By Dan Sanchez
From TEN Magazines
Leveling Kits provide a simple way to add tire clearance for your truck or SUV.
When you want to improve the appearance and performance of your truck or SUV with a set of slightly larger Wheels and tires, you quickly find out if there are some fitment problems. Tires rubbing the inner wheel well or the edge of the bumper are a sure sign that you need to lift the front of the vehicle an inch or two. A full suspension lift may be out of the question and much too expensive at this point in your truck’s life, but there are some alternatives that make it easy to gain the added clearance to fit those tires.
Many aftermarket suspension manufacturers design “leveling kits” that raise the front of a truck or SUV anywhere from one to two inches. This is just enough lift to allow adequate clearance for Tires ranging from 33-37 inches, depending on the vehicle. In most cases, the type of suspension your vehicle is equipped with will determine the type of leveling kit that will be required. There are various methods used to accomplish this, depending on the suspension design of your vehicle.
Coil spring Spacers are very popular with standard trucks using front coil spring suspensions. Many coil spring Spacers are manufactured from thick polyurethane and fit between the top of the factory coil spring and its perch in the frame of the vehicle. These are probably the easiest to install as a simple coil spring compressor tool is used to remove the spring and insert the spacer on top of it. Some manufacturers such as ReadyLift do not require the use of a spring compressor tool to accomplish this.
If your truck is equipped with a coil-over style suspension system, one that features the coil spring and the shock in one assembly, then a different type of coil spring spacer can be used. Solid coil spring Spacers are typically made from steel or aluminum, depending on the load placed on the spacer. Installation typically requires removing the coil over shock assembly and disassembling the top of the unit to place the spacer between the coil spring and the top of the spring assembly. Once the coil-over shock is reassembled with the spacer in it, the unit effectively raises the vehicle up to two inches without changing any of the vehicle’s overall geometry.
Many import trucks also use a coil-over shock assembly, but often have a different attachment point that is located inside the engine compartment that is called a shock tower. In this situation, shock tower mounts are used to add up to two inches of lift by raising the mounting point for the top of the coil over shock assembly. Shock tower mounts are very simple to install and do not affect the vehicles suspension geometry.
Finally, many four-wheel drive trucks and sport utility vehicles use a torsion bar suspension system. The torsion bar spring is mounted lengthwise in the vehicle and twists and retracts every time a vehicle goes over a bump. Torsion bar suspensions are always preloaded and a common way to add a few inches is to further preload the factory bars with the factory adjustable torsion keys. This works well, but when a torsion bar truck goes over a pot hole or bump, it forces the wheel down, causing a rough ride. Leveling kits can again be used to keep the ride smooth but allows the vehicle to add a couple inches of height. Leveling kits for this type of suspension consist of new torsion bar keys that allow for height adjustments without severely preloading the torsion bars. The effect is a raised vehicle height without the ride harshness.
No matter what type of suspension you have, there’s a leveling kit that can help your vehicle gain a couple of inches to clear those new all terrain or mud terrain tires. Furthermore, these leveling kits will also allow the front of your truck to match the height of the rear suspension to keep it looking great and performing even better.
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