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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

When you lower or raise a standard pickup truck, do you increase or decrease its usefulness?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21749 points ) March 14th, 2014

Does lowering a pickup by 3–4 inches or putting in a lift kit to raise it up an additional 7–8 inches add or take away from its utility? Or is there no measurable net gain or disadvantage for doing such?

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15 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Lift kits allow a truck to cover terrain regular PU’s can’t navigate thus increasing it’s usefulness under rough off road hauls.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I’d think lowering the truck would decrease its usefulness. Pickup trucks are designed for rough terrain, but you can’t take on rough terrain if you’re in a low-rider. Plus, it makes the truck look stupid.

Lifting a truck, which most rednecks down here in the South like to do, seems to increase its usefulness in rough terrain, like @Cruiser said. Plus, it supposedly looks more “macho” lifted. And according to some country friends I have, it’s easier to hit mud holes with a lift kit – and who doesn’t want to hit mud holes, right?~

Also, most people lift their truck for the purpose of accommodating bigger tires. (Though, I say bigger tires usually means smaller…well, you know.) The bigger the tires, the worse your gas mileage. That doesn’t decrease the truck’s usefulness, though. It just makes driving it more expensive. However, with bigger tires on a truck that wasn’t meant for them, the axleshafts, bearings, brakes, and steering gear will all wear out faster.

ragingloli's avatar

>>implying a pickup “truck” has any usefulness in the first place

jerv's avatar

Lifting may or may not, but most who are into lifting aren’t into usefulness.

Lowering does have a use, though it’s also often overdone. The use of lowering is to reduce body roll, increase stability, and improve handling…. provided you do it in moderation. Lowering a pickup until it has ground clearance comparable to a normal car will make it handle more like a normal car; you won’t have to worry so much about traction-rolling like some too-tall SUVs are prone to do.

@ragingloli You’ve never hauled motorcycles or cordwood, have you?

kritiper's avatar

Decrease. The manufacturer spent millions of dollars in development to produce a vehicle that will perform the job as intended and advertised, and safely. Raising a vehicle increases it’s chances of rolling over and lowering increases the risk of striking a damaging object. Both ruin the vehicle’s handling characteristics, as designed. Lifting and lowering also upsets the minimum and maximum u-joint operating angles, specifically the one nearest the back of the transmission or carrier bearing. Resale value and chances of sale plummet as well.

kritiper's avatar

@ragingloli A pick-up isn’t handy??? Just ask someone who has one how many people have asked them to help them move!

jerv's avatar

@kritiper You assume that they design them properly. At least for USDM cars, cost and comfort determine design more than reliability, safety, or performance. (EDM and JDM cars are more willing to do a cost/benefit analysis and occasionally spend a little money for a much better design.) The fact that U-joints are even still in use proves this; they are the worst performing, least reliable option, but they are cheap.

Also, most trucks have enough ride height that if lowering them would increase the risk of striking a damaging object, then >90% of passenger cars would get their undercarriages ripped out within minutes of leaving the assembly line. Remember, most trucks never even see a gravel driveway; the majority are “pavement princesses”.

livelaughlove21's avatar

>>implying a pickup “truck” has any usefulness in the first place

I’m not sure what we’d do without ours. Last weekend, we were spring cleaning and I managed to fill up quite a few trash bags, a couple of them with old/expired food. We have trash service, but the bags were overflowing. So, we threw it into the back of his truck and took it to the dump. I know those leaky bags weren’t going in the trunk of my car, so the truck was a necessity. The weekend before, we went to a cookout and our friend’s grill was crap, so we loaded ours up and took it over there. The cookout wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. And that’s just two weeks worth of use. Not sure how a pickup truck isn’t useful.

Plus, it’s sexy. Ours is, anyway. I’m no backwoods girl, but a nice black F-150 is a sexy truck. My husband’s old 1989 Ford, on the other hand – not so hot.

And why is “truck” in quotes? That’s what the vehicle is.

kritiper's avatar

I should have mentioned that some lowered vehicles have no suspension travel (springs) at all. Good way to bounce right off the road.
@jerv Are you assuming that anyone who changes the ride height has proper handling capabilities and safety in mind?? And cars and trucks still have u-joints. Most are called CV (constant velocity) joints but they’re still universal joints.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@kritiper Just ask someone who has one how many people have asked them to help them move!
Now that you brought it up, in moving would you say raising or lowering would be a benefit?

kritiper's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Lowering would limit your spring loading (couldn’t haul as much weight) and raising would increase the work needed to load and unload (higher bed), plus the truck would be more likely to tip over due to the higher cernter of gravity. Best to just leave it the way it was from the factory.

jerv's avatar

@kritiper If you think U-joints and CV joints are the same, I cannot take you seriously any more. At best, you’re speaking a different language.

Also, spring loading and ride height really don’t have anything to do with each other as a proper lowering uses stiffer springs. You are correct about lifts raising the center of gravity, but if you widen the stance of the truck, you can mitigate that. It still won’t handle great, but if you were correct then monster trucks would traction-roll the instant you even looked at the steering wheel.

There is more to the story than your simple “Factories are infallible, modifications are bad!” attitude. But I am sure that you already know the difference between a body lift and a chassis lift, and how each affects a truck differently, as well as the effects of various wheels/tires and track width.

kritiper's avatar

@jerv They function the same because they are designed to operate under the same circumstances; transmission of power through constantly changing angles of operation.
Yes you can widen the stance of the track but only at the expense of greater wear, side loading of the wheel bearings and possible axle breakage.
I assume that you are making uninformed, unprofessional opinions here. You cannot possibly be a professional, full time automotive technician. Any credibility you have or may have had is shot.

jerv's avatar

@kritiper By that logic, since water and metal can both conduct electricity, they are the same thing. U-joints and CV joints perform the same duties, but they don’t function the same; if they did I wouldn’t be such a stickler on this detail. Long story short, if they did use CV joints on the driveshaft, the alignment wouldn’t matter nearly as much since CV joints don’t have the issues U-joints do when not aligned absolutely perfectly.

Like many things, there is a right way and a wrong way to widen the track. I won’t bore you with the details though since you seem like you would never, ever use anything other than stock, factory parts in unaltered condition. However, I will say that you are correct about what happens when you do it the wrong way.

Assume what you want; you will anyways. If knowing proper terminology and the distinction between two quite different mechanisms that just happen to perform the same duties ruins my credibility in your eyes, c’est la vie.

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