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Lifted Shocks and Leveling Struts vs. Strut Spacers - Pros, Cons, and Risks

Posted by Sean Reyes on

Diagram: Adjustable Height Struts Compared to Strut Spacers

Pros and Cons of Strut Spacers

There are pros and cons to each option, the biggest factor for people going with a spacer is perceived cost vs a new set of struts that may do the same. Spacers are also very popular amongst new truck owners who just want to level the vehicle without replacing struts that dont have much life on them yet. Besides those significant advantages of ease and cost, there are also cons to such a system compared to leveling struts.

  • Pro - Strut disassembly not required, coil spring compressor not required
  • Pro - Maintains more of a factory ride compared to leveling struts that pre-load the coil spring to achieve lift
  • Pro - Can be found for very inexpensive online, most of these products are all made from solid steel or billet aluminum, whether $50 or $200 a pair.
  • Con - Does not increase suspension capability off-road
  • Con - Loss to downtravel, more risk to the strut since the bottom of the strut becomes the limiting strap to the lower control arm drooping down.
Strut spacer prior to installation into vehicle
broken tacoma strut from bottoming out
Spacer vs Strut

Pros and Cons of Adjustable Height Struts

Leveling struts, lifted struts, or adjustable height struts, all mean basically the same thing. On these struts, there is a coil spring collar that can sit at different heights on the shock body, either through a collar that changes orientation (Pro Comp), or different grooves that the coil spring collar sits in (Bilstein). By changing the bottom mounting of the coil spring, and keeping the same top mounting position, this results in the coil spring being pre-loaded (compressed) prematurely, and when the vehicle weight sits on that new compressed coil spring and strut tower, the vehicle will squat less than it would on non-compressed (loaded) springs.

  • Pro - Increases suspension travel
  • Pro - Doesn't compromise droop travel like a spacer, little to not risk of busting the lower shock mount
  • Pro - Refreshes ride dynamics provided by the new shock absorbers
  • Con - Sometimes the same price as billet or steel strut spacers ($200-300)
  • Con - Installation is more difficult if installing only the strut, coil spring compressor required

Adjustable Height Struts are Best For: More serious off-road rigs that need to maintain full and proper shock absorber articulation (travel)


Ride-Height Adjustable Struts account for the shortcomings found in spacer kits:

Leveling Struts vs. Strut Spacers

Suspension Up-Travel

Full stock suspension up-travel is maintained with Ride-Height Adjustable Struts installed.

Up-travel is restricted when the shock assembly bottoms out with the strut extension spacer installed.

Leveling Struts vs. Strut Spacers

Suspension Down-Travel

Ride-Height Adjustable Struts prevent over extension of the suspension.

Strut extension can created extended down-travel causing possible damage to ball joints, CV joints, and driveline components.


Bottom Line

If you're trying to gain more clearance for a wheel and tire combo, and dont do much off-roading or aggressive terrain, spacers will work. If you need the clearance for wheels and tires, and you definitely plan on off-roading or exploring off the beaten path, grab new struts and shocks for the leveling kit & improved ride control.

Lifted and Leveling Struts vs. Strut Spacers: Choosing the Right Suspension Enhancement

When it comes to enhancing your vehicle's performance and aesthetics, suspension upgrades are often at the top of the list. Among the various options available, two popular choices are lifted and leveling struts and strut spacers. Whether you're looking to give your car or truck a more aggressive look or improve its off-road capabilities, understanding the differences between these components is crucial. In this article, we'll delve into what strut spacers, lifted struts, and leveling struts are, how they work, and when to choose one over the other.

strut spacers

Struts Meaning

Before diving into the differences between these suspension components, let's clarify what struts are. In the context of vehicles, struts are a key part of the suspension system. They play a vital role in maintaining stability, controlling bounce, and providing support for the vehicle's weight. In essence, struts are responsible for ensuring a smooth and comfortable ride, whether you're cruising on the highway or navigating rough terrain.

Struts are more than just structural components; they are vital to your vehicle's overall performance and handling. This brings us to the question of strut spacers, lifted struts, and leveling struts.

Strut Spacers for Cars and Truck Spacers

Strut spacers are simple yet effective components designed to provide additional lift to your vehicle's suspension. A strut spacer is essentially a solid block or puck-shaped piece of material, often made of high-quality aluminum or polyurethane, that is installed above or below the strut assembly. The purpose of a strut spacer is to increase the ground clearance of your vehicle and achieve a more lifted look.

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strut spacer

What is a Leveling Kit?

Leveling kits are a specific type of suspension enhancement that aims to level the vehicle's stance. In many cases, trucks and SUVs have a noticeable forward rake, where the front end sits lower than the rear. This can be a design choice or due to the vehicle's intended use, such as accommodating heavy loads in the rear. A leveling kit, which may consist of strut spacers or leveling struts, helps eliminate this imbalance.

