Whether you'd like to lift your truck for it's style and aesthetic beauty benefits, or if you'd like to get some extra ride comfort or load-bearing quality, here we share 4 ways to do so for less!

Excerpt from

Torsion Keys

Aftermarket Torsion Keys
(Aftermarket torsion keys can add 1 to 1.5 inches of ride height on pickups with a torsion bar suspension system. But unlike the factory torsion keys, these forged keys from Trail Master Suspension don’t add more spring preload and can provide a smoother ride.)

Many four-wheel-drive trucks use a torsion bar suspension system. Torsion bars are actually springs that twist rather than compress like a coil spring. The vehicle's factory torsion keys hold the bars in place and provide some preload so the bar can keep the vehicle at a factory-set ride height. Adjusting the factory torsion keys is tempting and will add some height, but it can come at the expense of excessively preloading the suspension, which can result in a harsh ride and add premature wear to the rest of the suspension.

Aftermarket torsion keys cost anywhere from $100 to $150 and will add 1 to 1.5 inches of ride height that’s good for a tire about 1 inch taller than the factory size. Aftermarket torsion keys can also maintain the factory preload settings to maintain a smooth ride and will often come with shock extensions that keep the shock's range of travel within factory specifications.

Look for forged keys, which are stronger than cast units and will provide much longer service life, especially if the vehicle will be under heavy loads.

Leveling Kits

Leveling Kit Spacers
(Leveling kits can consist of a variety of components. These steel spacers from ReadyLift fit on top of the coil-spring strut assembly to raise the front just enough to keep it level with the rear of the vehicle.)

Leveling kits are extremely popular and can add 1 to 3 inches of ride height to most pickups using a front coil spring or coil-over strut suspension system. The term is derived from the fact that most pickups are taller in the rear than in the front, and raising the front suspension allows the truck to sit level.

Depending on the vehicle’s make and model, leveling kits can use a variety of methods to lift the vehicle. These include polyurethane coil spring spacers that fit between the coil spring and the inside of the spring perch. Some use aluminum spacers or strut extensions that sit on top of the coil-over strut unit. Others use blocks and U-bolts that will raise the ride height on leaf-spring vehicles.

Leveling kits cost as little as $30 for simple polyurethane coil spacer kits to $500 or more for kits that include shocks, anti-sway bar end links and other components needed to keep the suspension geometry in its original location.

Leveling Kit Spacers
(Some leveling kits use a simple coil spring spacer that fits on top of the spring within the coil-spring strut. Shown here is a standard spacer (right) compared with a leveling kit spacer (left).)

For the low cost, leveling kits work great for adding tires that are 1 to 2 inches taller than your truck’s original tires. They are also easy to install for the experienced home mechanic, but some kits may require a spring compressor tool. The tool is necessary to remove the coil spring preload on models using a factory coil-over strut assembly. If you don't have access to this tool, you should have a qualified mechanic or truck specialty shop do the installation.

The advantage of a leveling kit is that it doesn't affect the ride of the vehicle or cause any warranty issues. If your truck or SUV is on a lease program, the leveling kit can be easily removed and restored to stock. In addition, there are leveling kits for just about every make and model pickup available (front-wheel and four-wheel drive), making these kits one of the most popular methods to lift your vehicle.


Body-lift Block
(Body-lifts are another popular and inexpensive way to raise a pickup truck. Shown here is a Performance Accessories body-lift providing 3 inches of extra ride height on an F-150.)

Before trucks and 4x4s had independent suspension systems and integrated coil-over struts, body-lifts were a popular way to add as much as 3 inches of ride height. The advantage of a body-lift is that it doesn’t affect the vehicle's suspension and provides enough ride height to fit tires that are 2 or 3 inches taller than the original tires (typically a 32- to 33-inch tire).

Body-lifts are popular because they are inexpensive, ranging from $110 to $600. Depending on the truck’s make and model, they can provide more ride height than leveling kits alone.

Body-lifts use urethane blocks that are stacked on top of the factory body mounts to raise the body above the frame. Because a wider gap is formed between the truck’s body and frame, the bumpers and some components of the vehicle also need to be altered. This is accomplished with heavy-duty bumper brackets and spacers that are typically included in the kit. In addition, the steering shaft must be extended. Because of this, many truck owners look for kits that include a high-quality CNC machined steering extension as well as Gap Guards that fit in the vehicle's wheel wells and hide the space between the frame and body.

Body Lift Kit
Body-lifts also require readjusting the height of the factory bumpers. This Performance Accessories kit has bolt-on bumper brackets on this 2009 Nissan Titan.

