Should I Get a Truck Leveling Kit or a Lift Kit?

Many of us with pickup trucks want to go off-road and that often means lifting a truck a few inches higher. But some of us, too, what our trucks to look better on the road, and that means we want a leveling kit to get rid of the factory nose-down stance that many trucks come with. Should you get a truck leveling kit or a lift kit? What is the best option for how you drive?

Which is better, a leveling kit or a lift kit?

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Trucks come from the factory with a slight nose-down stance or rake. Bet you never noticed before, but now you won’t be able to un-see it. Most manufacturers do what they can with sheet metal and styling to hide the nose-dive stance, but trucks are set up like that so that when you add stuff in the bed, the headlights don’t aim for the sky. So, many people order a kit that raises the front end a couple of inches to improve the look on the street.

A lift kit is generally a much more expensive option. Basically, a lift kit is an entirely new suspension that will raise the truck a few inches front and rear, either for show or for off-roading. A Rough Country lift kit, for example, comes with control arms shocks and more because when you’re going off-road, clearance is king, so a lift helps you get up and over big rocks with ease. The 2022 Chevy ZR2, for example, comes with a factory lift.

Does a leveling kit hurt your truck?

A Ford Ranger and a Ford F-150 with factory-installed leveling kits
Ford sells factory leveling kits for the Ranger and F-150 | Ford

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For off-roading, a leveling kit will help improve your front approach angle, preserving all the expensive bodywork under the grille. And, if you add a heavy winch or a plow to the front of your truck, a front-end leveling kit will keep your nose from diving. But, if you’re hauling lots of stuff in the bed the increase in front end lift gets more pronounced, and like a lever, the front end will start to aim towards the sky. A poorly designed leveling kit can cause more suspension wear and funky handling simply because it changes your steering angle inputs.

Several OEMs, like Ford, offer a factory-authorized leveling kit for your F-150 or Ranger. Aftermarket manufacturers make a Ford Maverick lift kit, too.

Are lift kits worth it?

A 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor in a dark grey color with a light grey and yellow racing stripe graphics. The truck is lifted with off road wheels and tires. The wheels have bead locks that are yellow and color matched to the graphics. This truck was on display at SEMA in 2021.
Addictive Desert Designs Ford F-150 Raptor | Ford

RELATED: How Much Does Lifting Your Truck Cost?

We’ve all seen the giant “bro dozers” with the giant lifts. While those trucks are generally show trucks, many of us do recognize that we need a bit more off-road clearance simply to avoid smashing our oil pan on the nearest rock, or for bigger tires. You may just want the view from riding high in traffic, too. There are several manufacturers that make kits, and a Rough Country lift kit is one of the most popular. They can cost $700 to $2,000 depending on the truck and options.  

What is included in a leveling kit or lift kit?

The components of a lift kit for a Jeep wrangler or Gladiator truck.
Jeep sells this lift kit for EcoDisel and 4xe Wrangler and Gladiator trucks | Stellantis

For some of us, a leveling kit is simply 40 bags of mulch in the bed. But, a suspension leveling kit is a basic spacer set that adds a few inches between the frame and the shocks. They look like giant steel rings. If you install one, it’s always a good idea to get an alignment to make sure everything is straight so that you don’t wear out your tires or expensive suspension parts. A leveling kit is generally less expensive than a lift kit: a 2022 Ford F-150 leveling kit should cost less than $100, for example.

A lift kit is a far more complicated. Since it’s essentially a new suspension system, it comes with new shock braces, shock coils, strut spacers, and some kits require trailing arms and control arms. A 4-inch lift kit is about right for many trucks. Any taller and you’ll need longer drive shafts, brake lines, and more.

A good lift kit, for example, a Rough Country lift kit or a factory kit for a 2022 Ford F-150 will be almost $2,000. But, if you’re off-roading that provides some insurance against an expensive engine bash, and on-road you get to ride high and enjoy the view.

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