by Marshall Spiegel
Reprinted with permission from Dealer's Sport Trucks

To find out more information about lowering your truck please contact:
Dealer's Sport Truck
Dept. ST, 3938 Cerritos Blvd., Los Alamitos, California, 90720
(562)936-1230

A blow-by-blow report on what's involved in lowering a light truck

Although today's vehicle manufacturers do a more than credible job at suspension geometry and achieving the right height, vehicle buyers often feel the need to alter the ride height of their trucks. Two-wheel-drive trucks are lowered or slammed by many enthusiasts. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are often raised or lifted. The lifted 4x4 is a story for another time. Here we'll deal with lowering street vehicles.

Enthusiasts insist that their expensive custom wheels and fat tires look better when they fill the wheel wells. Some say that lowering helps achieve a better ride, better handling, or that it simply makes the vehicle easier to get in and out of. It's debatable whether lowering improves handling. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. Mostly it boils down to appearance. Lowered trucks simply look better. And lowering is in.

Getting Down

Though it may be tempting to just jump on the bandwagon, there are a few things you need to consider. Suspension modifications can sometimes void the factory warranty relative to the vehicle's suspension-related components. The best plan is to contact an authorized dealer to determine exactly how the warranty will be affected by your suspension changes. Warranty policies vary from make to make.

Also, be advised that when a light truck's suspension has been modified it is imperative that the wheels be realigned. Because the modifications have altered the suspension geometry, it's a safer bet that wheel aligment has also been adversely affected. A wheel alignment will correct any problems and prevent undue tire wear.

Another important consideration is deciding how much to lower the vehicle. Professional lowering kit installers are advised to tell customers that too much drop (more than 3 inches in front) can make a light truck tough to drive. If the vehicle has an air dam in front it may bottom out, scraping the road on bumps, driveways, and railroad crossings.

Too little ground clearance can make a truck less fun to drive. The best bet is to find a happy medium, one that enhances the look of the truck while retaining good handling and a comfortable ride.

The Flip Kit

With that said, the following is a step-by-step installation of a drop kit and of suspension air bags from Bell Tech of Fresno, California. Contrary to my conservative advice, we used Bell Tech's 5/7 drop kit to radically lower a '98 Chevy crew cab dually (five inches in front and seven inches in the rear). For this installation, performed by Mike Ibold of Dealer's Sport Truck and Automotive, Los Alamitos, Calif., we used Bell Tech's C section brace to help reinforce the frame. Installing the section brace requires notching the frame rails at the rear so that the axle can be raised up and the leaf springs relocated below the axle, rather than above the axle which is the stock positioning.

Relocating these components results in a considerable lowering of the rear. We've driven this dually about 1,000 miles since the drop kit install and we're pleased to report that the ride and handling are excellent. Yes, we must be careful at driveways and railroad crossings lest we scrape bottom, but the truck sure looks good - like a good custom should. The following photos show highlights of the installation.

Tell me more...