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Hi everyone, I’m a certified mechanic, a Ford transit owner, and I’m frustrated with the available lift kit options. I’ve installed a lift kit in my van, but having the front end apart, I’ve discovered some things I want to discuss.

So, here’s a basic run down of the available kits, the problemsI experienced with my traxda lift and the issues I see with the rest of what’s available.

Vancompass has two lift kits. The Subframe drop idea is a crazy amount of work, but gives you perfect geometry. However you gain no effective clearance under the subframe unless you run bigger tires. You’ve merely lifted the van body higher.

Their second lift style is better. 3/4 inch strut spacer, plus a 1 and 1/4 inch lift from a new coil spring. Add those numbers together, you have 2 inches. Then you can also install a bilstein strut, and have a little more.

The problem with their second style of lift, is that struts have a maximum extension. These are arbitrary numbers, but imagine if you measured the strut from the top to the bottom, and it was 24 inches tall. That’s the maximum extension. When the strut is fully compressed, it’s 16”. So you have 8 inches of travel. When the weight of the vehicle is on the strut, it’s compressed somewhere in the middle of the travel.
So you have 4 inches up travel, and 4 inches down. When you add a coil spring that adds 1 and 1/4” to the height, what you’ve done is change where the mid point of the strut is. So you now have 5 and 1/4 inches of upward travel (wheel being pushed up into the fender by the road) but you only have 2 and 3/4” of downward travel. So if your wheel has to drop down into something, it is now has limited downward travel and you fully extend the suspension under a huge amount of negative load. This is really not good for the internal valving inside the strut and gives you a ride that feels like your being pulled back to the earth.

Now the traxda lift actually gives the van the best lift. “Technically” It pushes the van up in the air, adds height under the front crossmember, and keeps the strut at its factory middle. 4 inches up and 4 inches down. The problem is, actually getting everything back together. To put the 2 inch strut spacer on top of the strut, you have to remove the strut from the knuckle. It comes apart really easily, then you bolt the strut spacer on top, and stick it all back together. But the strut won’t go back into the knuckle, no matter how hard you try. The angles, because of adding 2 inches, are to great to overcome, and the strut won’t drop into the hole in the knuckle. So then I undid the ball joint, which allowed me to remove the knuckle from the lower control arm, and gave me the clearance to get the knuckle and strut back together. But then the angles were too extreme to get the ball joint back into the lower control arm..... arrrrrgggg. I got it back together, but had to fix the threads on the lower ball joint. Annoying.

Van compass only used a 3/4 inch spacer, and that is what would allow you to get it back together really easily. Remember that the strut has the same maximum extension no matter what. So that means, you’re only fighting 3/4 inch instead of 2 inch. For the sake of installing a lift, that’s why the van compass lift is better. You are not twisting and torquing on everything, to get it back together.

Foes manufacturing, their lift has the 2” spacer, but it has a modified factory control arm. Because the new lower control arm makes up for the angles of everything, the ball joint slips right in. This is the best solution, but very expensive for what you are getting and if you need new control arm bushings down the road, you have to buy new control arms... this is expensive. So that makes it the worst lift. Repairability is super important. You wouldn’t want to be on a trip, only to find out you need new lower control arms, and the factory ones are all that are available.

What I think the solution is.
1)Keep the factory strut and spring together
2) use a 2” space with camber adjustment
3) make a control arm with replaceable bushings, that deals with the angles that are at their maximums.

Anyways, I’d appreciate peoples thoughts.
Any other people who installed their lift by themselves, I’d love to hear of your experience.
 

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2021 Ford Transit 148" AWD 3.5L MR Passenger
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Thank you for the review and thoughts. I should take delivery of an AWD Transit around the end of August and I'm starting to research lifts.
 

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2020 148 Mid-Roof AWD Crew
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What are you thoughts on a variation of the Van Compass Lift and Installing the Bilstein strut with the Van Compass spring but not use the strut spacer? I'm not savvy enough to understand how the flat 3/4" strut spacer adds camber/castor correction.
It would be nice to see a true lift kit rather than the budget boost/spacer options.
 

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Lifting these transits is not easy. Now add in the complexity of the AWD units and it gets much more difficult. The fact that everything is binding when installing the 2-inch spacer is a "red flag". The best lift kit (cost effective) for these transits is going to be a subframe drop. Keeping all the suspension components in their stock configurations will yield the best performance and parts longevity. With a subframe drop kit we should be able to run an aftermarket coilover (King, Radflo, Icon, Fox). The larger tires and aftermarket coilovers will yield a much better ride on and off-road. We should be able to fly down rutted washboard dirt roads without rattling our teeth out. On the AWD units we are limited on our down travel due to the short passenger side axle shaft. However we should be able to gain some more uptravel with the subframe drop and coilover. These vans will never be a rock crawler or desert prerunner. I know some people on here have really pushed them off-road and good for them. However IMOP this is the absolute wrong tool for the job. A stock cheap used beat up pickup will run circles around a mega built $$$$ transit off-road. I just want a reliable AWD van that rides well and get me and my cargo to remote destinations.
 

