Here’s a little-known fact: lift kits don’t always increase ground clearance.

Surprised? If you're a fan of our company, probably not. But if you're new to the world of suspension modifications, you might not be aware that most lift kits don't actually increase ground clearance. At best, a lift kit allows for an upgrade to bigger tires...and that upgrade (the tires) gives your vehicle more ground clearance.

But most lift kits have no effect on ground clearance, and this an important thing to know when shopping for a new suspension kit for your vehicle.

Lift Kit Types, and How They Affect Ground Clearance

There are quite a few different types of lift kits, and they all impact your vehicle's ground clearance a bit differently. Here's a quick synopsis of the three most popular types of lifts:

Body lifts are spacers between the body of the vehicle and the chassis. They basically increase the distance between the fenders and the wheel hubs. They have zero effect on ground clearance, excluding whatever 'lift' is provided by upgraded tires. However, for some vehicles, body lifts are the only type of lift available.

Bracket lifts (aka drop bracket lifts) essentially move the frame "lower", adding new brackets to the frame to allow for relocation of the axles, etc. Bracket lifts are quite popular (particularly on HD trucks), but they have very little effect on ground clearance (excluding tires).

Cheap is bad
This spoiler didn't cost much, and it almost certainly makes the vehicle worse. Sadly, this is also true of a lot of off-road suspension products on the market today.

Spacer lifts are also quite popular, but they too have very little impact on ground clearance. A spacer lift is just what it sounds like - spacers are added to the coil packs (for coil suspensions), blocks are added above solid axles (most rear suspension systems on trucks are solid axle), and then the vehicle can accommodate larger tires.

Primarily, spacer lifts are popular because they are cheap. However, spacer lifts usually reduce off-road performance:

  • Front suspension spacers essentially "pre-load" the coil pack, increasing the amount of static compression on the spring*. While these make the vehicle sit higher (and thus appear "lifted"), they decrease travel and negatively impact CV joints.
  • Rear spacer kits add blocks above the rear axle, but this increases the odds of axle wrap, which is fairly common when off-roading. Axle wrap can do serious damage. Additionally, blocks can negatively impact U-joints.
  • All spacers and blocks - front and rear - reduce suspension travel. This affects the vehicle in all kinds of scenarios.

Spacers and blocks are popular because they're cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for.

*Note: "Pre-load" isn't a 100% technically correct term, but it's a decent proxy for what's actually happening with the spring when a spacer is added to a coil pack.

The Right Way To Lift A Vehicle

Suspension lift 1
As an off-road racing company, all our suspension kits and parts are designed to improve vehicle performance.

If you're lifting your vehicle because you want more off-road performance, you need to upgrade key components. Otherwise, a lift is just trying to force OEM parts to do something they were never designed to do. A lift kit should include upgrades to the following:

  • A-arms (aka control arms), with upgraded uniball joints
  • Coilovers, which should include shocks valved to match new springs
  • Leaf packs and paired shocks (if applicable), which are shocks valved to match the new leaf packs

Upgrading these components will improve the performance of the vehicle AND increase lift. This way, off-road performance is improved, which is the main reason to lift a vehicle in the first place.

How Baja Does Lift Kits

Our kits come in three basic flavors:

  1. Chase Kits, which pair a new upper control arm (aka A-arm) with a new coilover up front, and an upgraded set of shocks and a new leaf pack in the rear. This is a full suspension upgrade that increases travel and adds lift.
  2. Prerunner Kits, which pair new upper and lower control arms with a new coilover up front, as well as upgraded shocks and a new leaf pack in the rear. This is a more complete suspension upgrade that offers considerably more travel than a stock suspension as well as lift.
  3. Race Kits, which are a true racing quality suspension setup that involve considerable effort to install. These kits are race-ready, however.

Most consumers interested in lifting a truck for casual off-road use want to look at our Chase or Prerunner kits - both allow lift without compromising performance.

Suspension lift 2
A full race kit is a thing of beauty, especially once you understand just how radical the suspension upgrades are.

Remember - Upgrades Aren't Upgrades If They Make Things Worse

Many of the companies selling suspension parts for trucks and SUVs are all too happy to provide consumers with products that make their vehicle worse. We aren't one of these companies.

ALL of our products improve the performance of the vehicle they're installed on. If you're looking for lift to fit a set of 35" or 37" tires, for example, a Chase kit will probably work just fine (tire size will depend on your vehicle), with the added benefit of making your vehicle better. More suspension travel, better performance in off-road situations that will destroy OEM components, etc.

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