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Installing a 6.5-Inch Lift on a GM 2500HD

Part one of our build with BDS Suspension, American Force & Cooper Tire at Powerhouse Performance.

Apr 17, 2020

One of our favorite trucks to get our hands on is a late(ish)-model GM truck. With a rich aftermarket of just about anything you can imagine, the sky is really the limit once we get one in our possession. In this case, a pristine 2015 Chevy Silverado 2500HD 4x4 landed in our lap, and we knew just where we wanted to go with it: up! A 6-inch lift, 20-inch wheels, and 37-inch tires fit these trucks like a glove, so that was the direction we were headed.

We contacted BDS Suspension for their This 6.5-inch lift kit. It's pretty unique in that it utilizes high arched crossmembers that blend perfectly with the angle of the factory installed lower control arms for a completely integrated look. Also, the torsion bars are mounted directly to the top of the lower control arm, eliminating the need to drop the torsion bar crossmember. A front skidplate and differential skidplate come standard to lock everything together, creating a stout subframe, high clearance, and good looks for a relatively affordable price. We also included a set of Fox 2.0 performance shocks to complete the kit.

Photo 2/35   |   The 2014-2018 Chevy Silverado HD 4x4s are good-looking trucks, there's no doubt about it. But there's always room for improvement. At least 6.5 inches' worth!

These 2500HDs have a lot of chrome on them, so we decided to forgo the usual stormtrooper look that most white trucks end up with and go back to basics. We decided we wanted a flashy yet super strong 20-inch wheel with a contemporary design and found exactly that with the contemporary design of the polished Guardian from American Force. We opted for 20x9s with a 5-inch backspacing. For rubber, we had been wanting to try one of the newer tires from Cooper, so we ordered up a set of Discoverer STT Pros tires in 37x12.50R20LT—a perfect fit for our 2500HD.

We've featured Powerhouse Performance in Truckin in the past, and we've even featured shop owner Thomas Stevens drifting his Silverado prerunner across the cover a few years back! Even though they cover just about any custom build project for classic or late model trucks, one of their specialties is altitude adjustment of late-model GM trucks. We drove the bone stock Silverado out to Simi Valley bright and early and left the shop late at night, but the talented crew knocked out the lift for us in just one day.

Follow along below as we get the front end handled and check back soon as we wrap up the rear of the truck, then add a little more stopping power before this truck gets its day in the sun.

