The amount of lift or ground clearance on a car or truck determines which type of roads you can travel without incurring scraping and damage to the undercarriage of your vehicle. According to World Bank statistics, almost 65% of the roads in the world are paved, and this figure grows to 70% in the U.S.
A 2-inch lift on a sedan would increase the ride height by 35% and 24% on a truck, increasing the approach and departure angle and the height above the road surface. The increase will come at the cost of vehicle safety and fuel consumption while marginally improving the ride height.
Adjusting the ride height of your vehicle will impact positively and negatively on the driving dynamics. Changing the ride height can be achieved by a combination of tire size and suspension changes. Let’s look at how a lift of 2-inches can be achieved and the impact on the vehicle.
Increase Ground Clearance By 2-Inches, At What Expense?
Cars and trucks are designed with a nominal minimum ground clearance which can be changed within the recommended tolerances advised by the manufacturer. The Toyota Camry 2022 model range, for example, has a standard ground clearance of 5.7-inches on all models. The specified tire and wheel size combinations all result in a total wheel diameter of 26.5-inches.
Adjusting the ride height on a modern sedan such as the Toyota Camry is not recommended. The Camry has been designed to be operated on paved surfaces and not for off-road use. Changing the ride height will negatively affect the suspension setup and drive quality of a passenger car.
On a truck designed for off-road use like the Toyota Tundra 2022 model, the ground clearance varies from 10.2-inches on the 4×2 models to 10.6-inches on the 4×4 models. Resulting in a range of lift of 0.4-inches (10mm) by which the Toyota Tundra can be lifted by merely changing the wheel and tire combination while remaining in the wheel design envelope.
International vehicle manufacturers like Toyota will rarely offer lift kits as accessories on their models. They may offer better quality off-road shocks and springs or sway bars to increase the torsional stiffness of the vehicle. The manufacturer will not support a change as radical as a 2-inch lift.
An increased ride height will raise the vehicle’s center of gravity and thus contribute to the increased risk of a vehicle roll-over. All the vehicle reliability and performance testing are conducted at the standard ride height. Key performance characteristics for the vehicle will change, such as fuel consumption and durability of suspension components.
Before doing a ride height change on your vehicle, get input from the dealer where you purchased the vehicle. Will your warranty be affected? Does the manufacturer support the modification? Your family’s safety and fellow road users are at stake, and you need to make an informed decision.
Two-Inch Lift Kits Are Available
Vehicle manufacturers do release lift kits that are approved for fitment to their off-road models. These kits are supplied as dealer fitment options and come with an additional warranty on the items included in the kit. Off-road enthusiasts always put pressure on the manufacturers and dealers to allow a high degree of accessories.
The manufacturers and dealers exploit this opportunity to earn additional revenue in the form of accessory sales. The off-road enthusiast is buying a lifestyle enabler and is less concerned with the cost and more interested in customizing.
The training mantra for Off-Roaders is “As slow as possible and as fast as necessary.” The problem is when the owner is doing a vehicle lift for purely cosmetic purposes. Such owners are at risk of roll-over accidents when driving their lifted vehicles on highways and public roads at high speeds.
The tread pattern of large off-road tires provides extreme grip on paved roadways and, linked to a lifted truck’s higher center of gravity, increases the risk of a roll-over accident during cornering or harsh braking. You should be aware of this risk when deciding whether you need a lift kit installed.
What Does A 2-Inch Lift Kit Consist Of?
Manufacturers will conduct Crash Tests and Vehicle Stability Tests before releasing a lift kit for dealer fitment on their models. The engineers will carefully assess how to mitigate the increased center of gravity risk with higher quality springs and a tighter suspension setup.
A typical 2-inch lift kit consists of increased front and rear shocks and lifting blocks for leaf springs. The diameter of the telescopic shocks will be significantly bigger and use more oil to dissipate the heat and improve dampening. The new suspension setup will compensate for the higher center of gravity by providing less side sway.
The lifted suspension will result in harsher ride quality. Some shocks are air pressure regulated, allowing the truck suspension to be softened or hardened as driving conditions dictate.
For a manufacturer-approved lift kit, you can expect to pay about $1500. In order to maintain the manufacturer warranty, the installation will have to be done at an approved dealer and will thus cost you extra in labor. You should budget about $3000 for the purchase and installation of a lift kit.
For a modest lift of 2-inches, you will also have to budget for additional service and maintenance costs on your vehicle. The parts installed are designed for harder work and will require more frequent services and replacement.
Modern trucks are designed to cope with the undulations of unpaved roads and have a typical ground clearance of 8.5-inches. These vehicles are also set up to be safe on paved roadways traveling at high speeds.
Off-road enthusiasts love to upgrade an old truck with a suspension lift kit to enable the truck to cope with the extremes of off-road challenges. These off-roaders understand the limitations and capabilities of their vehicle and know how to use the vehicle safely.
Ultimately it is your decision as to how much you want to spend on the accessories fitted to your truck. The $3000 cost of a modest 2-inch lift kit can buy many other adventure toys that may provide you with much more pleasure. Whether the lift kit is manufacturer-approved or not, the vehicle will be less safe than in its standard version.