Whether you want to take your vehicle off-road to explore or race, or whether you just want it to look kick-ass, lift kits are a great project for truck enthusiasts and amateurs alike. Fox has long been known as one of the best suspension manufacturers on the market and has kept up with a wave of competition from younger companies.
A Fox lift kit is absolutely worth it if you want to take your truck off-road, but you don’t think your suspension can handle it. When it comes to driving quality and cost-effectiveness, Fox lift kits are very hard to beat. You will not get better value for money from any other brand.
So, Fox is clearly one of the best manufacturers out there; however, there is still a whole lot more you need to know before you start modding your truck. In this article, we’ll be going over some lift kit basics, then looking at Fox, in particular, to see how it compares to other brands and whether or not installing a lift kit is worth it. Let’s get started!
What Is a Lift Kit?
Lift kits are made up of a number of components. Together, they exactly do what you might expect: lift your truck or SUV higher off the ground. Broadly speaking, this can be done in 2 ways. First, you can do what is called a ‘body lift’ or ‘spacer lift,’ in which you raise the truck’s body off the frame, leaving a small gap in between them.
The second way, which is the one we will mainly be looking at today, is to do a ‘suspension lift.’ Rather than lifting the body off the frame, a suspension lift involves replacing the components of the suspension itself so that the truck rides higher. If you have the money to do a suspension lift, it is much better than a body lift for reasons we’ll go into later.
One of the main benefits of a lift kit is that your vehicle will now be able to accommodate larger tires. That means you can get more clearance between the ground and your axle. Simply raising the suspension will not achieve this. The only way to lift the axle is to get bigger tires, and the only way to get bigger tires is to raise the suspension. A suspension lift is far superior, then, when it comes to off-roading.
Lift or Level?
Many trucks are built with a higher rear suspension than front suspension because that is better for towing. If you have a truck like that, and you would rather bounce across the dunes than drag a trailer behind you, then a level kit is what you need. This will simply bring the rear suspension to the same height as the front by only raising the rear.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you level the truck, you may also have to adjust the headlights’ angle to prevent them from blinding oncoming drivers.
A full suspension lift will raise both the rear and front suspensions, meaning that you can go off-road without risking damage to your truck’s floor. It will not change the angle of your suspension unless you lift one side more than the other. You should be able to lift the whole suspension by about 2 inches before you have to make adjustments to the brake balance or power steering.
Suspension Lift or Body Lift?
There is a cheaper alternative to the suspension lift, albeit one that comes with a price. Body lifts involve placing struts between the frame and main body of the vehicle. This allows the truck to ride higher without having to replace any of the suspension components.
Perhaps the main drawback of a body lift is that they put extra strain on some of your vehicle’s components. For example, if you have some wiring that fits perfectly, then you lift the truck’s body by a few inches, you may stretch those wires to their limit or even pull them out. The extra money you spend on a suspension lift could save you a lot in repairs!
Another drawback of a body lift is that it leaves an unsightly gap between your truck’s frame and main body. That also means that your exhaust pipe will sit several inches lower than the body. A more pressing issue is that with some models, like the newer Silverados, a body lift can misalign the power steering, which can be very dangerous. If you have the money for a suspension lift, it is the better choice every time.
Fox Shock Absorbers – Worth It?
The first thing to say here is that Fox makes some of the best off-road shock absorbers on the market today. Fox makes extremely high-quality kits, but if you don’t need a top-of-the-range product, then you might be wasting your money. Compared to the stock shocks, they will give you a much smoother ride, both on the highway and when driving over bumpy ground. Whether they are worth it entirely depends on what you want your truck to be able to do.
If you just want to be able to go at relatively low speeds on relatively bumpy trails, your stock suspension may well be able to do the job! Vehicles like the Jeep or Range Rover are already equipped for some off-roading, and their suspension is often underestimated. However, if you are looking to do some serious off-roading, then the Fox shock absorbers will be an invaluable addition to your truck or SUV.
Pros of the Fox Lift Kit
Fox has a lot of competitors. Here are the advantages of Fox lift kit over others:
- Much firmer ride than the stock – Fox lift kits makes driving your truck feel tighter and more controlled when cornering without making the ride too harsh. That’s true whether you are off-roading or driving the highway!
- Easy to install – Even if you don’t have much experience with mechanics, installing this piece of kit shouldn’t take more than a day. Many customers say they got it done in about 3 hours, although 4 is probably a more realistic target.
- Stability – With a Fox lift kit installed, you will never have trouble with bumps again. Fox is known for their top quality shocks, and customers who have bought their lift kits are all in agreement that harsh bumps are a thing of the past.
Cons of the Fox Lift Kit
Listed below are the disadvantages of Fox lift kit:
- Difficult to adjust – Unlike some of their competitors, adjusting a Fox suspension requires you to remove the coilover from the vehicle and use a spring compressor. That can be tricky and time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a hydraulic lift!
- Price point – Fox lift kits are quite expensive when compared to their competitors. It must be said, however, that you get the extra quality that you pay for. If you are not looking for a truck that can handle serious off-roading, though, the price can be a turn-off.
- Poor customer service – many customer reviews say that if they had a problem with the lift kit or installation, Fox was very difficult to get a hold of and not particularly helpful. Of course, this is by no means everyone’s experience.
Installing Your Fox Lift Kit
Installing a lift kit is generally quite difficult, although fox products are known for the easy install. If you are not mechanically minded, it may be an idea to have it installed by a professional. The exact steps required to install a lift kit will be slightly different depending on which make and model of truck you drive.
