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Old 03-13-2014, 07:22 PM   #351
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Originally Posted by ztman View Post
That make sense. I see other vehicles with heavy tow ratings, but they start out of the gate level. Ie, I tow a 7k lb trailer with my Suburban and it starts out level and stays level if you have the trailer loaded right. I don't mind that my f150 is higher in the rear by two inches. I know some do
they don't come with as heavy duty springs in the rear that a suburban has...or it would ride like crap when not towing...the Suburban has a lot more weight in the ***... the F-150 just has an empty bed..
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:37 PM   #352
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Just lower the rear tires pressure That will level your truck
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:27 AM   #353
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Is there a reason that Ford builds the F150 with the nose down look. Seems like there must be a reason because it seems easy to level them
I'll bet there's a slight MPG benefit as well. When you look at all the unique air dams under the front bumper the mfgs are looking for even the slightest reduction on wind drag.
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Old 03-24-2014, 07:30 AM   #354
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Originally Posted by Lenn View Post
This was written by member ProZach.

I decided to start making a few FAQ threads. So here we go with a brief introduction and explanation of leveling (kits).

Intro: Leveling kits are specifically designed to improve the stance of your vehicle so that it appears (in a way) level. The four kinds are adjustable shocks, spacers, coils, and torsion keys.

Adjustable Shocks: These leveling kits are manufactured by bilstein and rancho. Bilstein is the most popular (and expensive) kit and rancho follows closely behind it. For the f150 many have complained of a swaying or loose ride with the ranchos while others have had no problems. Bilstein is said to offer a stiffer or firmer ride that most users are satisfied with. These kits work by adjusting the coil spring seat to a higher position on the shock which causes it to push harder back on the truck suspension as a spacer would and thus levels the front of the truck. One downside to both of these manufacturers is that rancho only offers 2” of level and bilstein only offers 2.25” of level. However you can adjust the shocks to different intervals from 0” to their max setting and no you can’t adjust the ride height once the kit is installed. The upside to these kits is that the suspension does not loose as much travel as a typical spacer so you won’t ride on bump stops as quickly or have other suspension problems as quickly as a spacer. You will need a spring compressor for either of these kits and it better be a strong one.

Spacers: The kits will vary from 1” 1.5” 2” and 3”, with many manufacturers across the board. The kits are made of different substances (iron or polyurethane) and have different things that each supposedly does, most is speculation with small amounts of evidence here and there. Basically daystar, who makes the polyurethane kit says that less metal on metal contact will help reduce wear and tear and offer a smoother ride, sadly these kits have been known to occasionally compress and not off as much as a level as an iron/steel kit. The iron/steel kit manufacturers boast that their kit will not compress and is usually made of some superior metal that again is supposed to help reduce wear. These kits (most of them) will cause rub of the upper control arm on the coil over spring, it’s nothing to worry about but you should keep an eye on it. You won’t need a spring compressor for this leveling kit, you just remove the entire strut assembly and attach it to the top of the assembly and reattach it to the vehicle. Also it is advised with most spacers that after every 3,000 miles or every time you off road to re-torque all the nuts involved with the kit.

Coil spacers: Coil spacers are another type of leveling kit that work similarly to strut extensions (or spacers). The main difference is the location of the apparatus. Strut spacers will attach to the top of the strut mount where coil spacer leveling kits will be placed directly on top of the coil spring buckets this will require you to use a spring compressor and the job will become much more difficult that going the way of a spacer. One other downside is that some people have complained of a stiffer ride.

Cranking Torsion Bars/Torsion Keys: These are one and the same. Torsion bars are another kind of suspension system. Basically they absorb impact. Many people will crank the nuts on these bars in order to increase the ride height of their vehicle. The same concept is applied with the keys only it’s a little safer than simply cranking the stock torsion keys. Aftermarket torsion keys have different dimensions and thickness in order to help the torsion bars compensate for the added torsion. Downsides to this way of leveling are that the bars can be over cranked and if this happens the ride can become very uncomfortable or even worse, the bars can break. To read all about torsion bars click on this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torsion_bar_suspension

Explanation: Just as many people like the look of a lowered or lifted vehicle, many others with less $$$ will go the route of leveling. Some will go for a 2.5” or 3” in order to level it out in everyday driving. Others will go with 2” kits so that the truck does not have a sagging rear while towing (aka prerunner look). Other kits like the 1” and 1.5” are used for looks just like the other kits but for people who don’t want as drastic of a change or still wish to maintain the majority of the factory rake. Many people also use these kits to clear bigger tires. Here’s the quick scoop on tires you can fit for an f150 with a 2” leveling kit or higher without too much rubbing: 2wd- max 33” tire 4wd- max 35” tire. For more info on fitment of tires check out these threads.
09+: http://www.f150forum.com/f38/tire-wh...9-newer-68155/
04-08: http://www.f150forum.com/f4/tire-whe...04-08-a-24510/

