Safety Factors to Consider when Installing a Suspension Lift Kit

Suspension lift kits are one of the most popular accessories used in customizing pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, and for good reason – they are relatively easy to install, inexpensive, and create an impressive look that will have other drivers thinking twice about getting in the way. Aside from creating a slightly menacing look by raising the vehicle profile, lift kits also distribute front impact loads through the frame, increase ride quality and allow the driver to glide over bumps, small hills and unexpected dips, as well as crush brush and splash through puddles like it’s no one else’s business. Best of all, the cost is much cheaper than that of actually lifting the vehicle.

There are many factors to consider before installing a suspension lift kit for your truck, SUV or ATV. While the benefits for getting a higher ground clearance and superior articulation for traveling difficult terrains are evident, there are some less obvious affects to suspending your vehicle; the most important of which are those in driving dynamics, riding perspective, and the overall safety of driving the lifted vehicle.

Driving Dynamics

When you install a suspension lift kit on your vehicle, the most apparent modification is that it will substantially increase in height. While this provides better ground clearance for travelling on bumpy grounds with rocks, gravel, mud, and other uneven obstacles, an increase in height also shifts the vehicle's center of gravity to a higher point, making it less steady. This could be problem when taking sharp turns, as a higher center of gravity gives the vehicle a tendency to lean on the curving point, possibly causing it to tumble over.  After installing a Suspension lift kit, it may be necessary to make additional modifications to correct these effects. Needless to say, check the lift kit manufacturers instructions for your vehicle to find out what the recommendations are and as always, extra caution is needed when driving a vehicle with a lift kit installed.

Riding Perspective

Another consideration when driving a truck or SUV with a suspension lift kit is the change in your driving perspective. When driving a raised vehicle, smaller obstacles that could cause an accident may be less visible. Even more serious is the prospect of other cars and especially motorcyclists entering your expanded blind spot. To reduce the size of the blind spot and increase visibility from a heightened angle, there are several options by Aero which including bigger mirrors, mirror relocation or adding a blind spot mirror.  

Overall Safety

Getting better off-road performance from a suspension lift kit does not essentially end with simply installing it. In addition, you may have to make further modifications such as installing longer throw shocks, extended brake lines or replacing the stock tires with larger tires to balance the look of your lifted truck, as standard tires can look much smaller when you add a suspension kit. If you change your tire size, your engine's gear ratio may also need to be improved and pulled accordingly since the tires' revolution changes with the size of the tire. Additionally, this can also affect the steering geometry of your ride, requiring the installation of components to balance the effect, such as a CV driveshaft, stronger U-joints or steering stabilizers. If you are not well-versed in automotive mechanics, it is highly recommended for you to consult with a professional mechanic before modifying your vehicle to assure its safety.

If you want superior performance and presence at an economical cost, a quality suspension lift kit is highly suggested. There are plenty of options out there for trucks and SUV's such as Skyjacker and Rancho as well as Black Diamond for Jeeps. Of course, there are different types of lift kits for different types of vehicles and off-roading needs, so paying attention to manufacturer specifications and safety recommendations is an abolute must. As previously mentioned, some lift kits may require you to make modifications such as changing the tires size, or even lowering your fan shroud and other connecting parts to prevent problems like overheating, so don't just buy a suspension lift kit and expect to get amazing results.  Following these tips, as well as knowing the intended result of installing this modification will ensure the best outcome in the performance, safety and comfort of your suspension lift kit.

For more information about suspensions lift kits and other truck modifications check back on our articles page regularly.

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Posted on January 2nd, 2013
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