Despite the appealing looks and improved performance of a lifted pickup, there can be a downside. The cost of a typical suspension lift can run into the thousands of dollars, especially when you add the cost of the labor. There's a more affordable approach, however, called a body lift, which allows pickup enthusiasts to raise their vehicles as much as six inches in some cases. That's enough room for tires measuring as much as 35 inches in diameter. We'll show you how a pickup truck body lift is done.
How much money can you save on this alternative? Let's take a look Performance Accessories as an example, which has been offering this type of product for more than 30 years. Depending on the vehicle make and model, the company's Premium Lift Systems range from $220 to $900 for a complete kit.
The kits typically consist of reinforced nylon body blocks, front coil-spring spacers, a CNC billet machined steering extension, high-grade hardware, and black plated mounting brackets. Included is just about everything needed to raise the vehicle, including a bottle of thread locker and a set of the company's urethane Gap Guards to conceal the space between the body and frame. In addition to raising the suspension, Performance Accessories' body-lift systems combine a leveling system as well (since the factory suspension usually angles upward at the rear to allow for heavy loads). Another advantage is that Premium Lift Systems don't alter the factory suspension, minimizing warranty issues and maintaining the factory ride.
The Premium Lift Systems start at $220 (four-inch lift 2007-'09 Jeep Wranger JK, #PLS990) and run as high as $899, (5.5-inch system on the 2007-'09 Toyota Tundra #PLS563). Additional lift systems are also available for current model Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, Nissan Titan, GM, and other make and model domestic and import pickups.
A typical installation requires unbolting the vehicle's body mounts while lifting up on the underside of the truck to insert the new body lift blocks. Longer bolts are supplied and the procedure is done at each body mount around the frame of the truck. In addition, a steering column extension has to be installed where the column connects to the steering box.
As for the leveling portion of the system, it uses either a polyurethane or a combination of CNC-machined spring spacers, depending on the make and model vehicle, which fit between the factory front coil springs and at the top of the spring perch. Most installation facilities use a spring-compressor tool that makes the job easier, safer and quicker. Time to complete is usually less than a day, depending on year, make and model of vehicle. Standard shop tools are needed for installation, including a spring compressor, but no alignment rack since the factory suspension is retained.
While the added lift raises the body off the frame, the factory bumpers need to be adjusted using bumper relocation brackets. Depending on the vehicle, some cutting and drilling of the factory bumper frame mounts will be required as well. Fan shroud extensions, along with additional support brackets, are also provided in the kits as necessary.
Once the entire truck has been lifted, many consumers can't tell that anything has been done to the truck, except for the beefy set of 35-inch tires that now reside in the wheel wells. That's sufficient for a large segment of truck owners, who simply want an off-road appearance, but without the time and extra expense of a full-on suspension lift.