Today's trucks from the factory are well equipped for all kinds of use, but if you are in the market for some additional off-road capabilities to tackle the unknowns of the wilderness as well as some added looks, there are some easy additions available to you.
Recently, we found ourselves pondering ideas of changing up a few things on our 2015 Ford F-150
daily driver. After pulling a boat on several trips to the Ozarks, we realized just how soft the factory shock setup was on rough terrain. Something with a more controlling ride without breaking the bank was needed. On top of that, the factory all-season tires that were installed on the truck did not have quite the grip on slick wet terrain, so more aggressive tires made it on the wish list also.
| Before: Just your average stock 2015 F-150 Platinum 3.5L Ecoboost, but change is a coming.
We had heard of Stage 3 Motorsports in Peoria, AZ from their detailed YouTube installation videos and their Instagram posts with the latest products for Ford F-150
's. Taking a look at their extensive amount of suspension products for this truck, the Bilstein 5100 strut and shock set caught our attention. We've used Bilstein on many past trucks and were always happy with dampening control rate over bumps on the road or off. They would also add a hair over two inches of lift, which would level out the truck. Stage 3 had good reviews for the Bilsteins and great prices for the strut and shock set, and They even come with a lifetime warranty.
| Here is the complete set of four Bilstein 5100s capable of 2.10-inches of leveling on the adjustable struts. The rear shocks provide much-needed rear-end stability.
With those items in our shopping cart, we ventured onto tires and wheels. We had seen several trucks with VenomRex VR-602 wheels, and Stage 3 Motorsports is also a dealer for VenomRex wheels. The flow forged technology produces wheels that are lighter in weight and stronger than that of conventional cast constructed wheels. This means less unsprung weight at each corner which equals more performance and better fuel economy.
| The VenomRex VR-602 20x9 wheels will give us the strength, weight reduction, and good looks over the stockers. Nitto Terra Grappler G2 275/55R20 tires will provide wet traction and a lot more grip in off road situations.
The Nitto Terra Grappler G2 tires have a great history of a strong tread life tire that was not loud on the highway, and with it still being considered an all season tire it would provide decent gas mileage. We decided to stick with the factory sized 275/55R20 tire because the truck sees quite a bit of towing and a heavier wider tire would not be as economical over the years of use.
After clicking complete on the Stage 3 Motorsports shopping cart, we soon had the parts on our doorstep. We scheduled an appointment at our local Ford
dealership, Mel Hamilton in Wichita, KS, to get the new suspension components installed, tires mounted and balanced, and wrap it all up with a four-corner alignment. Check it out below and check out the source box to see the simple improvements you can make to your truck.
| Once we were up on the lift at Mel Hamilton Ford, we were ready to remove our stock rear shocks.
| The tech quickly swapped out each rear shock for the Bilstein 5100s, snugging down the top bolts first.
| Then the lower bolt mounts were buzzed down, thereby completing this simple but effective transformation of the rear suspension.
| Up front, we started out by removing the tie rod end from the spindle.
| Then the brake line bracket is next unbolted from the spindle.
| Now the caliper was unbolted and hung off to the side.
| The upper ball joint nut was removed next. Then the Spindle could swing out of the way while still attached to the lower control arm.
| Next, the sway bar endlink was removed from the lower control arm.
| The upper strut mounting bolts were removed next.
| Now the tech is clear to remove the lower strut mounting bolts.
| Finally, the tech removed the factory strut. Our front disassembly was complete.
| The Bilstein struts allow you to set your 2015-2019 F150's front ride height to stock, +.79, +1.26, +1.75, or +2.10 inches of lift by using their adjustable spring seat tabs.
| The tech locked the factory strut into the spring compression stand to safely disassemble the spring from the stock strut.
| The factory spring is reused and was installed onto the new Bilstein 5100 strut.
| Within minutes, we were ready to rebuild the front suspension. The new Bilstein strut was plugged into place.
| We reinstalled all the factory components and tightened them down to factory specs.
| VenomRex designed their flow forged wheels to be mounted just like standard wheels, so no custom machines or methods are needed to mount the Nittos.
| As expected, the quality wheel and tire package took hardly any weight to balance out perfectly.
| We bolted up the wheels and tightened down the splined lug nuts supplied by VenomRex to factory torque specs. We opted for the red VenomRex center cap inlay to add a bit of color to the wheel package.
| Once on the ground, the crew got the truck aligned for us so there is no abnormal tire wear down the road.
| What a difference this install has made! From the lifted front end, to the wheel package by VenomRex and Nitto, We really scored in the looks department.
| The Bilstein 5100 steel bodies with zinc-plated finish look great and they handle anything we come up against off the beaten path.
| We know we will get the best bang for the buck out of this simple upgrade.
| The tungsten graphite powder coating and the red inlay was the perfect choice to accent the factory tuxedo black metallic paint with red FX4 badges. Time to hit the lake!