What You Should Know About Lifting a Used Chevy Silverado 1500

February 16th, 2024 by

A close up of the grille of a white and black 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison is shown.

A lot of people love to lift their trucks, and for different reasons—and these reasons will determine what kind of lift you need and how to go about it. In fact, that may be one thing you probably didn’t know before scouting a used Chevy Silverado 1500 for sale: that there are different kinds of lifting kits for different kinds of driving disciplines.

Understanding the kind of kit you need for your truck depends on your goal for your truck. Not every kit will be suitable with every trim, or you may have to add other modifications to get the most out of your truck. So before you dive in and kit your used Silverado 1500 out, it’s first important to understand what you’re buying this truck for and how to lift it.

Buying a Used Silverado 1500 With a Factory Lift Kit

One of the easiest ways to get a used Silverado 1500 that’s been lifted is simply to buy one with a factory lift kit already installed. This makes the process of owning a lifted truck easier than going through the process of manually lifting the truck or having the truck lifted via an aftermarket upgrade. The good part is that there are plenty of Silverado 1500s on the used market that you can buy that come with a factory lift kit.

There are several trims in recent years where you can find the Silverado 1500 already lifted. Since 2019, the Silverado 1500 has been available with off-roading Trail Boss trims, as either the Custom Trail Boss or the LT Trail Boss. If you buy one of these used, you get a two-inch lift kit in the front of the vehicle to help improve its off-road capabilities. Additionally, with the launch of the Silverado 1500 ZR2 in 2022, you have another option in buying an already-lifted pre-owned Silverado 1500. Find yourself a used Silverado 1500 ZR2, and you get a front and rear two-inch factory lift set atop 33-inch mud-terrain tires.

So, if all you’re looking for is a basic lift kit for your used Silverado 1500, you can buy one that came equipped straight from the factory. If you want a casual lift, the Silverado 1500 Custom Trail Boss or LT Trail Boss are the way to go; if you want a more robust lift kit with beefy tires for off-road traversal, a used ZR2 has you covered with the two-inch factory lift.

A close up of the tire and body on a blue 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 is shown.

Minor Cosmetic Lifts for Your Silverado 1500

When talking about lift kits or leveling kits, some people want something serious to make their trucks look beastly, while other people are more interested in making their trucks look cool; some are simply interested in making their trucks more utilitarian. Now, if your goal for lifting your used Silverado 1500 is all about the cosmetic look—putting on custom wheels with large tires or making it look like a show truck—then a basic leveling kit is a cost-effective way to go.

You can get a one- or two-inch leveling package that raises the vehicle via strut spacers. You can use these to give your vehicle a nice little height bump if all you’re looking to do is create clearance for larger tires. This works well if you’re doing casual off-roading or you just want your truck to have a specific cosmetic look.

A leveling kit using spacers is a cost-effective way to go, and there are OEM packages available if you want to go the official route. The step above that is a 2.5-inch or above kit, which includes shocks, control arms, and everything else you need to lift the truck further—and this will cost you more, assuming you want your truck to do more off-road.

Lifting an Already-Lifted Used Silverado 1500

So let’s say that you have a used Silverado 1500; maybe you managed to get your hands on a Trail Boss or a ZR2, or you managed to get a trim with the Z71 off-road package already installed, and you have a two-inch lift on the truck. What if you want more? Well, you can actually lift the truck further. This is possible thanks to available OEM and aftermarket lift kits available for non-lifted and lifted Silverado 1500 models alike.

Now, in the case of factory lifts with a raised two-inch front end, you might want to get a leveling kit for the rear suspension so that you have two inches lifted in both the front and rear for improved breakover angles. You can find these available either as an official OEM kit or from a third-party selling leveling kits for your Silverado 1500. Usually, these kits contain one- or two-inch spacers that you can add to the vehicle to give it slightly more height, but you won’t be able to raise it much more than that with those kits. If you have a lift in the front and want to level the back to make it even, a leveling kit is perfect for the job.

However, if you want to go a step further, there are kits available for several hundred dollars that not only give you spacers, U-rings, and blocks but also come with adjustable control arms and raised shocks. This is if you want the two- or four-inch lift on the truck. You can lift already lifted trucks, going from adding one inch all the way up to close to one foot; it all depends on the kit you go with and the wheels and tires you plan on putting on your truck.

A popular used Chevy Silverado 1500 for sale, a red 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Trail Boss, is shown driving on a dusty dirt road.

Lift Kits for Rock-Crawling and Mudding

For more serious off-road enthusiasts, you’re going to want a serious off-road-ready lift kit. These include a lot more than just U-bolts, blocks, and spacers that you can typically find for under $100. If you want the true lifted-truck experience, you’ll need a proper lift kit, which can be costly but also comes with significant benefits.

A proper lift kit for your Silverado 1500 raises the body from the axle(s) so that you get more wheel-well clearance, but it also enables you to put performance shocks, heavy-duty leaf springs, or spool-valve dampers on for the ultimate off-road experience. It can also enable you to further customize the exterior of your vehicle for off-road purposes, such as heavy-duty bumpers, overlanding rocker rails, or off-road accessories for the cargo box. That’s not to mention that you can also put on some seriously large tires on your used Silverado 1500.

The beauty of buying a used truck is that you don’t have to worry about voiding the warranty either; you can go as big and as bad as you want when it comes to a lift kit, as long as your budget and the local road ordinance allow it. If you’re serious about lifting your truck, then you can opt for a six-inch lift kit that will give you the extra ground clearance and approach angles you need for your off-road adventures.

Serious lift kits come with an entirely new suspension that alters the way your vehicle behaves. This can include different types and grades of struts, coilover dampened springs, or leaf-spring lift kits, depending on just how much you plan on changing or altering the truck’s behavior and off-road handling. If you plan on putting your truck through considerable punishment, then spool-valve dampers on the front and heavy-duty leaf springs on the rear are the way to go.

Large lift kits over four inches are typically great if you want the extra clearance and height for off-roading events like rock crawling so you get that extra articulation on the suspension, as well as when you want to go deep mudding but you don’t want the body of the truck to sink into the mud. Lift kits are perfect for such occasions.

Buying the Right Lift Kit for Your Used Silverado 1500

There are a few things you should have on your checklist when it comes time to lift your used Silverado 1500. First and foremost, are you doing it for cosmetic reasons or functional reasons? If the former, you can lift practically any Silverado 1500 trim—from the WT up to the High Country—and do so using a basic leveling kit, even on a rear-wheel-drive trim. However, if you’re doing it for functional reasons, you’re going to want to look into a kit that fits your trucking hobbies.

A basic two-inch kit on an off-road-ready trim will cover the basics and enable you to equip tires up to 33 inches. At the same time, a four-inch or higher kit offers you more wheel-well room for even larger tires, as well as more custom-tuned shocks. You will also need new shocks, new control arms, and new bumpers, depending on the size of your new tires.

If any of this sounds interesting to you and you’re looking to buy a used Chevy Silverado 1500 with the intent to lift it, or you already have a used Silverado 1500 you want to lift, bring it to Dan Cummins Chevrolet Buick of Georgetown, as we can install your kit on your behalf. You can also use our online ordering page to browse OEM lift kits available for your truck if you’re still on the search for yours.