Lifting your truck is a big player move, one that I wanted to make. But, as I soon found out, deciding on how much to lift my truck is a royal head-scratcher. The difference between the two options I considered was literally 2 inches, yet settling on a lift size proved to be impossible.
The two most common lift kits for trucks are the 4-inch lift kits and the 6-inch lift kits of which the 4-inch one seemed to suite my case better. But, before settling upon it, the research process revealed unique advantages and homogenous disadvantages of both 4-inch and 6-inch kits.
4-inch kits are preferable to owners who want a simple visual upgrade. In comparison, 6-inch kits bring performance benefits on the table at their own cost. Regardless, both kits have characteristics that require a discussion.
4 inch lift vs 6 inch lift Silverado: Which Kit to Choose?
Turns out, a humble lift and a minute 2-inch gap start altering all sorts of things. Anything and everything from fuel consumption to ride quality and general wear and tear is affected.
The main differences of 4-inch lift vs 6-inch lift are:
|Much higher than stock
|Similar to stock
|Similar to stock
Although the table shows a snippet of the what one can expect from each lift it fails to portray the entire image. Here the particulars about the two lift sizes in greater detail:
4-inch lift kits
4-inch lift kits are one of the more modest options out there and seem to me like the perfect ones for a city-driven truck. From pictures and user comments, I collected that 4-inch lift kits for Silverado give the aesthetic buff everyone looks for when lifting their truck without putting the owner through any major mechanical issues.
4-inch lift kits can be classified as great options for city-driven trucks. Amongst the many factors that justify this classification, the key ones are:
- The fuel consumption, which remains unchanged. Most Silverado owners online report that with their 4-inch lift, the fuel consumption of their truck either didn’t change at all or at best went up an insignificant amount.
- The maneuverability and comfort is unaffected. Larger-diameter wheels and taller suspension typically decrease comfort and reduce maneuverability. With 4-inch lifts, however, this effect is minimized to a point where the characteristics of the truck remain unchanged.
- The brawn that is added is similar to the larger 6-inch lift. The visual changes of a 4-inch lift coupled with a wheel upgrade is indiscernible the larger size that is being discussed.
Lastly, the 4-inch kits are usually cheaper than their 6-inch counterparts. Combined with the little to no compromises required, this price advantage makes them a good bang-for-the-buck option for people who seemed to want a lifted look on city roads.
6-inch lift kits
6-inch lift kits, I found, are more aggressive and come with more compromises. These kits are practically the starting point for more offroad targeted modifications, hence the harsher penalties.
With 6-inch lift kits, the real range of offroad performance benefits start. But, as owners begin opening doors and opportunities for offroading and more dedicated upgrades, the setbacks faced after a 6-inch lift are much higher. The bigger ones, which effect day-to-day life are:
- Decrease in comfort and driveability. Larger wheel diameters and taller suspensions are commonly known to be less comfortable on roads and the knobby tires that provide great grip offroad are of no help on road. The typical combination of the 6-inch lift and knobby tires seems to be the culprit that reduces both comfort and driveability
- The fuel consumption the trucks takes a bad turn. Fuel consumption at this size of the wheel goes starts going up greatly simply because the engine has to work harder to rotate the wheels.
- Wear and tear of the mechanical kind is worsened with 6-inch lifts. The general wear on trucks increases both passively due to the added vibrations and directly, thanks to the larger diameter. Components like the transmission wear out quicker and general maintenance becomes more strenuous.
Finally, here’s a real kicker I discovered- not all states allow you to have a lift. Although YouTube and online car communities print a far rosier picture, modifying cars is quite frowned upon by the authorities and I found that quite a few states don’t allow to have a 6-inch lift at all.
Mechanical Troubles After a Lift
With lift-kits, come the potential for many mechanical issues that Silverado owners have admitted to facing. And whilst a lot of them are tied to 6-inch or above lifts, 4-inch kits can also have their rare repercussions as they are reliable but not bulletproof. Let’s discuss the main mechanical disadvantages.
Extra wear and tear
The mechanical wear on your truck increases exponentially with the diameter of your wheel. Wear on the drive shaft, it’s u-joints and the wheel bearings pile up. And improper adjustments to drive-shaft angles when lifting can prove costly. Both 4 and 6-inch lifts add extra wear to the components with the larger size adding more load.
Higher potential to cause failure in weaker Silverado components
The extra mechanical often stress finds its way Silverado components that are known to fail.
The first and biggest one being the transmission which is known to fail on certain model years. Both 4 and 6-inch lift add stress to the transmission. This is a real concern amongst owners of 2014-2018 Silverado(s) with the 6-speed transmissions that are known to have issues like gear slipping and shifting difficulty.
And the transmission isn’t the end of it either. The increase in vibrations can cause electrical connections to loosen up, valves to malfunction, and hoses to come off. Regardless of the size of the lift, EVAP errors like a p0449 error code that is common on 2008 Chevy Silverados can appear and give you headaches.
So, How Much Should I Lift My Truck?
If you find yourself asking this question, then, in the end, I recommend that you look at what compromises you are willing to make and where the truck is going to be driven mostly.
To name winners, the 4-inch lift kit offers the best value to owners. The lower cost and minimal setbacks make it the best option for most Silverado trucks with are city-driven. A 4-inch kit satiates the hunger for better looks whilst maintaining comfort and driveability.
As for the 6-inch kit, this one is the route offroaders should take. With 6-inch kits, owners start to get performance benefits which might compel them to accept the drawbacks. Although the truck becomes tougher to maintain, being able to finally beat a trail that you have wanted to might just be worth the risks.
Let’s get into a few common truck lift-related questions and their answers.
Can the wear and tear be reduced?
Yes, they can! The wear and tear on the drivetrain that comes from the lift can be mitigated or even eliminated with angle adjustments and swapping to purpose-built aftermarket parts that go with such a project.
Will fuel consumption always go up after a 6-inch lift?
Unfortunately, yes. After a lift of 6-inch onwards especially, the fuel consumption will go up and cannot be reduced or helped.
How much should I lift if I frequently use the bed of my truck?
If you use the bed often, then a 4-inch lift might still be on for you. Whilst lifting will always make it harder for you to load on and off items, you can certainly get away with a 4-inch lift if you are up for it.
Will lifting affect towing capability?
Any lift to your truck will affect the towing capabilities. A higher center of gravity will result in anywhere from a minor to a major decrease in your ability to tow things.
The answer to 4 inch lift vs 6 inch lift Silverado comes down to the commitment of owners. Whilst both lifts share problems like extra stress and mechanical wear, they also provide some returns.
A 4-inch lift gives you a visual buff at minimal cost to comfort, reliability and driveability. Alternatively, a 6-inch lift gets you into serious offroading territory but does so at harsher penalties to the aforementioned factors. Choosing a side between 4-inch lift vs 6-inch lift comes down to how you intend to use your truck.