Daystar Leveling Kit Install - 1991 Ford ExplorerPosted in How To: Suspension Brakes on April 10, 2016
We were in the market for a budget-friendly way to lift the front of a 1991 Ford Explorer after swapping on junkyard leaf spring packs and lift shackles in the rear. We were getting more funny looks than the theoretical increase in gas mileage gained because we were always driving downhill. We came across a 2-inch leveling kit offering from Daystar that was specific to our old Explorer (PN KF09108BK) and that reused the stock coil springs, so we placed our order. Daystar’s leveling kits are made in the USA, fit a wide range of vehicles, and are backed by a limited lifetime warranty. The company’s Scorpion shocks complement many of the same leveling kits that Daystar offers; however, our Explorer wasn’t one. We took some measurements and found a shock that would fit, so we also ordered four shocks.
Once the parts arrived, we drove the Explorer onto the operating table (our car trailer) to begin the teardown. The work can easily be done on a driveway, but the height gained by the truck being on a stationary trailer put everything at a comfortable level for working on. The spacers and shocks installed quickly, but we took more time making additional modifications to our shock mounts and freshening up the stock coils and frame with spray paint.
After tightening everything up and giving it an alignment, we had reached our desired and level cruising altitude. We are still getting funny looks though. Maybe it is the small tires. Those are next on the replacement list. Or maybe we are just funny-looking.
With the frame supported on jackstands and the tires, sway bar, shocks, and coil retaining nuts removed, it was time to take out the springs. We gave the coils a twist to free them from the top of the bucket, and they came right out. We knocked off the dirt and grime to inspect the stock coils for any damage before freshening them up with a new coat of paint.
While we had the shocks and coils removed, we decided to modify our shock brackets to fit a longer-travel shock. We picked up some shock towers from the junkyard off the front of a late 1980s Ford F-250. The towers were a great fit once we cut off the factory shock mount, so we welded them onto the coil buckets and used a bolt through the frame where a rivet had been removed.
The Daystar coil spacers are made from a high-density polyurethane to support the coil springs. The spacers install in place of the factory coil spring isolators; ours were disfigured and about to turn into dust. The new spacers will keep the squeaks away and provide a cushion against road vibrations while leveling the Explorer.
Daystar includes a pair of stud extenders because this kit works with several different Ford vehicles. We measured our studs to be 2 1/2 inches long, which will not require the use of the extenders. Anything less and the extenders simply thread on to provide enough height for the retaining nut to fit.
The coils were reinstalled along with the coil spacers. We made sure to align the bottom of the coil with the flat edge on the Daystar spacer to seat properly. We had enough droop in our suspension that we did not need a spring compressor to fit the spring back in; other vehicles may require one. The lower coil retainer nuts were tightened down, and we made sure a few threads of the stud stuck out of the nut as confirmation that we didn’t need the stud extenders.
An alignment is a necessary part of the spacer install. Our Explorer is going to see more trail duty than pavement, so we did our best to align it ourselves. With the pinch bolt loosened and the weight of the vehicle on the spring, we rotated the 2-degree alignment sleeve to bring the camber back to a normal range and set the toe once the tires were back on. It is recommended to get your vehicle professionally aligned after the leveling kit installation.
We ordered four new Scorpion shocks from Daystar to cap off the installation of our shock tower modification as well as to replace the now too-short factory-length shocks in the rear. Daystar makes shocks for a variety of truck and Jeep applications. We matched up our shock measurements to one of the company’s offerings, realizing that the vehicle-specific valving may not match our custom application and could result in a harsher ride. We also noticed the quality of the thick shock boots themselves. They are offered in several colors, including glow-in-the-dark, so you can customize your ride even more.
Before we started the install, we measured the front frame height to compare with the measurement after the coil spacer install. The Daystar leveling kit netted an additional 1/4 inch over the 2-inch spacer height. We expect the coils to slightly settle into their happy place for an even 2 inches of lift over stock. The Explorer is not driving downhill anymore and is ready for us to ditch the stock tires and swap on some bigger meats.