Charlie Pitcock

Charlie Pitcock, Owner of Bandit Customs LLC

suspension lift vs body lift

Lift kits – they’re not just about looks. They’re crucial for boosting your ride’s performance. In the world of lift kits, it’s all about suspension lifts and body lifts.

What’s the big deal? 

Well, they’re like two different paths to the same destination: making your truck cooler and more capable. Suspension Lift vs Body Lift – that’s what we’re digging into. 

We’ll explore what each is, their ups and downs, and how to choose the right one for your beast on wheels.

Understanding the Basics

What is a Suspension Lift?

Lifted GMC

So, what’s a suspension lift? It’s like giving your vehicle a pair of stilts. This lift involves tweaking the suspension system to raise the entire vehicle higher off the ground. 

It’s not just about making your ride look tough; it’s about beefing up its off-road prowess.

By replacing shocks, springs, and sometimes control arms and driveshafts, you’re basically giving your vehicle longer legs. 

The result? More ground clearance. 

This means your ride can tackle bigger obstacles and rougher terrain without breaking a sweat. Plus, a higher suspension means better angles for off-roading – your car’s belly won’t scrape every time it meets a big rock or a steep hill.

What is a Body Lift?

Body Lifted Truck

Now, let’s talk body lifts. Imagine putting a thicker pair of shoes on your vehicle – that’s a body lift. It’s all about raising the body of your vehicle away from the frame. No major changes to the suspension or wheels here.

Body lifts use spacers and blocks to add height, typically one to three inches. It’s a cosmetic boost, perfect for a more imposing look and fitting larger tires. 

But here’s the catch: it doesn’t increase ground clearance under the chassis. 

So, while your truck might look ready to climb mountains, it won’t necessarily perform any better off-road. It’s a style thing, not a performance enhancer.

Suspension Lifts and Body Lifts at a Glance

Let’s break it down quickly and easily. Here’s a table comparing the key aspects of suspension lifts and body lifts:

AspectSuspension LiftBody Lift
InstallationComplex, ProfessionalSimpler, DIY-Friendly
PerformanceMajor ImprovementMinor to None
HandlingChanges SignificantlyRemains Similar

Quick Breakdown:

  • Cost: Suspension lifts are the pricier route. You’re paying for more parts and a more complex setup. Body lifts are easier on the wallet, mainly involving spacers and blocks.
  • Installation: Suspension lifts often require a pro – it’s a complex job. Body lifts? More DIY-friendly, with less technical work needed.
  • Performance: This is where suspension lifts shine. They offer a real boost in off-road performance. Body lifts? Not so much. They’re more about looks than function.
  • Handling: Expect some handling changes with suspension lifts, as they alter the vehicle’s center of gravity. Body lifts keep the handling mostly the same since they don’t mess with the vehicle’s mechanics.

The Installation Process – What to Expect

Now that you’ve got an idea of the basics let’s look at how difficult it is to install each kind of lift. We will start with body lifts as the DIY-friendly option.

DIY-Friendly Body Lifts

Roll up your sleeves, DIYers, because body lifts are right up your alley. Here’s what you’ll typically need:

  • Basic garage tools like wrenches, sockets, and screwdrivers.
  • Lift Blocks and Spacers. These are the key components that raise your vehicle’s body from its frame.
  • Jack and Jack Stands to safely lift and support the vehicle.


  • Safety First: Park on a flat surface, use wheel chocks, and always lift the vehicle safely.
  • Remove and Replace: You’ll be removing bolts that secure the body to the frame, placing the lift blocks or spacers, and then re-securing everything.
  • Adjustments: After lifting, you might need to adjust components like the steering column, fuel filler, and brake lines.

It’s a straightforward process, but it demands attention to detail and safety.

Professional Installation for Suspension Lifts

Now, suspension lifts are a whole different beast. Here’s why you’ll likely need a professional:

  • Complex Components: We’re talking about modifying or replacing shocks, springs, control arms, and sometimes the driveshaft.
  • Alignment and Calibration: Post-installation, your vehicle will need proper alignment and possible recalibration of systems like the speedometer and ABS.
  • Safety Concerns: Incorrect installation can lead to serious safety issues.


  • Lifting the Vehicle: The entire vehicle needs to be lifted, not just the body.
  • Component Replacement: Replacing or modifying major suspension components.
  • Expert Alignment: Ensuring everything is aligned for optimal performance and safety.

Suspension lifts are not a weekend DIY project. They require expertise, precision, and specialized tools. The higher cost of installation reflects the complexity and importance of getting it right.

Suspension Lift vs Body Lift: Performance on the Road and Off-Road

Fuel Economy and Speed Implications

Lifts and Practicality – it’s a bit of a trade-off. Here’s the deal:

  • Suspension Lifts: They can impact your fuel economy. Why? More wind resistance due to the increased height and often larger tires. Also, they might add weight, which can slow you down a bit.
  • Body Lifts: Less impact here. Since you’re not adding much weight or drastically changing the vehicle’s profile, your speed and fuel economy stay more or less the same.

Ground Clearance and Off-Road Capability

When it’s about conquering rough terrain, ground clearance is king.