Now for what you have all been waiting for, the frequently asked questions (FAQ):

Which is better leveling shocks or spacers?
To be honest, you get what you pay for. Bilstein backs their leveling shocks with a lifetime guarantee saying that their shocks will outlive the life of the truck, if they don’t you get the next set for the same vehicle free.
My mechanic called after I installed my leveling kit and told me that I also need a camber kit to align my truck. Is this true? No, take it to another mechanic. Spacers and leveling shocks only adjust the toe so that’s all that will need to be reset on the alignment specs. If your mechanic tells you otherwise for these kits, find a new mechanic.

Do I need new shocks with a leveling kit?
No, Plain and simple, you don’t need them. If you want new shocks with a leveling kit then go the route of bilsteins or ranchos.

How do I know how big of a leveling kit to get?
Depending on your needs and if you want to maintain some factory rake then do this, get a tape measure and find the distance from the center of the wheel to the top of the wheel well on the front and back of both sides. If its 18” up front and 21” in the back then a 2.5” kit will set you up nice, 3” kit if you want perfectly level.

Will a 3” kit wear out components faster?
Yes, it will. There’s no doubt about it. Steeper angles put more stress on the ball joints and other suspension components causing them to wear faster, as you go down in height of leveling kit so do the angles and amounts of stress on your suspension .5” can make a huge difference in how fast something will wear out.


The front end of my truck is higher than the rear, what should I do?
Personally, I would get an add a leaf (AAL) they can add anywhere from 1-2” of rake to the back end of a truck and increase your payload by a decent amount. If you don’t want to go that route you should get a smaller kit. If you get an AAL you will not need new shocks or a driveshaft extension and installation is fairly simple.
Here’s a how to if you go that route: http://www.f150forum.com/f33/how-ins...d-leafs-76932/

Where can I find a 3” kit? It seems like no one makes one?
Hell bent steel or HBS is the only company I know of that makes a kit that big. If you want a good cheap kit from them try ebay.
Do leveling kits void warranties from my truck manufacturer?
Well kind of, there’s a court case that says the dealer has to prove that the aftermarket product caused failure to the component in order to void a warranty, so yes and no.

Can I do a leveling kit on my own?
It really depends on the tools you have available, most backyard mechanics can crank torsion bars or install spacers for struts, but adjustable shocks and coil spacers will require a little more effort and advanced tools (like a coil spacer) in order to do the installation yourself.

Do I need a new control arm with a leveling kit?
No it is not necessary, if you NEED to get one it will help to get a larger one that has been designed to work in conjunction with a leveling kit in order to prevent rubbing on the coil spring.
Do you know where I can get a leveling kit installed near Minneapolis Mn. and would this void my warranty in any way?
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Old 03-24-2014, 06:19 PM   #355
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Originally Posted by folmonty View Post
I'll bet there's a slight MPG benefit as well. When you look at all the unique air dams under the front bumper the mfgs are looking for even the slightest reduction on wind drag.
While that's a possible benefit, the primary reason is that's how trucks have always been (since the front IFS days at least). The front of the vehicle is designed to only deal with the weight of passengers and a small amount of cargo. The rear has to handle trailers and large amount of cargo that would cause a normally level truck to appear to be sagging. Since the intent of these vehicles is to haul trailers and cargo on a regular basis the truck would appear level when being used for it's purpose. The grocery getters and street queen lift the front or lower the rear because they don't (usually) anticipate hauling heavy loads, and when they do, because it's so infrequent, they're fine with the sagging look.
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Old 03-24-2014, 06:21 PM   #356
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Originally Posted by ztman View Post
So, if lifting the front has the potential to create excess wear, why not just lower the rear? I know, the higher the better, but for the others that don't tow heavy loads, and are not concerned with the lifted look , wouldn't it make more sense to lower the rear?
you sacrifice towing/hauling loads by lowering the rear. If you still anticipate hauling things I would install airbags on the leaf springs if you are going to lower the rear.

That way you can stay level without sacrificing hauling capacity.

And yes, it would be better for wear and tear if you lowered the rear (my opinion).
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:12 PM   #357
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Just a couple of photos of the rear Bilstein 5100's for the 03-08 trucks. To end any argument, the body of the shock is mounted up, with the boot down. Bilstein advertises this shock as being compatible with up to a 1" rear lift. I have the Airspring 3" block in, which gives 1" lift over stock (the stock block is 2" thick). I don't know if the Billy has longer travel over the stocker, but with the block in I have about 3" of sag. If you look closely at the stock shock, you can see the extra 1" of more recent paint wear at the top of the heavier wear on the lower shock body. Looks like the stocker still has about 3" of extension left, even with the 1" lift...

