Factory coilovers are one of the best aspects of new-generation half-ton trucks. Compared to torsion bars, coilovers are far more reliable and far more tunable. In most cases, frames and suspension for two- and four-wheel-drive trucks with factory coilovers are identical, making it easier and more cost-effective for suspension companies to develop replacement shocks for these trucks.
This month, we’ve got two bolt-in replacement coilover suspensions for your perusal. The first covers the ’07-and-newer Toyota Tundra, and the second covers the ’09-and-newer Ford F-150.
Lift height can easily be added using a replacement coilover system. Lift is dialed in by increasing or decreasing the coil spring preload, allowing adjustment between zero and three inches of lift. Lift height alone isn’t the reason to add a high-end coilover to your truck. The added height is admittedly modest, but the added performance is stratospheric. The suspension control and ride quality is simply unmatched by stock shocks. High-end replacement coilovers dwarf their stock counterparts in terms of oil capacity, fade resistance, and durability. It’s a night-and-day difference that can double your truck’s off-road speed. While it won’t transform your truck into a Trophy Truck, it will transform your truck into a superior version of its former self.
A final benefit to bolt-in coilover suspension systems is that the A-arms still mount to the chassis in the stock locations: no drop brackets anywhere in sight. Drop bracket suspension kits offer certain benefits, but one glaring drawback is the way drop brackets put extra leverage on the chassis.
Now that we’ve touched on bolt-in coilover theory, let’s take a look at Sway-A-Way’s suspension solution for the ’07-and-newer Tundra.
Differences in hardware quality are also vast, as the SAW shock features billet aluminum construction for the rod end, shock body end cap, seal head, piston, and upper adapter plate. The stock shock’s spring preload cannot be adjusted, while the Sway-A-Way coilover offers a wide adjustment range. Finally, the Sway-A-Way coilover’s parts are available a la carte, making it possible to repair a worn or damaged shock part without replacing the whole shock.
Sway-A-Way’s bolt-in coilover kit consists of a pair of 2.5-inch diameter front coilovers and a pair of 2.0 smooth-body rear shocks. The shocks are configured to attach to stock mounting points using stock mounting methods: no fabrication or other modifications required. The internal valving is custom-tuned for Toyota’s latest Tundra which is a bigger, heavier beast compared to the first-generation Tundra.
Sway-A-Way’s rear Tundra shocks are 2.0 smoothies with a pin-top upper mount. The pin top makes it possible to bolt them right in without any vehicle mods. The lower rod end is also configured to bolt straight into the stock mounts. Both front and rear shocks use an internal nitrogen reservoir created by an internal floating piston that isolates the nitrogen from the oil.
You can use the Sway-A-Way suspension with or without a replacement upper control arm. Replacement upper control arms offer improved suspension geometry at taller lift heights, greater strength, and smoother movement through the arms’ range of motion. Sway-A-Way changes the front shocks’ internal configuration to match either stock upper control arms or aftermarket upper control arms; specify when ordering. The aftermarket control arm in the photo is from Camburg and features a monster-sized 1.5-inch uniball and smooth urethane bushings. Tabs for the ABS line are an appreciated touch. Combining the Sway-A-Way coilovers with the Camburg upper control arms yields 12 inches of bump-gobbling travel.
Up front, the lower rod end clears the mounting brackets in the stock lower control arm, but just barely. It’s a good idea to fit-check this interface and, if needed, grind some extra clearance into the control arm. Do not grind on the shock’s rod end.
Sway-A-Way engineer Brian Bell showed us the nuances of installing the front coilovers. If you’re good with hand tools and have a sturdy jack and jack stands you can definitely install the shocks yourself. The shock shown is a prototype that was used on Sway-A-Way’s Tundra project chase truck. The remote reservoir is optional and adds extra oil capacity and increased fade resistance.