Gaining Ground: Installing A 4-Inch BDS Lift Under A 2015 Ford F-150Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on February 27, 2017
One of the many attractions of the latest generation Ford F-150s is how smooth they ride on- and off-road. The suspension on the 4x4s is especially nice, soaking up dips, bumps, potholes and other irregularities one encounters during daily driving with a smooth balance of control and comfort. Those traits carry over off-road where the aluminum-bodied 1/2-ton excels as a decent all-around four-wheeler.
So when owners of ’15-’16 F-150s start looking for ways to further improve their trucks’ stance and gain precious ground clearance for more serious off-road forays, most want to retain as much of the factory ride as possible. They also want to retain the Ford’s electronic stability control (ESC) safety features.
Balanced SuspensionBDS Suspension’s engineering team clearly understood that with the design of its new 4-inch suspension kit, which can be easily increased to 6 inches of lift after the initial installation. BDS says the high-clearance design of its kit maximizes ground clearance while retaining the factory-like suspension and steering geometry without compromising the ESC system, and it’s all done with high-end components including CNC-machined ductile iron steering knuckles, 1/4-inch steel front crossmembers, built-in front skidplate, and Fox gas-charged rear shocks.
We saw the company’s technology firsthand when we were visiting Dunks Performance in Springfield, Oregon, as Richard McFarland installed the kit under Brad Myers’ ’15 F-150 FX4. During the eight-hour installation the secrets to how BDS lifts an F-150 and the quality of their parts were on open display.
The most impressive aspect of the finished installation is that it actually did retain the factory steering feel and overall ride quality. The kit also cleared the way for Myers to run taller tires, increasing precious ground clearance under the differentials.
Uplifting numbersBefore McFarland started the installation, the F-150 was rolling on factory P275/55R20 (31.9-inch) Goodyear Wranglers, which Myers replaced with LT285/65R20 (34.6-inch) Nitto Terra Grapplers mounted on Fuel Maverick rims.
With the new suspension and tires/wheels installed, the truck gained 5 inches of ground clearance under the front air dam (a 55 percent improvement) while the hitch-to-ground measurement went up from 17 1/2 inches to 22 inches, a 26 percent gain. It also added 1 1/4 inches more clearance between the rear differential and terra firma.
The BDS kit and increased tire diameter also increased the F-150’s approach angle from 30 degrees to 37 degrees (a 19 percent increase) and the departure angle from 23 degrees to 30 degrees (a 30 percent improvement).
Every inch and every degree of improvement in ground clearance and approach/departure angles means less chance of getting stuck in snow or hanging up in deep ruts during off-road adventures.
Bottom LineTo keep costs down, Brad chose to retain the factory struts (BDS offers both a standard kit with strut spacers and an upgraded version that includes Fox 2.5 Series coilovers. Both kits include Fox 2.0 IFP rear shocks, which are a significant improvement over the FX4 OE shocks, most noticeable when towing or hauling a load in the bed. We noticed the IFPs did a fine job controlling the extra 24 pounds per tire the beefier Nittos added to this truck’s unsprung weight.
After the installation, the truck’s alignment was surprisingly good even before it was put on Dunk’s laser-alignment rack and totally dialed-in. This is a testament to the design and quality of the BDS kit, which uses special caster/camber adjustment bolts for easy fine-tuning of the alignment.
Another appealing aspect of this F-150 kit is the owner can easily bump it up to a 6-inch lift by simply replacing the 4-inch strut spacers with 6-inch versions (or swap out the struts for the 6-inch Fox 2.5 coilovers), and replace the rear lift blocks with 5-inchers and longer U-bolts.
There’s a lot we liked about this kit, including the high-clearance design, quality of the parts, and the detailed installation instructions. Follow along as we delve into some highlights of the install.