If you want to raise the height of your vehicle, installing a lift kit is the best way to do it.
Here, lift or suspension kits normally raise the height of the vehicle by inserting a nylon or metal support between the body and the frame. Depending on the kit, you can get anywhere from 2 to 11 inches of lift.
At the same time, it’s important to note that installing a lift kit may be illegal. It’s crucial that you check the legality in your state and choose something that complies with local laws.
In addition, installing a lift kit may mean that you can’t drive into neighboring areas, as some lift kits are completely banned.
To add, the average cost of installing a lift kit can vary considerably. A short 2” lift may cost you as little as $400 to install yourself or about $800-$1,000 to have it installed for you. On the other hand, an 11” lift kit may cost $4,000-$15,000 because you’ll have to have the drive shaft and steering assembly adjusted for the lift.
Lift Kit Installation Costs*
The cost of installing a lift kit will significantly vary depending on the type of lift kit and the height.
The make and model of your vehicle will also impact costs.
|Lift Kit||Parts Cost||Labor Cost|
|2-5" Body Lift Kit||$400-$1,200||$800-$8,000|
|6-11" Body Lift Kit||$400-$4,000||$2,000-$12,000|
|Suspension Lift Kit||$1,000-$5,000||$2,000-$15,000|
*These cost estimates are based on market rates in December 2022. Prices are subject to change at any time. In addition, costs may be higher in areas where lift kits are illegal.
A leveling kit is a small lift kit designed to raise the front of the vehicle to the same height as the back. Here, most vehicles are sold with a few inches of difference between the front and back of the car. If you prefer a level car, a leveling kit will resolve the difference.
Leveling kits are the most affordable lift option you can choose. These normally install between the suspension and the body on the front of the car. In most cases, you’ll get a maximum of about 2 inches of lift out of these kits.
However, a good leveling kit can be purchased for $200-$1,000. If you do the work yourself, that’s the full extent of installation costs. On the other hand, if you have a body shop do the work, it will likely take 2-3 hours. That will normally cost anywhere from $300-$800 including shop fees – depending on your location and local cost of labor.
- Legal in most states
- Quick to install
- Doesn’t require major vehicle medications
- Doesn’t provide much lift
- May reduce the aerodynamics of your car
Body Lift Kit
A body lift kit uses spacers between the body and the frame. These vary in size, style, and performance. However, most are made of nylon or steel. They also allow you to lift the front and back of the vehicle at the same time.
Body lift kits are normally available in sizes ranging from 2 inches to upwards of 12 inches. However, in most applications, you won’t find kits over 11”. In addition, body lift kits may require significant modifications to your drive train. If you lift the front of the vehicle too far, you’ll have to lengthen the drive shaft. You’ll also have to extend the break lines. And, in many vehicles, you’ll have to extend the steering assembly. That can be extremely costly and time-consuming.
Here, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $400 to well over $4,000 for parts depending on the lift kit you choose. High quality lift kits take performance and shock into account and integrate good suspension to reduce bumps on the road. Labor costs can also vary significantly. A short lift with no drivetrain modifications might be done in 2-3 hours. On the other hand, a high lift might take 5-20 hours, depending on the extent of modifications and customization needed.
- Lifts both ends of your car 2-12″
- The cheapest full lift option
- Not legal in many areas
- Cheap kits will reduce shock absorption
- Will reduce the aerodynamics of your vehicle
- Frame is more visible
- Does not provide additional clearance for the frame from the ground
Suspension Lift Kit
Suspension lift kits are the most expensive type of lift kit. However, they are often done for performance reasons, such as to raise the suspension from the ground to provide more clearance or a better look. These kits are installed between the suspension and axles.
This means you can install larger tires. It also means you can opt for high lifts without having to extend the drive train. However, while kits are available at up to 18” of lift, they are rarely legal for road usage. In addition, suspension lift kits can improve how vehicles handle shock on rough terrain. This makes suspension lift kits a common alteration for off-road enthusiasts.
In most cases, you can expect to pay $1,000+ for hardware. Installation costs can also be considerable, with 4-10 hours of work involved. Here, your total bill may range between about $4,000 and $15,000 at a body shop.
