Wanted to start this thread for two reasons:
1. Share all of the knowledge I compiled while researching how to do a driveway install of front Bilstein 5100 shocks
2. Have everyone share pictures of their trucks with Bilsteins installed to make it easier to choose which level of ride height adjustment you want to go with.
I’ve done quite a bit of research here on the forums determining whether or not to attempt swapping my stock front shocks for the Bilstein 5100s. After I took into account that I could get the shocks much cheaper on Amazon ($97/each), alignment is much cheaper if you shop around and I could skip on labor charges, I did the math and found I would save about $350 by doing the install myself. Not to mention, it is exceptionally satisfying to complete a job like this yourself. I found a number of hints and tips online and in the forums, but no definitive instructions on how to do the install. So here it is…
Preliminary notes: This job should take about 3 hours. It really helps to have a buddy helping, two is even better, a cooler full of beer doesn’t hurt either. If you’re missing any of the necessary tools especially a lift, jack stands, spring compressors, remember that any auto parts store is happy to rent them to you for absolutely free. The instructions below don’t include an impact wrench, if you have one it would be exceptionally helpful, but not necessary.
**Sorry the pictures are after the fact, my camera ran out of juice just as we started the job.
- Disconnect Negative Battery Terminal
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 8mm socket
Instruction: On newer trucks it is recommend that you detach the negative
battery terminal to save your EPAS (Electronic Power Assist
- Get the truck on lifts
Tools Needed: Floor jack, jack stands
Instruction: Lift the truck up off the wheels and place jack stands as wide
apart as possible on the center frame area
- Remove wheel
Tools Needed :21mm lug wrench (for stock lugs)
Instructions: Pretty straight forward, removed the lugs, remove the wheel
and set aside. This is a good opportunity to clean the inside
of your wheels a well.
- Remove 3 nuts off top of shock mount
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 15mm deep socket, or ratcheting box wrench
Instructions: There are a few wires in the way, but they’re easy to work
around the and nuts should come off easily
- Remove large bolt from lower shock mount
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 27mm socket, 24”+ cheater bar and 30mm box
Instructions: Although this step seems a bit daunting it really isn’t all too
bad. You can break the bolt free without holding the nut,
but you will need the box wrench after the first few turns.
- Disconnect sway bar
Tools Needed: 18mm box wrench, Ratchet with 8mm standard socket
Instructions: The sway bar can be disconnected from either the top or
bottom. The top was easily accessible so I went that route.
You will have to hold the 18mm nut and ratchet the center
post at the same time to remove.
- Remove brake line bracket
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 10mm standard socket
Instructions: It helped to remove the small bracket that the brake lines
were attached to in order to keep the spindle from pulling on
the lines when you drop it in the next step.
- Remove the ball joint nut
Tools Needed: 22mm box wrench or very deep socket (I think, I had to use
an adjustable wrench for this one), Floor jack, Rubber
Mallet or Hammer with small piece of 2x4, 8mm socket
Instructions: This was the most frustrating part of the process, but still
not all that bad. First, you have to remove the nut from the
ball joint connecting the upper A-arm and spndle. This nut is
on pretty tight and takes a bit of work to remove, mine didn’t
spin because the taper was holding tight, but some WD-40
definitely helps the process along. It also helps to clean all
of the exposed threads as best you can before you start
taking the nut off. Once the nut is removed you have to
unseat the taper holding the parts together. Use the rubber
mallet to hit down on the control arm until it pops free. Use
the floor jack to support the spindle and lower A-arm.
- Remove factory shock
Tools Needed: N/A
Instructions: This step takes a bit of finesse. First you should drop the
lower A-arm/spindle as far as you can with the lift, making
sure that none of the brake lines are being pulled on. Next I
found it best to unseat the bottom of the shock from it’s
mount and reposition it so the bottom of the shock is as low
as you can get it behind the brake rotor. Next, have a buddy
push up on the upper A-arm to get it out of the way and
then guide the top of the shock out of it’s seat. It may take
a few tries, but you’ll get it.
- Swap out shock and place into assembly
Tools Needed: 2 sets of 2 strut spring compressors (not coil spring
compressors), Ratchet with 19mm standard socket and 4in
extension, 17mm box wrench, Ratchet with 8mm
socket, hammer, 19mm box wrench, 6mm hex wrench
Instructions: This is the step that scares most people about swapping out
their own shocks and the reason Rancho makes a bunch of
money selling their “Loaded” system. It’s really not bad, and
with a friend can be relatively painless. First thing to do is
mount the 4 spring compressors evenly around the spring.
Then evenly tighten them all down. It will take a bit of work
to get them all down, but you have to keep going until you
can feel the spring move around within the assembly. Once
the spring is loose, you can break the top nut free and
remove it while holding the hex head with the 8mm socket.
Once the nut is off simply remove the top shock seat, spring,
bumper, then knock off the bottom shock seat with a few
light hammer blows. The dust cover will get in the way of
removing the bottom seat, just let it rest against the bottom
of the cover and use the hammer again to knock it off as
well. Now, set your Bilstein to whichever setting you choose
and install the supplied shock mount seat. Push the bottom
shock mount onto the new shock and give it a few taps to
make sure it’s evenly pressed onto the seat. Add the bumper,
and additional supplied Bilstein hardware, replace the spring
and top shock seat. Make sure the spring is lined up properly
with the shock seats. Screw on the Bilstein supplied nut while
using the hex wrench to hold the shock rod. I’m not sure of
the exact torque required for this nut, but simply bottom it
out and I imagine the spring weight will hold it in place just
fine. After the nut is on you can remove your spring
***Continued in next post
2010 4x4 SCREW XLT, 5.4L, Bilstein 5100s (1.5" setting), Magnaflow 18" Catback, Volant Powercore CAI, 3.73, Weathertech, tailgate assist, Tint, USB2