2015 Ford F-150 BDS Suspension UpgradesPosted in How To: Suspension Brakes on May 11, 2015
Ford Motor Company had a tall order to fill when it came time to redesign the F-150. The all-time best-selling and most-awarded pickup not only had great styling, but an impressive payload that Ford set out to improve upon. With the challenge apparent, Ford’s engineers needed to improve the truck’s styling, performance, and capability, while keeping up with the ever-evolving emissions regulations. What they came up with for 2015 is pretty bad ass. The truck features styling queues that resemble the Ford Atlas concept that was raved about years ago and more refinement than previous F-150 models. It’s lighter (thanks to an all-aluminum body) and is chocked full of new technology. One area the standard F-150 falls short in is the ground clearance for off-road capability. The suspension is based largely off the 2009-2014 F-150 design, with only a few minor changes and updates. While the design is adequate, there is plenty that can be improved on, and for that, we went to BDS Suspension.
After getting early access to the new F-150, BDS made quick work of the redesign and had the kits available before the 2015 models hit the showroom floor. They offer several options, including 2.5, 4, and 6-inch kits with both strut spacers or replacement Fox coilovers to meet different height and performance needs. For this install we went with the standard 6-inch lift with rear Fox 2.0 shocks, as we heard from BDS that it’s their most popular lift system offered. Along with the high-clearance design and straightforward install, we like this kit because it has gone through all the government-mandated FMVSS No. 126 electronic stability control system compliance testing and was independently certified to not affect on-road traction control systems. With so many of these new trucks being used to haul the family around as often as they haul gear and hit the trail, these kits ensures safety on the highway and improved performance when locked into four-wheel drive.
For the install, we turned to Eastern Truck & Accessories, a full-service install shop in Norfolk, Virginia. The company has been in the business for more than a decade catering to the needs of military and civilian truck and Jeep enthusiasts around the mid-Atlantic coastal region. They offer services from mild to wild and have a jaw-dropping showroom to check out all the latest off-road, performance, lighting, and recovery equipment. The Eastern Truck team made quick work of the new F-150, methodically installing the kit, aligning, test driving, and getting photos all within the same day. Check out how the install came together.
We dropped our caribou brown 2015 Ford F-150 off at Eastern Truck & Accessories in Norfolk, Virginia, to handle the upgrades. They are a full-service shop offering a variety of products and installation services.
The 6-inch system from BDS Suspension includes everything needed to complete the install, including front and rear high-clearance crossmembers, ductile iron steering knuckles, differential relocation and skid plates, sway bar relocation, strut spacers, driveshaft extension, support gussets, rear block, and your choice of shocks.
After securing the vehicle and removing the wheels, disconnect the ABS and hub vacuum lines. Next, unbolt the brakes, complete sway bar, hub nut and wheel bearings, followed by removing the steering knuckle and steering linkage. Standard practice is to loosen (don’t remove) the ball joint and tie rod nuts and striking the knuckle near the mounts to break them free before removing the knuckles. Be sure not to contact the threads as it may damage them.
With the steering knuckles removed, the CV shafts can be pulled from the differential housing. A hammer can be used to dislodge the spline connection. When pulling the driver side, be sure to cap the hole with a rag to keep from leaking fluid. This will make removal of the differential easier in the upcoming steps. With less than 100 miles on the truck we were surprised to find a fair amount of rust already beginning on several of the stock components like the CV axles, driveshaft and ball joints.
After disconnecting the lower strut mounts, the lower control arm (LCA) can be swung down and removed at the stock frame mount to make room for the drop brackets.
With the LCA removed, next is to remove the front differential. Start by disconnecting the front driveshaft and securing it up out of the way.
Remove the mounting bolts securing the front differential to the chassis.
Using a transmission jack or a couple of buddies, the differential can now be finagled around the factory rear LCA brackets. You can also see the yellow cutline that will need to be made for clearance on the rear LCA pockets to reinstall the differential in its new position.
Here is the front differential removed, ready to be prepped for reinstallation with drop brackets to correct CV operating angle.
With the front suspension removed, the rear LCA pockets must be trimmed to provide adequate clearance for the differential in its new position. BDS provides detailed instructions on how to measure out these cuts to make this step of the install less unnerving on a brand-new truck.
