Extreme Lifting an Older Ford F-150: Does It Make Financial Sense?

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Ford F-150 Lift Kit

Everybody loves a big lift and giant tires on an F-150. But is it better to invest that money in a new truck’s suspension?

Here at the F-150 Online forums, the most common question we see, by a landslide, revolves around how to squeeze the biggest tire on an F-150. And it’s easy to see why this is such a popular query. After all, things like lift kits and tires cost thousands of dollars. And who wants to spend all that money and time modifying their truck only to suffer clearance issues once it’s done? So you can’t blame forum member Spartan117 for seeking some advice before taking that costly plunge.

“I have a 2004 F-150 FX4 SuperCrew with a 2.5-inch leveling kit. I’m trying to figure out what size tire I can fit on it. I really want 35×12.5 tires. I am eventually going to buy a 6-inch lift, so if I can fit 35s on it with the leveling kit for now, that would be ideal for me. My wheels are 18×9.5/6x135mm, +25mm offset with 6.23 inches of back spacing. I don’t mind minor plastic trimming.”

Ford F-150

The OP’s plan makes a lot of sense, as you obviously wouldn’t want to have to buy tires twice in a short period of time. But as Fifty150 points out, he’s going to run into some issues.

“With a leveling kit, you can run 33” tires on stock wheels. Trimming plastic is not the issue. The issue will be the inside of those tires versus your suspension components and your wheel well. Leveling kits will change the angle of the upper control arm and wear on the ball joint. Most people feel that it’s not really an issue, and that they will just install new ball joints when they wear out. 

With a 6 inch lift, you can run 35″ tires, but not with those wheels you have now. You will need new wheels with specs for the kit you are installing. Most lift kits will have a specific wheel fitment intended to work with their kit. Wheel width and backspacing are the most important numbers. Offset, not so much.”

Ford F-150

The other problem here is whether or not it makes sense to spend basically what a used F-150 is worth on new components like these.

“The wisdom in investing $3K+ into a lift kit for a 15-year-old truck is questionable. Not only will you incur the cost of the kit components, but then you will find yourself adding on more to make the truck operate at its best. After the kit install, you will quickly discover that you want the steering stabilizers for lift kits. Now you will have to recalibrate your computer and transmission shift points. You need your speedometer readings corrected. Then you will have to consider regearing since your stock gears were meant for stock tire size.”

Going too big on a lift can certainly turn into a perpetual cycle of spending money. Thus, it makes sense to make this kind of investment on a new truck. But ultimately, if you love your truck and plan on keeping it forever, that’s a moot point. Regardless, we want to know what you think So head over here and tell us (and the OP) what you would recommend doing if you had an older F-150 and wanted to give it a monster truck stance!



Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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