A torsion key lift is an easy and inexpensive way to increase vehicle height without buying a lift kit. It utilizes the torsion bar suspension’s unique design to raise or lower the vehicle’s front end.
While this lifting approach saves money and time, it may have some drawbacks. To help you decide whether it’s worth the trouble, we’ve listed some of the common problems you may encounter with a torsion key lift.
What is a Torsion Key Lift?
A torsion key lift is a technique that increases the ride height of vehicles with torsion bar front suspensions. You can perform a torsion key lift by simply turning up the vehicle’s existing adjusters or by replacing the stock keys with a set designed to increase ride height. It controls the bar’s distance from the ground and ensures the vehicle stays at the set height.
A torsion key lift can be safely done by using a set of jack stands and a torsion bar unloading tool. DIYers may install a new key and adjust the bars in under two hours, while an experienced mechanic may complete the job in less time.
Signs of Torsion Key Lift Problems
Lifting the torsion bars can cause problems for the suspension and the rest of the vehicle. Here are some of the issues you may encounter after giving your ride a torsion key lift:
Poor Ride Quality
Cranking the stock torsion key raises it towards the cross member. As the key reaches the top and can no longer go higher, the torsion bars stop rotating past that point. This may explain why some drivers report that their vehicles ride rough after a torsion key lift.
Stock or Short Shock Absorbers Bottom Out
A torsion key lift is considered by some as a cost-effective alternative to buying a lift kit. However, adjusting ride height using this method without installing shock extensions or longer shock absorbers may lead to suspension troubles.
Stock shock absorbers are designed to fit between the unaltered suspension and chassis. Lifting the torsion bars can make the shocks bottom out faster when the vehicle droops. The resulting impact may exceed the dampers’ ability to absorb force, leading to greater wear or damage.
Squeaking or Whining Noises
You may hear squeaking or whining sounds from the vehicle’s front end after a torsion key lift. While engine and road noises may drown out these sounds while the vehicle is running at high speeds, they become more noticeable as you slow down.
These noises may be coming from the drive axles, which have exceeded the recommended CV angles as a result of a torsion bar adjustment.
Changes in ride height may affect measurements important to wheel alignment. A torsion key lift can alter the alignment angles and lead to abnormal tire wear.
It’s good practice to do a wheel alignment after lifting a vehicle, even if the stock torsion key wasn’t replaced.
Damaged CV Boots and/or Drive Axles
Because adjusting the torsion keys alters the angle of your vehicle’s front suspension, this modification may damage the CV boots and/or drive axles.
Stock and Aftermarket Torsion Keys
Every vehicle fitted with a torsion bar suspension rolls out of the factory gates with a torsion key. This type of torsion key has two limitations.
First, it can only alter ride height within a limited range and is not designed as a substitute for a dedicated lift kit. Second, raising the factory torsion bars to the maximum height permitted by the stock torsion key will affect the vehicle’s ride quality, as explained above.
As was mentioned, you can also perform a torsion lift by replacing the vehicle’s stock torsion keys with a set that’s designed to increase ride height. In many instances, this method creates fewer problems than turning up the existing keys.
How Much Does a New Torsion Key Cost?
A torsion key can cost anywhere between $120 and $200 for the parts alone (not including installation labor). The price may vary by brand and application. Expect to spend more on professional installation.