Can I Put a Lift Kit On My Car?

In Maui, the roads can be rough, especially in some of the wetter areas of the island. While trucks are very popular here, a significant portion, of Maui’s drivers, travel in cars. Our island boasts a high percentage of homesteaders, hikers, shore-fishers, and the list goes on. For many of us, owning a truck makes sense. What if we need a truck, but have a car? What are the options? Let’s talk about it.

Move to a Place Where Off-road Vehicles Are Not Necessary

As Maui grows, we tend to have more living options in some ways. We have fewer living options in other ways. Places out in the ‘country’ tend to bit a bit more affordable, while places closer to the airport tend to cost a bit more. It may make sense to move to Kahului or Kihei, where having an off-road vehicle is less of a necessity than the more rural areas of Maui.

Maui is slowly developing a transit system, which is much more accessible in the more populated areas of the island. Bike lanes are becoming more prevalent. In Kihei, it may be a good option to not own a car at all.

A Second Vehicle, The Maui Cruiser

Lifting any vehicle is a substantial investment. It may be a better option to purchase a second vehicle, if a more all-terrain vehicle is required. Because of the high demand for off-road vehicles on the island, used trucks tend to sell for high prices when compared to the rest of the country. Many people own what locals here call a “Maui cruiser.”

A Maui cruiser is usually an older vehicle that tends only to have the most essential maintenance repairs. Many Maui cruisers either are missing windows, or windows no longer function properly. Maybe a door doesn’t open at all, requiring the driver to use the window or passenger side door to exit the vehicle. Most Maui cruisers tend to overheat on drives up Haleakala Hwy.

Lift Your Car?

Lifting a vehicle that isn’t traditionally used for off-road may be the best option if you need some clearance. When I told my friends that I was planning on lifting my 2004 Volkswagen Jetta, most gave me a confused look. While technically I was simply replacing old suspension parts, I did gain about two inches of clearance after the job. My car shows improved performance on turns, acceleration, and braking as a bonus.

While this may seem like a trivial modification, a few inches of clearance and a stiffer suspension can make a world of difference in Maui’s country roads. I’ve lived on a homestead, usually only accessible by four-wheel drive and I was able to get to my house with my Jetta. We do not officially recommend off-roading with vehicles traditionally not used for off-roading. However, the two inches I have added to my car have been tremendously helpful and helped give me peace of mind when driving through some of Maui’s rougher roads.

Getting Bigger Tires

If your vehicle has the clearance, it is worth investigating the option of getting larger tires. With my car, I could probably add an additional inch of clearance if I were to get slightly bigger tires. Also, having tires with good tread will give much-needed extra grip for off-road driving, especially if you lack 4WD.

Mahalo for Reading

We hope you enjoyed this month’s post. If you have any subjects you would like us to comment on please comment below. Also if you are interested in making an unusual modification to your vehicle, please let us know in the comments below.