Truck leveling kits are designed to raise the body of the vehicle away from its axles. This outcome makes it possible to fit a larger tire there or to improve the amount of ground clearance that is possible. Your hardware will slightly raise the front of the truck so that it matches the stock height in the back. Most kits will provide a maximum lift of approximately two inches in the front.
If you prefer a stock-style stance with your truck leveling kit, then you can pair it with space blocks with your rear leaf springs to give all four corners a slight lift. Most only need spring spacers or torsion keys to create the results you want to see.
That result is in comparison to a lift kit that could push your truck much higher into the air. There are a variety of shapes and sizes that can give you up to 10 inches (or more) of height, requiring new suspension systems, control arms, shocks, and other equipment. It is not unusual for a truck lift kit to need a new driveshaft as well.
If you are thinking about using a truck leveling kit for your vehicle, then these are the pros and cons you will want to consider.
List of the Pros of a Truck Leveling Kit
1. You can use wheels that are larger than stock on all corners.
The most significant advantage to consider with a truck leveling kit is that it allows you to run wheels that are larger than stock at all four of your corners. Most vehicles have enough clearance in the rear to make this happen already, but the front bumper or fender gets in the way when you turn without this upgrade option. By creating a small lift that levels the front with the rear, you can stop the rubbing issue while gaining the clearance that you want for your activities.
2. It allows you to operate equipment on the front of the truck.
If you run a plow at the front of your truck as a side hustle or need a winch that installs on the front bumper, then a truck leveling kit will give you the extra support that you need. The added weight of these extra elements can create a sagging effect on the front end of the truck, which can cause the front wheels to push against the front fender or bumper. You can even use this option on the back end to give the vehicle a boost if there is an over-extension in the front end for some reason – like having a hitch in the back to carry a fifth-wheel.
3. You can avoid the sag-to-flat issue on some makes and models.
During the 1980s and 90s, most of the American automakers were producing trucks that had a heavy sag in the back. If you started to haul anything, then the frame of the vehicle could almost drag on the ground. Companies like General Motors began to compensate for this issue by placing the front end a little lower than the back. That way, instead of having a heavy load raising the nose of the truck high, it could flatten out the driving experience when hauling something.
When you install a truck leveling kit, then you can correct for this issue if you don’t usually tow or haul items with your vehicle. You can also relieve some of the weight that gets placed on the front end so that other elements of your suspension can receive less stress.
4. It reduces the braking pressure during an emergency stop.
When a truck is lower in the front than in the back, then the higher rear end can create issues with unloaded handling that can compromise your ability to stop during an emergency situation. By creating more balance with a truck leveling kit, you will reduce the load on the front suspension and the brakes. Even though this can add some additional stress points to other components of the vehicle, you’ll improve your cornering weight and emergency braking since the higher bed is no longer an issue.
5. A truck leveling kit will not impact the static weight balance of the vehicle.
When you take the action to level your truck, then you will not affect the static weight balance of the vehicle. The classic example of this advantage is the Ford F350 vs. the F250 model. The F350 is usually about two inches higher because of its taller block, so a leveling kit rakes it just like the other model. Since the install is usually much simpler since there aren’t other significant changes that need to be made with this balancing process, you can create the desired improvements quickly and without much fuss.
6. Fuel economy changes don’t happen with every make and model.
One of the disadvantages that many truck owners face when installing a leveling kit is a change in the aerodynamic profile of the vehicle. By lifting the nose upward, there can be more wind resistance as you drive – especially at highway speeds. Dodge trucks will give you more wheel travel with this advantage and avoid the mileage efficiency losses that you can see from other manufacturers. There can be some models that can even see better mileage since the engine needs to work with less effort due to a severe frontward slope.
7. There is better handling with a truck leveling kit installed.
The reason why go-fast trucks tend to lift the nose of their vehicle is because there is better handling around corners. Although you won’t need to create a severe change with the 2-inch balance this equipment provides you, there is a noticeable change in how the vehicle drives when empty. That’s why this option works well if you don’t tow often or haul heavy loads. If all you need the bed for is the occasional large load, then the advantages of installing this option will typically outweigh most of the disadvantages.
