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2013 Chevrolet Silverado Rough Country Suspension Install - Roughing It

Rough Country Silverado Install

Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

We love GM trucks for their powerful engines, bold styling, and simple and clean interiors. But the suspensions still leave plenty of room for improvement. The biggest fault with GM trucks is their ride height: In factory form, you can hardly tell a 2WD Silverado from a 4WD.

Such was the case with this four-door 2013 Silverado, so we called up Rough Country and ordered up the company’s 71⁄2-inch suspension system to keep the framerails from dragging on the ground. This kit uses high-quality components like boxed crossmembers and cast steering knuckles, yet has a retail price of just under $1,000 by not including extras like new struts or longer brake lines.

The low cost left us enough money to head to Gilson Autobody in Sparks, Nevada, for the installation. In addition to being an autobody shop, Gilson has a full performance division, along with resources like a frame table, dyno, and alignment machine. Kim Messer and Sonny Bonito took time from working on Ferraris and Porsches to handle the installation, which is a bit like having Picasso paint your house. The duo got the kit installed in a day, providing enough real estate for us to bolt on a set of 35-inch General Grabbers on 18-inch Ballistic Jester rims. Now we don’t have to worry about anyone mistaking our Silverado for a 2WD.

The Rough Country lift retains the factory coilovers and adds a tower to the top for the added height. This retains the factory ride and helps to keep costs down for the end user.

The front crossmember had to be notched in order to mount the new Rough Country drop crossmember. Gilson used an angle grinder and a cutoff wheel, but a Sawzall or air saw would work as well.

Rough Country’s high-clearance crossmember is constructed of laser-cut steel pieces that are tabbed to fit together perfectly and then welded for a strong boxed structure that bolts to the factory crossmember. The black powdercoat finish is standard.

No going back now! The rear crossmember has to be cut in order to lower the front differential.

The Rough Country crossmember ties the two sides of the frame together, though optional kicker braces can be added for even greater strength.

The new cast knuckles are not only taller than the factory pieces; they are significantly thicker and stronger as well. The stock hubs, brakes, and CVs bolt right up, and note how the tie-rod end has been raised for proper steering geometry.

The tie rods and tie-rod ends have to be clearanced in order to allow for proper alignment once the suspension is completed. Gilson performed this on a bench grinder, but an angle grinder would work as well. Rough Country also offers tie-rod sleeves to beef up the steering on your Chevy.

Rough Country’s CV spacers allow the factory CV axles to be retained with the added lift height. They are manufactured out of a lightweight but strong nylon-reinforced composite material that has been stress tested to 35,000 pounds.

Brackets are included for the front and rear axles to lower the factory brake lines. This allows for adequate length throughout the suspension travel without the additional expense of new brake lines and the need to bleed the brake system after installation.

The sway bar is also lowered with included brackets and hardware. The lower control arms must be drilled to provide proper placement of the sway-bar end link, but the included template makes this a straightforward process.

Rough Country includes a heavy-duty steel skidplate to protect the aluminum front differential. The skidplate maximizes ground clearance while tying the front and rear crossmembers together for added rigidity.

Instead of a traditional cast lift block, Rough Country uses a fabricated steel lift block that is 10 inches long at the spring to combat axlewrap. The rear is lifted 61⁄2 inches to provide a level stance with the front 71⁄2-inch lift components.

Premium N2.0 shocks come standard, but we upgraded to the larger Performance 2.2 shocks that provide a larger shock piston and increased volume to combat shock fade. The valving of the shocks is firm and controlled without being harsh.

Wheel size and backspacing are important factors with any lift kit. The new rolling stock consists of 35x12.50R18 General Grabbers on 18x9 Ballistic Jester rims with 41⁄2 inches of backspacing.

Between the Rough Country lift and the 35-inch General Grabbers, we gained a full 10 inches of lift as measured at the top of the fender opening. Stock height to this location was previously 37 inches, and the top of the fender was 47 inches off the ground after the lift and tires were installed.

In addition to performing installations, Gilson has a state-of-the-art four-wheel alignment machine on site so we didn’t have to wear out the new Grabbers driving across town to get the truck aligned.

Even with 71⁄2 inches of lift, we still had rubbing on the front and rear of the inner fenders at full steering lock. Once we saw where the rubbing was occurring, we simply trimmed the plastic fender liner for clearance.