Lift Kit Maintenance
A guide to properly inspecting and servicing your lift kit
This guide has been developed by our team of automotive customization experts to help you maximize the life of your suspension kit and get the most out of your investment. Note that each suspension kit should contain its own installation, inspection and maintenance instructions. This guide is not intended to replace or supersede such guidelines. Always follow your suspension kit and vehicle manufacturer's instructions.
Of course whether you're looking for professional installation or installing your lift kit yourself, we highly recommend consulting an expert to help avoid costly mistakes. Have questions? Need advice? Click Request-A-Quote to have one of our suspension experts contact you to help guide you through this process.
Contents of this Guide
Click a topic from the list below to skip ahead to a particular section.
- Importance of Suspension Maintenance
- Proper Torque
- Marking Bolts
- Inspection Checklist & Intervals
Importance of Suspension Maintenance
Lift kits require maintenance! Never assume that once your kit is installed, its good-to-go forever. Lift kits involve a large number of moving components. Over time, parts may settle or shift as you traverse difficult terrain or maneuver obstacles at high speeds. Failure to properly maintain your kit can have serious consequences. Lifts kits should be periodically inspected and bolts tightened (retorqued) as needed to maintain the integrity of your suspension. Here's a few key points to consider when maintaining your suspension.
Do you need to grease your suspension? That depends upon your YMM as well as the exact kit you select. When a moving suspension or steering component is joined to another component, grease is used to to lubricate the point of contact. This is intended to reduce friction, keep out contaminants such as dust, prevent rust and corrosion, and ultimately prolong the life of the component.
Steering and suspension components are considered either "serviceable" or "non-serviceable" (aka "sealed").
Most OEM suspension and steering linkages, and many (but not all) lift kit linkages, are classified as non-serviceable. The joints of non-serviceable components are sealed in a manner that prevents grease from leaking. The components are greased during the manufacturing process and do not require further re-greasing.
Some suspension and steering linkages, often those found in more complex lift kits, contain serviceable components. These components generally require re-greasing during the installation process and at certain intervals after installation. You can easily identify serviceable components because they are equipped with a grease fitting (aka "Zerk fitting").
While the average driver may prefer the convenience of non-serviceable components, many automotive enthusiasts actually prefer serviceable components because such components have a relatively longer service life.
As always, refer to your suspension kit's maintenance instructions, usually contained in the installation manual. The instructions will indicate which parts (if any) require re-greasing, as well as the interval. Examples of components that may require re-greasing include: sway bar bushings and end-links, control arm bushings, ball joints, inner and outer tie rod ends, drag links, idler arms and pitman arms.
Unless otherwise indicated by your suspension kit manual, grease should either be heavy-duty lithium or synthetic. Our preferred brand is Red "N" Tacky by Lucas Oil.
For more information on how to grease your steering and suspension components, check out the video below.
Your lift kit manufacturer will prescribe that certain bolts be torqued to particular specs. Under or over torquing your lift kit components can lead to safety hazards and damage to your suspension. Under torquing suspension components can lead to fasteners becoming loose and potentially separating. Over torquing suspension components may strip the fastener or even damage the component, leading to failure of the part. Either scenario can have severe implications - vehicle accidents and serious injury can occur.
For this reason, always follow the torque specifications provided by your suspension kit manufacturer - and use the proper tools for the job. Do not guess! A torque wrench is required to ensure proper torque for each bolt.
Your lift kit manufacturer may also prescribe the use of Loctite Threadlockers on specified bolts. Threadlockers are adhesive compounds designed to keep fasteners from loosening due to the vibrations that occur while driving.
If your lift kit manufacturer specifies that Loctite be used, ensure that you are using the appropriate type. For example, Loctite Threadlocker Blue 242 is recommended for parts that may need occasional servicing, as the bond can be relatively easily broken if the fastener needs to removed. Alternatively, Loctite Threadlocker Red 271 has a much stronger bond and can only be removed by heating the parts to 500F.
It is important to note that if a bolt containing Loctite is loosened and retorqued at any point, such as during a suspension inspection, the Loctite should reapplied to the bolt.
Many technicians will paint mark steering and suspension bolts after torquing them. This is a great trick to quickly and easily determine whether a fastener has become loose and needs to be retightened.
When inspecting your lift kit, if you find a bolt is loose and retorque it, it is a good idea to apply a new paint mark (perhaps in a new color).
Inspection Checklist & Intervals
Your lift kit installation manual should include a post-installation inspection checklist that you must complete immediately after initial installation as well as at prescribed intervals. That checklist will most likely contain (at a minimum) some variation of the following:
- Fasteners: Check all steering and suspension fasteners for proper torque.
Note: Don't forget the lug nuts!
Note: Use a torque wrench to verify the torque for each fastener is in accordance with your suspension kit manual and OE manual.
- Grease: Re-grease any serviceable components (if applicable).
- Clearance: Ensure adequate clearance between all rotating, mobile, fixed and heated members.
Note: Check clearance between exhaust and brake lines, fuel lines, fuel tank, floor boards and wiring harness.
Note: Check steering gear for interference and proper working order.
- Brakes: Test brake system. Perform steering sweep. Ensure brake hoses have sufficient slack and will not contact rotating, mobile, or fixed members, adjust lines/brackets to eliminate interference and maintain proper working order.
- Headlights: Check/readjust headlights to factory settings.
- Alignment: Perform vehicle alignment. Verify alignment is within specs and steering wheel is straight.
- Initial Inspection & Retorque - Your first suspension kit inspection should be conducted immediately upon lowering your vehicle to the ground after installing your kit. You want the vehicle to be lowered onto the ground so the weight to the vehicle shifts and the components settle into position as they would while driving. If inspected on a lift, the suspension components would be hanging from the vehicle and some components may be torqued at incorrect angles.
- 500 Mile Inspection & Retorque - We highly recommend inspecting all lift kit components and retorquing all bolts about 500 miles after installation. Once your vehicle is lowered to the ground and driven for a brief period of time, some parts may shift slightly and settle. Performing an inspection and retorque shortly after installation helps ensure that your lift kit remains safe and reliable.
- Annual Inspection & Retorque - After your initial inspection and retorque, you should generally plan to have your lift kit inspected annually. This service is often provided by many reputable lift kit installers and can help prevent excessive wear-and-tear or other problems down the road. Of course, if you notice any unusual noises, vibrations or other indications of trouble, don't wait for your next inspection - have a qualified mechanic inspect your suspension as soon as possible.
Trident Motorsports provides free lift kit inspections for all lift kits installed by us for the life of the vehicle.
Having issues with a kit installed elsewhere? Or perhaps you just want a suspension inspection for piece of mind? We're happy to perform a lift kit inspection for lift kits installed elsewhere for just $95. Should your lift kit require any repairs, this amount will be credited towards the cost of such repairs.