A look at some of what’s new with the ’14 GM ½-ton truck suspension and how to lift it
Your shiny new ’14 GM ½-ton truck is looking good and that EcoTec3 engine is purring like a kitten. Your friends are jealous. But something’s missing. That something is bigger tires and more ground clearance. The 17.9-degree approach angle on your Crew Cab is a 2.4-degree improvement over the previous generation truck, but it still isn’t great. And then there’s the 8.9-inch minimum ground clearance, which is actually very good when compared to other new fullsize trucks, but you may be wishing for more when you hit the trail to your tree stand or favorite angling spot.
Your truck needs a suspension lift. By lifting the suspension you‘ll also be able to fit larger diameter tires and these two things will combine to create a better approach angle and ground clearance. Oh, and rampover and departure angle. Aside from the practical aspects, it’ll look cool, too.
Currently, there are several suspension companies making kits for these hot-off-the-press trucks. The new trucks have a few differences underneath compared to the previous generation trucks, and this was the reason suspension companies had to make some changes to the kits for the ’14 GM ½-ton trucks. The addition of electric variable-assist power steering is one thing that is different, and Tuff Country EZ-Ride Suspension created new differential drop spacers so the differential wouldn’t contact the new steering rack. Brent Riley at Fabtech Motorsports detailed the company’s strategy to deal with the new steering by saying, “The new electric steering on the 2014 was a factor when relocating the front differential housing for our 4- and 6-inch systems. We built new drop-down mounts to get around the electric steering module that is attached to the steering rack housing. There is a factory skidplate that protects the steering module that has a bracket that is welded to the frame. We elected to redesign our front crossmember on our 6-inch systems to go around this bracket so the installer doesn’t have to cut it off as a time saver during install.” BDS Suspension says that while many of the kits being developed use a large differential drop to clear the steering rack, it developed a three-point differential mounting system that allows for the use of a smaller differential drop to fit the kit’s high-clearance crossmember. Skyjacker Suspension says, “With a huge electric motor hanging beneath the front differential, relocating the front differential assembly proved to be a challenge. This required a lot of ‘out of the box’ thinking and design time to find the optimum location and pinion angle. After numerous CAD designs were evaluated and tested, we were able to get the front differential assembly located and the pinion angle dialed in.”
The 2014 GM ½-ton trucks come with either aluminum or steel upper and lower control arms and knuckles. It seems to depend on bed/cab configuration. Fabtech’s Riley says, “The suspension types can be mostly identified by cab and bed configuration per GM. That has seemed to hold true for the most part by the reports we are getting from the field. The main difference for Fabtech between these two types of suspensions is the different ball joint tapers. This affected our steering knuckles and tubular upper control arms from the ’07-’13 model. On our steering knuckles that go into our 6-inch systems we are machining different tapers for the aluminum suspension. The steel version still used the ’07-’13 ball joint tapers. For our upper control arms, we had to develop a new ball joint specifically for the aluminum suspension while the steel version utilized ’07-’13 ball joints. Same goes for our Uniball pins. We built one specifically for the aluminum suspension.” On the topic of steel and aluminum suspension parts, BDS says, “There are some variances from the aluminum to steel arms that require separate kit listings to fit the individual ball joint and tie-rod tapers.” Skyjacker notes, “Trucks equipped with the aluminum suspension components require a specially designed steering knuckle to properly fit the ball joints in this application.” Skyjacker also notes that in addition to the steel or aluminum frontend components, some of these new GM trucks have aluminum blocks in the rear suspension. Based on all of this info, this is a good time to note that when ordering a suspension system for your ’14 GM ½-ton you’ll need to know whether steel or aluminum is used in the front suspension so you can order the correct kit.
Another change for the 2014 trucks is that they come equipped with monotube shocks rather than the twin-tube shocks found on the ’07-’13 trucks. Fabtech’s Riley says, “A monotube is tuned differently than a twin-tube based on construction and therefore has a different force-versus-velocity curve. Once we ran the factory monotubes on our dyno we overlaid them to our ’07-’13 monotubes. The curves were similar enough that our shocks would provide enhanced damping and control for the 2014 truck.”
Now that you know the basics of some of what’s new with the new GM ½-ton trucks it’s time to take a look at what is available to lift your rig. We’ve compiled a collection of suspension systems from seven manufacturers. From leveling kits to performance kits, there are a wide variety of options for these new trucks.
