Short Answer: A quality leveling kit that is installed properly will not damage your truck. A leveling kit can even be helpful if you’re planning to go off-roading or if you’ll be using a snowplow. However, installing a leveling kit can decrease your truck’s fuel efficiency, increase wear on its suspension, and potentially void the manufacturer’s warranty. For more information about leveling kits, see below.
Will a Leveling Kit Damage My Truck?
As with most vehicle modifications, altering your truck’s suspension comes with risks. However, a quality leveling kit that is properly installed will not permanently damage your truck. A few reasons you may need or want to level your truck include accommodating larger tires, increasing ground clearance, or supporting a snowplow. You may also simply prefer the look of a truck with a leveled suspension.
Concerns about leveling kits stem from fears that because this modification changes the geometry of the truck’s suspension system, it will cause undue stress and increased wear.
Most kits lift the front of the truck a few inches, leveling it with the back (trucks are factory-built for the suspension to sit higher in the rear). You can avoid several potential issues by getting the kit professionally installed and/or by staying up-to-date with additional maintenance, such as installing new shocks and checking the truck’s wheel alignment. Based on our research, customer reports of problems after installing a leveling kit do not often take into account whether the kit was professionally installed or whether there may have been another cause for the problem, such as other modifications or rough driving. Below, we list a few factors to consider before purchasing and installing a leveling kit.
It’s worth noting that leveling a truck causes it to use more fuel to haul a trailer than it would use if it was unleveled, especially when using two-wheel drive. Trucks are built with the rear sitting higher due to the expectation that a heavy load in the truck bed will level the suspension. If you level the suspension (lifting the front) yourself, then attempt to haul a heavy load, the front of the truck will end up sitting slightly higher than the back, increasing wind resistance and decreasing fuel efficiency.
An important downside to note is that a leveling kit may wear out suspension components faster than if the truck was left in its stock form. All vehicles are designed by the manufacturer to operate in a certain way, and changing anything can increase wear and tear on your vehicle. When adjusting the front suspension, the stress is likely to increase on ball joints and CV joints. The more you change the height of the suspension, the faster these parts can wear out. Small changes (two inches or less) will generally not increase wear as quickly as large changes.
Another important downside of installing a leveling kit is that you may void your vehicle’s warranty. You don’t need to worry about this if your truck is already outside the warranty window, but if you have a newer truck, the dealer or manufacturer may be hesitant to do any repairs under warranty if you’ve modified the stock suspension.
For example, leveling kits and lift kits do not necessarily void the Ford warranty, but Ford will not cover any damage it suspects to be due to any part installed after the vehicle leaves the control of the company. This includes both later-installed parts that fail and later-installed parts that cause Ford parts to fail.
Most leveling kits are “bolt-on” modifications, meaning they don’t require welding or cutting, and they can be reversed if you decide to sell the truck or change its suspension setup in the future. You can search for videos online to find a tutorial for removing the kit from your specific truck model.
You can install the kit yourself or have a trusted mechanic install it for you. Most kits come with basic instructions, but there are also detailed YouTube videos available for virtually all truck makes and models. To find a professional shop, you can start with a Google search for auto shops in your area, or you can specifically search for shops that install leveling kits.
Keep in mind that the quality of the kit won’t matter if it isn’t installed properly — your entire vehicle’s weight rests on the suspension, so it’s important to get these parts installed correctly.
Some popular companies that specialize in suspension modifications for trucks include Rough Country, Summit Racing, and Tuff Country. You can also find leveling kits at national auto shop chains, such as AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts. Be sure to order parts for your specific vehicle, as some kits are based on model year, trim level, and even whether or not the truck has four-wheel drive.
For more information about lift kits, our article details how much it costs to lift a truck.