SPACER LIFT VS RIDE HEIGHT ADJUSTABLE SHOCKS
My name is Earl Pike and I, along with my wife Shelly are the owners of ESP Truck Accessories. I want to compare a couple of different ways to lift your truck.
Leveling kits have become very popular over the last decade because it is an inexpensive way to lift the front of the truck to be able to fit a larger tire and to level out the front of the truck even with the back. There are a couple of ways to do this without purchasing a full on lift kit. One is installing a shock extension(spacer) on the top of the strut assembly. The other is to replace the stock shocks with a ride height adjustable shock.
The picture on the left is with a spacer lift and the right is a ride height adjustable shock. Notice the snap ring and the four positions that can be placed. On this Bilstein 5100, there is a stock height, a one inch position, a two inch position and a two and a half inch position. The snap ring can be put in any position to gain the desired height on the front of the shock. The spacer lift is generally a two and a half inch lift.
Here is how both of these styles work.
Basically, with the spacer lift, you remove the shock and spring assembly, and bolt the spacer on top of the assembly and reinstall it. What this does is shift the entire assembly down forcing the lower control arm down to lift the truck. The problem with this is that it puts a lot more force at the bottom shock mount, which can cause premature failure of the shock as well as a catastrophic failure as well. While these work well for looks, they are meant for smooth paved roads, not for off road use.
With a ride height adjustable shock, you remove the shock and spring assembly, and disassemble it. You then take the ride height adjustable shock, put the snap ring in the desired position and reassemble the shock and spring assembly. Once reinstalled, the ride height will have changed without changing the original position of the shock assembly.
When you use a spacer lift, as I already stated, it puts extreme force at the bottom of the shock. It can also cause the upper control arm to hit the spring and cause noise. Also, what this can cause is premature failure of the lower ball joint due to the angle not being level as it would be with a stock shock or a ride height adjustable shock.
When you use a ride height adjustable shock, you are changing the position of where the bottom of the spring is seated on the shock. This in turn changes the pre load of the spring which gives you your lift. Generally, you won’t get the bind of the upper control arm or lower ball joint bind either.
So bottom line, I would recommend to use the ride height adjustable shocks if you want an inexpensive lift on your truck. We use either the Bilstein 5100 or the Eibach Pro Truck series shocks. Both shocks carry a limited lifetime warranty. I have had both on my 2014 Tundra, and I feel the ride from the Eibach shocks are a bit better than the Bilstein shocks. The 5100 has been around a lot longer than the Pro Truck series, but Eibach has been manufacturing springs and shocks for decades. Both are pretty much the same cost, so it would be a matter of brand preference.
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