Photo 3/35   |   We laid out the BDS suspension kit when we received it and laid out our plan of attack. In addition to the well-thought-out drop-down brackets, the kit includes custom knuckles, diff drop brackets, torsion bar relocating brackets, and all the necessary hardware. Even the lengthened stainless brake lines are included.
Photo 4/35   |   The American Force Guardian wheels came with a nice polish on them, and the 20x9-inch measurements with 5 inches of backspacing should be a perfect fit.
Photo 5/35   |   We also bought a set of Discoverer STT Pros tires from Cooper. The 37x12.50R20LT sizing looks perfect on these trucks, if you ask us. The STT Pro is the most extreme all-season, off-road tire Cooper offers and will provide plenty of off-road performance when needed without sacrificing traction on the road. They look pretty cool, too.
Photo 6/35   |   The BDS kit is rounded out with a pair of extreme heavy-duty skidplates that tie the drop-downs together, effectively creating a super-strong subframe up front. We'll finish up the lift with a set of Fox 2.0 shocks, which look and perform as well as or better than just about any 2.0 shock on the market. Don't mind those Recoil traction bars; we'll tell you all about them in the next installment.
Photo 7/35   |   Once we arrived out in Simi Valley at Powerhouse Performance, the crew of Chad and Chase wasted no time getting the Silverado up on the lift with the stock wheels removed.
Photo 8/35   |   The teardown on this style of lift is pretty significant. Just about everything must go. The first step was to unload the torsion bars, using the recommended GM tool, followed by removing the front driveshaft. Then the tie rod ends were removed.
Photo 9/35   |   Next to go were the stock shocks, with the upper studs first, followed by the lower mounting bolt.
Photo 10/35   |   Then the sway bar end links were removed. We will be replacing those, too.
Photo 11/35   |   The factory caliper was next.
Photo 12/35   |   Chase popped off the dust cap, removed the axle nut, and removed the hub bolts, and the hub and rotor came off as one unit.
Photo 13/35   |   Now the factory knuckle could be detached from the upper and lower ball joints.
Photo 14/35   |   The front axles were unbolted from the diff and removed next.
Photo 15/35   |   Nearing the end of the removal list, the lower control arms were buzzed off next.
Photo 16/35   |   The factory crossmember that stiffens up the LCAs was next to go. Something a little beefier will be replacing it.
Photo 17/35   |   Finally, the front diff was unbolted and dropped down temporarily, thus completing the teardown of the HD front end.
Photo 18/35   |   A small section of the LCA mount must be trimmed as per the instructions. Chad made a clean cut with the Sawzall.
Photo 19/35   |   Sometimes a little trickery is involved to get the right angles on the impact. The diff drop brackets were locked into place.
Photo 20/35   |   The diff was jacked up into place and hung on the new brackets. Then the new rear crossmember was bolted into place.
Photo 21/35   |   Once the clearance was checked with the crossmember, the diff was snugged down. Now would be a good time to point out that all bolts were treated with Loctite where applicable, torqued to spec, and marked with a paint pen for easy inspection down the road.
Photo 22/35   |   Here, the rear crossmember was torqued to spec, as per the detailed instructions that come with the BDS kit.
Photo 23/35   |   The front crossmember was up next. It simply slides up into place. You can see here that it even has provisions for the new front skidplate.
Photo 24/35   |   Chase locked the front crossmember down and we were ready for reassembly.
Photo 25/35   |   The factory lower control arms were hung on the new crossmembers, then the torsion bar relocation brackets were installed onto the rear of the arms.
Photo 26/35   |   Now we could install the rest of the LCA hardware.
Photo 27/35   |   At this point, the axles were reinstalled onto the front diff.
Photo 28/35   |   Chase was pretty excited to hang the BDS knuckles onto the upper and lower ball joints.
Photo 29/35   |   The hub was bolted to the new knuckle and the axle nut was reattached, followed by the rotor and caliper.
Photo 30/35   |   We installed the torsion bars into the new brackets and indexed them to their previous location.
Photo 31/35   |   The BDS stainless brake lines were attached to the caliper and hardlines and routed properly, along with the ABS lines.
Photo 32/35   |   BDS also supplies new sway bar end links along with mounting brackets, which were bolted up next. Then the tie rod ends were attached to the new knuckles.
Photo 33/35   |   Finally, we were nearing the finish line—on the front end at least! The Fox 2.0 Performance Shocks were bolted up in the stock locations.
Photo 34/35   |   The last step was to install the BDS steering stabilizer kit. It is a plug and play operation, other than the bad camera angles.
Photo 35/35   |   There are a few bolts to be torqued once on the ground, and brakes to be bled, but at this point we can call the front kit done. If you're like us and can't wait to see this thing on the ground, check back here very soon, where we tackle the rear end, perform a brake upgrade, and show you the final product!

Source Box:

American Force
888.981.1344
americanforcewheels.com

BDS Suspension
517.279.2135
bds-suspension.com

Cooper Tires
800.854.6288
coopertire.com

Powerhouse Performance
805.624.6284
powerhouseperformance.com

Sources

American Force Wheels
Miami, FL
786-345-6301
http://www.americanforcewheels.com
BDS Suspension
517.279.2135
http://www.bds-suspension.com
Cooper Tire
Findlay, OH
419-423-1321
http://us.coopertire.com/
Powerhouse Performance
805-587-8885
http://powerhouseperformance.com/

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