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Foes manufacturing, their lift has the 2” spacer, but it has a modified factory control arm. Because the new lower control arm makes up for the angles of everything, the ball joint slips right in. This is the best solution, but very expensive for what you are getting and if you need new control arm bushings down the road, you have to buy new control arms... this is expensive. So that makes it the worst lift. Repairability is super important. You wouldn’t want to be on a trip, only to find out you need new lower control arms, and the factory ones are all that are available.
Thanks for all of the informed research and your write up. Great point on the bushing issue on the Foes kit. I think the Foes arm may very well be a modified Ford arm, which I believe Ford indicates that the bushings are not replaceable. Perhaps there are (decent quality) aftermarket bushings available that could be pressed in? Maybe check with Foes to see if they have anything to say on that issue.
 

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These vans will never be a rock crawler or desert prerunner. I know some people on here have really pushed them off-road and good for them. However IMOP this is the absolute wrong tool for the job. A stock cheap used beat up pickup will run circles around a mega built $$$$ transit off-road. I just want a reliable AWD van that rides well and get me and my cargo to remote destinations.
BINGO!
 

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2020 High-Extended AWD EcoBoost Cargo with windows
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Much as I want a superior solution for the AWD for rough dirt roads (not serious rock-crawling), isn't the native AWD auto-shut-off going to remain the limiter in there? It is better/worse depending on the "mode" but I think it still shuts down / overheats if you get on it for long enough. Or has someone found a solution to this?
 

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2020 148 Mid-Roof AWD Crew
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What's FOES life? What's a traxda lift? I thought that VanCompass was the only choice...
Van Compass is the only AWD option.

Don't know who's rock crawling their van, but after a week on the Forestry trunk road the van was able to get me down the dirt trails to all the camp sites I desired and my lift kit is still in the box! Mud and Rut mode works well.

156536
 

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I agree with all.
However, part of the reason for using the VC red springs is increased weight carrying capacity and eventually settling into less than 1" of lift and less strut abuse?

The foes arms are overpriced and for my self i would just build my own, and maybe do a few sets at that time, for spares.
 

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Yep but that's only for 2WD, no?
I have no idea (or current interest in lift kits ) . Just posting a link for the product that you asked about.
Now, if my body was not so worn out, I might consider one of his nifty bikes.
 

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My biggest concern about my (soon to hopefully be built) AWD Transit on forrest service roads is how low the rear shock supports hang. (I previously owned a Subaru Outback and would scrape the bottom too often for my liking)

Van Compass has a solution for that, which I'm considering along with a small increase in tire size: REAR HIGH CLEARANCE SHOCK EXTENSION BRACKETS - TRANSIT (2013+) by VAN COMPASS

If I'm understanding Travaland's concerns properly, this should not be an issue, as it does not change the geometry of drive train. Is that right?

Any thoughts on doing only the rear shock brackets and a small increase in tire size, to increase the ground clearance?
(I know there's a limit to tire size increase w/o lowering wheel, to avoid rubbing)

thanks

tom
(MR, Long, Passenger, AWD, low payload)
 

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Get it out there and try it out, @tomsaffell

We've put a bunch of miles on forest service roads on stock AWD tires. It does pretty well maneuvering shopping. If they're aired down, it rides pretty well. If we're in the 30mph+ speed, it throws errors and shuts things off after a while - but still drives great. Give it a few test drives before assuming the extra inch or two are needed.
 

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Any other people who installed their lift by themselves, I’d love to hear of your experience.
I had to seriously pry the lower control arms to get the VC topo lift installed over the lower ball joints. Spacer/Bilsteins/Red Springs/knuckle. This was with the rear subframe loosened as well.

I don't get why the VC spacer doesn't have longer threaded studs. The top nuts only have about 90% engagement. Also, it seems reusing all the nuts/bolts Ford says are single use is OK with everyone.
 

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My biggest concern about my (soon to hopefully be built) AWD Transit on forrest service roads is how low the rear shock supports hang. (I previously owned a Subaru Outback and would scrape the bottom too often for my liking)

Van Compass has a solution for that, which I'm considering along with a small increase in tire size: REAR HIGH CLEARANCE SHOCK EXTENSION BRACKETS - TRANSIT (2013+) by VAN COMPASS

If I'm understanding Travaland's concerns properly, this should not be an issue, as it does not change the geometry of drive train. Is that right?
Quadvan offers a set of these, as well...much nicer (IMHO) than the VC ones. I bought a set for my van, but they're still sitting on the shelf at this point.

The high-clearance shock mounts do not affect anything related to the geometry of the drivetrain.

Craig
 

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You really need to do the 2” lift if you do the high clearance rear shock brackets. Otherwise, you need a shock that is 2” shorter, or 2” bump stops. I have the quad van brackets, and they are very nice, more of a “skid plate” than the VC ones

I’m curious what the Quigley AWD lift will be like
 
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