- Improves performance over rough terrain
- Allows for bigger wheels
- Hides the frame
- Up to 18” of lift
- Doesn’t require drive shaft extension
- Not usually road legal
- Reduces vehicle aerodynamics
Installing Lift Kit Pricing Factors
The cost of installing a lift kit will heavily depend on the type of kit, the height of the lift, and the cost of labor in your area.
|Lift Kit Height||Average Cost|
|2” Lift Kit||$125-$1,000|
|3” Lift Kit||$900-$3,000|
|4” Lift Kit||$1,100-$4,000|
|6” Lift Kit||$1,500-$2,300|
Here, you may actually be able to find cheaper parts. However, on average, you can expect to pay about $1,000 for a good quality lift kit over 2 inches. Taller lift kits have to offer more suspension support, must support more strain and shock, and have to be better able to handle jolts and shock. That’s because all of the stress of the vehicle body responding to driving will be on those supports.
In most cases, a taller lift kit also takes more time to install. That’s especially true if you’re using a body lift kit, which separates the body from the suspension. In this case, you may end up paying much more for the drive shaft extension and new brake lines.
Type of Kit
The cheapest lift kits start at under $100. However, these are normally very short lift kits intended for the front of your vehicle. On average, you can expect to pay around $1,000 for a body lift kit and around $2,000+ for a suspension lift kit. In addition, you’ll have to choose between a block extension kit and a strut extender. Here, strut extenders are more expensive and normally just lengthen your existing struts.
Of course, there are significant variations in price even within body lift kits or suspension lift kits. In some cases, that comes down to brand. In other cases, it’s about performance. Here, you should always look at the specifications and what the lift kit is intended for.
Make and Model of Vehicle
Some vehicles separate from the suspension relatively easily. This means installing a lift kit will be a quick job with little additional work. In other cases, you’ll spend much more time adjusting the vehicle for the lift kit. That depends on how much space the vehicle has between the leaf springs and shocks and the suspension assembly, because you’ll be replacing those parts with the lift kit.
Local Cost of Labor
If you install your lift kit yourself, you won’t have to worry about the cost of labor. However, if you take your car to a body shop, you can expect to pay anywhere from $15-$200+ per hour of labor. You’ll also have to pay a shop fee (5-25% of total bill) and a lot fee ($5-$25 per day you leave your car). That can add up quickly, especially if you have to leave your vehicle for several days.
Here, the average rate for a body shop is between $45 and $85 per hour.
Total Work Completed
You may choose to bring your car into the shop and have a lift kit installed and nothing else. However, you might also want additional work like drive shaft extensions, steering assembly extensions, new brake lines, etc.
If you’re taking your vehicle to a body shop, that work might also include cosmetic changes. For example, if you want to clean and paint the frame because it’s visible with a body lift. Any additional work you opt into will impact costs and often quite a bit so.
Why Install A Lift Kit?
Lift kits are a popular modification especially for muscle cars and for off road vehicles. However, they aren’t always a good choice. In addition, they can impact your vehicle quite a bit. Here, body suspension kits primarily offer aesthetic value. Many people like the look and feel of a lifted car.
However, suspension lift kits can offer performance value. For example, they can decrease the impact of a rough road on the driver. They can also raise the frame clearance from the ground, improving the vehicle for off-road use.
At the same time, lift kits do have cons. For example, they can negatively impact gas mileage by increasing the weight of the vehicle and by increasing wind resistance. If you intend to drive long distances in the car, you will pay more to do so.
Lift kits will also void any factory warranty you may have on the vehicle. However, they will not void your insurance, providing you inform your insurance company of the modifications. If said modifications are illegal in your state or area, your insurance company may refuse to cover your car.
If you install a lift kit, you can expect it to last about as long as your standard suspension. That means an average of about 10 years.
There are multiple additional costs that might impact the cost of your vehicle lift. While many are optional, others involve choosing between standard lift kit options and going for the premium option.