What’s Available: 2-, 4-, and 6-inch
Details: The 2-inch system is available as either a billet spacer leveling kit or a 2-inch Uniball UCA system with front Dirt Logic 2.5 coilovers and rear Dirt Logic shocks. There are four 4-inch systems available including Budget and Uniball UCA systems. Three 6-inch systems are available- one Budget and two Performance (Performance with front Dirt Logic 4.0 coilovers and rear Dirt Logic shocks is pictured here). Each 6-inch system features ¼-inch-thick steel arched lower crossmembers for superior ground clearance while extended-length steering knuckles provide electronic stability compliance with 35-inch-tall tires.
More Info: 877/432-2832, www.fabtechmotorsports.com
What’s Available: 2-inch leveling, 4-, 6-inch
Details: The 2-inch leveling kit includes upper strut mounts and a pre-load spacer and it is designed not to max out the upper ball joint. The 4- and 6-inch kits include high-clearance laser-cut crossmembers, CNC-machined ductile iron steering knuckles, front and belly skidplates, three-point differential mounting system, and heavy-duty replacement tie-rod ends. The 6-inch kit is also available in a Performance System (pictured here) that includes Fox 2.5 remote-reservoir coilovers and Fox 2.0 rear shocks.
More Info: 517/279-2135, www.bds-suspension.com
Rough Country Suspension Systems
What’s Available: 2-inch leveling, 2.5-, 3.5-, 5-, and 7-inch
Details: The 2-inch leveling kit uses strut spacers; the 2.5-inch kit uses upper and lower strut spacers in the front and lift blocks in the rear; and the 3.5-inch kit includes strut spacers, upper control arms, Moog ball joints, differential drop spacers, and rear lift blocks. The 5- and 7-inch kits are designed to retain the stock track width, meaning no additional wheel backspacing is required. This allows fitment of up to 35-inch tires on the stock wheels and gives you an almost limitless choice in aftermarket wheels and tires. Pictured here is the 7-inch suspension system.
More Info: 800/222-7023, www.roughcountry.com
Pro Comp USA
What’s Available: Leveling and 6-inch
Details: Pro Comp offers 10 complete 6-inch suspension systems for the new GM ½-ton trucks. The 6-inch kits provide room for up to 35-inch tires and are 100 percent compatible with the factory StabiliTrak electronic stability control system. A variety of shock options is available including Pro Runner monotube shocks and ES9000 nitro-charged shocks. Stage I systems utilize front strut extensions, while Stage II systems feature MX2.75C coilover front shocks (system K1154BPX is pictured here). All of the systems qualify for Pro Comp’s free Lift Shield five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Pro Comp also offers five leveling kits for the new GM trucks.
More Info: www.procompusa.com
What’s Available: 2-inch leveling kit, 4-, 6-7-inch
Details: The 6-7-inch kit (C14661PKS pictured here) is available in a number of configurations including options for a full replacement strut or a strut spacer kit for the front suspension. The rear lift is achieved with blocks and U-bolts or a full replacement leaf spring. The kit is compatible with the factory StabiliTrak and includes heavy-duty front and rear crossmembers, differential drop brackets, sway bar drop brackets, and swivel-ball endlinks. Replacement CNC-machined ductile iron steering knuckles maintain the correct steering geometry so there is no need for modifications to the factory steering assembly.
More Info: 866/423-3253, www.skyjacker.com
Tuff Country EZ-Ride Suspension
What’s Available: 2- and 4-inch
Details: The 2-inch system uses upper coil spring spacers to maintain a near factory ride, while out back the rear is raised via add-a-leafs or blocks. The 4-inch kit (pictured here) includes tubular upper control arms along with upper coil/strut spacers and differential drop brackets to lift the front of the vehicle, while cast iron blocks are used to lift the rear. The 4-inch kit requires no drilling or strut disassembly and is said to maintain the factory ride, level the vehicle end-to-end, and allow use of up to 33-inch tires.
More Info: 800/288-2190, www.tuffcountry.com
Zone Offroad Products
What’s Available: 2-inch leveling, 4.5- and 6.5-inch
Details: The 2-inch leveling kit uses a pair of polyamide lower strut spacers with new mounting hardware. The 4.5- and 6.5-inch kits also use strut spacers, which helps to keep the cost of the kits down and retain factory ride quality. These two kits include ductile iron steering knuckles, fully-boxed heavy-duty crossmembers, three-point differential mounting system, and blocks to lift the rear of the truck.
More Info: 888/998-9663, www.zoneoffroad.com