  • Suspension Lifts: They’re the real MVPs for off-roading. More clearance under your vehicle means tackling bigger obstacles and rougher trails. It’s a genuine upgrade in off-road capability.
  • Body Lifts: They might let you fit larger tires, which is cool, but they don’t actually increase clearance under the chassis. So, for serious off-roading? Not a huge help.

Handling and Safety

Lifts can change the way your vehicle handles – sometimes in tricky ways.

  • Suspension Lifts: Expect some changes in handling due to the higher center of gravity. This can mean a bit more body roll in turns and potentially different steering feel. It’s important to get used to these changes to stay safe.
  • Body Lifts: Since they don’t mess with the vehicle’s suspension, the handling remains pretty similar to pre-lift conditions. Just remember, any lift can affect stability to some extent, so it’s wise to drive with a bit more caution post-modification.

In summary, if off-road performance is key and you don’t mind some tweaks to handling, suspension lifts are your go-to. But, if you’re more about the looks and want to keep the ride pretty much the same, body lifts are the way.

Analyzing the Costs: Budgeting for Your Lift

When it comes to lifting your ride, the sticker price is just the start. Let’s break down the costs:

Initial Costs

Suspension Lifts:

  • Kit Costs: These can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on how high you’re going and the quality of the kit.
  • Installation: Professional installation adds to the cost, often significantly, given the complexity.
  • Additional Mods: Sometimes, you’ll need extra work like new tires, brake line adjustments, or even drivetrain modifications.

An example I like to use is a 2.5-inch lift on a Jeep. This is super common, as it’s what you’ll need for 35-inch tires. This kit, including installation, runs around $800-1200, depending on the brand and your shop.

Body Lifts:

  • Kit Costs: Generally cheaper, often under a few hundred bucks.
  • Installation: If you’re handy, you can DIY this. If not, professional installation will be cheaper than suspension lifts but still an added expense.
  • Extras: Fewer additional modifications are needed compared to suspension lifts.

A comparable example here is a 3-inch body lift on a Jeep. Because you can install it yourself, you can get this for as low as $150. If you have a shop install it, you could be looking at around $600. The installation cost will vary greatly depending on the specific model as well. 

Long-Term Maintenance Expenses

It’s not just about the upfront costs; let’s look at what these lifts mean for your wallet down the road.

Suspension Lifts:

  • Wear and Tear: Higher. You might see increased wear on components like tires, bearings, and joints.
  • Repairs and Adjustments: More complex systems mean potentially higher maintenance costs.

Body Lifts:

  • Wear and Tear: Generally less. Since the vehicle’s suspension isn’t altered, the majority of parts wear at their usual rates.
  • Repairs and Adjustments: Simpler, less expensive maintenance due to the less complex nature of the lift.

In summary, suspension lifts are a bigger hit to the wallet upfront and over time. Body lifts are more budget-friendly initially and in the long run. Consider how deep your pockets are and how far you’re willing to dive into maintenance.

Choosing the Best Lift for Your Needs

Matching Lift Type to Driving Habits

Picking the right lift is all about how you drive. Let’s match your style:

  • Off-Road Warriors: If you’re hitting trails, climbing rocks, or fording streams, a suspension lift is your best bet. It’s built for performance, handling tough terrain with ease.
  • City Cruisers and Show-Offs: Just cruising around town or want to make heads turn at car meets? A body lift might be all you need. It boosts the look without the complex changes of a suspension lift.
  • Mixed-Use Drivers: Sometimes in the city, sometimes off-road? Consider a moderate suspension lift. It gives some off-road capability without being overkill for city driving.

Balancing Visual Appeal and Functionality

It’s like choosing between a suit and a work uniform – each has its place. Here’s how to strike the balance:

  • Prioritize Your Needs: Ask yourself what’s more important – looks or function? If it’s about impressing on the streets, lean towards a body lift. If you’re chasing performance, go for a suspension lift.
  • Budget Considerations: Suspension lifts can be pricey. If you want the look without the high cost, a body lift with some larger tires can be a great compromise.
  • Future Plans: Think long-term. If you’re planning more performance mods down the line, start with a suspension lift. It sets the stage for further enhancements.

Choosing the right lift is about aligning your driving habits, aesthetic preferences, and budget. It’s a personal choice but one that can hugely impact your ride’s look and performance.

Suspension Lift vs Body Lift: Final Thoughts

Alright, let’s put a bow on this. We’ve talked about Suspension Lift vs Body Lift – two paths to elevate your ride, each with its own flavor. 

Suspension lifts are your go-to for serious off-road action, boosting performance, and ground Suspension Lift vs Body Lift: Choosing the Right Upgrade for Your Rideclearance. 

Body lifts? They’re about that cool look and are easier on the wallet.

Remember, it’s not just about what looks cool. It’s about what works for your driving style, your needs, and your budget. A lift can totally change your ride, so choose wisely. 

Think about the long-term, too – both in costs and in how you plan to use your vehicle.

Feeling revved up but still need some guidance? Or maybe you’re ready to pull the trigger? Cruise on over to Bandit Customs in Port Richey, Florida. Whether you’re looking to tower over the trails or just want to stand out on the streets, we’ve got you covered.

Check out some more pros and cons of lift kits and body lifts.

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