Inspection Tips For Shopping For Used Lifted Trucks

Although most car owners know what to look for when shopping for a traditional used car or truck, shopping for a lifted truck requires a bit different approach. Lifting the suspension alters not only the center of gravity but also the steering components, the base geometry of the suspension and the handling of the truck. Before you buy a used lifted truck, you need to understand the key things to look for. Here are several things you should do as you evaluate a truck before buying.

Basic Inspection Tips

Lifted trucks should be subjected to the same type of general inspection that any used car would be. All of those same elements, including the mileage, coolant condition, engine sound, general handling, and more are just as important for a lifted truck as for any other.

However, lifted trucks need a little bit more attention when it comes to the initial inspection process. Ask about the suspension lift. You'll want to know what brand it is, whether or not there have been any problems with it, and who did the installation. If the previous owner installed it themselves, spend some time asking about the components and then examine it closely. If it was professionally installed, ask about any documentation in case you have problems with the lift.

Ask how often it was taken off-road. Whether you're planning to use it off-road or not, this is something you should ask. It gives you a good idea of how often the truck was driven in demanding environments, which can cause more wear and tear on the suspension and other parts.

Climb under the truck with a flashlight. Look at the undercarriage and the small crevices around the tires and suspension joints. If there's a lot of mud caked in those areas, it may mean that there's more wear and tear to the suspension, because residual caked mud indicates that the truck may not have been cleaned thoroughly after traveling off-road. That mud can lead to corrosion and other damage in sensitive joint areas.

Don't skip the test drive, either. Be particularly attentive to how the truck handles on the road, how the suspension responds to the road surface and how the steering system responds when you turn the wheel. Listen closely for any unusual sounds, such as grinding or knocking that could indicate bound joints or other suspension problems.

Drive Shaft Evaluation

Any time you alter the suspension of a truck, you change the geometry of the entire drive train. The drive shaft connects the transfer case to the axle with a universal joint. Make sure that the drive shaft is the proper length for the new suspension height. The universal joint should be between one and three degrees in angle, and the angles should match on both sides of the shaft. In addition, there should still be an inch or so of slip travel in the drive shaft to allow for more flexibility on the road.

Tire and Brake Assessment

Most people who install a suspension lift follow that with larger tires to fill out the stance of the truck. If the truck has been lifted enough to fit larger tires, look at the brakes. They should also be modified to fit the larger tires. This is important, because the increased mass of larger tires means you need more braking power to compensate. Larger calipers and rotors can usually do this. Be attentive to how well the brakes respond when you test the truck, because it's a serious concern.

You should also consider the reasonability of the tire size and their condition. If you're planning on turning the truck into a rock crawling truck, you'll want tires that serve the purpose well. Considering this as part of the decision means being able to negotiate the price if you'll have to replace the tires to make the truck the right fit for your needs. Keep these tips in mind when you buy pre-owned Fords or any other lifted trucks.