Are you tired of uneven truck stances, reduced ground clearance, and the nagging feeling that your F-150 could perform better? Many truck owners face these issues without realizing that a simple solution exists.
The problem: a lack of knowledge about leveling kits. The solution: our comprehensive guide on how to install a leveling kit on your F-150. In this blog post, we’ll address the challenges you might not even know you’re facing and provide the ideal solution.
By the end of this read, you’ll not only understand the problem but also have the expertise to transform your truck’s look and performance.
Understanding the Basics
Before diving into the installation process, it’s essential to understand some key terms and concepts:
- Strut: This is a structural component of your truck’s suspension system that provides support and absorbs shock.
- Ball Joint: A pivotal point between the wheel and suspension, allowing for smooth movement and steering.
- Suspension: The system of tires, tire air, springs, shock absorbers, and linkages that connects a vehicle to its wheels and allows relative motion between the two.
- Leveling Kit: A modification tool used to raise the front of the truck to level with the rear, providing increased ground clearance and a balanced look.
Leveling kits are particularly popular among truck owners who wish to eliminate the factory rake (the higher rear end compared to the front) of their vehicles, especially if they plan to install larger tires.
Preparation for Installation
Before commencing the installation process, gather the following tools and materials to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience:
- Leveling Kit: Choose between coil spacers or strut spacers based on your preferences and your truck’s specifications.
- Jack and Jack Stands: Select a sturdy jack and reliable jack stands to elevate your truck safely off the ground.
- Lug Wrench: An essential tool for loosening and tightening lug nuts.
- Socket and Ratchet Set: A versatile set of sockets and ratchets is crucial for various tasks during the installation.
- Torque Wrench: Precisely tightening components to manufacturer-recommended specifications maintain the structural integrity of your F-150.
- Pry Bar or Ball Joint Separator: Depending on the type of leveling kit, you might need a pry bar or ball joint separator for disassembly.
- Penetrating Oil: A high-quality penetrating oil can help ease the removal of stubborn components, making the process smoother.
- Safety Glasses and Gloves: Prioritize safety by wearing protective eyewear and gloves throughout the installation.
- Wheel Chocks: Wheel chocks prevent unintended movement of the truck during the installation.
- Measuring Tape: A measuring tape comes in handy to ensure accurate adjustments and leveling.
- Owner’s Manual: Your F-150’s owner’s manual is a valuable resource for specifications and guidelines specific to your truck model.
Safety is paramount when working on your vehicle. Ensure the truck is parked on a flat, stable surface and engage the emergency brake. Gather all your tools and the leveling kit, and make sure you have a clear workspace.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Install a Levelling Kit on Your F-150
Step 1: Lifting the Vehicle
- Positioning the Floor Jack: Identify the proper jacking points, typically near the front and rear axles. Use a hydraulic jack to lift the truck. The aim is to have enough space to work comfortably and safely under the vehicle.
- Securing with Jack Stands: Place the jack stands under the truck’s frame to ensure stability. Double-check that the vehicle is firmly supported before proceeding.
Step 2: Removing Factory Spacers and Strut Assembly
- Wheel Removal: Start by removing the front wheels using a tire iron or socket wrench. This will provide access to the strut assembly and suspension components.
- Disconnecting the Strut: Loosen and remove the strut bolts using a socket wrench. Be cautious of the brake lines and ensure they are not strained during this process.
- Removing the Strut Assembly: Once the bolts are removed, carefully extract the strut assembly. It might be necessary to use a spring compressor for this step, especially if the spring is under tension.
Step 3: Installing the Leveling Kit
- Preparing the Kit: Unpack the leveling kit (e.g., a 2-inch MaxTrac kit or Daystar 2 1/2-inch kit). Verify all components are present and read through the provided instructions thoroughly.
- Kit Installation: Align the leveling kit components with the factory strut location. Some kits may include strut spacers which go on top of the strut assembly.
- Securing Components: Reattach the strut assembly with the leveling kit in place. Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications. This is crucial to maintain proper suspension geometry and vehicle safety.
Step 4: Reassembling and Reconnecting Components
- Control Arms and Sway Bar Link: If your kit includes new control arms, replace the old ones. Reconnect the sway bar link ensuring proper alignment.
