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Oct 28th 2021

Can You Tow With a Lifted Truck?

Towing With a Lifted Truck

Many truck owners dream of lifting their rides. A lifted truck is eye-catching, dynamic and fun to drive. As such, it's no surprise that the lifted style is so popular with so many truck drivers and owners. At the same time, many truck owners rely on their vehicles for towing, so they may have concerns about how lifting their trucks might affect towing capacity.

Can you tow with a lifted truck? Does adding a lift kit affect towing capacity? These are valid questions to ask, and the answers will vary depending on a variety of factors. As a truck owner and driver, you should certainly consider the answers if you're interested in lifting your truck. Keep reading to learn more about how to tow with a lifted truck.

Body Lift vs. Suspension Lift

First, you'll need to decide which type of lift you want to use on your truck. There are two basic options for lifting a truck — suspension lift and body lift. It's up to you and your needs to determine which is the best option for your truck.

  • Body lift: A body lift refers to the lift style in which the body of the vehicle — in this case, the body of the truck — is raised away from the vehicle's frame. A body lift is typically limited to about 2 to 5 inches. This is enough room to allow for larger tires, but it doesn't create the amount of ground clearance you'll get from a suspension lift. If you're interested in a way to raise your truck quickly and relatively inexpensively, a body lift may be the right option for you.
  • Suspension lift: With a suspension lift, the vehicle's entire suspension — and thus, every part of the truck — is raised up, giving your truck significant ground clearance. Unlike body lifts, which usually top out at a maximum of 5 inches, suspension lifts can add as much as 9 to 12 inches to your truck. As such, a suspension lift can truly transform the look, handling and overall driving feel of your truck.

Typically, truck owners can install both body lifts and suspension lifts in just a few hours through the use of lift kits. If you don't feel comfortable installing a lift kit yourself, you can always have professional mechanics install it for you.

Can You Tow With a Lifted Truck?

To give the briefest answer to this question — yes, you technically can tow with a lifted truck. However, it's not always advisable that you do so because lifting your truck can drastically change the way that it drives and handles. As such, towing with a lifted truck can be unstable and may cause sagging, making it an unpredictable — and in some cases even a dangerous — way to tow.

If you're interested in lifting your truck with minimal impact on your truck's towing ability, you'll likely want to choose a body lift rather than a suspension lift. Using a body lift, the body of your truck is lifted away from the frame, but no real changes are made to the truck's suspension or other performance features. As such, body lifts are a good option for truck owners who want to continue towing with their trucks right away.

In contrast with body lifts, suspension lifts will likely impact your truck's ability to tow in a stable and safe way. A vehicle's suspension is crucial for safe towing. With a lifted suspension, your truck's shocks and springs have a farther distance to travel — in most cases, they're also softer in order to allow the tires to reach the ground.

As such, attaching any weight, as one does when towing, to the bed of a suspension-lifted truck will nearly always cause the back of the truck to sag. This throws off the entire balance of the vehicle. Consequently, you can no longer rely on your truck's original towing capacity numbers, as the suspension lift will have altered these figures.

Does Lifting a Truck Affect Towing Capacity?

The short answer to this question is sometimes. While lifting a truck can affect its towing capacity, it doesn't always happen that way. The effect that a lift kit will have on your truck's towing capacity will vary depending on what type of lift kit you install.

Because a body lift is primarily cosmetic, it's highly unlikely that this type of lift will affect a truck's gas mileage, tow capacity or payload. If you're interested in lifting your truck to change its appearance, but not its performance features, a body lift is likely the safest and easiest option for you. With a body lift, you can typically continue towing your truck in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended tow capacity.

On the other hand, suspension lifts do have an effect on towing capacity. Because suspension lift kits raise both the body and the frame of the truck, the entire suspension of your vehicle will be altered, impacting handling and stability.

Does a lift kit affect towing? There are some precautions you can take to make towing with a suspension lift as safe as possible, including:

  • Adding a drop hitch: True to its name, a drop hitch lowers a truck hitch's ball joint to a height more appropriate for your towing and/or trailer needs. This can resolve the height issues a lifted truck has on towing capacity.
  • Installing air suspension: Air suspension can help to resolve the sagging and stability issues that arise when towing with a lifted truck. With an air suspension, you replace your truck's back shocks with what are essentially air bags. This type of suspension can help to increase stability and avoid some sagging problems.

While drop hitches and air suspension can make towing with a lifted truck safer and easier to handle, they're not foolproof solutions. In most cases, it'll always be safest to avoid using a lifted truck to tow whenever possible.

Do Bigger Tires Affect Towing Capacity?

While bigger tires can impact a truck's towing capacity, they don't do so in ways you might expect. In general, larger tires transmit less torque, meaning they give the truck less power. As such, larger tires might actually decrease the amount of weight that a truck can tow.

When not selected for or installed correctly on your truck, larger tires can result in dangerous situations like blowouts and suspension damage. It's recommended that you rely on the advice of skilled mechanics and automotive professionals when choosing tires for your truck.

If your primary reason for having a truck is to tow heavy loads, you'll likely want to stick with smaller tires and avoid lifting your truck. By keeping your truck secure and stable, you'll be best able to maintain safety and avoid dangerous situations as you tow.

Contact General Spring Today

If you're interested in lifting your truck, look no further than General Spring. With nearly 60 years of experience, General Spring is America's proven leader in leaf spring and suspension authority. General Spring is proud to work with both professional suspension repairpeople and DIY enthusiasts alike, and our extensive product offerings, services and expertise make us an ideal partner.

Contact us today for a quote!