It took some contemplating after the bad day to decide to get the truck off the ground. Between not being 100% sure if I wanted to do it, and being certain that if I did lift it that it was don’t right, I had to do a bit of research and stitched together a few comps of what I thought it may end up looking like. The main concerns I had were smoothness of the ride, stance, and no rubbing. As I did the research I found that was not a small ask.
There are a lot of bad lift kits out there. Fortunately there are a number of 4×4 shops within 50 miles of where I live. With companies driving us to websites to read the brochure, it is good to be able to look at things in person and have face to face conversations with guys that really knew what they were talking about. The Zone Offroad 6″ lift with nitro shocks made the top of the list. It did not require much in the way of modifications, and their support staff was able to provide me with the specific wheel offset needed for each of the tire combinations that I was looking at. The lift and wheel offset moves the front tires out to keep them from rubbing.
To counter the stance up front, I added in a pair of B.O.R.A. 2″ wheel spacers. Having the additional 4″ of width in the back keeps the truck from looking lame and it also stabilized the heck out of the thing. As strange as it seems, it now handles better than before it was lifted. This is especially true in the turns. Most importantly, the only way this thing is getting high-centered again is with a bunch of stupidity behind the wheel.
The truck was not much to look at when I first picked it up from having the lift installed. It was just a bigger version of an already big, plain, white truck with front wheels that were now wider than the back. However, I had a plan.
Since the spacers solved the stance problem, attention was focused on breaking up the mile of white between the tires. Since I had already ordered a set of flares I figured I may be able to leverage them. Initially I was thinking about painting the flares but I could not get past thinking they would get scraped and chipped from dragging brush down the sides. Even the best adhesion promoters and flex additives are not meant to hold up to that kind of abuse. There was also the concern over adding more white causing a bit of a dilemma . A bad packing job by the shipper actually help me make up my mind on that one.
After unboxing the flares I noticed that one of them was scuffed up rather badly. I was in a mood so I grabbed a 4″ buffer and some finishing compound and went to work. Within a few minutes the scuff was gone and the sheen blended well with the rest of the flare. It was certainly easier than dealing with scratched paint.
The flares helped to shorten the look of things– the truck is over 25′ long –but it still had a massive blank spot between the fenders. I decided to slap on a KTM decal on the extended cab to see if it would break things up, which it did.
With the exterior looking good it was time to pay a little attention to the inside. The factory head unit was replaced with a touch screen not too long after I bought the truck. It was decent in that it allowed me to keep the OnStar and add in a backup camera, with reverse bypass, but it was being piped through the stock speakers. I figured installing tweeters in the factory grills (empty on a stripped truck), and then swapping out the 4 stock door speakers would go along way. Although none of that would solve the problems of the stereo being under powered, and lacking in decent bass.
I talked looked around and talked to a couple of stereo shops trying to find a way to get power and bass without giving up cargo space. We regularly flip up the bench seat and toss in gear bags and other bulky items. Losing the ability to do that was not something I was looking forward to. I think I explored everything from low profile boxes to crazy ideas like pulling foam out of the seats to make room for amps. Then it hit me. Not having power seats leaves a decent amount of room under the seats!
The techs at Crutchfield were super helpful at pointing me to a pair of 8″ powered subs that had the juice I needed and a decent profile. All I had to do was figure out how I was going to get them to stay put and still keep the stock look. With some careful measuring, I bent and welded up brackets to hold the subs. The bracket mounting points mate up to the factory seat rails, and the factory seat bolts keep everything together. You have to be looking for them to know they are even there.
When all was said and done I decided to throw in a CAI. Volant makes a decent setup, but unfortunately they missed on the connector as it was way too short. I traded phone calls and emails. I even sent pictures. Sadly they were insistent that the length included in the kit was fine. All it took was to get on the throttle a couple of times for the engine torque to prove them wrong. They never came clean so I had to buy my new tubing on my own. Not exactly great customer service.
There are still a few things that I plan on doing but just like everything, I have to find the time. Having the CAI is fine, but a 4″ exhaust should help make things sound proper. Beyond that maybe a tuner– the Diablo looks decent enough –and possibly a bed cover. The cover idea could end up getting nixed if I think it is going to be too big of a pain to take on an off to load the bikes. Will just have to see how it goes.