The leaf-sprung 4x4 Super Duty has gone from “new and exclusive” to “secondhand and affordable.” Thanks to a rugged chassis and engines that the aftermarket has figured out how to keep alive, a ’99-to-’04 Super Duty 4x4 is a great platform to build on.
To give you some ideas for building, we wanted to show not one, but four different lift heights on the same truck. Tuff Country makes a line of suspension kits for this platform in 2-, 4-, 6-, and 8-inch lift heights to suit a variety of tastes, budgets, and needs.
Diesel Tech in San Jacinto, California, had the perfect test dummy for this exercise. Although the truck had been a drag racer in a previous life, Diesel Tech’s Loren Taylor and a cast of friends and crew had rebuilt and re-painted this Super Duty, returning the suspension to stock trim along the way.
There’s not enough room to show the step-by-step installation here, but Tuff Country includes complete instructions with each suspension kit.
What lift height is best for you? Follow along and decide for yourself.
Here’s what a pallet of lift kits looks like. Can you install a Super Duty lift kit in a driveway? Yes, but you’ve got to have the proper jack stands, tools, and know-how to keep yourself safe. If you’re lacking any of these, paying a professional shop for the installation is the way to go.
It’s hard to believe that this truck once had maroon paint and a tan interior. McComas Auto Body of San Jacinto was responsible for the color transformation on the outside. For the balance of the work, including a drivetrain swap and an interior swap (it’s now grey inside) Loren gives thanks to Paula, Michael, and Jeremy Taylor, Mondo Duran, Shane Bauwens, and Quentin Quillman. The truck has a pair of anti-wrap bars on the rear suspension (look closely) but the suspension is otherwise stock. The truck is wearing 35-inch Pro Comp Xterrain tires in this photo, but 35s will rub in the front with stock suspension. A two-inch front leveling kit will take care of that.
How cool is it to have your very own grille badge? This is a creation by Billet Badges of Ramona, California. At the end of our photo shoot, Jim Reel from J.E. Reel drivelines dropped by to measure the rear driveshaft, as Loren was looking for a heavier-duty rear ‘shaft to replace the stocker.
With the nose of the truck lifted just enough to level the truck, 35s fit nicely. The stance now looks respectable, and the truck’s new height still lends itself to easy ingress and egress. If you’re looking for maximum value and an easy-to-live-with Super Duty, this is a great way to go. As a general rule, different tire brands and different wheel offsets may cause some slight rubbing, but this can typically be cured with taller bumpstops and/or sheet metal trimming/massaging.
The 2-inch kit is listed as a “2.5-inch leveling kit” and will get rid of the nose-down stance of the stock truck. The track bar is dropped with a replacement bracket, but the pitman arm stays stock. Shocks and boots are ordered separately.
Let’s go a little higher, shall we? This is the 4-inch system, front leaf springs included but not shown. Note the front urethane bumpstops, rear lift blocks, track bar drop bracket, and dropped pitman arm. The stock sway bar end links are relocated to compensate for the lift.
The 4-, 6-, and 8-inch lift systems all use a dropped pitman arm, but it’s the same part for each kit. As such, A.J. only had to swap the pitman arm once.
At four inches of lift, the truck looks even more aggressive. If a front leveling kit looks too tame, go for the 4-inch kit.
The 6-inch kit goes taller in the front via leaf packs and uses a combination of lift blocks and add-a-leafs for rear height. The track bar drop bracket now features side-to-side adjustment. With the 4- and 6-inch lift kits, stock brake lines are retained but the brake line mounting brackets are replaced to allow the stock lines to reach the new lift heights. New sway bar end links are included.
The 6-inch kit clears 35s easily (and you can clear 35s with the leveling kit and with the 4-inch kit) so we wanted to see what the 6-inch kit would look like with 37s. Here it is. Trouble is, there’s some rubbing goin’ on up front. If you want to run a 6-inch kit and 37s, you’ll have to do some custom trimming and fit-checking.
Here’s the 6-inch kit on 35s.
The 8-inch kit is a whole new realm, as it includes new rear leaf packs (no blocks, no add-a-leafs) and a new front driveshaft to span the extra distance. Also seen are Tuff Country’s dual steering stabilizer kit and front triple shock kit. New sway bar end links and extended brake lines are part of the Tuff Country 8-inch lift system.
The 8-inch system looks great with 37s and considering the big dimensions of the Super Duty, the whole package doesn’t look disproportionate.
The corners of the front bumper’s lower plastic valance needed some slight trimming.