Ford F150 lift kits come in all shapes and sizes, but finding the right one for your truck will ultimately come down to your personal preferences. Because so many companies make Ford F150 lift kits, deciding on the one that best suits your needs and preferences has never been easier. That's the good news; the bad news is that the overwhelming number of manufacturers pumping their marketing products in all the 4x4 magazines and websites make it hard for truck owners to see through the hype and separate the great Ford F150 lift kits from the inferior ones.
I'll go over nearly everything you'll need in order for you to find the perfect Ford F150 lift kit for your rig. I'll explain the differences between suspension lifts vs body lifts (most of you will already know this, but it's important for the newbies), several of the leading companies that make these lift kits, how to save money and even some additional considerations to think about before making your decision.
Why Buy A Lift Kit For A Ford F150?
So why would you want your truck taller? For any number of reasons. Most commonly people want to run larger tires (like in the picture above), and you can't do that without creating extra space between the ground and your fenders, otherwise the new wheels will either rub OR they won't fit at all. Lifting your Ford truck up creates the space you'll need for those fun mud tires.
The combination of bigger tires and a lift will allow you to take your F150 pickup places you wouldn't dare in "stock" form. Many drivers enjoy "Mudding," others prefer trail driving. Then there's the truck show crowd that prefers building extreme Ford F150 4x4s for shows and prizes. There really is no bad reason to want a Ford F150 lift kit, so long as you do your shopping and installation safely and responsibly.
Suspension Lifts vs Body Lifts
There are two ways to make your truck taller: Increase the height of the suspension with a Ford F150 suspension lift kit, or increase the space between the frame and the body with a Ford F150 body lift kit. Both have their pros and cons, here are a few of them:
Suspension Lift Kits: Lifting the suspension increases the total clearance between your truck's frame and the ground. From an engineering standpoint, this kind of lift kit also provides more stability and safety. A Ford F150 suspension lift kit usually includes all the parts you'll need to completely modify your existing suspension system, making it longer and taller. The exact parts will vary based on the kit you buy and the year of your truck, but they could include: Longer leaf springs, "blocks" that fit between the leaf springs and the axle, taller coil springs, taller shocks and/or struts, new steering links and shims to fine tune all the new angles. While most 4x4 enthusiasts consider a suspension lift vastly superior to a body lift (though many actually combine the two for an even more extreme look), they are more expensive.
Body Lift Kits: Most body lift kits are mostly just taller bushings that fit between your Ford F150 frame and the body. In case you didn't already know, all trucks have bushings between the frame and body; they are flexible "sleeves" that encompass the big bolts that keep everything together. They keep the vibrations down. Taller bushings increase height. The downside is that they make your rig more "top heavy" from an engineering standpoint, since you're still diving on a suspension designed for a shorter truck. The upside is that these are much cheaper than suspension lifts. So if you're looking for cheap Ford F150 lift kits, this is your best option.
Who Makes Ford F150 Lift Kits?
There are a handful of reputable companies that make lift kits for Ford F150 trucks. While each has their own unique design, many folks have had good luck with each of them.
- Trailmaster (sometimes written as "Trail Master")
- Rough Country
- Tuff Country
- Pro Comp
- Rubicon Express
Each of these companies has developed their own system for lifting Ford F150 trucks, and most have solid reputations for good customer service and high quality parts. I personally haven't worked with all of them, so I can't say with ultimate authority that they are all as good as they claim, but the ones I have worked with have provided very high quality Ford F150 lift kits.
How Tall Can You Lift A Ford F150 Truck?
That depends on your budget and the intended use for your pickup. On the extreme side, I only have to mention one name: Bigfoot. Yes, the original monster truck was a Ford F150 that had been heavily modified by its owners to its extreme car crushing height. technically the original Bigfoot was a "Ranger," but that's when the Ranger was synonymous with the Ford F150, before it became its own model.
Most modern monster trucks are entirely custom built and are nothing like the Ford F150s you see on the street, but in the old days these builders and drivers relied on modifying trucks like the Ford F150.
Of course you don't need to go that extreme - or any extreme for that matter. A simple Ford F150 2-inch lift is often all you'll need to get the aggressive look you want, and the clearance for some really gnarly tires.
Stretching Your Dollar With Your Lift
Lift kits aren't cheap, but it's the installation that really hits most people's' wallets. While it's easy enough to see the advertised prices on Ford F150 lift kits in the offroad magazines or on the Internet, knowing how much it will cost to actually install it isn't as cut and dry. It makes sense that if you want to save big bucks, you'll look for ways to cut down on the installation costs of your new lift kit. You can do this by learning how to do the work yourself or finding a reputable mechanic who will give you a discount price on shop hours.
Here's a clever trick: Talk to you local trade schools and automotive high school classes. Often times the instructors will give you free student labor in exchange for teaching their students how to work on your Ford! Not too shabby, eh?
Beyond installation, you can also save money when you buy the lift kit itself. I personally recommend calling the manufacture directly and seeing if you can negotiate a lower price. Often times they'll be willing to cut you some slack in exchange for not going through a middle man parts distributor.
You can also shop online and save money. You can almost always find lower prices online than you will a local retailer. Amazon is a good place to start. If you can't find what you want there, I'd look to dedicated 4x4 websites.
Another option is looking for used Ford F150 lift kits, but I highly recommend NOT going this route unless you're a seasoned mechanic. The reason is that it's hard to know if all the parts you need are actually still with the kit, and more importantly, how good of condition they are in. But if you're confident in buying used lift kits, you can often find great deals on eBay or other online auctions, Craigslist or the classified section of your local newspaper.
Lifting your truck is a very involved process, and it gets more involved the more extreme your lift kit is. As your Ford F150 gets taller, so does the possibility that you'll need to modify or replace parts you hadn't thought about. For instance, lifting Ford F150 trucks like the one in the photo increases the length between the transfer case and the axles (for solid axle trucks), meaning you'll need longer drive shafts. It will also require you to change the angles of the differential and universal joints. Not to mention taller shocks and/or struts.
If you've got a more modern truck, you might need longer CV joints.
And that's just the start. Since most people install bigger tires after buying a Ford F150 lift kit, you'll need to compensate for the increased mechanical resistance. Simply put, turning bigger tires requires more torque. To compensate for this you'll need a higher gear ratio in your differentials and axles, a modified transfer case gearing or even a different transmission all together. The other option is to increase the output of your engine, either with a new, stronger one or upgrades under the hood.
But if you're willing to do your homework and know what you're getting yourself in to, a Ford F150 lift kit is sure to put a smile on your face and draw the attention of onlookers everywhere.