A Complete Guide Into Truck Leveling and Kit Types
The leveling kit, wheel and tire package is the most common upgrade to a new truck’s appearance. This simple modification has a huge visual impact. Leveling kit packages are known best for keeping the factory ride quality while making the stance of the truck look a whole lot tougher. Getting in and out of the truck is still easy if you don’t want to add steps or running boards. With a leveling kit you can now fit a rim and tire combo that sits flush or just outside the fender giving the truck a “fuller” look. Overall tire diameter doesn’t change that much but by switching to an all-terrain, rugged terrain or mud terrain tire and aftermarket wheel the tire looks much bigger even though it’s pretty close to the factory tire size.
When you buy a truck in its stock form, you will instantly notice that the front of the truck sits much lower than the rear of the truck. This is called “Factory Rake”. The Leveling kit is designed to get rid of this rake. By installing a leveling kit, you immediately transform your truck from having a work truck appearance. The leveling kit does exactly what it sounds like. It raises the front of the truck to be level with the rear of the truck.
Picking the right size leveling kit is crucial. In order to choose the right height, the truck should be measured front to back. A majority of trucks are roughly 2.5 inches. A good rule of thumb is to not go for dead level. Reason being is that a perfectly level truck will look high in the front so always pick a height .5 inch lower than what is needed to level the truck.
Stick with quality brands. There is a lot of junk out there. The major brands have put a lot of effort into making sure that once the kit is installed it can actually be aligned correctly and drive comfortably. If the leveling kit comes with extras like upper control arms, track bar brackets, shock extenders, ect. It’s because these items are needed to achieve a good alignment and good ride quality.
How does leveling your truck affect your factory warranty? All of the major brands back up their products and are FMVSS compliant. In fact, most dealerships actually offer these modifications. It is very hard for the dealership to refuse a warranty these days. They have to prove that whatever you are needing to have warrantied is a direct result of the aftermarket modifications. It is unlawful for a dealer to refuse warranty work because a vehicle has aftermarket modifications (excluding items that manipulate the vehicle’s computer).
Installing the leveling kit, wheel and tire package is typically a one day job.
Finish strong with a good alignment. You will wear your tires out very quickly if you don’t. Alignments on leveled and lifted trucks are different from a factory alignment.
Types of Leveling Kits
Strut spacers get bolted on top of the strut or below the strut. The truck’s front suspension is taken apart far enough to remove the factory struts and the leveling kit is installed directly to the strut.
Inside The Strut Spacer
The inside of the strut spacer is installed by removing the strut from the truck, disassembling the strut, and building the spacer into the strut.
Replacement Strut Cylinder
The replacement strut cylinder levels the truck by having the amount of desired lift built into the strut itself. All of the factory components (coil spring, top plate, hardware) are transferred over to the replacement strut and installed.
Loaded struts are ready to go right out of the box and are usually an upgrade to the factory strut while adding the desired lift height.
Torsion bar keys are specifically for trucks that have torsion bars for springs (GM trucks, Nissan Trucks). The torsion bar in the truck is twisted to raise the truck to ride height. The Leveling key is just indexed differently so that when adjusted with the bolt that adjusts the height the torsion bar is able to twist more to get more lift.
Coil Spring Spacers
Coil spring leveling kits are a spacer that goes either over or under the coil spring to create height. Careful with these kits. Cheap kits will not come with track bar drop brackets, shock, bump stop, and sway bar drop brackets. This will result in terrible ride quality and the axle off to one side of the vehicle.
Lifted Coil Springs
The factory coil spring is replaced with a lifted spring. Usually in 2wd light duty trucks.