A body lift or a suspension lift are essentially two ways to lift your Jeep, truck, or SUV. Both methods have their pros and cons that are typically focused on price, performance, and ease of installation, but let me explain the difference between the two.
A suspension lift raises the vehicle’s frame (chassis) away from the ground. This is accomplished with taller springs, lift blocks, spring spacers, lowering the differential, turning up the torsion bars, or any combination thereof.
A body lift raises the vehicle by lifting the body away from the frame with spacers. This keeps the frame at its existing distance from the ground.
A suspension lift is recommended for anyone planning to spend a lot of time off-road. A body lift is recommended for anyone that wants to make their vehicle look lifted with no true intentions of going off-road. This doesn’t mean that a body lifted vehicle can’t go off-road. It just won’t perform as well as a suspension lifted vehicle because it hasn’t gained any ground clearance.
Most suspension lifts are built between 2-inches and 6-inches, while body lifts range between 1-inch and 3-inches (never higher because of safety reasons).
A suspension lift is more complicated than a body lift because it alters all of the suspension components that give the vehicle its factory ride characteristics. Installing springs that generate lift will have a harsher ride quality than with soft factory springs. Longer shock absorbers will be needed. The vehicle will also have a higher center of gravity because the entire weight of the vehicle (everything except the axles) will now be raised further from the ground. In some cases, the transfer case will need to be lowered and the rear differential repositioned to minimize driveline vibrations as the Jeep Wrangler is notorious for having a short rear driveline that isn’t readily accepting to increased u-joint angles.
Pros: Increases ground clearance, increased approach and departure angles, allows fitment of larger tires.
Cons: Expensive, installation usually takes longer, driveline angles are increased (more susceptible to vibrations), re-route or lengthen the brake lines, new shocks needed, raised center of gravity.
A body lift is relatively simple in that it primarily consists of a set of spacers that are inserted at the mounting points between the frame and body of the vehicle. This leaves all the heavy parts of the vehicle (frame, engine, transmission, transfer case, etc) at their factory locations so the vehicle’s center of gravity (though increased) will not be increased as much as a suspension lift.
Pros: Inexpensive, can be installed quickly with basic hand tools, allows fitment of taller tires, simpler (all parts necessary come in a small box).
Cons: Appearance (there will be a noticeable gap between the body tub and the frame), additional leverage is placed on the mounting points, ground clearance is not raised.
Ultimately, the only benefit of a body lift is that it allows for the installation of larger tires. On the other hand, a suspension lift is designed for improved performance off-road (and conveniently allows the installation of larger tires). If cost is a factor and you’re on a budget but want to make your Jeep, truck, or SUV look like an aggressive off-roader with no real intentions of ever going off-road, then a body lift would be adequate for you. However, if cost isn’t a factor and you’re looking to make your Jeep, truck, or SUV more off-road capable and trail ready, then a suspension lift should be your first choice.
MY4BY OFF ROAD has the internet’s largest selection of Chevy body lift kits. They also boast the internet’s largest inventory of Rancho shocks and suspension for nearly every make and model of 4WD vehicle.