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Lifted Truck Problems

Reasons why lifting a truck might jack it up more than you think.

Apr 26, 2021
Forget performance, fuel economy and capability for a moment. For some truck enthusiasts, "stance" rules all, especially when it comes to dialing in a customized rig's look and attitude. Be it lifted or lowered, the position in which a rig sits...in relation to distance from the ground, of course...can make or break its legitimacy in the minds of folks who firmly believe that looks are everything.
During our print-magazines' heyday, titles such as Truckin', Mini Trucks, 8-Lug, and Diesel Power covered both ends of the stance spectrum, through feature articles, as well as tech reports detailing exactly how lifting or lowering a rig is done. Lifting is our focus this time. While it's widely acknowledged and agreed by many truck fans that skyscraping pickups are badass, the truth is, lifting has its drawbacks.
That's right, besides possibly needing a ladder to enter and exit a mega-lifted truck's cab (or bed), there actually are quite a few other drawbacks to detaching a body from a truck's chassis, and hiking it several feet in the air. We've compiled this quick list of common problems that should be considered before lifting a pickup (and recommend only using vehicle/application-specific systems when you do, to hopefully avoid experiencing any of these concerns). For a deeper dive into extreme lifts (necessary equipment, inherent nuances, etc.) check out this article, which discusses the sky-high suspensions in depth.

Poor Handling and Ride Quality

Even at stock ride height, light-duty pickups have fairly high centers of gravity (especially newer 2500/3500 Series rigs, for example), that are increased exponentially when suspensions are modified to lift the rig. How does this affect handling? Without proper shock valving (stiffer), the raise can make a truck very susceptible to toppling over when attempting to turn while traveling at a decent rate of speed. It's also important to note that extreme lifts typically consist of arms and rods that stiffen the chassis and transmit feedback from road or driving conditions directly into the cab.

Poor Braking

This problem is equally important, and actually goes hand-in-hand with handling issues. With the weight of lift hardware, and the likelihood that big wheels and tires are also added, the ability to stop quickly and safely also becomes a big concern if brakes aren't addressed.

Poor Visibility

Mega-lifted rigs are fine, if you're OK with having a line of sight straight into the next county, instead of directly in front (and/or below) you. For some drivers, a 2021 Ford F-250 at stock ride height presents visibility issues in close confines. That's just something to keep in mind when you start going up.

Poor Lighting

Again, everything shifts upward when a pickup is lifted, including its headlights. The problems here are twofold: First, they'll illuminate the sky a lot more than they will the road below and directly in front of the rig. Headlights, as well as grille-mounted LED light bars can also be a nuisance to fellow drivers (of oncoming cars and vehicles you're following), as light is projected into their eyes--directly, and by the reflection of side-, and rear-view mirrors--when trucks are raised well above their stock ride height.

Poor Fuel Economy

The heavy components in a serious lift system, along with bigger wheels and tires, will definitely have an impact on a truck's fuel economy. With an aggressive lift (anything more than eight inches), experiencing a significant decrease in miles per gallon is all but certain.

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