High Tail.

After a little over a year with my truck, it was time to give her a lift. I must have spent months planning this part of the upgrade, and after considering all the options I had available, I decided on doing a 2.5″ lift for the front and 2″ lift for the back to level it out. I did not want to do the spacer/shackle route, plus I had a few hook-ups that I took advantage of which helped make my decision on what parts to use.

While I was waiting for the “not yet ready” parts, I ordered the rear suspension upgrade since everything on my list for the rear end was off-the-shelf bolt-on parts. I decided on the combination of Deaver 2-leaf AALs and extended-length Bilstein 5125 Rear Shocks. I also added a pair of Nisstec 2.5-degree Shims, plus some longer¬†Nisstec U-bolts and center pins.

Bilstein custom 5125 rear shocks and Deaver 2-leaf AAL pack.
New U-bolts, 2.5-degree axle shims, and new center pins.

There’s enough How-To’s on rear suspension in the Internet, so I won’t get into every little detail on how I installed it. In fact, I’m also saying this because once I began the install I had my iPhone plugged into the stereo in my garage for some music, and I totally for got about taking photos through the install. So sorry about that.

What I will say is that installation was very straightforward; Everything was bolt-on, no special tools necessary with the exception of a pair of 6″ metal C-clamps to help with the leaf springs. I did have to remove the spare tire to install the rear shocks, and I also had to unclip the upper part of the ABS brake sensor wires at the frame, but the way they hang they won’t get caught anywhere. Also, that rear lower shock bolt was a challenge; the factory torque spec calls for 148-ft./lbs. but when we were taking it off it felt like it was tightened with 1,048-ft./lbs.!

Printing out the FSM diagrams for all the torque values means one thing – upgrade time!
All installed, you can see the silver axle shims underneath the Deaver AAL.

Because the AAL replaced the OEM overload spring, I did not need to use the new U-bolts and center pins (I’ll save them for later just in case). The stock center pin was the right length for the AAL, and the stock U-bolts had more than enough length to use with the axle shims installed.

As for the ride height, it was slightly more than I expected: My stock rear fender height was 35.23″, but after the install it now sat at 38.25″ – or 3.02″ of lift. I did recheck this measurement 2 weeks after the install (and after hauling some furniture for a friend on weekend) and afterward the fender was still at 38.25″. After subtracting 0.52″ (the difference between stock 265/70’s and my BFG KO2 265/75’s) the actual suspension-only lift is exactly 2.5″. This is still half an inch higher than the AAL specs, but hey – I’m okay with that; the added lift just meant I would go a little higher up front.