When we left off, we were halfway through the process of installing a coilover conversion lift kit from BDS Suspension on our 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD. We began with a nearly worn out suspension with more than 200,000 miles on it and either refurbished or replaced all of it. We tossed the factory upper control arms, knuckles, axleshafts, unit bearings, and steering system in the trash and fully stripped and refreshed the lower control arms, framerails, and sway bar. To say the least, it was a huge project.
This fruit of this toil revealed itself to be a nearly 20-year-old heavy-duty pickup that, when finished, drives and handles much more like a modern -ton. The lift kit from BDS proved to be one of the best fitting aftermarket products we'd ever installed. And the ride quality provided by the Fox shocks is second to none. Speedbumps and dips no longer realign the spine, and we don't need kidney belts to cruise the highway anymore. Yes, it's really that big of an improvement.
For wheels and tires, we bucked the trend and went for 37-inch Nitto Ridge Grapplers mounted to KMC Grenade wheels, which were ordered from TireRack.com. BDS recommends a maximum of a 35-inch tire with this kit, however, we crammed the larger rubber on thanks to the 5.5-inch backspacing on our 18x9 wheels and by swapping our factory front bumper for a custom piece from MOVE.
| BDS GM 2500 3500HD Lift Install Part 2 001
We couldn't be happier with the both the build and ride quality of this kit. Sure, there are less expensive ways to gain altitude for your Chevy truck, but none will come close to matching what BDS has accomplished with its coilover conversion. The BDS crew has made believers out of us, and we'll keep preaching until everyone is a convert.
In order to squeeze the large 2.5-inch Fox coilover in the factory shock mounting location, BDS provides replacement upper control arms. These tubular units provide ample clearance as opposed to the formed sheetmetal factory arms. Bonded rubber bushings ensure years of squeak-free life. High-angle MOOG Problem Solver ball joints round out what combines to be quite the upgrade over factory.
| While we had the front suspension apart—and prior to installing the BDS skidplates—we took the opportunity to service the front differential. After draining what looked more like chocolate pudding than gear oil, we refilled the diff with fresh Amsoil Severe Gear 75W-90 lube.
| Once both the front and rear crossmembers and the lower control arms are installed, the crossmember bolts can be torqued to spec. Leaving everything loose until this point ensures all the parts will easily align. If you don't have a large torque wrench, now is the time to get one, as these fasteners require 125 ft-lb of torque.
| Anyone that's worked with coilover shocks before knows how difficult it can be to keep the misalignment spaces in place during installation. Fox utilizes special rubber mounts on its dampers that act as an anti-wobble mechanism along with retaining the spacers. As such, it may be necessary to slightly compress the spacers while installing them in the brackets.
| We learned a long time ago that it's important to apply anti-seize lubricant to steel bolts where they pass through aluminum misalignment spacers. Reason being that over time the dissimilar metals corrode and become seized to each other, making removal a chore if not impossible.
| BDS GM 2500 3500HD Lift Install Part 2 009
| BDS provides a pretty trick bracket for securing the Fox coilover reservoir, which mounts on top of the shock bucket utilizing hardware from the coilover mounting plate. Pay attention here, as we noticed the brackets made light contact with our oversized Banks intercooler piping.
| Included with the kit are Fox's impressive Dual Speed Compression (DSC) adjustable reservoirs. This allows for both high- and low-speed compression adjustment in up to 12 different varying stages. It makes for quick adjustments between a comfy highway ride and composed off-road damping. The reservoirs are aluminum for better cooling and anodized black for a sinister appearance.
| BDS GM 2500 3500HD Lift Install Part 2 012
| With the Fox coilover shocks in place and the control arms mounted, we were ready to finish the installation. Because the lift kit utilizes drop brackets on the lower control arm, a larger steering knuckle is required.
| Before installing the new BDS steering knuckle, we opted to seize the opportunity to replace our old, 200,000-mile unit bearings with fresh Timken units from RockAuto.com. Since the bearings need to be removed from the factory knuckle either way, now is as good a time as any to ensure the best parts are in place before increasing tire size.
| It's important to move the large rubber O-ring from the factory knuckles to the new BDS knuckles prior to installing the unit bearing. Use a small pick or flat-blade screwdriver to carefully remove the O-ring without damaging it and be sure to apply a small amount of lube prior to installing in the new knuckle.
| The brake lines attach to the factory upper control arms with a large metal bracket that is formed around the hose. BDS instructs installers to carefully cut through this bracket with a cutoff wheel and remove. This step scared us, so we hit up the Internet and bought a set of stainless steel replacement lines for less than $100.
| Included with the upper control arm kit are two different-sized spacers. Unfortunatly, the instructions don't differentiate which one to use. Turns out, the thicker of the two is used when the control arms are added to the factory knuckles, and the thinner one with the lift kit and BDS knuckles.
| Welding on a pair of steering stop extensions is the final piece of fabrication that needs to be completed. With the knuckles installed, locate the steering stop on the factory lower control arm and place the new extension over it. Use the knuckle as a guide to ensure the new extension is square prior to welding.
| We also used the opportunity to install new front axleshafts from RockAuto.com. After sliding the splined end through the unit bearing, the inner CV can be bolted to the front axle. BDS provides a spacer and longer bolts to take up the space created by the slightly increased track width of the kit. These bolts are tightened in a crisscross pattern to 45 ft-lb.
| Since we really didn't like the idea of reusing nearly two-decade-old parts, we also upgraded our steering to a fully forged setup from PPE Diesel. It's worth noting, since the instructions didn't, that the direction of the steering joint is flipped on the new BDS knuckles, bolting from the top rather than from the bottom.
| One of the final pieces of the lift are the extended sway bar end links. Before installing them on the truck, the new lower bushing needs to be greased and pressed (by hand) into the link bar along with the metal bolt sleeve.
| It's the little details like this that really make for a top-notch product. BDS provides machined-aluminum dust covers that snap on top of the upper ball joints. These not only protect the joint and grease fitting but also give a finished look to the upper control arms.
| Because the front differential is lowered slightly, the dust boot on the front driveshaft needs to be extended. To do this, BDS provides an aluminum spacer, which is fitted with a pair of O-rings. The spacer slides over the splines, and the factory boot is reinstalled. Be sure to grease the axle splines prior to reinstallation in the transfer case, as these shafts have been known to seize over time.
| BDS GM 2500 3500HD Lift Install Part 2 024
| For the 4.5-inch kit, BDS provides blocks and U-bolts as a means of lifting the rear of the truck. If the 6.5-inch kit is selected, there's the option of either blocks or a replacement spring pack. Both kits come with Fox 2.0-inch monotube shocks for the rear.
| BDS GM 2500 3500HD Lift Install Part 2 026
| Despite the recommendation of BDS, we went ahead and installed 37-inch Nitto Ridge Grappler tires (BDS recommends a 33-inch tire for this size lift, 35-inch at the very most), which we mounted on KMC Grenade wheels. We ordered the wheels from TireRack.com and had them delivered to us in just two days. Thanks to the combination of a custom front bumper from MOVE and the chosen wheel offset, we only have the most minimal tire rub when reversing to the left, go figure.