This ’17 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 had spent a very short time rolling around on the streets before the decision was made to lift it. The owner spoke to the guys over at SoCal Super Trucks in San Bernardino for some advice, and finally settled on a combination of products from CST Suspension that had been recently developed for the latest edition of this super-popular platform. CST Suspension would provide a 4.5-inch lift kit, Uniball Arms, a set of 2.5-inch Pro Series Coilovers. After a bit of a conversation about the rear, a set of CST 2.5-inch Pro Series rear shocks and Deaver Springs rear leaf Mini Pack were included. The combination would lift the truck with durable all-steel components, make it super stable both on- and off-road, and give it the proper stance when teamed up with a set of 17x8.5 Method Bronze Con-6 wheels and 35x12.5R17 Toyo Open Country R/T tires.
| Our plan for this 1500 was to give it a 4.5-inch lift kit from CST, teamed up with a set of Pro Series 2.5-inch coilovers with remote reserves, and some 2.5-inch Pro Series adjustable piggyback shocks in the rear. The included round coilover spacers won’t be used, but are available with the original lift kit if you choose not to install coilovers.
This particular lift kit from CST has a few advantages that set it apart from other lifts. By including a drop bracket for the upper control arms, it allows the truck to retain the factory steering knuckle. By allowing the factory knuckle to be used, stock wheels can still be used for those who are budget conscious and buying one piece at a time, or when wheels and tires are bought further down the road. This kit also retains the factory track width and does not affect any of the factory geometry in the suspension. On the upper arm, the addition of a uniball makes that important contact point that much stronger and less prone to wearing out under hard usage. There is also another unknown wrinkle that this kit solves: ’17 Silverados come from the factory with three different suspension compositions in either aluminum, stamped steel, or cast steel. You don’t get to pick and there is no designation of which model receives what metal makeup, that’s just how the supply chain works for GM. This kit takes out all the guesswork of what your truck is equipped with and was designed to work with all three.
Metallurgical combinations aside, teaming the 4.5-inch lift kit (PN CSS-C3-19) up with 2.5-inch Pro Series coilovers (PN CSR-4501) with 2.5-inch Pro Series adjustable piggyback shocks (PN CSK-7503) and Deaver Mini Pack 2-inch lift springs (PN DEAJ1). This will give a great deal of adjustability in both the front and rear, and allows for more useable wheel travel without constantly bouncing off the bumpstops. The added strength bonus of the Uniball Arms (PN CSS-C2-12) ensure that when finished this will be one tough but useable truck in both on- and off-road settings.
So follow along as we head to SoCal Super trucks in San Bernardino, California, to spend a few days with their truck experts as they transform this ’17 Chevy Silverado 1500 Z71.
| Our plan for the rear was to install these Deaver Mini Pack 2-inch lift springs which will serve to both lift and strengthen the rear springs without adding stiffness. Teamed up with the CST adjustable rear shocks, they will serve to be a great combo.
| The shop foreman, Bill over at SoCal Super Trucks would be handling our install and his first order of business would be to tear apart the spindle assembly. He unbolted the steering arm, removed the brake caliper, and removed the sway bar end link bolts. He also removed the disc screw and the disc.
| The axle nut was buzzed out using a pneumatic wrench, while loosening the upper and lower ball joint nuts connecting the control arms to the spindle. The steering knuckle received a few hammer blows to loosen the ball joints, the nuts were then removed and the spindle slipped off the axle and set aside.
| Part of the reason we are doing this build is to swap out these stock struts for the trick CST Pro Series 2.5-inch coilovers with remote reserves. We made quick work removing the factory struts. The coilovers would be installed at a later step.
| After the struts and coilsprings were removed, Bill went back to the axle that was still connected to the diff. He removed the axle bolts and lifted the axle out to be reinstalled later. Notice the lack of road grime or dirt anywhere. This ’17 was only a few months off the dealer lot! Made for a super enjoyable install!
| Next up was to unbolt and remove the upper and lower stock control arms. The upper would join the struts in the scrap pile, as were getting replaced with the CST Uniball upper arms.
| Since the lift kit would be essentially dropping everything 4 1/2-inches, the swaybar had to be removed, so it too could receive a set of drop brackets from the kit. Bill buzzed it out quickly and set it aside to be reinstalled.
| After the skidplate was removed, the rear crossmember was unbolted and removed, destined for the scrap pile, as it would be replaced with a new subframe from the CST kit. The mounting points will be modified in a later step.
| The front diff was destined to be dropped like all the other components, so the stock driveshaft was unbolted and left to hang out of the way. After the diff was reinstalled, the front driveshaft would be reconnected.
| You can (barely) see the mark that was made on the steering shaft while it was still connected in its factory set position. We did this to clock its position and be able to line up the steering extension.
| Another installer, Jeff, had to step in to help to remove the heavy steering rack when it was freed from its mounting points. We removed the bolts with a ratchet, instead of using an impact due to the delicate nature of the rubber rack mounts.
| The diff was next to come out, and again, teamwork was employed. With the help of some extra hands and a transmission stand, the diff was unbolted and set out of the way on a workbench.
