This blog post will be addressing the right and wrong time to use a Spacer lift Vs Full lift kit. There are a few deciding factors when opting for the correct lift for your vehicle including:
- Intended use of the vehicle
- Mileage / Age of the vehicle
- Desired Ride Height
- Wheel size
- Intended use of vehicle
Intended use of Vehicle
Looking to increase ride height to fit a larger tire? A spacer lift will most likely work fine for you. Wanting to tackle some aggressive trails and actually use your increased ground clearance? A full lift is a better option for you. Why? Spacer lifts will add on to your existing components allowing for a larger tire but do not typically lengthen any other components or include longer/stronger components meant to handle extreme use. The exchange is apparent in the price of the kits. A spacer lift kit is typically a fraction of the cost of a Full Lift.
Mileage / Age of the vehicle
Spacer Lifts are typically recommended on vehicles will lower mileage and age. Why? A Spacer Lift goes on top of existing springs and struts, So if your vehicle has 100k Miles than the struts are already due to be replaced. Therefore adding a spacer on top of a strut that is already worn is not a good idea. Spacer Lifts are not good options for vehicles that are older, even if your vehicle has low mileage but is 10 years old the Springs and Struts have had the weight of the vehicle on them for 10 years and will diminish your lift size. Think about an old vehicle that you’ve seen. They are usually lower as gravity takes an effect on the ride height, adding a 2″ spacer to a 10 year old spring may only net you 1″ of lift over factory height. These higher mileage and age vehicles are great candidates for Full Lift Kits. Most Full Lift Kits will include new springs, struts, control arms, sway bar links ETC. Better to replace the failed/aged components with new parts designed to have the proper length / geometry for your new ride height.
Desired Ride Height
Spacer Lifts are usually 1-3″ in height. The reason why is simply adding a spacer can add stress to you peripheral components. Full lift kits can range from 2″ up to 12″ in some applications. They can do this because the Full lift will include all the parts needed to correct the steering geometry and improve ride and tire wear. So if you are looking for a lift of 2″ or bigger a Full Lift is a better option.
Thinking about reusing your wheels? Than a Full Lift may or may not work for you. A Full lift on Independent front suspension vehicles can use longer knuckles which may interfere with your wheel diameter. For example the 5″ lift kit for a Chevy Silverado includes new knuckles and require wheels to have at least 18″ diameter to not hit the knuckle. So your 17″ wheels will have to be replaced.
–Joshua Shook Sr.