Lifting a Chevy Truck Using Torsion Keys: Good Idea?

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Chevy Truck Torsion Key Lift

Owners of older Chevy trucks can lift them for free by adjusting the torsion keys. But there are some caveats.

If you’ve been window shopping lift kits lately, you already know how expensive they can be. And that’s assuming you install them yourself. Tacking on professional installation makes it an even more prohibitive endeavor. So what’s a Chevy truck owner to do if he wants to gain a little altitude and make room for some big tires? Well, that’s exactly what Chevrolet Forum member unsub was wondering when he started this thread.

“I have a 2001 Chevy Suburban and want to put bigger tires and aftermarket wheels on it. I do not wish to do a lift kit for various reasons. But I want to replace the original shocks and give a leveling kit a try. From what I understand, the leveling kit I’m considering will raise my front up to 2.5″ with torsion key kits and the rear either 1.5″ or 1” using coil spring spacers. Does anyone have any experience with a system like this? How does it affect the ride, handling etc.?

Chevy Truck Torsion Key Lift

Adjusting torsion keys is a something many fans of older Chevy trucks are very familiar with. And even though it’s free, SabrToothSqrl cautions against it.

“As for adjusting the torsion bars, it’s going to ride rougher. You’ll wear out the front CVs faster, and you may lose some track width the higher you go. Bigger tires also mean more wear and tear on suspension components, combined with slower acceleration and worse MPG. Just an FYI. My suspension experience comes from installing at least three lift kits on all the Jeeps I’ve owned and helping friends w/theirs.”

However, not everyone agrees with that assessment. Including zold1, who’s had good experiences with torsion key adjustments.

“I did the torsion key lift on my 2010 Chevy Suburban. I went to GM and got the 1/2 ton keys from the parts department. These keys are indexed differently, that is what gives the lift, about 2″-2.5″. The ride didn’t change. I did add the shock extensions, which I got off eBay. Hope this helps.”

Chevy Truck Torsion Key Lift

Myvehiclekit agrees, but notes that you don’t want to get too crazy with this sort of lift.

“By adjusting the torsion keys, you can lift your truck up to 1.5 inches, which is what I recommend. You can accomplish it with ease using air shocks. If you get too crazy and try increasing it beyond 2 inches, the suspension geometry will be out of whack and you won’t be able to drive comfortably.”

As a general rule, most folks have had luck lifting their Chevy trucks by adjusting the torsion keys, so long as you don’t go too extreme. But we want to know what you think. Have you done the torsion key mod on your truck? Was your experience good or bad? Head over here and let us know!

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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