8. You will lift your running boards as you balance the truck.
A couple of inches in additional clearance can be helpful for some trucks that come with low running boards as part of their design. That additional step up can be useful for some drivers and passengers, but these elements can become damaged quickly if you drive off-road without the extra height in the front. Although a lift kit would provide a better advantage here, you can avoid many of the extra expenses by trying to level your vehicle first.
List of the Cons of a Truck Leveling Kit
1. It doesn’t change the overall appearance of the truck.
Some truck owners purchase a leveling kit thinking that it will dramatically change the appearance of their vehicle. Because most of these products will only give you about two inches of clearance, the result is barely perceptible. You need to have a lift kit to gain the extra height that is often desired. This product is more about creating balance. If you don’t consider this disadvantage before purchase, you might find that the equipment you receive is a waste of money compared to the results you want.
2. There is a risk that you could void the warranty on your vehicle.
If you recently purchased a new truck, then you probably paid between $2,500 to $7,500 for a warranty as part of the expenditure. It is not unusual for the guarantee to be voided if you make a non-authorized change to the vehicle. Lift kits are typically included in those terms. Some dealers may be hesitant to even work on the truck, much less make a repair if something happens, when you’ve made modifications like this to it.
This disadvantage doesn’t matter for an older model that is outside of its warranty period. You’ll want to consult the website of your truck’s manufacturer and/or your owner’s manual to see if a leveling kit could void your warranty.
3. Your truck’s suspension could wear out faster.
Leveling kits for a truck can also place more pressure on your suspension components. The added stress from the modification could make them wear out at a faster rate compared to the usual wear-and-tear that they’d experience. These vehicles are usually manufactured to perform in a specific way, so changing anything about its performance can alter the user experience.
If you operate a four-wheel drive truck, then the front CV joints are going to experience heavier stressors than normal. You will also create additional wear on your ball joints in any truck after adjusting the front suspension. Even adding 1-inch instead of two inches to create more balance can reduce the impact of this issue.
4. It can adversely impact your fuel economy.
When you install a truck leveling kit, then you are changing the overall profile of your vehicle. There is typically more wind resistance that you will encounter when making this change, requiring the engine to work harder to achieve the same output. That means you will burn through more fuel than you would otherwise. Although the changes aren’t drastic, going up just one tire size can be enough to reduce your efficiency by 3mpg on the highway and 2mpg in the city. Adding the kit will increase that amount by 25-50%, depending on your vehicle and engine.
5. You might have inaccurate readings from your HUD.
Automakers provide information to you through an odometer, speedometer, and other devices to ensure that you are safe and in compliance with local regulations. Torque, gearing, and traction control are all based on the distance that the tire travels during a complete revolution. These readings are based on the outside diameter of the tire and wheel. If you make a change that is large enough after the installation of a truck leveling kit, then your speed will appear to be lower than what it actually is because of this design issue.
If you make drastic changes to your tires, then it could modify these settings to the point where you can impair the performance of your truck. When your primary goal of a leveling kit is to put on a bigger wheel, it can be helpful to speak with a qualified installer or your dealership to resolve the issue.
6. There is still a cost consideration to consider with a leveling kit.
Even if your new wheel and tire package has enough clearance to work with your current setup, the leveling kit will set your truck apart from the rest of them I your community. Although you’re adding lift at a discount, it is not unusual for a kit to cost up to $1,000 – depending on your make and model, the overall balance, and the quality of the spacers and fittings that are in the product. Most options offer a maximum lift of two inches, but there are some kits out there that will give you up to three inches of clearance.
Verdict of the Pros and Cons of a Truck Leveling Kit
Even after two decades of developing, a truck leveling kit doesn’t provide the average vehicle with an authentic balance. What you receive with this option is the opportunity to prevent sagging or increase the size of the tire you run for specific purposes. Is it really worthwhile to sacrifice up to 10% of your fuel economy because you prefer to look at a vehicle that is slightly more level?
If you go with the two-inch height for your leveling kit and carry a heavy hitch or load in your bed, then you can create sag in the back that could be problematic as well. If you do any hauling or towing, you’ll want to have some rake in the rear or have airbags that can keep the back up during operations.
With the pros and cons of a truck leveling kit, you can avoid the expense of a complete suspension upgrade while improving the vehicle’s aesthetics or the use of a larger tire. It all depends if you want a working truck, a cruising option, or one that can go fast – each has different requirements that may or may not make this option necessary.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.