The truck-buying market has never been stronger and now represents literally dozens of new trucks from the major manufacturers, offering everything from the strip-o model perfect for contractors or fleets, all the way to the top-of-the-line trim level that basically gets you the interior and amenities of a luxury car with the convenience of a big powerful engine, higher ground clearance, and a bed to make Home Depot runs.
With dealerships packed to the gills with new trucks and the vehicle-buying public now thinking of trucks as a viable option for families, there leaves a glutton of perfectly good used trucks to be traded in and consequently resold to other drivers. And fortune smiles upon the savvy shopper who looks for a good-condition lease turn-in with low miles for their new purchase. A quick trip to any reputable used vehicle lot will find a host of used trucks that can be picked up for a song.
| The kit came to us ready to rock with all the needed components and mounting hardware. Notice the beefy one-piece front and rear 1/4-inch laser-cut crossmembers coupled with precision-machined ductile cast-iron steering knuckles. The robust steering knuckles are designed to work within the factory traction control constraints and provide stock-like handling characteristics.
That is exactly what happened in this case. Our contacts over at Outlaw Offroad in Santa Ana, California (just minutes from the Truckin office) do a tidy business keeping the desert prerunner community in rollcages and custom-fabbed bumpers, but the majority of impact wrench noise comes from the day-to-day churning of lifted trucks. A crop of stock trucks and SUVs arrive in the morning and leave with their altitude increased. The bread and butter of any custom truck shop involves getting the techs cranking on installing lift kits, thus making them cooler in the process.
So when Chris Moody called us from Outlaw, we jumped at the chance to see the shop again and do some quick coverage on its efficient lifting process. A customer had just purchased a ’13 F-150 from the used car lot of a major dealership in the area, and the owner wasted no time getting the stock rig over to the shop to get it lifted. For the project, the owner chose an ’09-to-’13 two-wheel-drive BDS 4- to 6-inch kit equipped with Fox 2.5 remote-reservoir coilovers. The kit arrived in a bunch of boxes, as the components were made of heavy high-strength steel, with all the mounting hardware needed to make this a quick bolt-in affair. Finishing off the truck is a set of 18x9 Fuel Maverick wheels with 35x12.5R18 Toyo Open Country R/T tires. Follow along below and check out the source box to see what’s available for your ride.
| Beards seem to be all the rage nowadays, and Outlaw Offroad requires all of its assembly techs to have one. “Hillbilly” Kris here is starting the teardown process of our ’13 F-150.
| With the wheels now removed, Kris set to work removing the tie rod and continued breaking down the steering knuckle assembly, as that would be swapped with the one in the kit.
| Next in the disassembly process were the brake calipers. Kris was very meticulous in his work, moving from driver to passenger side and doing the same level of work as it progressed. So the driver-side caliper was unbolted, then immediately he moved to the passenger side.
| We were now ready to remove the brake rotor and dust shield. Obviously, the brakes and their hardware were going to be reused, but so would the dust shield. The engineers at BDS thought of everything!
| The sway bar would also need to be removed, but it will be reinstalled. This cameraman was called in to assist in taking out the sway bar, so here it is after the endlinks were unbolted, the sway bar mounts were removed, and the bar itself was removed.
| A little extra effort with the impact gun was required on the upper and lower ball joint nuts. We hit them with the impact for a little while, but they relented and were removed. We then went ahead and removed the knuckle itself.
| We had to strip off the hub of the stocker and transfer it over to the new BDS spindle. And as can be easily seen, the new spindle is significantly larger, definitely heavier due to its increased mass, and just plain cooler looking than the stock knuckle.
| Now that both the driver and passenger side were free of their accoutrements, the lower control arm needed to be removed and relocated with the new crossmember from the kit. So Kris unbolted the lower stock strut bolts from the control arm and then removed the arm itself.
| The stock strut was left hanging after the lower mounting bolts were removed, and we had to remove the uppers as well to remove it. We were going to install the slick Fox 2.5 reserve coilovers at a later step.
| To prep the rear crossmember to receive the new dropdown crossmember from BDS, we had to make a small triangular cut in both sides of the rear control arm pockets. It would allow the much larger crossmember to be installed. We left the stock crossmember in for extra rigidity and because that is what BDS recommends.