- Upper Ball Joint Connection: Carefully align and reattach the upper ball joint. This is critical for the stability of the suspension system.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
- Reattaching the Wheels: Once all components are securely in place, reattach the wheels.
- Lowering the Vehicle: Carefully lower the truck from the jack stands using the floor jack.
- Post-Installation Check: Check all bolts and nuts for proper torque, ensure there’s no interference with other parts, and verify the height is as expected.
Step 6: Post-Installation Test Drive
- Testing for Issues: Drive the truck at a low speed in a safe area to check for any unusual noises, vibrations, or handling issues.
- Alignment Check: Finally, take the truck to an alignment shop to ensure the wheels are properly aligned after the installation. This step is crucial to prevent uneven tire wear and to ensure optimal handling.
Well, this is how you can install a leveling kit in your Ford F-150. Now, let’s talk about some tips that will help you along the way.
Additional Modifications and Considerations
After installing a leveling kit, it’s essential to consider potential modifications and their implications:
1. Larger Tires: Many truck owners opt for larger tires, such as 33-inch or 35-inch, to complement the leveled look. However, before making this change, ensure that your leveling kit can accommodate the increased tire size. Larger tires can provide enhanced off-road capability and a more aggressive appearance.
2. Impact on Suspension and Control: Changing the truck’s height with a leveling kit can impact its handling and suspension dynamics. The altered center of gravity may lead to different driving characteristics. Be prepared for potential changes in steering responsiveness and body roll, particularly during cornering.
3. Professional Consultation: If you plan significant modifications or have any doubts about the installation process, it’s advisable to consult a licensed suspension expert. They can assess your specific setup, recommend suitable adjustments, and ensure that your truck’s suspension and handling remain safe and optimized.
By carefully considering these additional modifications and consulting with experts when needed, you can tailor your truck’s upgrades to your preferences while maintaining safe and balanced performance.
Cost and Value Analysis
Leveling Kit Costs: The cost of leveling kits can vary widely, ranging from a few hundred dollars for basic kits to more expensive options with advanced features. Consider your budget and the specific features you require when selecting a kit.
DIY vs. Professional Installation: Installing a leveling kit yourself can save on labor costs, but it requires mechanical skill and the right tools. Professional installation ensures safety and correctness, making it a suitable choice if you’re uncertain about your DIY abilities.
Long-Term Value: A well-installed leveling kit not only enhances your truck’s appearance but can also increase its functionality. Improved ground clearance and the ability to accommodate larger tires can make your truck more versatile.
Additionally, a professionally installed leveling kit can potentially enhance the resale value of your truck, appealing to buyers looking for an upgraded and well-maintained vehicle. Consider the long-term benefits when assessing the value of your leveling kit investment.
Choosing the Right Leveling Kit
When it comes to selecting the right leveling kit for your truck, there are several factors to consider:
- Brand and Quality: Choose a reputable brand like Daystar or MaxTrac, known for their reliability and quality.
- Compatibility with Your Truck Model: Ensure the kit is designed for your specific model and year. For example, a kit for a Ford F150 might not be suitable for a Chevy Silverado.
- Desired Lift Amount: Leveling kits typically offer a range of lift options, commonly 2-inch or 2.5-inch. Decide how much lift you need based on your truck’s use and the tire size you plan to install.
You can always check out our companion article, “5 Best Leveling Kits for F-150,” where we review the top kits on the market. These interlinked resources will equip you with the knowledge to choose the right kit and install it correctly, ensuring your F-150 gets the leveling treatment it deserves.
The installation of a leveling kit on your F-150 represents a significant enhancement, both in terms of aesthetics and performance. By meticulously following this comprehensive guide and adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions provided with your leveling kit, you can successfully integrate the kit into your truck’s setup.
However, if you’re uncertain about any aspect of the installation or simply prefer professional assistance, consulting a qualified mechanic is always a wise decision.
With your newly leveled F-150, you’re poised to explore new horizons, conquer off-road challenges, and revel in the transformed appearance of your beloved truck. As you set out on your adventures, remember that proper installation ensures not only a striking appearance but also the continued safety and reliability of your F-150’s performance.