Am I Nuts? Why Does My Lifted Truck Ride So Rough?

Trucks are designed to handle diverse terrain. While cars are made for pretty much on-road use, trucks should handle basic off-roading. This makes them ride rougher than cars. They handle decently in more conditions than cars, though cars handle very good in only one road condition.

But a smooth-riding truck is not rare. Maybe you are asking why does my lifted truck ride so rough? Maybe it has been riding different than when you drove it off the lot the first day. Maybe something happened the last time you went to the supermarket.

There could be many things that could happen. But there are usually only a few things that go wrong.

Can I Make My Lifted Truck Ride Smoother?

  • Upgrade to air suspension
  • Soften your suspension
  • Change the wheels, tires, or suspension
  • Fix vibrations and squeaks

    why does my lifted truck ride so rough, Am I Nuts? Why Does My Lifted Truck Ride So Rough?
    2020 RAM Truck 1500 air suspension system

Air suspension is the smoothest suspension money can buy. The new RAM trucks come equipped with an air ride and it is the highest-rated riding truck on the market. The Tesla Cybertruck will come with air suspension standard due to its flexibility and extremely comfortable ride. The only downside is that an air suspension is much more expensive than a strut/shock suspension and even more so than a leaf suspension setup.

Softening your suspension will affect performance but it will give you a cushier ride. The bumps will be a bit more exaggerated but they will be smoother and less noticeable compared to the abrupt “slapback” of a rigid suspension system absorbing every little imperfection in the ground.

Changing your wheels, tires, or suspension parts can do wonders. Factory-installed equipment can be easily upgraded with aftermarket parts for sometimes cheaper than you think. Don’t ignore the junkyard either. There can be gems found for those looking hard enough.

Tires made for asphalt will ride more smoothly and quieter than knobby off-road tires. They will handle rain better as well. This can be the quickest upgrade to making your lifted truck ride smoother.

why does my lifted truck ride so rough, Am I Nuts? Why Does My Lifted Truck Ride So Rough?
Truck leaf rear suspension set up

Fixing vibrations and squeaks is effectively tightening the chassis to move as one unit. When different pieces are moving in different directions all the time it can cause an imbalance and unwanted rocking or moving. This means that you will a dip here, or a sway there, ever so slightly at times, but enough when there are many to cause strange movements.

This means more bumps and shifts that affect ride quality. Imagine walking with your wallet hanging on a chain swaying back and forth instead of secure in your pocket. That extra weight moving around negatively affects your momentum. Your lifted truck rides so rough because maybe a single piece is loose. Ticky tack stuff.

That happens with the 100’s of small parts on a truck. They can come loose, or come installed with rattling. Rattling is just loose parts moving pack and forth banging into one another. Securing all of these things can really help your ride quality.

Putting everything together into one solid unit moving together as one mass can really improve the ride quality and fuel economy as well.

Do Bigger Tires Ride Smoother?

why does my lifted truck ride so rough, Am I Nuts? Why Does My Lifted Truck Ride So Rough?
2020 Ford Raptor with 24-inch rims. 20-inch rims could give a smoother on-road ride.

Yes, a bigger tire with a smaller wheel will give your truck a smoother ride compared to a large wheel with thinner tires. The style is to put 20″ or larger rims on a truck with thin tires, though this may look good to some it will result in a rougher ride.

How Long Should Shocks Last On A Truck?

A general rule is that shocks should last 50,000 miles of normal daily driving. IF you are doing any other extreme driving such as dunes or off-roading on a semi-regular basis, these factors may severely affect the life span of your shocks.

In general, warranties are good for about one year. Shocks should be under warranty if you attempt any of the driving conditions mentioned above during this time.

Regular check-ups should be done when you get gas, wash your car, or notice a change in your truck’s driving characteristics. Tires, shocks, or struts can fail at any time and they are usually the main culprits if your truck is not riding smoothly.

Can I Replace Shocks Myself?

Yes, you can replace shocks yourself in the afternoon. The shocks are a relatively simple swap out that requires a few tools. This would be a step up from changing any fluids in your truck so if it is your first time I would watch videos on Youtube, read the manual, or have a friend help if possible. This can be the core reason your lifted truck rides so rough.

Replacing shocks can be very infuriating, especially if the shock is damaged, and you will make mistakes. But will some patience and determination it is something anyone can do.  The money you will save will make it worth it as well.

why does my lifted truck ride so rough, Am I Nuts? Why Does My Lifted Truck Ride So Rough?
Truck coil-over suspension system

Can I Replace Struts Myself?

Yes, you can replace your truck’s strut yourself! Replacing a strut can be a dangerous job. But as long as you follow the correct procedure outlined in your truck’s shop manual you can minimize any risk of injury.

To make things even easier you can buy a complete strut assembly with a coil-over shock already installed over the sturt. That way all you have to do is simply raise your truck and swap out the parts. No need to compress your springs (which can be dangerous for a novice.)

This is, of course, more pricey. But you can sell your shocks online to recoup some of the cost. And you will have less downtime in case you run into any problems or you need to buy (or rent) additional tools.

Should I Replace All 4 Shocks At The Same Time?

Rarely do all 4 struts fail at the same time. At the minimum, you should replace the front or rear pair of shocks at the same time. This way you can maintain greater control over the handling of your vehicle. Would you ever replace only one shoe? Or would you replace both shoes at the same time? The same logic applies in this case.

The same goes if one front and one rear shock are going bad, or they have completely failed. In this instance, replacing all 4 shocks at the same time is the only safe option. Even with a properly aligned and installed suspension and tire set up an older shock matched with a new shock can spell disaster driving at highway speeds.

I wrote this piece after wondering why does my lifted truck ride so rough. There can be a lot of factors involved. Usually, there are only a couple of main culprits. And they can be fixed at home, without the need to go to the mechanic and shell out extra cash.

The easiest fix is usually tires or even suspension. The suspension usually causes the biggest change in ride quality. Changing the wheels and tires can cause a dramatic change in ride quality, though you are looking to shell out quite a bit for new wheels and tires.

As long as you keep on top of your maintenance and don’t ignore any warning signs you should be able to maintain a quality riding truck for years.

Thanks for reading and stay dirty

Written by Mud Flap

Hi Im Ryne Sweeney, or, Mud Flap. I am a dedicated truck enthusiast. I like to argue how Dodges are expensive pieces of metal. One day I will start showering daily inside the house. My nights are long and my days are muddy.

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