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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A grey 2022 Ram 3500 Dually is shown from the front after leaving a heavy duty truck dealer.

Lifting a Dually: What You Need to Know About Lifting Heavy-Duty Trucks

Lifted trucks are extremely popular among the truck community, just the same as dual-rear-wheel trucks (often referred to as a dually) are popular with those who want the best kind of full-size, heavy-duty truck for towing and trailering. Let’s say you’re looking to upgrade your light-duty truck, and you’re scouting for a heavy-duty truck dealer, but you also want a lifted truck. What do you do? Well, the best thing to do is to get a dually and lift it. But is it wise? Are there downsides? What are the upsides?

When you’re thinking about lifting your dually, you want to make sure you’re lifting right and not crippling your own truck in the process. There are a lot of ins and outs when it comes to both dually trucks and lifted trucks, and in this case, lifting a dually creates a whole new scenario where you have to make all new considerations when it comes to how the truck functions and operates. This affects everything from stability and handling to hitches, towing, and trailering.

Can You Lift a Dually?

The most obvious question is: can you even lift a dually? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Now, most dually trucks come at a fixed height and are specifically tuned for high trailering loads, usually between the 20,000 and 30,000 tow range. They have reinforced axles, tougher springs and coils, stiffer shocks, and a more durable frame. This is necessary because there is a lot of strain being put on the truck’s rear axles, and so to keep the frame from tearing up, the chassis is upgraded to handle the loads.

Lift kits are often designed with specific purposes in mind. They’re usually popular with those who travel off-road, giving drivers more wheel and suspension travel, better ground clearance, and improved agility for rock crawling and hill climbs. A dually and a lift kit serve vastly different purposes, but you can actually combine these two popular truck modifications into one monster.

Suspension lift kits for dually trucks usually include heightened spring spacers, track bar alterations, shock extensions, and sway bar modifications. Some lift kits also work better with traction bars, so you get the height and stability you need to maintain the frame’s constitution and reduce strain on the axles. There are also a number of different multi-inch lift kits available for dually trucks, giving you everything from two to eight inches of additional height.

Benefits of a Lifted Dually

Lifting a normal four-wheel or single-rear-wheel truck usually has the benefit of giving the truck more height, either for utilitarian or aesthetic purposes. Some people like the way a truck looks riding higher than usual. When it comes to a dually, you can apply the same logic from the aesthetic perspective. Some people just want their truck to look like a beast on the road with large wheels, massive tires, and a menacing, aggressive stance to match the rumble of the diesel engine.

When it comes to functionality, does a lift kit provide a dually with any benefits beyond changing the form? If you regularly have to tow, haul, plow, or perform other tasks in tough terrain, such as mud, dirt roads, uneven ground, or working at a logging site or a quarry, lifting the dually comes in handy by giving the truck extra ground clearance. This helps remove the possibility of getting stuck or trudging through terrain where other standard trucks might get stuck. There are a few downsides to lifting your dually, though.

Lifted Dually vs Lower Tow Ratings

So one of the downsides to lifting a dually is that the biggest advantage that a dually has over a single-rear wheel drive truck gets nerfed. If you lift a dually to put bigger wheels or tires on it to make it easier to traverse off-road, it alters the dimensions and weight of the truck, and this changes the tow ratings. Basically, a lifted truck forces the drivetrain to put in more effort, so you’re getting lower fuel economy, and the driveshaft is now performing more rotations to achieve the same amount of work that a standard dually would output.

Typically, larger wheels on a lifted suspension mean you may have to modify your final gear ratios, and modified gear ratios mean a change in speedometer readings. Also, lifting the truck changes the center of gravity, which changes how stable the truck is when towing large loads, and its payload capacity. That also means you have to adjust what you’re able to tow based on how much higher the truck sits.

Another thing to consider is that the higher you lift a dually, the higher the bumper hitch and gooseneck hitch will sit. What’s the downside to this? Well, if you have a fixed trailer hitch that you attach to your gooseneck, then you’re going to have a problem on your hands because when you raise the truck’s height, you’re going to need to adjust the gooseneck hitch to keep the trailer level with the truck. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with trailer sway, and that becomes super dangerous. When it comes to the bumper hitch, you’ll need what’s called a drop hitch receiver to accommodate the new height of the truck. You can still tow large loads, but there’s now going to be a new fulcrum point added between the trailer and the truck.

A white 2022 Ram 3500 Dually is shown from the front at an angle while towing a loader.

Is Lifting a Dually Worth It?

Whether you should get your heavy-duty truck lifted or not all depends on what you want it for. If it’s just for show with some occasional towing, then you probably won’t mind the lower tow ratings from lifting the suspension and increasing the wheel/tire size. Some people might only see it as a minor inconvenience swapping to a drop hitch receiver. You’re still going to have much higher tow ratings with a lifted dually than a typical single-rear wheel drive truck, but there are trade-offs with it.

If you buy a standard dually and then decide to lift it with an aftermarket kit, then you’re going to have to go through the complex calculations of how much you’ll still be able to tow, trailer, and haul in the bed based on the new lift, the wheel size, and the tires you put on it. However, you’ll have a truck that looks very muscular and domineering on the road, striking apocalyptic fear in compact sedan drivers and economy SUV owners moseying along in the right lane. Now, if you’re willing to deal with a lower fuel economy, you’ll have an apt truck for moving large loads through difficult weather or off-road pathways.

If you don’t want to have several different trucks for work and play, you could lift your dually, get all the towing and trailering done, and still enjoy a pet project that gives you a truck that looks awesome. Just remember that the cool factor attached to higher lifts and bigger wheels comes with more functionality drawbacks, so finding that sweet spot between the right wheel size, tire size, and lift height without diminishing the tow ratings is key. A lifted dually can open a new world of capability, and with its imposing looks, you’ll have a lot of fun wherever you drive.

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