll cost between $11,000 and $14,000.
Lastly, the height of a truck with a lift kit is higher than one with a leveling kit, and it has more calibrations of the suspension, unlike with a leveling kit. These lift kit changes make the lift permanent since you’d have to modify the car again if you decided to remove them.
Is a Leveling Kit Cheaper Than a Lift Kit?
Yes, a leveling kit is cheaper because it requires fewer components like torsion keys and spring spacers. In most cases, it comes with a strut spacer that you install between the truck’s frame and the upper spring perch. That’s different from the many changes you have to make to the car after installing a lift kit.
As we mentioned above, a lift kit’s price also varies with the number of inches to lift the truck. There’s the cost of the kit and the readjustments on the car.
Which Is the Best Leveling Kit?
There are three types of leveling kits. You can buy a strut extension, a torsion key, or a coil spring spacer kit.
The strut extension is for trucks and SUVs with a coilover strut in their front suspension. Hence, the new spacers go either on top or below the existing strut to increase the truck’s suspension by several inches. This ability is more reason to use them as you don’t have to remove the existing strut.
Consequently, if the new ones don’t work, you can remove them fast. Some strut extension kits let you adjust the height as desired.
The torsion key kits are for trucks or SUVs with a torsion bar suspension system. Unlike with the strut extension above, you have to remove the existing torsion bar keys. It’s even more reason to get your leveling kit from a trusted dealer to match the factory quality, or they’ll malfunction.
The other option, the coil spring spacer, suits cars with coil springs. They raise the truck’s frame from the axle by adding spacers to the upper or lower springs. Thus, they are different from strut extensions that add spacers to the strut.
This kit may have shock extensions to protect your truck from the added lift. Consider getting them separately if the package doesn’t include them.
With such insights, now you can compare different kits.
Next up, check out how to do front-end alignment on a 4×4.