| Taking out our trusty angle grinder with cutoff wheel attached, we had to cut a triangle out of each side of the crossmember. We made quick work of the cut. This can also be achieved with a sawzall, or your standard handsaw if you are so inclined.
| We made our cuts (as you can see, they were only needed on the side facing the engine) and testfit the new BDS crossmember. Then we went back, smoothed it out with the flat edge of our cutting wheel, and sprayed the exposed metal black.
| Before the front crossmember could be mounted, we had to remove the skidplate. With our air impact at the ready, it came out no problem.
| The front crossmember went in with no cuts needed. This picture was taken before we realized we had to remove the skidplate, as stated in the previous step. Don’t be like us—remove the plate first.
| Now that the front and rear crossmembers were loosely bolted in, we were ready to reinstall the lower control arms with their new adjustment cams (seen here). The main body of the cam will be “up” when installed in the cam slot, to be adjusted later.
| With the lower control arms reinstalled, the crossmember supports could now be used to brace the front and rear crossmembers and provide extra rigidity. As with most parts of a lift kit, we left the mounting hardware loose to be tightened later.
| These sway bar drop brackets were certainly beefy. In order to buzz on the nuts, we had to attach the socket to the nut, then run the extension through the hole. It was a little cumbersome when this bolt was run in (pictured), as the upper bolt had to be tightened by hand, at a rate of 1/6 of a turn at a time. Soon, we reattached the sway bar.
| Fox knows what it’s doing with these 2.5 remote-reservoir coilovers. With a quick turn of the dial, you can customize your settings to either be appropriate for the dirt or for the street. The reservoir itself will be mounted to the top of the coilover using a mounting plate.
| The upper coilover mounts get a spacer before the whole assembly is installed, but the lower strut mount fits right back into the mounting point on the lower control arm.
| With the coilovers on both sides all buttoned up, it was time to reassemble the rest of the front suspension. The new BDS knuckle with its transferred factory hub was installed to the lower ball joints, and only tightened loosely.
| Our front suspension lift and coilover upgrade was near completion; all we had to do was reinstall the disc and the calipers. With that, we were ready to move to the rear.
| Usually, the rear is an easy swap, so we set to work removing the rear shocks on both the driver and passenger side. With this truck having so little use on it, the undercarriage had little-to-no dirt on it, making this install a joy.
| We moved onto removing the rear U-bolts in order to separate the leafs from their mounting point on the axle.
| With the leafs free from their confines, we were able to add the rear block. It fit right in place under each leaf, and we installed the new U-bolts to lock it all down.
| The new Fox 2.0 rear shocks had to have a rubber barrel-shaped bushing and a sleeve installed, so out came the rubber mallet to make short work of both of those operations.
| Installing the rear shocks was just as easy as removing them, and they were quickly buzzed into place. Here is the upper shock mount.
| Since the rear of the truck would be lifted, included in the kit was this brake line relocation bracket. All we had to do was disassemble the factory brake lines (located on the driver side), reinstall them in the new bracket, and buzz them back into the factory location.
| Next on the list was to adjust the angle of the carrier bearing by using the supplied drop bracket from the kit. So we had to unbolt the carrier bearing assembly from the factory location and let it hang for the time being.
| The drop bracket itself is actually a series of plates of different thicknesses based on the height of your particular lift. BDS lets you adjust the carrier bearing drop and recommends that you add ¼ inch of drop per 1 inch of lift. We adjusted correctly and made sure the driveshaft was in line with the carrier bearing and tightened it back in.
| We went around to check our handiwork front and rear, tightened up all the hardware based on final adjustments, and we were good to go! All that was needed was to mount up our set of 18x9 Fuel Maverick wheels with 35x12.5R18 Toyo Open Country R/T tires, and we were on our way! To the alignment shop, of course. Any and all suspension changes need a trip to the alignment shop.
| Not bad for a day’s work! Our final product had all the lift we could need to have fun out on the local trails here in SoCal—and definitely enough to skip up the curb that separated the shop from the street to get this amazing final shot!