There are two reasons people get trucks: they want to look cool, or they need a tool to get jobs done. Lift kits are one of those modifications that can apply to both of those people. However, let’s face it: trucks need to be lifted.
Regardless of how or why you plan on lifting your Tundra, we do need to get some common terms out of the way so you can become an expert! After that, I’ll toss some examples at you, and hopefully you can determine which way is the best way to lift your ride.
Technical Info and Terminology
Coilover: A coilover is the front coil spring and shock assembly together as one unit. A typical spring and shock suspension are two separate parts.
Shock: A shock is an oil or gas filled piston that's designed to compress and expand with suspension travel. They are designed to absorb impacts to give you a smoother or stiffer ride, depending on the type you choose. You can see these inside your springs.
Upper Control Arms: UCA are at the front of your independent front suspension (IFS). They are mainly responsible for the vertical alignment of the front spindles. They generally are not load-bearing.
Lower Control Arms: LCA are also part of the front IFS. These work together with your UCA, but these see most of the load-bearing.
Leaf Springs: These are one of the oldest suspension designs. Leaf springs are made of a number of strips of metal curved slightly upward and clamped together one above the other. They are found at the rear of most pickups.
Add-A-Leaf: AALs are additional springs that are excessively arched to provide additional lift or support to the rear of some trucks.
Leaf Pack: these are a replacement set of leaf springs. They are generally designed to have a better spring rate. Leaf packs may also add lift or additional load capacity.
We have now covered all of the parts, but we need to talk about alignment. Alignment is more than just making sure your steering wheel is pointing the correct way. Even if your alignment is a hair off, it will cause uneven wear and tear on your tires and suspension. ALWAYS make sure you have your truck aligned after doing any suspension work, especially when adding a lift.
Caster: This is the angle that your front tires are tilted in relation to the steering axis.
Camber: The angle that your tires are in relation to the vertical axis when viewed from the front of the vehicle.
Toe: The angle at which your front tires turn in or out in relationship to each other.
Types of Lift Kits - Front
Now that we’ve made it through the terms, let’s focus on the meat and potatoes: the different options you have for lift kits on your Toyota Tundra. For the front of your truck, there are three main ways to achieve lift: spacers, coils, and coilovers.
Spacer Lift Kits, which are also known as leveling kits, leveling spacers, or spring blocks, are the most affordable way to get a fixed amount of lift out of your truck. This is achieved by literally adding a spacer between the body of your truck and the suspension.
The biggest upside to this type of lift is that you do not need to invest in any other suspension parts which makes these pretty inexpensive. The biggest downside is that they are not suitable for serious off-roading. They are best for looks and lighter off-roading and give one to three inches of lift.
Coil and Coilover Lift Kits have to deal with actually replacing yoru stock suspension pieces. As stated in the terms, a coilover kit is a single unit containing your spring and shock together. A coil is just the coil. However, they both achieve the same end goal.
Replacing the coils can give some change, but for the best performance, lift, and off-road capabilities, you’ll want to look at coilover kits. While they are the most expensive, you get what you pay for. Not only is it the safest way to get the most lift, but if a company is pairing a spring and shock together, you can be assured they will not only work well together, but have a better warranty compared to various parts you may put together. It’s also hard to beat the “plug and play” nature of a coilover kit.
Let’s take a look at some popular options for your Tundra:
For almost nothing (compared to the cost of other trucks mods), you can get up to three inches of lift from the Rough Country kit. You can dial in just the amount of lift you want with their included spaces to get the look you desire.
For a bit more, ReadyLIFT offers a three inch lift kit. While you won’t have multiple heights to choose from, a single height can be more durable over time.
As you can see by the instant price increase, coilovers are indeed more expensive. These coilovers are adjustable from 2-3 inches, and have a host of other beneficial features.
Types of Lift Kits - Rear
The rear of your truck is a bit different. Instead of a coiled spring, we’ll be looking at a group of long and slightly curved springs called leaf springs. With these, the most common way to get lift is through lift blocks, add-a-leafs, and leaf packs.
Lift blocks act the same way spacers do. It’s a block that is added between your axles and your leaf springs. Like spacers, I would not consider these for serious off-roading. These will be your most cost effective means of getting a few inches of lift. For looks and general off-roading, these are the way to go.
Add-A-Leafs were covered in the terminology, but they increase the curve of your rear suspension which gives you more lift. An added benefit to the lift is a greater load capacity as well!
Leaf packs are similar to the way coilovers are for the front as they replace your stock leaf springs in the back. Depending on what kit you get, these could increase your ride height, increase or decrease suspension travel, hauling capacity, and so on.
Here are some popular options:
This kit comes with the needed blocks and longer u-bolts. They are a good basic kit for a decent amount of lift. Rough Country offers universal blocks for around $30, but you’ll need to get u-bolts.
For less than the cost of the blocks, Tuff Country offers this three inch AAL. Some do recommend getting some longer u-bolts to go with it.
For the most durable and versatile solution, Icon makes the leaf pack that can take a beating. You can choose from three different ways of configuring the kit to give you up to four inches of lift.
Your truck is waiting to be lifted and modded. Tundra is good for it! Keep in mind that a truck is made to work best from the factory. Changing one component may affect others. Any time you change any component of the suspension, it is good practice to get an alignment to make sure everything works well and lasts long.
Find the kit that works best for your needs and budget. Be safe, have fun, and lift ‘em up!
Lifted Tundra 1: Courtesy of Tundras.com user HighOctane
Lifted Tundra 2: Courtesy of Tundras.com user brimy311
Lifted Tundra 3: Courtesy of Tundras.com user Beardedbeast
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