Most off-roaders have lifted or wish to lift their vehicles, so we're not going out on a limb here. A superior suspension system is by far the most popular improvement, as it allows for larger tires and wheels. Many stock automobiles are designed to be as fuel-efficient as possible right out of the factory, making them easier to get into. While this is useful on the road, it rapidly becomes a problem on the trail. It gets old quickly destroying rockers, dragging the frame, and getting hung up on the belly. In the dirt, a higher altitude and larger tires can make a major difference.
It's simple to limit resources to these modifications, given the cost of a new suspension system, swankier wheels, and gnarlier tires—after all, they will have the greatest financial impact. When it comes to lifting your vehicle, though, there's a lot more to consider than simply the big-ticket things. There are a lot of minor details that, if overlooked, can cause your truck, Jeep, or SUV to operate poorly or even become unsafe. Some of them aren't included with a new suspension system, but they're not optional, either. Here are some of the essential components of a suspension kit.
Ring and Pinion Gears
Regearing is often the most ignored aspect of raising a truck and installing larger tires. If your tire diameter increases by more than two inches, you'll almost certainly need to replace your factory ring and pinion gears with smaller ones. Your vehicle will feel sluggish without them, and your gas mileage will suffer. Because the transmission shifts a lot more when the gearing is incorrect, it might contribute to early transmission failure.
Driveshafts are sometimes forgotten, although they are required when a vehicle is lifted. This usually applies to lifts greater than six inches in height. Some cars, such as Jeep model cars, will require new driveshafts if elevated more than three inches. If new shafts are required, take advantage of the opportunity to replace them with stronger ones. Front driveshafts are frequently overlooked, but they must have the proper length as well.
Many sensors and systems in modern automobiles rely on understanding the vehicle's true speed. Important features like traction control, stability control, transmission shift points, and others may not work effectively without it. For gear swaps and tire size adjustments, most current programmers can recalibrate the speedometer.
Extended Brake Lines
Depending on the vehicle, you may need to get extended brake lines or reroute your existing lines if you're going up more than a couple of inches. This is not a location where you can save money or cut corners. If you snap a brake line while on the trail or freeway, you and others could suffer catastrophic injuries.
Upgraded Steering Box
Your stock power steering system may be overwhelmed by extremely large tires. This can become a much bigger issue at really slow trail speeds, where tires are tougher to turn. For most trucks, several companies make a beefier steering box with a larger piston to help turn larger tires. Its larger section shaft withstands abuse as well. Ram aids are also offered to aid in the turning of extremely large tires. Any tire larger than 37 inches on most lifted trucks will require a ram assist.
Vented and Slotted Rotors
Putting larger tires on your vehicle adds rotating mass to your vehicle’s braking system. Add to that a heavy load in the bed of a truck or on a trailer, and those same brakes can get worked hard and generate lots of heat. A good way to minimize heat is with vented and slotted rotors. You can team them with upgraded brake pads for a combo that can handle the extra weight and harder use.
Upgraded Bar Drop Bracket
The right track bar drop bracket is critical for coil-sprung cars like Jeep Wranglers. To minimize bump steer, the track bar and the draglink should be as parallel as feasible. Any decent lift should include a track bar drop bracket that is specifically designed to accomplish this. When comparing suspension systems, keep in mind that some “extras” like these that should be included are left out to save the cost of the kit. On the other hand, buying everything built to function together as a system is a lot easier than trying to patch things together.
Dropped Pitman Arm
When raising a car, steering is critical. If you're installing coilovers or raising your car a couple of inches, you probably won't need anything else. However, as you get higher, you may need to use a Pitman arm that has been dropped. This is not a place to cut corners. Trying to make your steering operates at inconvenient angles will result in poor steering and handling qualities. In some cases, the steering linkage can break or bind; neither of these is a desirable outcome.
Upgraded Sway Bars Disconnects
It's critical to keep your front and rear sway bars (if you have them) linked for proper highway handling. Extended sway bar links are standard on some suspension kits, although they are optional on others. Upgraded sway bar disconnects from suspension lift kit manufacturers will give you a lot more off-road flex, not to mention peace of mind on the highways.
Reservoir Shocks Mount
If you're using reservoir shocks, you'll need a way to install the reservoirs to your vehicle's chassis or the shock body cleanly. Mounts for the cans are included with some reservoir shocks that are part of the suspension system. However, you'll have to pay for a mount if it’s not included in your suspension system. When we see someone spend the extra money on reservoir shocks only to zip tie them to the frame, we shake our heads.
We hope you have enjoyed our article on some of the most essential components of a suspension kit! While it can be difficult to understand how to put a lift kit on a vehicle, you can rest assured that your vehicle will be properly lifted in no time if you take your time and carefully follow instructions. If you have any questions about lifting or our truck's suspensions, our ASE Certified Techs are available to answer any of your questions.