Trucks take flight: an expert look at lifted trucks

Lifted trucks

Photo courtesy of Super Trucks Plus.

“And she said, ‘Hey, boy, do you mind taking me home tonight, cuz’ I ain’t never see a country boy with tires on his truck this high.’”  Jake Owen. “Eight Second Ride.”

Out here, it seems like the only thing a lot of people like more than their trucks is the art of raising them up. Followed closely by a mud-bogging hole or field filled with red Virginia clay that’s just waiting to get torn up by those lifted trucks.

Now, I don’t say this from experience, as my workhorse consists of a highly functional but decidedly tame, un-lifted F150. Rather, I make that call based on the number of lifted trucks I see around here, and the fact that they’re often covered top to bottom, including windows, in mud.

Why do we have a love affair with lifted trucks, and why do we raise them up in the first place? For some insight, I turned to an expert in the field of lifting trucks – Chris Dye. He’s the store manager at Super Trucks Plus LLC in North Carolina, and describes it as “probably Raleigh’s only full custom shop.” Chris and his crew specialize in transforming ordinary vehicles into amazing lifted trucks.

“Most people lift trucks to achieve a higher ground clearance,” Chris explains. They do this to avoid bottoming out or getting stuck when driving off-road, and to allow for the fitment of larger tires.

Higher ground clearance? Sounds plausible, but my gut tells me there’s another, more common reason that people lift their trucks, and it didn’t take long for Chris to confirm my suspicions. “A lot of people lift ‘em just for looks these days. They’ll take a brand-new truck, lift it, and it’ll never go off-road.”

Chris said that one of the more common and popular requests when it comes to lifted trucks is a six-inch lift with 35’s, with “35” referring to the tire size. These suspension lift kits can start out at four inches of lift and go all the way to 12 inches, or higher. Chris then began explaining other vehicle parts that get involved with suspension lift kits, including independent front suspension, shocks versus struts, drop cradles, larger knuckles and steering geometry, and this was about the time that I realized that lifting a truck might be more involved than I realized.

He went on to explain that once you maxed out your lift with suspension lift kits, you can still go higher by choosing a body lift. With a body lift, the vehicle body has to be disconnected from every spot it’s mounted to, new spacers inserted, and then the body bolted back down to all its connecting points.

As for height, it seems like that’s more a matter of personal choice. Chris said the highest he’s ever lifted was 26 inches, and that was enough to clear a set of 54’s. In his opinion, the maximum comfortable lift he’d recommend for someone’s daily driver, as opposed to a show truck, is a 12-inch lift with 40-inch tires.

What do you think? Are you driving a lifted truck? If so, let me know your lift height and tire size, and what you think is the optimal set up.

Lifted Truck 2

Photo courtesy of Super Trucks Plus.

“It’s all about personal preference. If you’re building a show truck, the sky’s the limit,” Chris adds.

As for my truck, if I were to do anything, I’d be inclined to start with Chris’ recommendation of just a leveling kit. “It’s your most basic kind of lift,” Chris explains. “That’s going to take most trucks and lift the front up about two inches so that the front height equals the height of the rear. This will allow you to go up one tire size from factory specs and gives you essentially two inches of lift.”

Cost is another consideration when deciding how high to lift because the two seem to rise in unison. Chris said that a ballpark cost for a six-inch lift on 35’s is about $5,000 to $6,000, but that he’s done lift jobs that total over $20,000.

If you’re looking for ideas on what others have done with their lifts, Chris recommends Mud Life and Four Wheel & Off-Road, as well as the online forum at Lifted Trucks USA. And, of course, you can always check out some projects that he and Super Trucks Plus have performed.

As for me, what do think I should do to it? Stick with the leveling kit? Go a little bigger and get a six-inch lift? Maybe just switch to bigger tires? Leave me a comment, and please include thoughts on how I can sell the idea to my significant other. Chances are, she’s going to be less than pleased instead of asking me to take her home tonight because she’s impressed with my truck’s tire height!

Editor’s note: If there’s a lift or an off-road adventure in your truck’s future, make your first stop Advance Auto Parts, for all the best in parts, tools and accessories at a great price. Buy online, pick up in store.