The steps below are for a Ford F150. The basic idea, however, remains broadly unchanged regardless of make. Let’s get stuck in!
Remove the Front Coilovers
Removing the stock coilovers is probably the most difficult part of the whole job. Depending on your truck’s make and model, you may need to remove a significant amount of parts before you can slide it out.
Here are the parts you will have to remove on an F150 and how to do it:
- First, you will have to lift the truck off the ground. If you have a proper hydraulic lift, that is ideal. However, a floor jack and some jack stands should do the trick in a pinch.
- Next, take the tires off by removing the nuts. Now, remove the brake line and the ABS line, which can be found behind the wheel. On a Ford F150, those will be held on with an 8mm bolt and a 10mm bolt
- The next step is to separate the tie rod end and the steering knuckle. To do this, first, use a 21mm socket on an impact gun to remove the nut. Now, gently tap the knuckle with a hammer until it separates.
- Now, remove the central axle nut in the center of the wheel. You will first have to remove the dust cap by gently tapping it off with a hammer and screwdriver.
- Next, remove the lower portion of your sway bar mount using an 18mm socket on your impact gun. You only need to remove the lower nut. Removing the upper nut will only make things harder for you.
- The next step is to remove the upper ball joint, which you can find above the wheel. Loosen the nut until it has nearly come off the bolt, then tap the joint until it separates. The loosened nut will catch the falling ball joint, reducing the likelihood of an accident. You can now remove the nut, and the ball joint will fall away safely.
- Now, remove the lower shock mount bolts located beneath the control arm. You can now pound the nuts out with a hammer.
- Finally, remove the three bolts on the top of the shock to release it. You can now slide the shock out of the vehicle and replace it!
Install the New Coilovers
Installing the new coilovers is largely a matter of reversing the steps from the previous list. It is always a good idea to loosely replace the bolts when you are removing a component in order to keep track of where they all went originally. There is nothing worse than being left with a single bolt at the end and not knowing where it should be!
Here are the steps to replace the front coilovers on a Ford F150:
- When sliding the new fox shock assembly into place, make sure to go top first.
- Now, replace the nuts on the top of the shock assembly. Do not tighten the nuts just yet. It is a good idea to get the lower bolts started first! When that is done, you can tighten the nuts. Top first, then the bottom.
- Now, reattach the lower sway bar using an 18mm socket on your impact gun.
- Next, reconnect the tie rod to the steering knuckle. Again, it is good to leave this loose until you get the upper ball joint in place. One way to connect the rod to the steering knuckle is to line it up, then lower the truck to the ground so that the rod sits into the spindle.
- Now, tighten the upper ball joint, then tighten the nut connecting the tie rod to the steering knuckle.
- The next job is to replace the central axle nut in the center of the wheel, before replacing the dust cap by tapping it gently with a hammer.
- Finally, replace the first three nuts you removed, securing the brake line and ABS line. You can now put the tire back on.
Remove and Replace the Rear Shocks
Ok, now you have the really tricky part out of the way. The rear shocks should not be nearly as complicated to remove and replace. The only thing that might give you trouble is compressing the shock enough to get the lower bolt in.
Here are the steps you need to take to remove and replace the rear shocks:
- First, remove the bolt, which holds the lower shock to the rear axle using a 15mm socket on your impact gun and an 18mm wrench to hold the nut in place.
- Now, do the same thing with the bolt at the top of the shock. It can now be removed.
- You can now install the new Fox shock! Make sure that you have the barrel (the thicker end) on the bottom, or the shock will not function properly.
- Replace the upper bolt first, leaving it loose to give you some slack. In order to attach the bottom of the shock to the rear axle, you may have to compress the shock until the holes are aligned.
- When that is done, you can replace the lower bolt and tighten both the upper and lower bolts.
- Once you have done the same thing on the other side, your lift kit is now installed!
How Do Fox Lift Kits Hold Up to the Competition?
Perhaps the biggest competitor to Fox shocks is the Bilstein 6112 shocks. These are much cheaper than the Fox, sometimes coming in at around half the price! One big advantage that the Fox shocks have over the Bilstein is that the Fox is made from aluminum, whereas the Bilstein are made from steel. That means that the Fox shocks dissipate heat better, and there’s no chance of rusting!
Another competitor to the Fox kits is Rough Country. Again, the Fox is more expensive, but in this case, it is pretty clear that they are worth the extra money. Many Rough Country customers complain of wobbling and malfunctions. If you want a smooth ride and good reliability, Fox shocks have Rough Country beat every time.
Fox also appears to have King beaten by a fair margin! Fox shocks are far more durable, with piston rods made of stainless steel rather than carbon steel. That is an important consideration since piston rod failure is the leading cause of a broken shock! The seals on a Fox shock are also better engineered and are able to withstand higher temperatures and keep out more dirt.
Fox is one of the most trusted manufacturers of shocks and lift kits, and for a good reason! Sure, they might cost a little more than some competitors, but you will exactly get what you paid for. Fox has also been around longer than most of its competitors, and that means they have had more time to engineer and refine their products.
The question ‘are they worth it?’ is a little more complicated than the question ‘are they good?’. If you are just looking to improve your on-road handling or fit a new set of tires, then you probably don’t need something as high-end as Fox. If, however, you are going off-road, then a Fox kit is a great investment!
I hope this has helped you make the decision about which lift kit you need and which manufacturer to get it from. Good luck lifting your truck!
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