The front suspension systems that you can nearly bolt on for your truck these days are amazing. Nearly 2 feet of wheel travel is possible with multiple shocks and 2 or 4 inches wider than stock, boxed upper and lower arms. Maybe a hydraulic bump-stop too. It's as good as what the trickest race truck out there was running not too long ago.
The problem is that it's all built on a weak spot that's just one bad hit away from failing. The lower arms can tear away from the pivot points on the stock crossmembers. To be fair, the designers at Chevy didn't think that someone would be doing what we do with them. They simply didn't design the crossmembers to have that much abuse heaped upon them. (The Ford guys and the Raptor? Different story). We doubt that they thought someone would intentionally get air in the truck. Be that as it may, it means that this area needs to be beefed up with some type of brace.
A brace like one Rite Performance makes. Curtis Zamora of Rite Performance figures the way to do it is with a brace that encases the entire stock front crossmember and adds brackets that tie in the frame to the rear. He also completely replaces the stock rear crossmember with a much stronger one.
The Rite Performance Lower Control Arm/Crossmember Brace is made from cold-rolled steel that is fully TIG welded. Powdercoat colors are limited, but call for options. It's available for 2007-and-up 2WD and 4WD Chevy 1500s, while a Raptor version will be available for 2009-2014 models.
This brace is something that should be considered for every suspension install, and one every prerunner needs one if the truck is run hard. Like we said, GM didn't think that they needed to engineer the A-arm pivot/connection points to withstand a whoop section at 60 mph. Remember these things tend to happen out in the middle of nowhere, so if you plan on hitting a whoop section at 60, you may want to give Rite Performance a call first.
The Rite Performance Lower Control Arm/Cross Member Brace kit comes with every thing you’ll need to add strength and stability to your off-road runner.
This is what the RP kit will protect against. A friend of ours posted this on Facebook. As this shows, the stock pivot point is the weak link, and, if it lets go, it’ll probably do it a long way from anywhere.
Safety first, so placing the truck on sturdy jackstands is the first job.
Starting with the front crossmember, the hardware holding the rack-and-pinion are removed—except the upper driver-side bolt. It’s just loosened at this point.
The nut plate is loosely affixed to the rear half of the front crossmember plate. It needs to be in place before this piece is slid into place.
The leading lower control arm bolt of the front crossmember is removed, but the rear one is only loosened. There is no need to remove the lower arms when installing the brace.
A piece of welding slag from the OEM building process was present, so it was ground flush.
The rear half of the front crossmember is slid between the rack-and-pinion and the front crossmember. Once in place, the nut plate bolts are gently removed.
With the upper R&P bolt pulled at the last minute, the front half of the RP crossmember plate is installed.
The R&P bolt is replaced as soon as the front half is in place.
With the bolts installed into the nut plate, the two halves are joined together.
The hardware for the rack-and-pinion is reinstalled.
Antiseize is used on the lower arm pivot hardware, but care is taken not to get any on the threads.
The pivot bolts are installed. They and all of the Rite Performance–supplied hardware are Grade 8.
Holes for the secondary bolts are drilled. These secondary bolts add strength to the unit by tying the braces to the stock crossmember.
Next is the rear crossmember. The stock unit is removed and tossed.
The areas where the RP brackets will interface with the stock unit are cleaned and inspected.
Notice how the Rite Performance brackets also bolt to the frame itself.
The new RP crossmember is installed.
Notice that the center four bolts have not been nutted. That’s because the skidplate bracket fits over those.
A beefy skidplate covers the open space between the crossmembers so nothing (think big rocks) can get in there.
The skidplate bolts up front, of course, but RP has an optional plate that allows for a tubular front bumper/skidplate assembly to be welded to it.
Once all the pieces are on, every nut and bolt is tightened again.
On and ready for battle, the Rite Performance Lower Control Arm/Crossmember Brace is an answer to shear bedlam (get it?).
This back-to-front shot shows how the brace will protect your truck from that next bad hit.
Here is the front bumper/skidplate mounted to the optional bumper plate.