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My two cents on Lift kits

34036 Views 94 Replies 40 Participants Last post by  Chillis
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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I have some dialing in to do (still have a little rubbing somewhere) but I love the ride…
My 245/75 tires rub on the wheel well, but only at full lock going over a bump like a gutter or something, no big deal so far. You can pull off a tire to check if that is what you have or not.
157153
 

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My 245/75 tires rub on the wheel well, but only at full lock going over a bump like a gutter or something, no big deal so far. You can pull off a tire to check if that is what you have or not.
View attachment 157153
Ahhhh right on I’ll take a look! Yeah full lock…. I wonder if the vancompass wheel spacer would help with that…?
 

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Ahhhh right on I’ll take a look! Yeah full lock…. I wonder if the vancompass wheel spacer would help with that…?
I always assumed it was the pinch weld but never saw signs of wear there, then noticed this when rotating tires. The wheel spacer should help.
 

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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.
The solution for getting the strut back into the knuckle is to compress it with a jack and bind it with high-strength nylon webbing, like that used for rock climbing, prior to removing it like @TahoeTransit did here: Larger tires, 3” lift kit
 

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This is why I am going to custom make front lower control arms.
I found that I can order just the factory bushings and if I use the cups from the factory arms I can either do tube or boxed with extension and bend to let me get the right angles.
My Quadvan conversion has a lift built into the new spindle and I want to use a strut space with either adjustment built in or adjustable. Also it would be nice if I can make the control arms adjustable for caster/camber.
I have seen the cut/welded Foes controls arms but I want something stronger for my van.
 

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That kit looks great but I’m guessing it’s for 2wd.
 

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Not going to work with a 4x4 or AWD, under "Description":
WeldTec Designs Ford Transit RWD “Coastal Cruiser” 2″ Suspension Lift Kit
I sent them an email and left a voice mail to ask some questions....
I have a 2019 and I am not sure WHY it won't work with the Quadvan 4x4 conversion. Unless it is an issue that the arm needs to be a bit longer and have an angle to correct for the total lift. I would be happy to go there and pay for that bit of custom work if that is all.
 

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Also, lift is achieved by the spacer atop the strut not through the control arm.
Lift by spacer is ok with me as the Quadvan conversion puts 2in lift by using a custom Spindle, that means if the new lower control arm works or can be extended and angled then I get 4in of lift not counting the other 2in of tire lift.
Also the new control arms and custom spacer give alignment correction that doesn't happen any other way.
 

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Lift by spacer is ok with me as the Quadvan conversion puts 2in lift by using a custom Spindle, that means if the new lower control arm works or can be extended and angled then I get 4in of lift not counting the other 2in of tire lift.
Also the new control arms and custom spacer give alignment correction that doesn't happen any other way.
He means that the lift comes from the spacers, not the lower control arms. Adding more lift will likely cause the driveline/axle to bind. It would take a full reengineering of the front suspension and drive axle. I believe Van Compass has done this as a one-off experiment, and maybe Ujoint offroad, but they don't sell such.
Yep:
VC customized F350 running gear on a Transit:
 

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He means that the lift comes from the spacers, not the lower control arms. Adding more lift will likely cause the driveline/axle to bind. It would take a full reengineering of the front suspension and drive axle. I believe Van Compass has done this as a one-off experiment, and maybe Ujoint offroad, but they don't sell such.
Yep:
VC customized F350 running gear on a Transit:
Yep I completely understand the difference between a spacer lift and the lift built into the spindle.
When I had my conversion done at Quadvan we played around with a 2in spacer John had (which I bought and have at my house). The only issue was the length and angle of the lower control arm in order to seat the ball joint. Honestly I "think" if we can compressed the coil springs we could have gotten it to work but I would not have been happy at full droop.
We did cycle the spindle WITHOUT the coil spring to get a sense of how much range there was before CV bind and there seems to be enough range to make it happen. Besides someone has to push the limits.
This van is by far NOT the 1st foray for me into the world of 4wd, custom vehicles or prototypes. Matter of fact my van is the tamest thing I have built in a long time.

Even if I can only use a 1in spacer or NO spacer on top of the strut it is still nice to have alignment adjustment. I am not sure how big the increase in harshness/noise/vibration will be from going away from the rear rubber bushing to a Heim style joint but it will be interesting.

I am NOT sponsored or plan to get any deal from Weldtec, I just like seeing more cool Transit options on the market.
I still say that reservoir shocks are still the thing most needed on these vans.
 

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I have no idea what Quadvan uses in their 4WD conversions. Are you using the same parts as an AWD Transit (diff, arms, axle). You have a transfer case ,where as the AWD has something else..:).
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
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.
I would use the 3/4” space with the new coil and the factory strut, don’t use the bilestein strut
 

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I was thinking the ideal setup for a AWD Transit might be: Bilstein struts (1/2 inches of lift), Vancompass coils (1 inch of lift) and no spacers. I really doubt Vancompass's 3/4 inch spacer has much if any caster or camber adjustment built into it. WIth this option you would be at 1 1/2 inches of total lift with a much better performing strut. Bilstein stock replacements shocks are usually valved a little stiffer than stock. This helps in cornering and reduces the boat like ride. I've been very happy with them on my Landcruiser. With this option you should have even more of a safety margin for the passenger side axle. Since you are 1 1/2 inches of lift vs the 1 3/4 inches of lift with their spacer and coil option.
 
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