What Does a Leveling Kit Do?

By installing a leveling kit, you can bring the front and rear of your vehicle to the same height, giving it a more balanced appearance. Beyond aesthetics, leveling kits offer practical benefits, including improved handling, especially when carrying heavy loads, and better wheel alignment.

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best leveling kits

Strut Spacers vs Lifted Struts: A Comparison

Now that we have a basic understanding of what strut spacers and leveling kits are, let's compare the two and explore when you might choose one over the other.

Strut Spacers

Lift Enhancement: Strut spacers are primarily used to add lift to your vehicle's suspension. If you're looking for a cost-effective way to gain ground clearance and fit larger tires, strut spacers are a suitable choice.

Simplicity: Installing strut spacers is relatively straightforward and doesn't require advanced mechanical skills. Many vehicle owners can do it themselves or with the help of a professional.

Customization: Strut spacers come in various sizes, allowing you to tailor the amount of lift to your preferences. This customization is especially useful if you have specific goals in mind, such as creating an off-road beast or a stylish urban cruiser.

strut spacer lift

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Lifted Struts

Complete Solution: Lifted struts, also known as spring struts, are comprehensive suspension assemblies designed with increased lift from the ground up. They replace your vehicle's existing struts and are a one-stop solution for both lift and improved performance.

Performance Improvements: Lifted struts are often engineered to offer enhanced off-road capabilities and improved ride quality. If you're a serious off-road enthusiast, these may be the better choice for you.

Simplified Installation: Lifted struts can be easier to install compared to traditional strut spacers, especially if you're replacing your old struts with them. This can save you time and potential installation costs.

lifted struts

Leveling Struts vs Spacers: What Sets Them Apart?

When it comes to achieving a level stance for your vehicle, you have two options: leveling struts or strut spacers. Let's explore the differences between these two solutions.

Leveling Struts

Complete Front-End Solution: Leveling struts are designed to replace your vehicle's front struts, ensuring a level stance without the need for additional components like strut spacers.

Enhanced Performance: These struts are engineered to maintain or improve your vehicle's handling and ride quality, which can be particularly beneficial if you regularly carry heavy loads.

Streamlined Appearance: Leveling struts provide a more seamless appearance as they are integrated into the existing suspension system, offering a cleaner look compared to strut spacers.

leveling struts

Strut Spacers for Leveling

Customizable Lift: If you want to level your vehicle with strut spacers, you can choose the height of the spacers to achieve the desired lift. This customization gives you control over your vehicle's stance.

Budget-Friendly Option: Strut spacers are often more affordable than full leveling struts, making them an attractive choice for those on a budget.

Simplicity and Versatility: Strut spacers can be easily installed without the need to replace your existing struts. This flexibility can be advantageous for vehicle owners who want an economical leveling solution without a complex installation process.

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Shocks and Spacers: The Perfect Complement

In addition to strut spacers and leveling struts, shock absorber spacers are also worth considering when enhancing your vehicle's suspension. Shock absorber spacer is designed to work in conjunction with strut spacers or leveling struts, ensuring that your vehicle's shocks are properly positioned to maintain optimal performance and ride quality. Properly paired shocks and spacers can help prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle's suspension components.

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shocks and spacers

Strut Leveling Kit vs Spacer: Choose between the right fit with Shock Surplus. Discover the difference between strut leveling kits and spacers for your suspension needs.

Leveling Spacers vs Leveling Struts: Decide wisely with Shock Surplus. Compare leveling spacers vs. leveling struts to enhance your vehicle's performance and appearance.

Leveling Shocks: Upgrade with confidence at Shock Surplus. Explore our selection of leveling shocks for a smoother, balanced ride on any terrain.

Strut Spacer Lift: Boost your vehicle's stance with a strut spacer lift from Shock Surplus. Experience improved ground clearance and style.

Strut Installation: Seamless strut installation is made easy at Shock Surplus. Elevate your vehicle's performance with our expert services and quality products.

Enhance your vehicle's performance with Shock Surplus. Explore our spacers for shocks and spacers for struts to fine-tune your suspension for a smoother, more controlled ride.

In conclusion, when deciding between lifted struts, leveling struts, or strut spacers, it's important to consider your specific needs, budget, and desired outcome. Lifted struts offer a comprehensive solution for both lift and performance enhancements, making them a great choice for off-road enthusiasts. On the other hand, strut spacers provide a cost-effective way to achieve a lift and customize the look of your vehicle. When it comes to leveling your vehicle, both leveling struts and strut spacers can do the job, with each offering its own advantages. Lastly, don't forget the importance of shock absorber spacers to ensure that your entire suspension system works harmoniously to deliver a smooth and controlled ride. With the right combination of components, you can give your vehicle the look and performance you desire.

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