Your Complete Guide to Leveling Kits for Your Truck, Jeep, or SUV

Looking to level your truck, Jeep, or SUV? Let the suspension experts offer some guidance on leveling kits in the world of suspension. Leveling kits come in several different styles, and this article will provide some clarity. So, before you buy or attempt to install your leveling kit, read our complete leveling kit guide to learn more about the different kinds of leveling kits, how they are used, and how you can choose the right leveling kit for you truck, SUV, and Jeep needs.

What Is a Leveling Kit?

First things first, let’s get down to the basics. Just like the name implies, a leveling kit is designed to level the front of your truck, SUV, or Jeep so that it becomes level with the rear suspension of the vehicle, ultimately giving your truck that LEVELED look. All trucks, SUVs, and Jeeps come from the factory with a small downward rake from the back of the vehicle to the front. A leveling kit is designed to be added to the OEM suspension, which will ultimately help offset this rake by bringing the front of the truck, SUV, or Jeep to a more even stance.

Reasons to Invest in a Leveling Kit

Giving your vehicle a leveled look isn't just about aesthetics, it's about more functionality for your truck. A couple of reasons to purchase a leveling kit is you want to purchase new wheels or maybe bigger tires or maybe you added a snowplow to the front of your vehicle. By adding a leveling kit, you can move to a larger wheel and tire combination, and, if you have a snowplow, it can help offset the height lost due to the weight of the plow.

But there is more to a leveling kit than just bigger tires or wheels and even bumpers or snowplows. With a leveling kit, you will gain more ground clearance while maintaining that factory ride of your vehicle.

Different Types of Leveling Kits

Now, let’s break down the lay of the land. Leveling kits are not a one-size-fits-all accessory. Every kit is designed for a specific make and model truck, SUV, or Jeep. If you stumble across a leveling kit that’s designed to work with any type of vehicle, you should react with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Before we even consider the make and model of your vehicle, let’s talk about the different kinds of leveling kits. Each is designed for a specific purpose and comes with its own set of considerations. There are four different kinds of leveling kits for you to choose from. Take a moment to learn about each one, how it’s used, and whether it’s the right choice for your vehicle.

Strut Extension Leveling Kits

Strut extensions or strut spacers are used on vehicles with a coilover strut for the front suspension, which includes most half-ton and mid-sized trucks and SUVs. Simply put, this kind of leveling kit puts a spacer on top or bottom of the factory strut, raising the suspension of the vehicle a couple of inches. This means you don’t have to replace the struts on your vehicle; just slide a leveling kit on top or bottom, which saves you money.

You’ll always have the option of removing the spacers if you don’t end up loving your new ride. They’re typically made with steel, billet aluminum, or PPA Plastic(Heat, chemical, and Corrosion resistant). While they’re usually fairly easy to install, you might need the help of a professional, especially if you’re new to the world of leveling kits.

You can also find adjustable strut extension kits, which gives you the freedom to slightly alter the height of your kit, depending on your preferences. Most leveling kits add about two inches to the front, but these adjustable kits come with a little extra leeway. You might want an adjustable kit if you tend to sweat the details or you’re a perfectionist.

Torsion Key Leveling Kits

Torsion key leveling kits are used on vehicles with torsion bar suspension systems. The torsion keys replace the factory torsion bar keys on the vehicle, lifting the vehicle on one side or another. This changes the clock position of the torsion bar to raise the suspension of the vehicle. The replacement keys are also much sturdier than those that come from the factory, giving you a lift without compromising your ride.

If you try to adjust the factory keys to get a slight lift, it will put extra pressure on the load and could damage your factory torsion keys, which could cost you money long term in order to fix.. It’s best to seek out forged keys with a powder coating for more durability.

Coil Spring Spacer Leveling Kits

Coil spring spacer leveling kits are designed for vehicles with coil springs. These add spacers to the upper or lower spring seats, raising the body of your vehicle. Make sure your kit includes shock extensions if they are required, or you’ll need to purchase some separately.

