Lift Kit Installation
Automotive Technology

Lift Kit Installation 101: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lift kits are a great way to improve your car’s functionality and aesthetics, especially if your vehicle goes off-road.

That’s why we’ve compiled a general set of lift kit installation guidelines for you to follow when you’re upgrading your stock shocks.

That being said, before you dive deep into a project, please pick up a specific set of lift kit guidelines for your exact car. Installation guides like this will almost always come with the suspension package that you buy.

If you don’t get one in your package, do a quick search to find a general installation guide specific to your vehicle that you can compare to this guide here to guarantee accuracy.

What Holds You Up? Know Your Suspension

Starting off, there are several kinds of lift kits that you can use to bump up your car’s height. You can lift your vehicle with a suspension lift kit or with a body lift kit.

Both kits have vastly different installation methods, so be sure you know what kinds of lifting you’re going to be doing before you get started.

We’re recommending suspension based lift kits because they provide the best functional and aesthetic improvements.

Now, what tools will you need to upgrade your suspension?

Getting Your Upgrade Right: Get the Right Tools

Your kit should come with pretty much everything you need, but we recommend that you pick up these tools as an extra bit of insurance.

You never know what you’re going to run into when doing a DIY lift kit installation. Might as well expand your garage anyway, right?

Tools You Should Pick up

  1. A breaker bar is one of the best ways to deal with stubborn nuts and bolts. A breaker bar will give you the extra leverage you need.
  2. A spring compressor will help you reset the springs on your suspension if you have coil-overs.
  3. A torsion bar unloading tool will be critical for safely changing your torsion keys.
  4. A Prybar is excellent for removing stubborn plates and breaking through solidified oil.
  5. PB Blaster is one of the best penetrating oils you can buy – it’s one of the best methods we’ve found for loosening rusted up and stuck on bolts.
  6. A standard socket set. Head to a local hardware store, and you should be able to find a set labeled “automotive” or “mechanic’s” socket set. Those socket sets will be perfect. However, any 1/4″ to 1″ set will do.
  7. Vehicle stands will be essential. Your car will come with a basic car-jack, but they are not even close to being safe. You will need to support your car with vehicle stands for any long term vehicle work.
  8. Pick up a torque wrench so that you can tighten any bolts to the correct spec.
  9. Your car comes with a lug wrench, but a proper tire iron should speed the job along nicely.
  10. Buy a set of screwdrivers to reach bolts that your drill won’t.
  11. Buy a soft headed hammer to help persuade stubborn bolts.
  12. A spool of wire is always incredibly useful for fishing out lost nuts and bolts.

Finally, If you have access to an auto shop, you might be able to use an auto lift for the price of pizza and a beer (or maybe by offering them the chance to look at your sick new 3rd gen 4runner lift kit. New tools might make your lift kit installation cost a little bigger up front, but trust us – they’re worth it.

General Lift Kit Installation Guidelines

Wow, that was a lot of planning! However, over planning is almost necessary for successfully adding a lift kit to your car. So, if you’ve skipped any of the prep because your only thought was, “I just want to know how to install a lift kit!” read the first sections now before moving onward.

As mentioned earlier, these are general instructions. Please only use these in conjunction with your car’s specific installation guides. Review that guide as well before continuing.

Alright, good to go? Let’s start lifting your car!

  1. Unhook your negative battery terminal. Removing the grounding wire like this will stop any current from flowing and will p[revent deadly electric while you’re working near electrical systems.
  2. Next, loosen your car’s lug nuts before using a jack to lift the car off of the ground.
  3. Jack your car up until you can get underneath it easily. Next, lower your car down onto your vehicle stands so that it’s securely supported on each side. Be sure that your jack and your vehicle’s stands are under or near the weight points on your vehicle’s frame. These are typically indicated with small divets in the metal.
  4. Snug a floor jack up onto your axel to catch it when you remove your suspension.
  5. Finish taking off your car’s wheels and tires.
  6. Take off your current U bolts, springs, and shocks to remove your current set of suspension. Removing these parts may take some time and force, but stick with it – the pieces will come off eventually. Your car specific guide should tell you how to do this.
  7. Set your old suspension aside neatly. You may want to reattach it if your new parts don’t fit.
  8. Break out your spring compressors if you have coil overs! At this stage, you’ll want to compress your old springs so that you can take off your old coil-overs.
  9. Attach your new U-bolts where your old U-bolts used to be. If you took any pictures of the disassembly process, now is an excellent time to use them for reference.
  10. Now, assemble your new shocks! The specific instructions can usually be found in your shock’s installation guide.
  11. Install your new shocks! Make sure to torque everything down so that it matches spec for safety.
  12. Double-check all of your bolts and look for extras lying around. You wouldn’t want to miss any essential bolts during reassembly!
  13. Use a torque wrench to ensure that all bolts are tightened down as described in the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
  14. Replace your wheels.
  15. Take off your vehicles stands and slowly lower your newly lifted car to the ground!
  16. Repeat these steps for your rear suspension and reattach your battery’s negative terminal.

That concludes our general lift kit installation DIY guide.

When You’re Done, You’re Done

We always recommend your lifted vehicle in for a basic check-up to make sure that everything is tight and healthy, but congratulations!!!

You’ve now successfully lifted your car. Hopefully, it was a relatively painless process. For more car news, tips, and tricks, please check out the rest of our articles as well!