The differences between body lifts and suspension lifts are essential to know if you want to raise your vehicle. Both lifts give your truck more height. However, the body lift only raises the cab and bed of your vehicle or the body of your SUV. The suspension components remain the same.
A suspension lift replaces some of the suspension components with more substantial parts. The spread-out suspension creates a raised vehicle with higher ground clearance. For that reason, most off-road enthusiasts choose a suspension lift.
A body lift might be the correct choice for drivers who want a bit more height or a larger set of tires but have no interest in off-road excursions. The best lift type depends on your preferences, budget, performance desires, and other factors. So, we will go over each of the differences and help you determine which is better.
Main Differences Between Body Lift vs Suspension Lift
The main differences between a body lift vs suspension lift are:
- A body lift raises the ride height, whereas a suspension lift increases the driver’s viewpoint while adding ground clearance.
- Body lifts merely improve the vehicle’s visual appeal, whereas Suspension lifts increase off-road performance
- Body lifts are less expensive, whereas suspension lifts are often a better long-term investment
- A body lift will change the ride minimally, whereas a suspension lift will have a significant impact on your vehicle’s ride
- A body lift kit installation is a relatively simple DIY project you can complete in a day, whereas a suspension lift requires professional installation
The Installation Process
The installation process for body lifts is much easier than a suspension lift. It is one of the most common DIY truck modifications you can do. Suspension lifts are another story. You should have extensive experience with truck suspension projects before you attempt to install a suspension lift.
To install either lift, you will need a hydraulic jack, socket wrenches, screwdrivers, the kit, vehicle manual, and instructions. You also need to make sure that you have a flat area to park your vehicle. You need the car to be completely level throughout the entire process.
You also want to make sure you save all of the parts from your vehicle. You may need to use some of the original bolts during the process. So, you want to make sure that you keep them separated. The installation instructions will differ depending on your vehicle’s model and make and the kit manufacturer. However, all vehicle-specific lifts should come with the necessary parts and steps to complete the job.
Parts Replacements Required for Body Lifts and Suspension Lifts
The parts required to install a body lift are different from those of a suspension lift. A body lift kit only requires a handful of new parts, which include:
- Lift blocks
With suspension lift kits, the components you need depend on the height and type. However, a less substantial lift requires:
- Strut spacers
- Lift blocks
- Coil springs
- Lift blocks
In some cases, usually, when you are lifting a vehicle more than six inches, additional parts are necessary to correct the steering geometry, gear ratio, weight distribution, and brake and fuel lines, including:
- Control arms
- Trailing arms
- Ring and pinion gears
- Steering column relocation brackets
- Fuel line extensions
Body Lift vs Suspension Lift Performance
In terms of performance, the best lift for you will depend on whether or not you plan to take your vehicle off-road. For city drivers, you will want a better ride on the streets. If you plan to take your lifted truck or SUV off-road, you need more clearance and room for larger tires.
These are just a few of the performance factors to consider. Both lift kit types affect your overall drive, dependability, and maintenance costs. So, to avoid buyer’s regret, you need to know each way your vehicle will change.
Both lift types can negatively impact your fuel economy. However, several factors further reduce the miles per gallon (mpg) a vehicle gets. Tires are one of the major components you have to consider. The larger the tires, the less mpg your truck will get.
The height of your lift kit also affects your mpg. Because both body lifts and suspension lifts increase the vehicle’s profile, more wind resistance increases your fuel consumption.
While neither lift type will directly impact the speed your truck is capable of going, if you purchase larger tires, your speedometer will not be correctly calibrated unless you swap out the factor gears for smaller ones. The result will be a reading that is lower than your actual speed and a sluggish ride.
Both lift types can be costly to maintain. However, suspension lifts tend to fail more often because they are more complex. The dependability further declines if:
- The installation is faulty.
- You use cheap parts.
- The kit is not for your vehicle.
- The lift is not professionally installed.
Body lifts are reasonably simple, and the parts are less costly to replace. The most common issues with body lifts occur when the bed or cab of the truck detaches. Some kits come with smaller washers that quickly come off with usual road rattling. However, you can quickly remedy that by using larger washers and checking them routinely.
While a body lift does not increase a vehicle’s ground clearance, it will allow you to add larger tires in some cases. You can add some clearance with a body lift, but it depends on what size tires you can fit.
If you want to add substantial clearance, a suspension lift is a better choice. If you are using your factory tires, a 2-inch lift will give you two additional inches of clearance. Suspension lifts may also allow for larger tread tires.
Driving a lifted vehicle takes some practice. When you raise a truck, you change the weight distribution. Tires, rims, and axles only make up 10 percent of your vehicle’s weight. The body is around 20 percent, and the engine, frame, transmission, drivetrain, and other engine compartment components are about 70 percent.
