We're not even going to lie to you: Lifting your truck is gonna cost you. If you've priced some of the kits out there, you know. So if buying an entire kit is nowhere this side of reality for your budget, check out the following pages for the best ideas for more inches on a bargain plan. Rody Jarve at 4 Wheel Part Wholesalers, Chris Overacker at Mountain Off Road Enterprises, and Steve Brown at Off Road Unlimited clued us in to bucks-saving ways to lift without a kit, as well as some tips if you're saving for the real deal.
Rear Springs or Re-arched Springs
Adding new rear springs rather than lift blocks will net you a softer ride and more suspension travel. And for some people this is their method of lift because the stock-height appearance is retained. But if you're going for re-arched springs, think of them as a temporary lift fix-within a year, they'll begin to sag.
Do it Yourself?
Many of these tips are easy enough to do yourself to save on labor costs. But to be frank, there aren't many ways around money when lifting an IFS truck (shown). This is a complicated suspension that requires the entire front end to be disassembled, pieces whacked off, and new brackets installed, so unless you're really knowledgeable, it's best left to the experienced to modify-which will cost you, but it will also save money in the long run compared to your screwing something up. Other suspension systems are straightforward, so do what you can yourself.
Rear Lift Blocks
Note that we said rear, not front. Front lift blocks are illegal in nearly every state because they are unsafe and turn a vehicle into a severe road hazard. And by rear lift blocks we don't mean bricks, hockey pucks, 2x4s-it's not a creativity contest. Store-bought lift blocks aren't expensive and won't stiffen your ride. The con? Lift blocks increase spring wrap, and long U-bolts can often work loose.
It's so simple: Add another leaf to the rear for lift. This is a much better alternative to adding lift blocks, but you won't get as much lift. Adding only one more leaf is best because the more you add, the stiffer the ride, and you may not continue increasing the height with every leaf added. Thin, full-length add-a-leaves generally give a better ride than short, thicker ones.
Consider installing an aluminum coil spacer underneath the stock coil for additional inches. The spacer goes between the spring and the mounting tower at the upper end of the coil, not at the axle end. Daystar Products (Dept. 4WOR, 841 S. 71st Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85043, 800/595-7659 or 602/907-0640) makes a polyurethane spacer to go between the coil spring and the upper mount on Jeep TJs for about 1 1/2 inches of front lift. It's cheap, won't change the geometry much, and, when combined with a 1-inch body lift, will add 2 1/2 inches of lift.
Don't Lift More Than a Couple Inches
Rule of thumb: The more you lift, the more you'll spend. And this goes for the alternatives listed in this story or if you're buying a lift kit. For a couple of inches, you shouldn't need to replace or alter any components, although you may need to relocate the brake lines. The driveshaft shouldn't need to be lengthened with a shorter lift, but if there is some angle, try lowering the transfer case. Make sure the kit you're planning to add includes such things as extended brake lines and drop-down brackets for the transfer case, or that you've at least accounted for them in your budget. And have spare cash in case the filler tube for the gas tank needs to be extended, the steering components need to be changed, the front bumper needs to be relocated, or the power steering lines or the shifter needs to be lengthened. For more tips on how to avoid paying more after you've bought a kit, read Péwé's "Suspension or Body Lift?" in this issue.