A lift kit for your 4WD vehicle can mean protecting the underbody when you're off-roading and also giving your truck or other vehicle a sportier feeling. It can even keep you safer when on the road, if you can more readily see traffic several cars in front of you without your view being obstructed. When you're ready to buy a 4WD lift kit, you don't want to just run down to the auto parts store and pick up the first model you see; note a few things to keep in mind before you start to shop, so you know you get the right type for your vehicle and your needs.

1. Lifting and leveling

Note that many trucks are designed to sit a bit higher in the back than in the front; this is so they have some added cushioning when they're loaded down with whatever you may stack in the cargo area. When shopping for a lift kit, you may note that some are labeled as leveling kits. These will have smaller pieces for the back of the truck, so that the body becomes level. You may actually not want this, if you consistently carry heavy loads in the cargo area of the truck. In those cases, it can be good to have the back end raised up just a bit. Be sure you know the difference in these types of kits and get the one for your own needs.

2. Shocks

Your lifting kit will usually pull on the shocks on your vehicle, but note that shocks are meant to be extended only a certain distance. If you haven't checked the amount of lift you'll get from your kit versus the size of the shocks in your car, you may find that the shocks get overextended and won't be able to build up pressure inside to provide cushioning when your vehicle bounces. Note if you need to replace the shocks in your vehicle when installing a lifting kit, or choose a kit that is smaller overall.

3. Spacer blocks

Some manufacturers will have spacer blocks added to the back end of trucks in order to lift it, as mentioned above. It is often illegal to add more spacer blocks, one on top of another, as this can interfere with your vehicle's overall shock absorption. If you plan on adding spacer blocks as part of your lift kit, note if they're already installed and, if so, you may need to choose another option for lifting or leveling.