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for the short time i've been on this forum, i have noticed there are a lot of people asking about the coil spacer leveling kit. whether the questions are what it does, how much it costs, which brand is best, how to install it, the resulting ride, etc., there is a lot of discussion about them. at the same time, i have also noticed that some of the folks that have them, had them installed by a shop becuase they were not sure about doing it themselves, and still even more guys wanting to install the spacers, but just not sure how to do it, and if they can. of course there are some people on here that have installed these themselves, and to them, feel free to add your thoughts, suggestions, and comments at the end of this write-up. the point is to show how easy this really is to do yourself. with a few hours, a floor jack and jack stand, some hand tools, and a buddy anyone can do this installation. on to the details.....
MM sockets (13mm-22mm)
open ended adjustable wrenches (unless you have all the correct sized boxed wrenches)
pitman arm puller - rented from autozone (i should own one of these by now)
Overview of the Product
Here is the kit as shipped from the supplier (Daystar product in a California Super Trucks box, shipped by PerformanceLifts...go figure. it's just a bit of insight that these spacers are all made by the same company and repackaged by different companies. they are all the SAME):
The spacer itself is a solid 2" tall. all of that is not actual lift though....more later.
i'll have to get the far away whole truck shots off the other computer
On to the Installation
-start on one side and complete that side before moving to the next.
-while the weight of the truck is still on the ground, loosen the lug nuts
-jack the front of the truck up on the side you are working on. the best place to jack the truck up is from under the front suspension crossmember.
-have your buddy place the jack stand under the frame as far forward as you can.
-remove the tire.
-place the jack under the lower control arm and apply enough pressure to it so the jack will not move. once you start unbolting everything, you really can't be too careful when dealing with the highly compressed coils. we found the best location (after some time) for the jack is the farthest to the edge of the lower control arm. you will see four round headed studs there.
-unbolt the swaybar from its link on both sides of the truck. this will allow you to lift/swing the swaybar out of the way.
-remove the shock. there are two bolts on the underside of the lower control arm, and one bolt at the top of the upper coil bucket. you will need one adjustable wrench to hold the very tip of the shock in place while your other adjustable or correct sized boxed wrench loosens the nut.
-at this point, i would recommend hooking some straps to the coil and to the frame to keep the coil from popping out. it is not 100% necessary, but as mentioned before, you really can't be to careful, and it only takes a couple seconds to put them on there. admittedly, we did this the first go-round, but not on the second.
-we found, after our first go at it, that it is much easier and safer to remove the brake caliper and rotor. once you are trying to remove and reinstall the coil, you will need as much stretch room to do so, and you risk breaking the brake line if the caliper is still connected as it does not have much slack to move. (don't worry, you're not doing a "brake job" here. no bleeding the brakes or anything.) just remove the two bolts from the back of the caliper and hang it out of the way with another strap or some zip ties.
-remove the bolt from the upper balljoint/control arm. use the pitman arm puller to pop the bolt out. do not bother with the old fashion BFH method. you risk damaging the bolt and knocking your truck off the jack stand. not to mention it takes 10 seconds to get it out with the PAP.
-once the upper control arm is seperated from the spindle, SLOWLY lower the jack releasing the tension from the coil. once the jack is out of the way, you will still need help pushing down on the control arm to get the coil out. here it is once out, with the stock rubber coil isolator on top....keep that handy, you're going to need it.
-here is the coil isolator next to one of the spacers
-the spacer on the top of the coil
-the stock isolator on top of the spacer on top of the coil. the groove in the stock isolator fits over the beveled top of the spacer.
-we found that it helps to just shove the stock isolator and spacer up into the bucket and then put the coil in (the bucket will hold them in place).
-this is where it gets fun. if you didn't use your buddy before, you'll need him now. while one pushes down on the lower control arm, the other will slip the coil into place.
reflection: if you use a coil compressor, slipping the coil in and out would be a bit easier. it is not necessary, but may help if you have to do this install by yourself. additionally, if you were able to disconnect the steering rod from the spindle, it would free the lower control arm freely and allow as much room as you need. because of the depth of the pitman arm puller, we were not able to use the tool to get the rod off.
-once the coil is reseated in position, jack the lower control arm back up to secure it in place.
-replace the ball joint bolt through the spindle and rebolt. this will assure everything will stay in place.
-from there, reattach everything but the swaybar (you will still need that loose for the other side). we started next with reattaching the rotor and caliper, and finished with the shock. you may need to jack up the lower control arm to get the top bolt on.
-put the tire back on, bolt it up
-remove the jack stand and lower the truck on the ground
-repeat on other side.
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the difference is extremely noticeable from far away or close up. it's a different beast now. this is how it should look from the factory.
after looking over the before and after measurements, it appears it actually yielded 3" of lift in the front. anyway, it's level and that's what matters.
other than the shocks being stiff from being stretched more and not having much travel, the truck rides the same. it still needs an alignment, but the actual drive characteristics are the same as stock. the shocks will soon be replaced with an aftermarket stock length long travel shock. while the shock will be stock length, it will likely extend a bit more to aid in more comfort on the road.
the first side took a couple hours with starting the install, having to make a tool trip for the pitman arm puller, dinner, and a couple other little hang ups along the way. the second side was done start to finish in under 30 minutes.
if we were to do this again, i have no doubt it could be finished in an hour.
i can't imagine spending more than $80 on a spacer lift. spacers of the same material, generally are created equal (and actually by the same manufacturer and repackaged). shop for the best price and don't overpay.
next steps for the truck are new wheels and tires and possibly a body lift. this is just a pavement pounder, but it will look nice doing it. as it sits now, it can fit 33s with no problem.
i definitely think it's worth it, and even more worth it if you do it yourself. there is no need to pay someone a few hundred dollars to do this for you. i've done tons of lifts myself ranging in type and size. i always think it's helpful to have some personal directions and pictures to go along. it just takes away some of the question of whether or not it's doable. i generally make it common practice to document the work to maybe lend a hand over the internet to others i can't physically lend a hand to. if i can save at least one person from paying someone else to do the work for them, it's worth it to me. there is so much to be learned about your vehicle by just trying stuff yourself.
you probably wouldn't realize it while doing the lift, but you will actually have most of the steps to doing your own brakes done. there is just too much to learn to let someone else do it.
longer shocks really are needed. the stock shocks are long enough to reach and bolt back in, but they create a very stiff ride because they have no more travel. as long as you're not trying to go jumping in your truck, a longer shock should not pose an issue, but should help soften up the ride. we're shopping for new shocks as i'm typing this.
i also stress the importance of an alignment anytime front suspension or steering work is done. the geometry is not going to be the same after it has been messed with. trust me, $60 for an alignment now is better than a few hundred to replace your unevenly worn tires in a matter of weeks.
it's been a while since i've been on here, but everything is done for now....suspension and tire wise. we ended up going with some cheapo ProComp ES3000 shocks. $35 a piece from 4wp. hate that place, but they have cheap stuff SOMETIMES. anyway, they are 2" longer which was really needed. the ride with the stock shocks was bearable, but very stiff. the stockers were maxed out and had no travel to dampen the ride.
next up was the tires. got BFG AT 285/70r17s (33"). perfect size, great tire. found the wheels, but he's not sure if he wants to spend the money on them.
next up, spray-in bedliner and toolbox.
dirty pics from work, but that's all we have right now.