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)
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.