This kind of kit is similar to strut extensions, except you’re adding the spacer to the spring instead of the strut. Some kits may require you to remove the springs, attach the spacers, and then reattach the springs, but it depends on the make and model of your vehicle. Coil spring spacer kits help you maintain a factory ride.

Choosing the Right Kit for Your Vehicle

Now that you know more about your options, it’s time to settle on the right kit for your vehicle.

By Make and Model

The first step is to consider the make and model of your vehicle. Again, leveling kits are designed for certain types of vehicles, so make sure whatever kit you choose is compatible with your make and model.

If you want a level suspension, you should also measure your vehicle, so you know exactly how far off front to rear is from one another. Measure the distance from the center of the wheel to the top of the wheel well. Do this for both the front and back of your vehicle. Compare the two numbers, and you’ll get what’s known as the rake or the difference in height between the front and back.

For example, if you measure the rear and get a reading of 18 inches while the front comes in at 16 inches, you have two inches of rake, which means you’ll need to raise the front by approximately two inches in order to level the stance of your vehicle.

Most leveling kits add two inches to the front, so two inches of rake is pretty common, but some vehicles vary in height, so you may need to find a kit that’s a little more flexible in terms of raising the suspension.

By Vehicle Application

You also need to choose a kit based on what you’re hoping to get out of it. If all you’re looking for is a level stance, adding a couple of inches to the front will get the job done. You’ll have a level  stance, smooth handling, and a quality ride.

However, some vehicle owners like maintaining a little rake to their ride. While some people may choose a lift kit instead, you can add a couple of inches to either the front or back of your vehicle using a leveling kit as well. You may want to slightly raise the front or the back for more towing or winching power. This also gives you slightly more ground clearance and space for larger tires.

If you really want to lift your vehicle for even more ground clearance and larger tires, you’ll be better off with a full lift kit. Leveling kits tend to be much cheaper and easier to install than lift kits. It all depends on what you’re trying to do and how much you’re willing to spend.

Installing the Leveling Kit

While leveling kits are usually much easier to install than lift kits, you should find a professional to install the kit for you if you don’t feel comfortable installing these kinds of kits. Installing one of these kits may sound simple enough, but, once you start taking things apart, you could easily make an error that could lead to damaging your vehicle. This could end up costing more money to fix, so if you don't feel comfortable installing a kit, it’s recommended to hire a professional installer.

Even if you’re a seasoned pro when it comes to truck leveling kits, you should head straight to a local body shop to have a professional examine your handywork. There’s a good chance that, even if everything is installed correctly, your tires may be unaligned, or the steering may feel off. The mechanic may have to adjust some angles on your vehicle to make sure your tires and steering components are as they should be.

Additional Considerations

As exciting as leveling your vehicle can be, you might discover that something doesn’t feel quite right about your ride when all is said and done. The steering may feel stiff or off  when you first get behind the wheel. Your tires might start wearing differently  than normal. Or the ride might be a little less stable than you were anticipating.

These kinds of issues can usually be fixed with a simple alignment, so don’t panic. Just head to a local alignment shop that’s well-versed in lift and leveling kits. Talk to the technician about your new kit and the problems you’ve been having. They will usually come up with a solution quickly, so you can get back to enjoying your new leveled vehicle.

If you’re brand new to the world of lift and leveling kits, it’s also a good idea to talk to a professional before you purchase your first kit. Give them information about the make and model of your vehicle, what you’re looking to get out of the kit, and where you plan on driving. This will point you in the right direction, so you don’t end up wasting precious time and money installing the wrong kit.

Choose Wisely

As you can see, there’s a lot to keep in mind when choosing a leveling kit for your truck, Jeep, and SUV. Every make/model is different, so make sure you’re only looking at kits that are compatible with your vehicle.

This is a big decision, so refrain from rushing through the details. Spend some time researching different lift and leveling kits, so you have a better idea of what your options are. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out professionals who really know what they’re talking about. You might even want to try driving a leveled or lifted vehicle, so you’ll know what to expect.

With so many moving parts, it’s easy to get confused. Learn as much as you can about leveling kits, how they’re used, and what makes each type of kit unique. You’ll be a leveling kit pro before you know it!