Body-lifts typically take six to eight hours to install, depending on the vehicle, but the overall effect provides plenty of wheel and tire clearance for most popular tire upgrades. Furthermore, they don't affect the factory ride or cause any warranty issues with your vehicle.

Premium Lift Systems

Premium Lift Kit
(A Premium Lift System combines a body-lift with a leveling kit to provide the same lift as a full suspension but at a fraction of the cost. Shown here is a PLS kit from Performance Accessories that provides 5 inches of lift to fit 35-inch-tall tires on a Ford F-150. The kit costs around $800.)

A relatively new concept is to combine a leveling kit and body-lift to provide a comparable ride height to that of a full suspension kit at a fraction of the cost. Depending on the vehicle, a Premium Lift System can provide up to 6 inches of lift without affecting the vehicle’s factory suspension geometry and ride. For enthusiasts wanting to go big and add 33- to 35-inch off-road tires, a Premium Lift System makes a perfect choice.

Premium Lift Systems include everything from coil spring spacers, bumper brackets, body-lift blocks, hardware, a steering column adapter, Gap Guards and everything else you need to raise the vehicle in about six to eight hours.

Depending on the vehicle make and model, a Premium Lift System can cost $219 to $900, leaving you with enough cash to lift the vehicle and buy the tires you want all at once.


Excerpt Taken from’s About Autos Section

By Keith Griffin, Used Cars Expert

In the midst of the used car sales increase, one type of seller will have deals on used cars - the independent dealer.

That finding is based on the fact that used car sales are increasing, by up to 5.5% overall, while independent dealers are seeing a drop in year-to-date sales of 12.1% when compared to the previous year. Their year-over-year sales are down 6.3%.

Those facts come courtesy of CNW Research, which points to the strongest sales segment for used cars: the private seller. Their year-to-year sales are up 20.4% while their year-to-date sales are up 24.1% compared to the first five months previously. 

Just to give a quick refresher - there are three types of used car sellers. Franchised dealers are new car dealers that have used car lots. Independent dealers are dealers not affiliated with a new-car manufacturer. Private sellers are individuals who are not in the business of selling used cars.

As I have said in the past, I'm a big fan of the independent dealer. Those are the folks who own one or two, maybe a few, used car dealerships. As a group, they're hard working, create local jobs and support local charities. Sure, places like CarMax, Auto Nation, which are technically considered independent dealers, and franchised dealerships do those things, but I like the entrepreneurial spirit of the independent dealership that aren't multi-state corporations.

But, and there is always a but, my first responsibility is to the consumer. I want to see the consumer get the best deal possible when it comes time to buy a used car. I think the best deals are going to come at the independent dealer for most consumers.

What's the best way to take advantage of the independent seller's precarious condition? It's going to sound counter-intuitive to advice I gave recently for buying a used car with bad credit. You can get the best price by arranging your financing through the independent dealer.

After all, to get the best price you have to give a little, but only a little. Actually, you're not giving anything but you are helping the dealer. How so? The independent dealer makes money by acting as a middle man for banks and other financial institutions.

Before you go into the independent dealer, apply for used car financing online. (My wife and I did something similar when we bought our 2008 Mazda5.) Get your best interest rate and then tell the independent dealer that you will allow him or her to match the rate through one of their lenders. It works, and you are helping the dealer make a little extra money without costing you anything.

However, make sure you are prepared before going in. Don't let the dealer talk you into financing unless they can match or beat your best interest rate. There is absolutely no reason to pay a higher interest rate.

Be cautious, too, if the dealer opts to drop the price of the used car in exchange for a higher interest rate. Make sure you have an app on your phone that will help you figure out interest rates on loans. 

Let’s assume you need to borrow $10,000 to buy a used car. If you arranged 6.25% financing, the used car would cost you $12,744.29 after four years with compound interest.

But say the dealer offers to get you 7% but sell you the car for $9500. "Hey," he might say, "your monthly payment will be lower." That's true. It will be lower at $222.07 a month for the 60-month loan vs. $265.50 on the four-year loan. However, the interest on the five-year loan is $3824.44 while on the four-year loan its $2744.29.

Lets look at it this way. You would pay $12,744.29 for the $10,000 car but $13,324.44 for the $9500 car. The independent dealer and the financial institution make almost $900 more off the less expensive used car price if they convince you to look at it from a monthly payment standpoint.

You're in a position to bargain with an independent used car dealer. Give a little back, be realistic, and your used car price might be a lot lower. 

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