Block Kit vs. Strut Extenders
Block kits are the standard lift option for most vehicles. They’re cheap because they replace the strut with a solid block of material allowing for cheap production and durability. However, many people prefer the look or feel of a strut extension. These extensions may include longer struts. However, they may also include extensions that fit onto your existing struts to extend the length. Strut extenders can be quite cheap. However, they are often limited to a few inches of extension or less.
Leveling Kit vs. Lift Kit
Leveling kits can be purchased for less than $100 or up to about $400. These kits normally extend the struts or replace them in the front of the car. Most offer about a maximum of 2” of lift. That’s a lot cheaper than installing a full lift kit, which replaces the struts on all four wheels.
If you only want a small amount of lift, you can raise or replace the torsion keys in your torsion bar. This is a great way to get some lift without installing a lift kit. In addition, many manufacturers offer longer torsion keys to replace the OEM ones. If you choose this option, you can expect costs to be significantly lower than installing a full lift kit.
Coilover kits allow you to adjust ride height for your vehicle. This means that you can get a slightly higher ride without installing a lift kit. At the same time, this won’t mimic the effects of a full lift. In addition, costs often start at around $250 in parts. On the other hand, coilover kits are usually adjustable, meaning you can make your vehicle road legal where it’s necessary.
17-Step Lift Kit Installation Process
The process of installing a lift kit will depend on whether you’re installing a body lift kit or a suspension lift kit. This guide will cover installing a body lift kit as these are more common and more affordable.
- Park your vehicle on a flat surface. Turn off the engine and take the key out of the ignition.
- Lift the frame using a jack and stabilize it with jack stands. Repeat on both sides of the vehicles.
- Place jack stands under the axles on both sides of the vehicle, ensuring that your vehicle is fully stable.
- Read the instruction manual with your lift kit to ensure it doesn’t vary from these instructions and always refer to those instructions first.
- Remove the wheels from your vehicle.
- Inspect your suspension system for connected electronics. E.g., lights or sensors. Unclip these and set them out of the way.
- Unbolt the shocks from your vehicle.
- Remove the U-bolts and springs, you may have to use penetrating fluid to loosen the bolts by hand.
- Assemble the parts from your lift kit. Normally that means attaching the springs to the U-bolts, greasing bushings, and fitting springs into bushings.
- Remove the shocks.
- Install the new shocks. This may require making adjustments to your vehicle.
- Thread the spring into the mount on the shocks and then put the bolts back into place.
- Install the U-bolts in the car.
- Install the bushings using a hammer to carefully tap them into the shocks.
- Then, reattach the bushings.
- Reattach any electrical components.
- Replace the wheels.
In some cases, you might replace the leaf sprints as well. In some cases, you’ll also have to extend the drive shaft and the brake lines. It’s important to measure your car and check what you’ll need for those jobs before taking the car apart. Finally, you’ll always need a front-end alignment to ensure that you can drive safely after installing a lift kit.
Disadvantages Of Lift Kits
Lift kits can offer plenty of advantages, especially to people looking to drive off-road. However, there are also plenty of disadvantages.
Almost every state has at least some laws impacting the legal height of a car from the road. In most cases, these laws affect the legal height of the bumper. This means you may be able to get a considerable amount of lift without running into laws. Others affect the height of the headlights from the road. In this case, even a simple body lift might cause issues.
Therefore, it’s important to understand how local laws affect the lift you want.
Increased Fuel Usage
Most lift kits reduce the aerodynamics of your vehicle. This won’t matter very much if you normally only use your vehicle for off-roading or driving slowly in an urban environment. However, if you frequently travel on the interstate or use your vehicle for commuting, you will likely notice the increased bill.
Most suspension and body lifts will negatively impact your warranty. In addition, if you haven’t properly adjusted steering and suspension with the lift, you may lose insurance. It’s important to alert your insurance company to any lifts you may have done and possibly bring your car in for an inspection to ensure that you still have insurance.
Installing a lift kit can raise your vehicle anywhere from 2-11 inches. In most cases, that lift will cost you from $400 to about $15,000. Costs depend on the height of the lift, adjustments required to support the lift, and what kind of parts you need. And, while you can do the work yourself, it’s important to ensure you have the tools to get the suspension and drive shaft right before you drive the vehicle.