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  • A torsion key lift is an inexpensive way to increase a vehicle’s ride height. It involves raising the stock adjusters or installing new keys.
  • If done incorrectly, a torsion key lift can create the following problems: poor ride quality, shocks bottoming out, squeaking or whining noises, misaligned tires, and damaged CV boots or drive axles.
  • A torsion key can cost anywhere between $120 and $200 for parts alone.

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?

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: Most vehicles don’t have torsion bars. They’re most common on four-wheel drive pickups because with the front drive axles passing through the spot where coil springs usually go, a different type of spring is necessary.

The torsion bar is spring steel and twists to provide spring support for the front suspension. If removed and reinstalled, the torsion bars should be marked front and rear, left and right. Putting them back the wrong way can cause harsh ride issues.

torsion bars on the underside of vehicles
Torsion bars on the underside of vehicles | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
car torsion bars placed back the wrong way
Putting torsion bars back the wrong way can cause harsh ride issues. It has happened. Notice the rear end of the torsion bars shown on this photo are marked L and R with arrows. These torsion bars fit a 2000 Chevy pickup | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

The torsion bar is spring steel and twists to provide spring support for the front suspension. If removed and reinstalled, the torsion bars should be marked front and rear, left and right.

– Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

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.

man measuring ride height
Knowing how to measure ride height is important. Measure from the bottom of the rim to the bottom of the wheel well for accurate ride height numbers and perform your adjustments accordingly. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

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.

Misaligned Tires

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.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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