The rear shocks do not lift the rear of the truck. In order to lift the rear you need to add blocks or springs between the leaf springs and the axle. I chose to use blocks because I wanted to maintain the stock ride quality. To bolster my carrying capacity I added a set of SuperSpring boosters, that don't come into play until the loads increase. This gives me added capacity without affecting the empty (unloaded) ride quality. Add a leafs will stiffen the stock unloaded ride, but also have greater load-bearing capacity over the SuperSprings.

This is a shot comparing length - almost identical, with the stocker being fractionally longer.
Click the image to open in full size.

You may also note that one of the Bilsteins is longer than the other one, by about 1/4". I have no idea why, but the difference is meaningless...

And here's why you should keep the boots on the Billys. Note the front of the shock tube has had the paint blasted off by gravel and sand and stuff being flung up by the front tires and hitting the shock. If you remove the boots the bare shock plunger shafts will be exposed to this blasting effect. Since the shaft travels past/through an oil seal, any wear or dents on the shaft will cause a leak, which will lead to premature shock failure. Like 'em or not, the boots definitely serve a very important purpose!
Click the image to open in full size.
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Last edited by BowWow; 03-27-2014 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 03-27-2014, 11:28 PM   #358
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For the record, I'm installing the front 5100's with the spring perches in the stock position, and I'm keeping the AutoSpring 2 1/2" spacers in place. I'm doing this for two reasons.

1. I need the full 2 1/2" lift. I spend most of my day driving along pipeline right of ways that get really muddy and rutted when they're not frozen solid. In the winter I often plow through fairly deep snow, so I need the extra clearance year-round. The Billy will only give "up to" 2", with real-world reports being often less than 2". So I'm keeping the spacers.

2. The Billy, and several other solutions, lifts the truck by increasing preload on the spring. This raises the truck by not letting the springs compress as much as they do in the stock spring position. But this also increases the stiffness of the ride by compressing the spring, putting it under load before installing the strut assembly. When driving over bumps this will cause the spring to push the truck up more strongly than without the extra preload, possibly causing the shock to top out somewhat violently. Bilstein addresses this by altering the rebound valving on the 5100's, making the rebound slower in order to counteract the already preloaded spring rebounding more quickly. I prefer the softer ride provided by the stock spring compression, especially off-road. A stiff ride on the right of way just wears me out by the end of the day. It may also put extra stress on the frame and other load-bearing structures. Softer is better for me!

It should be noted that there is no difference in suspension geometry by using a spacer vs. using spring preload. Suspension geometry is determined by the upper and lower control arms and the steering knuckle that connects them and carries the spindle (or axle, in the case of 4WD). Pushing this assembly down by any method - spacers or spring preload - gives exactly the same results. The truck will be lifted and tire travel paths will remain exactly the same.

The difference lies in one thing: shock travel. The Billy's keep the stock travel, allowing the tire to travel as far up as the stock shocks do. This, in effect, allows the bottom of the truck to approach the ground as closely as stock. Let's say that fully compressed there is 4" of clearance between the bottom of the truck and the ground (I'm pulling this number out of thin air - I have no idea what this distance actually is). The Billy's allow the bottom of the truck to descend to 4" from the ground before bottoming out. Adding spacers moves the top of the shock down, in my case by 2 1/2". This also changes the distance of the truck from the ground when the shock is fully compressed, raising it 2 1/2". So now, instead of bottoming out 4" off the ground, I'm now bottoming out 6 1/2" off the ground. Which is also exactly what I want. I want to keep the bottom of the truck away from the ruts and mud and snow and ice.

Now, if I'm totally off base, will somebody please correct me? I've been studying this for a long time, trying to decide what to do that will fit my budget and still give me the off-road performance I need. I think I've got it, but...

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Old 03-28-2014, 02:34 AM   #359
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Sounds right to me... just please quit referring to the coil spacers as "lifting blocks". You could confuse some people because the use of the term typically refers to rear leaf spring packs, not front IFS coil over setups.
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Old 03-28-2014, 03:03 AM   #360
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Originally Posted by ProZach View Post
Sounds right to me... just please quit referring to the coil spacers as "lifting blocks". You could confuse some people because the use of the term typically refers to rear leaf spring packs, not front IFS coil over setups.
Oops! Fixed it, sorry about that!
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