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Can You Tow With A Lifted Truck?

Published on
3/11/2024
A lifted black Chevy Truck

Truck mods and lift kits aren’t going anywhere. That aesthetic can be found in every corner of the US. 

Although, lifted trucks might lose some of their utility. Pickup trucks were created to be work horses after all. So the question becomes, can you indeed have both beauty and brawn? Can you tow with a lifted truck?

How a Lift Kit Affects Hauling Performance

Your truck's towing limits are tested in its manufactured body, suspension, and tires. Changing anything structural is likely going to affect what it’s able to do—including how safely it can tow. 

Generally speaking, towing with a lifted truck is regarded as less safe and less effective than towing with a standard truck. While you still can tow, you can’t tow as easily. The main elements of towing that are affected by a lift kit includes:

  • Lowered stability
  • Longer brake time
  • Lowered maximum towing capacity
  • Reduced performance

Let’s dig a little deeper into why lifting your truck may not be ideal for hotshot trucking.

how a lift kit affects towing performance: lowered stability, longer break time, lowered maximum towing capacity, and reduced performance

Lowered Stability

The biggest and most important issue worth noting is the trailer's stability when being pulled by a lifted truck. When your truck is lifted, it becomes taller and less aerodynamic. It makes it a lot harder and more unsafe to pull a heavy load. 

Suspension lifts are particularly notorious for lowered stability while towing. The weight of the trailer will usually pull the back of the truck down just a bit. With a softer suspension from a suspension lift, the weight of the trailer pulls the back of the truck down a significant amount. This lifts the front of the truck, which reduces stability and steering.

Even with trailer stabilization adjustments like a sway control kit or a weight distribution hitch, your truck still won’t be as stable as one straight from the lot. 

Longer Brake Time

Another prevalent issue in towing with a lift is the braking. With a lifted truck, slowing down takes more time and is more taxing on your brakes. If you’ve ever hauled something, or even had a full cab of passengers, you know that added weight does the same thing. Combine the two braking issues, and it could be very dangerous for you or other drivers on the road.

To counter this, opt for a trailer with brakes built in. This takes a lot of the stress and weight off of the truck's brakes. 

Related Article: The Best Size Trailers for Hotshot Trucking, Choosing the Best Car Hauler Trailer

Lowered Maximum Towing Capacity

Anyone that tows a trailer with a pickup truck needs to know the payload capacity of their vehicle. Lifting trucks adds weight, which adds to the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The more your truck weighs, the less room you have in your GVWR for your cargo. Suspension lifts add more weight than body lifts, making the impact on the GVWR more significant. 

Suspension lifts get another mark against them when it comes to power. The softer suspension removes torque, making it more difficult to move with the trailer. Though, with any type of lift, larger tires can have the same effect.  

Related Article: How Much Weight Can You Haul Without a CDL? 

Reduced Performance

Lifting your truck also affects the overall performance of the truck. The stability and braking issues can lower the truck's lifespan. 

The lowered traction and the weight of the kit also reduce the truck’s gas mileage because it's working harder to do the same amount of work as a non-lifted truck.

Related Article: How to Get Better Gas Mileage While Pulling a Trailer

Increase Your Towing Capacity and Performance

Luckily, there are some ways to compensate for the disadvantages a lift might have. Firstly, a body lift has far less of an effect on towing capacity and vehicle performance than a suspension lift. 

But there are a few other ways to get your lifted truck tow-ready.

Upgrade the Brakes

One of the best things you can do to your truck is improve the brakes. This takes a lot of the stress off of the truck and the trailer, making it a lot easier to tow heavier loads. While you should frequently check to make sure that your brakes are always in good condition, look into heavy duty and high-quality brakes for your truck and your trailer. 

Upgrade the Hitch

The hitch you use makes a huge difference, especially when you modify your truck. One of the best adjustments for stability is using a sway control hitch. This prevents the trailer from moving side to side when being towed. You can add  a weight distribution hitch that spreads the weight evenly across the axles for added stability. 

Also consider your trailer class hitch. Though you may be towing less or the same amount as a non-lifted truck, higher classed hitches offer more trailer stability.

But one thing that you really have to do is invest in a drop hitch. Trailers are built to hook up to manufactured pickups. Because the lifted truck’s bumper now sits much higher than what the trailer is built for, you need a lowered hitch that matches manufacturers' specifications. 

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