With the front suspension removed, the rear LCA must be trimmed to provide adequate clearance for the differential in its new position. BDS provides detailed instructions on how to measure out these cuts to make this step of the install less unnerving on a brand new truck.
Here you can see the additional clearance provided with the factory LCA tab removed. Both the driver and passenger side need to be trimmed.
After prepping the surface, a weld-in support plate is welded in place on the driver side to add extra rigidity, tying the lower control arm into the frame.
Next to be installed are the front and rear BDS crossmembers to reposition the lower the LCA mounting points. These crossmembers use a high-clearance design built from 1/4-inch steel with built-in cam slots for camber adjustment. Once the crossmembers are installed the stock lower control arms can be reinstalled using the supplied cam bolts.
BDS offers two options to lift F-150s: the top-mounted strut spacer to retain the factory ride quality and the Fox 2.5 remote reservoir coilovers for improved on-road off-road performance. For this project, we’re installing their standard 6-inch kit with the front top-mounted strut spacer.
Here you can see the stock cast aluminum steering knuckle next to the BDS ductile iron unit. The new knuckles use an elongated neck to allow the upper control arm (UCA) to be used in their original mounting position, as well as relocate the steering arm mount higher to be compatible with the stock electronic steering rack. This system has been independently certified compliant with the electronic stability control systems through a series of tests known as the FMVSS No. 126 standards from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Install the backing plate and hub assembly onto the new steering knuckles.
Eastern Truck & Accessories takes great care with each install. Loctite is used on all hardware and torqued to recommended spec. One step they take is adding a paint-line to each bolt to allow for easy inspection to guarantee hardware hasn’t worked its way loose in the future.
With the struts mounted up, the next order of business is installing the steering knuckles. Begin with the lower mount and install loosely. From there, a pry bar can be used to force the UCA down to connect the upper mount on the knuckle.
Next up, the sway bar is reinstalled using the relocation brackets that tie into the rear LCA crossmember.
With the front differential repositioned the stock driveshaft must be extended. BDS supplies a billet aluminum driveshaft extension and longer hardware to mate up the driveshaft flange to the pinion. All hardware is thread locked to ensure they won’t loosen up over time.
The front billet aluminum driveshaft spacer installs between the driveshaft flange and the pinion flange using extended hardware and torqued to 76 ft-lbs.
Once torqued to recommended spec, all the bolts are paint-lined for easy inspection to ensure the hardware remains tight.
With all the ABS and vacuum lines reconnected and brakes reinstalled, the final piece is installed with a differential skidplate tying the front and rear crossmembers together for additional rigidity.
In the rear, we noticed a redesigned factory bump stop designed to fit the contour of the axle tube.
The rear is relatively simple to install. After securing the axle, the factory u-bolts to remove the stock 1.25-inch block. With the leafs clamped together, the factory dual pins are removed, and in their place, new upper/lower plates are used to convert over to a single-pin setup. The benefit to the single-pin is it repositions the axle forward in the wheel well to re-center it with the lift blocks installed.
With the new center pin in place the rear 5-inch blocks are installed (nets 4 inches of lift to level the stance) along with black e-coated u-bolts. The blocks have an integrated bump stop pad to limit suspension compression under extreme situations.
A brake line relocation bracket is installed in the rear, and finishing off the installation is a pair of Fox 2.0 performance shocks.
This truck is getting 35x12.50x20 Cooper Discoverer STT tires for aggressive off-road performance and smooth, quiet on-road performance, mounted on a set of black/machined Helo 886 wheels.
For wheels and tires, this truck is getting 35x12.50x20 Cooper Discoverer STT tires on 20x10 Helo 886 wheels. A quick spin on the balancer and they are ready to be installed.
With an alignment rack on site, Eastern Truck & Accessories not only installs the job but maintain it as well. They reported that this truck was took nearly no adjustment to the camber, caster, and tow with the BDS kit installed.
On the road, this 2015 Ford F-150 rides smooth, looks great, and is ready for an off-road adventure. The kit is FMVSS No. 126 compliant so there is no worry about if it will affect the on-road performance, especially in event of an evasive maneuver.
2015 Ford F-150 running the BDS 6-inch lift with Fox shocks, 35-inch Cooper STT tires, and 20x10 Helo 886 wheels.