Installing a BDS Suspension 6-inch lift kit on a 2004 Chevy Silverado 2500
All the doom-and-gloomers were right. We were sitting peacefully in our easy chair watching QVC, and suddenly, without warning, our normally quiet section of suburban Southern California got hit by an earthquake, economic collapse or zombie apocalypse. Now, we need to grab all the canned chili and mac n’ cheese from our office cupboard and flee the area.
We needed to bugout and needed to do it fast. But as we frantically searched for last-minute survival supplies, the idea hits us: What sort of transportation do we choose? The beach cruiser chained up outside on the bike racks is a good choice, but does not offer a great deal of carrying capacity. Our Project EcoBoost F-150 GT is fast, but not so good with potholes and bumps. Why not take that ’04 Chevy Silverado 2500 sitting right there in our parking lot that already had been blacked out, fitted with a camper shell, and light pods?
But as we contemplated the decision, we noticed that while the stock height and 32-inch tires already on this bugout truck are adequate, we’d like to be able to smash some terrain if needed, and having a 6-inch High Clearance Lift Kit from BDS Suspension would help us do just that. While society crumbles, we figure we have a spare six to eight hours to lift this Silverado and GTFO with all the confidence that 1/4-inch laser-cut high-clearance crossmembers and larger steering knuckles can provide. If the world is collapsing, we might as well pick up a set of 35x12.5R20 Hankook Dyna Pro MT tires and a gleaming set of 20x9 Black Rhino Amour wheels while we were at it.
Travel with us to the undisclosed location, which is the Truckin Tech Center Bunker, as we get our Silverado ready to handle off-road conditions with this 6-inch lift from BDS.
This is what our ’04 2500 Bugout Special Silverado looked like before we ripped into it. It was well equipped to evacuate when things turned dicey, but it needed to be able to handle more varied terrain. That’s what the 6-inch lift kit from BDS Suspension is for.
The 6-inch BDS lift kit we are about to install on our ’04 Bugout Silverado features extended cast-steering knuckles, high-clearance one-piece crossmembers with compression struts, extended bumpstop spacers, extended rear shocks with new bushings, and 5-inch lift blocks.
Our first step was to remove all four wheels and dismantle the front brakes. We removed the caliper from the knuckle, hanging it to the side to be reinstalled later, and removed the caliper.
We made short work removing the tie rod by first buzzing off the nut with our trusty impact wrench, and used a large hammer to dislodge it from the steering knuckle.
The upper and lower ball joints were loosened, but we did not remove the nuts yet. We used the hammer again to motivate them to release their hold on the knuckle.
Next, the torsion bars. We marked them driver and passenger, and released the tension with a removal tool. We slid them back to unbolt the torsion bar crossmember, and removed it from its factory location. The bars were then removed and set aside to be re-installed in a later step.
Continuing the dismantling process, we unbolted the sway bar end links and rotated the bar up and out of the way. We removed the upper and lower shock bolts and dropped the shock out of the way.
With the lower control arm free, we buzzed out the bolts and removed it. We will be reusing the factory arms once the new BDS crossmembers are installed.
Using our impact, we quickly unbolted the rear crossmember from its location and dropped it out of the way. We will not be reusing it and tossed it into the scrapheap.
Our kit came complete with these 1/4-inch one-piece laser-cut front and rear crossmembers. The new crossmember fit like a glove and was bolted in place
The lower control arms were installed into their new homes onto the tabs of the new crossmembers and bolted in loosely. Using the supplied extra-large bolts, we slipped on the compression struts that came with the kit, which will give it added rigidity.
Our next step was to remove the factory hub and reinstall it on the extended knuckle that came in our kit. With the hub all snugged down, we tightened up the ball joint bolts to factory torque specs and reinstalled the rotor and caliper.
Due to the additional height of the lift, the factory sway bar endlinks were just too short now. Luckily, the BDS folks took that into consideration and included these shiny endlink extensions.
Given the shape of the extensions, the sway bar and the lower A-arm received a new set of U-shaped brackets, as well. We installed them loosely, slid in the sway bar extensions, and bolted all of them down.
A set of strut bars that mount up the new rear crossmember is included in this kit, and we bolted them up with the supplied hardware.
After the front was mounted, we needed to drill two holes per side in the transmission crossmember for the rear mount of the strut bars. The kit came complete with these nut-sert brackets, which are slipped in for the bolts to thread into. We cut the excess off flush with the edge of the crossmember.
Next, we fit the driveshaft’s center support crossmember with a set of 1-inch drop down extensions, two on each side. Because the holes were already drilled, it was easy for us to remove the stock bolts, insert the extensions, and bolt it back up with the kit-supplied hardware.
Mounting the torsion bar drop-down brackets were next. We marked their position on the frame with a center punch and drilled out a few holes for the mounting bolts.
Now that the drop-down brackets were mounted, we reinstalled the torsion bar crossmember. We installed the torsion bars into the crossmember, as well as back into the lower control arms, and tightened them up with the factory keys, locking them down with the retaining plates and adjustment bolts, but not all the way. We left the final adjustment for when the truck was back on the ground.
With the front all dialed in, we focused on the rear. We put some high-reach jackstands under the rear axle and buzzed out the bolts holding in the rear shocks.
After removing the stock U-bolts, we located the alignment pin in the new 5-inch block and slipped it onto the hole on the axle. We raised the axle until the hole in the block met up with the pin in the leaf springs. The new U-bolts were installed over the leafs and into the plates on the axles.
With the U-bolts torqued down and the excess bolts trimmed, the new rear shocks from the kit were installed into their mounts with the provided hardware. With that, our lift was completed!
All that was left was to fit up our 35x12.5R20 Hankook Dyna Pro MT tires to our shiny set of 20x9 Black Rhino Amour wheels, and we were ready to face the world in whatever state of emergency it might be in.
Our Bugout Special Silverado was now ready to GTFO in style with our 7-inch BDS lift ready to tackle any terrain presented to us. The Hankook tires had enough off-road toughness to leave the highway when needed, and the Black Rhino wheels make the whole package that much more photogenic.