| This secondary bracket on the passenger side of the front crossmember needed to be removed to accept the front subframe from the kit. We used an air-powered cutoff wheel to cut it off. The exposed portion of the crossmember was sprayed black to prevent rust.
| Bill moved to the rear subframe mount, as it also needed to be modified. We made a vertical line on the frame 3/4 of an inch from the inside of the lower arm mounting hole and cut off the rest using a Sawzall. It was smoothed with a grinder and sprayed black to prevent rust like the front crossmember.
| Both sides of the upper control arm mounts had to have the bottom of the bracket completely cut out with a Sawzall to install the upper arm drop brackets. The kit comes with templates to assist the cuts. You can see the cuts here about half way through.
| Another template here is used to locate the steering extension mounting point. A 1/2-inch hole is drilled after the initial pilot hole by lining up the template on the passenger side.
| To ensure the steering rack had enough clearance, this L-shaped template is bolted to the former steering mount holes and a pilot hole was drilled. The template was then removed and a 1 1/4-inch hole saw finished the job.
| We then installed the steering extension bracket from the kit into the hole that we drilled on the driver’s side. We lined up the two holes, leaving the bottom one free to have the steering rack mounting bolt go through. We slid the stock steering shaft through the universal joint on the extension bracket, ready to receive the steering extension from the kit.
| At this point, it was time to reinstall the steering rack. Teamwork was required again to properly line up the rack with its new dropped location. The electricals were reconnected and the rack itself was only loosely bolted in to be tightened up later on.
| With the steering rack installed, we were able to bolt in the new subframe using hardware from the kit. We slid it into place and loosely bolted it into the recently doctored stock subframe. We helped the new bolts find their mounting points through the subframe into the steering rack and tightened everything down.
| The lift was really starting to take shape. It was now time for the diff drop brackets, which were loosely bolted into the stock location until the diff was installed. The angled side of the diff bracket faces the rear of the truck.
| Our techs had to use the transmission jack to be able to slide and roll the diff into its new location on the drop brackets, but with the steering rack in the way it was difficult. After the diff was installed, the driveshaft was reattached.
| We were able to install and tighten down the rear crossmember with ease. The side that has the cutout was for the driveshaft.
| The cuts we had made earlier were made to accept these upper arm drop mounts, and slide over the stock mounts. We loosely bolted them in with the provided mounting hardware from the kit. We then installed the lower arms, and kept them loose.
| The upper arms from CST were beefier than stock, came with top-quality bushings, grease fittings, and metal sleeves for the bushings. We went ahead and installed the upper control arms in their new dropped location, courtesy of the newly installed drop brackets.
| With everything in place, we went ahead and tightened down the upper arm drop brackets, the arms themselves, and greased up the zerk fitting on the upper arm.
| In anticipation of the coilovers, we loosely bolted the upper and lower ball joints to the spindle to hold it all in place. We had also slid the axle into the spindle but had no plans of attaching to the differential yet. We just left it to hang at this time.
| We mounted the CST coilover in the stock location on top of the lower arm and tightened the upper and lower mounting locations. The coilover is oriented with the reservoir aiming toward the front of the truck. We let the remote reservoir hang for the moment, and protected both it and the lower arm with a towel.
| Here we are installing the two piece clamps that hold the reservoir to the top of the coilover. Seen on the left is the compression adjustment wheel, which has a variety of terrain settings. Soft for on-road travel, stiff for towing a trailer or a heavy bed load, and somewhere in between for off-road fun.
| In a feat of re-installation magic, we bolted the axle to the differential, tightened up the steering arm, and mounted up the disc and caliper. All that was left to rebuild our front hub was to tighten down the axle nut.
| These plasma-cut CST sway bar drop brackets were bolted in next to the drop brackets for the upper control arms using the stock mounting hardware. We then mounted the sway bar onto the drop brackets and reused the stock endlinks, mounting it to the stock location on the lower arms.
| Bill wasted no time removing the U-bolts so the rear shocks could be removed and replaced by the new CST 2.5-inch Pro Series adjustable piggyback shocks. The stock shocks were almost brand new but still would be headed for the scrap heap.
| With rear shocks removed, the stock leaf pin bolt was removed and the lower spring was removed. The Deaver springs would be mounted to the stockers with a new pin bolt, and its short leafs at the bottom will of extra spring rate but not stiffness.
| The Deaver springs were mated to the stock springs, and just off camera at either end of the leafs, two C-clamp locking pliers compress the stock leafs together. The seven-strong spring pack was carefully aligned to one another, and the new Deaver pin bolt is installed.
| A set of SoCal-provided extended U-bolts cinched together the new spring pack and the factory lift block. After that, we quickly installed our new set of 2 ½-inch Pro Series adjustable piggyback shocks and bolted them in, too.
| All that was left was to mount up this sweet combo of new 17x8.5 Method Bronze Con-6 wheels and 35x12.5R17 Toyo Open Country R/T tires, and our new truck transformation was done!
| Our ’17 1500 ZR1 was looking as awesome as can be with its new altitude change and fresh set of shoes. The CST provided lift kit, coilovers, and rear shocks will provide years of fun and the ability to choose between street and off-road. The Deaver springs will smooth out the bumps providing extra spring rate, and the Method wheels and Toyo tires just give it the right look.