That means that nearly 90 percent of your vehicle is on the top. When you increase the distance between the wheelbase and body, it decreases the vehicle’s stability. So, both lifts can negatively impact handling. The difference is that body lifts utilize many of your existing parts, while suspension lifts replace most of the parts under the chassis. If you replace factory parts with a performance suspension, it might improve your handling.
It depends on how much you raise your vehicle, though. Generally, the larger the lift, the worse your vehicle will handle. Replacing your stock tires with bigger ones will also affect the handling, especially if you do not change out the gears.
Both body and suspension lifts can cause safety concerns, especially when you add more than six inches of height. The taller your vehicle is, the more likely you will have dangerous blind spots, a limited field of vision, and frequent component failures. You will also have to be more careful when turning and driving over rocky terrain because lifted trucks roll over more easily.
Cost Of Body Lift vs Suspension Lift
For truck owners who want a higher ride height or the look of a lifted vehicle, a body lift is a less expensive investment. Suspension lift kits are more costly, and the labor cost is also relatively expensive. Furthermore, you do not want to take your truck to an inexperienced shop.
You can purchase a body lift kit like the 3″ Rough country vehicle specific for as little as $150, and the installation will run you between $200 and $500. There are also more costly kits, but most are under $400. Suspension lifts are another story. An average suspension lift costs anywhere from $300 to more than $2,000, and installation adds another $400 to $1,500.
Keep in mind, mechanic shops usually bill by the hour. The more challenging your installation is, the longer it can take, which increases the cost.
Neither lift requires significant routine maintenance. It is in your best interest to inspect your suspension and lift components regularly, though. When you opt for a body lift, there are far fewer parts that can potentially fail.
However, from time to time, you may need to replace:
- Lift blocks
- Rubber bushings
- Frame bracket
If you choose a suspension lift kit, more parts can fail. Some of the most common components suspension lift owners have to replace are:
- Trailing arms
- Control arms
- Strut spacers
- Coil springs
- CV joints
- Ball joints
- Drivetrain shaft
- Tie rods
You may need to replace other parts, especially if you frequently off-road in rough terrain. Even if you only tackle moderate trails, you will likely need to replace parts from time to time with either lift. These parts range in price from a few dollars to several thousand, with body lift replacement parts being significantly less costly.
What are the Best Body Lifts and Suspension Lifts?
The results you receive from your lift will depend on the quality of the parts you use. So, these are our top recommendations.
Rough Country 3″ Vehicle Specific Body Lifts
Rough Country has an entire line of truck modifications. The vehicle-specific body lifts range in price from $149 to $449 depending on the vehicle. We recommend using a body lift like those available through Rouch Country because the parts are precision machined to fit your year, make, and model vehicle.
ReadyLift Suspension Lifts
ReadyLift got its start in the off-road parts business when it debuted its leveling kits. Shortly after entering the industry, ReadyLift began expanding on its phenomenal product line with moderate suspension lift kits that focus on the drive, while adding curb appeal and ground clearance.
An average suspension lift from the company will run you around $1,400 but it is well worth the cost as the kit includes Bilstein shocks and fabricated control arms.
Answer: Body lifts are not necessarily bad for your truck. They do not alter your suspension, or other critical components so your towing capability remains intact. However, a body lift will not increase your truck’s clearance height. They may also the
Answer: Most people assume that lifting a truck will void the manufacturer’s warranty. However, neither lift should cancel your service contract. There are some restrictions, though. For example, automakers usually prohibit lifts over three inches.
Parts you replace no longer have coverage either. So, while a suspension lift will not automatically void your warranty, it will limit your protection to just the factory parts that remain. While lifting your truck will not necessarily negate the contract, many companies deny claims if you off-road in your vehicle or use it for other unintended purposes.
Whether you choose to raise the body or suspension, many people lift their vehicle to the contract limit while the warranty is in effect. After it expires, they install a taller lift.
Body Lift vs Suspension Lift: Which is Better?
Both lift types have pros and cons. So, you are probably wondering which is really the better choice. The truth is, there are some situations whether you want to alter your vehicle’s look or handle serious off-road terrain, a suspension lift is the best choice. It requires a more substantial initial investment. However, you will get more out of the money you spend.
When you add a top-grade suspension lift to your off-road vehicle, it could add to the private party or trade-in value of your truck. Adding a body lift is likely to decrease the value. Body lifts are cheap and easy to install. So, they are not in high demand in the secondary vehicle market.
A suspension lift is a valuable upgrade because it does more than increase your rig’s visual appeal. Many people in the market for a pre-owned off-road vehicle choose one that already has a quality lift. So, if you buy the right suspension lift, you can upgrade your tires, add ground clearance, gain ride height, and increase your vehicle’s value.