Outdoor enthusiasts in San Diego County are a lucky bunch. We’ve got beaches and surfing to the west, skiing and snowboarding a couple of hours north, and just a short drive east is off-roader heaven—a desert filled with wide open fields, rocky crevasses, and even dunes when you get close to Arizona. All that gorgeous, off-road terrain is one reason why you see so many lifted trucks around town—the other reason is style, because let’s face it, lifted trucks look pretty cool.
When it comes to off-roading performance, boosted height can’t be beat. Not only do lift kits increase clearance to attack otherwise unreachable angles and boost traction, but they also make room for larger tires to optimize your off-roading experience.
If you have a stock pickup truck or SUV that’s constantly dwarfed by lifted behemoths roaring east on I-8, good news: lift kits are available for nearly every make and model, and if you have the right equipment, tools and mechanical know-how, you can probably install the kit yourself. Here’s a brief guide on DIY lift kit installation to give your truck the elevation it needs to tackle any off-roading obstacle (and look awesome doing it):
Step 1: Determine which truck lift kit you need
There are actually two types of lift kits: suspension lifts and body lifts, both of which raise the height of your vehicle but in completely different ways. Suspension kits lift through a modified spring system, while body kits use spacers between the suspension and the body of the vehicle to allow room for bigger tires. The body kit makes the vehicle ride higher but keeps the suspension at its original height.
If your lift kit goal revolves more around appearance than performance, a body lift kit is probably right for you. But if you want the best kit for off-road applications, go with a suspension lift instead.
Step 2: Gather tools and equipment
To install a suspension lift kit, you’ll need vehicle jacks (for the frame and also for the axels) and safety stands to lift your vehicle high enough in the air to install the new parts. In addition, you’ll need an impact wrench, bushings, nuts and bolts to replace any that are damaged or rusted, and a lug wrench. You might also need a hammer and ample grease to work through stiff joints.
Step 3: Install the truck lift kit
If you read step 2 and you’re wondering what an impact wrench is or what the heck bushings are, you might want to hand this project off to a professional. But if you think you can handle it, here’s an overview of the installation process:
- Jack the vehicle up and arrange the safety stands
- Remove the shocks
- Unscrew the U-bolts and detach the leaf-spring mounts
- Install the new suspension springs
- Reattach the leaf spring mounts and U-bolts
- Install the new shocks
- Make sure all nuts and bolts are nice and tight
- Lower the vehicle
Don’t head east quite yet, though—before trying out your new lift kit, take your vehicle to an automotive professional to make sure the kit was properly installed. Even if you’re confident in your abilities and the project’s end-result, the last place you want to find out you’re wrong is dozens of miles from the nearest auto shop.
Not so sure about a DIY truck lift kit? Stereo Depot’s here for you.
If you want a high quality suspension lift kit and you want it installed without any headaches or potential disasters down the dirt road, contact Stereo Depot. We have trained lift kit experts at our locations in San Diego and El Cajon who can answer your questions and offer suggestions on how best to get your vehicle ready for the great outdoors. We offer high quality work at affordable prices, so contact us today!