We Install a Skyjacker 4-inch Lift System to Our First-Generation Chevy Colorado

    Wheels, Tires & Lift on a First-Gen Chevy Colorado

    To properly lift our 2008 Chevy Colorado, we opted for a Skyjacker 4-inch lift system, which consists of new front crossmembers, brackets, knuckles, brake lines, and hardware. The new steering knuckles ensure that the upper control arms retain the stock geometry, in addition to the front differential and rack-and-pinion steering box. Since these trucks come from the factory with a nose-down rake, new 2 1/2-inch rear leaf springs will raise the back side of the pickup level with the front. Skyjacker Black MAX shocks got the nod at all four corners to ensure a smooth ride and to keep all four tires in contact with the ground at all times.

    Here's the 4x4 Collie in its stock state, with a set of 235/75R15 tires. These tires have an overall diameter of 28.9 inches.

    When it came time to decide on wheels and tires, we all agreed that Mamba Offroad Wheels has some of the best-looking off-road alloys on the market. What we couldn't agree upon, however, was which series of Mamba wheel we liked best for the Colorado. Having such a variety of designs can make it hard to pick a favorite, but we eventually decided on a set of 17x9 matte black Type M19 wheels, The Intel. The Skyjacker lift kit requires a wheel with a minimum of 4 3/4 inches of backspacing, and the Mamba Type M19s come in with room to spare, measuring 4.53 inches. Wrapping the oversized alloys will be a set of 285/70R17 Kenda Klever R/T tires. These 33-inch-diamter, all-weather tires feature aggressive styling, optimized tread design, and three-ply sidewalls, which results in a tire that works great anywhere off-road, be it snow, mud, or dirt, while the construction provides long-lasting wear with reasonable ride and road noise.

    The Skyjacker 4-inch lift for Chevy Colorado has everything required to lift the truck and keep all the stock suspension geometry where it needs to be. This includes two crossmembers to relocate the lower control arm's mounting points, torsion bar relocation brackets, steering knuckles, sway bar brackets, extended brake hoses, bumpstops, differential brackets, a driveshaft spacer, and all required hardware.

    While we've got the suspension and brake components pulled apart, we figured we'd make a few upgrades by contacting the folks at RockAuto for some brake components, new hubs, and a few other ancillary items.

    With our expectations laid out and a pile of parts on hand, let's get started and see what it takes to make a boring old truck into a capable camping machine.

    We'll be using Skyjacker Black MAX shock absorbers at all four corners. These shocks feature advanced foam-cell technology and are built with vehicle-specific multistage valving. Increased fluid capacity for maximum heat dissipation and twin-tube construction make these a great upgrade for any off-road setup.
    Rather than add-a-leaves or lift blocks, in the rear we are using a pair of Skyjacker's 2 1/2-inch Softride leaf springs. Skyjacker is an early innovator in making lift springs that ride nicely, and these springs enjoy the benefit of all those years of technological updates like bolted spring retainers instead of clamps, OE-style rubber bushings, Teflon inserts, and more. Like the front kit, all the hardware required for the swap is included and is high quality.
    This era truck is notorious for its "sensitive" ABS wheel sensors on the front hubs. We originally ordered a set of the sensors by themselves from RockAuto in case we damaged one in the process. Suffice to say, we must have damaged one, because the initial startup displayed a Christmas tree's worth of "ABS FAULT" lights. Fool us once, shame on us. Fool us twice, and we purchased a set of hubs with new ABS sensors from RockAuto and installed those the second time around. No more codes, and the brakes work as they should.
    The 2009 and later Colorados came with a larger-diameter front rotor and a larger-volume, twin-piston caliper that will bolt right up to the stock 2003-2008 trucks, but doing so requires at least a 16-inch wheel for clearance. Since we'll be running 17s, we took the opportunity to upgrade the brakes with new rotors, calipers, and pads from RockAuto.
    Before we got started, we parked the truck on a level surface and measured the bottom of each fender at the axle centerline for a baseline spec. Our truck came in at 35 inches up front and 34 3/4 out back. This is an important step, as many times a vehicle is not level (side-to-side) from the factory and this isn't noticed until after the lift has been installed, which can exacerbate the problem.
    Getting started, the first item on the list is to remove the torsion bar, being sure to measure the installed length of the OEM adjuster bolt before removal because they'll be reinstalled to the same length after the lift install.
    Next, the outer tie rod, shock, sway bar endlink, and brake caliper are removed, as is the CV-axle retaining nut.
    The upper and lower ball joints are then disconnected, and the stock steering knuckle can then be removed.
    Next, the lower control arm bolts are removed, followed by the control arm itself.
    The front driveshaft is disconnected from the front diff as well as the connection for the 4WD selector solenoid and the axle vent hose.
    Using a tranny jack, the front differential can now be lowered and moved out of the way for the time being.
    Skyjacker includes a pair of aluminum bushings to replace the lower rear rubber units, which need to be removed. Here, we press in the new Skyjacker solid bushings into the stock lower control arm mounting point.
    Skyjacker provides two new differential brackets that, once installed, effectively lower the front differential to retain the OEM angle of the CV-axles, preventing unnecessary wear and abuse on the joints.
    Once bolted firmly to the chassis using the provided Skyjacker hardware, the front diff is rolled and raised into place and bolted to the new Skyjacker brackets using the OEM hardware.
    The new front Skyjacker crossmember is installed using the OEM lower control arm mounting points and the hardware provided by Skyjacker. We made sure to install the tapered washers between the new crossmember and the stock item on both sides.
    The new Skyjacker rear crossmember is installed using the provided hardware through the previously installed aluminum bushings. Note that the bushings and sleeves as well as the grease fitting have already been installed on the rear crossmember.
    To clear the new Skyjacker crossmember, the OE lower control arms need to be clearance slightly, as noted. A 4-inch grinder makes quick work of the job.
    With the lower control arm fitting without bind, the OEM torsion bar brackets are removed and the provided hardware and spacers put in place.
    Next, the Skyjacker torsion bar relocation brackets are installed on the lower control arms.
    You also need to add a little clearance via a grinder for the stock torsion bar mounts on the new brackets.
    The lower control arm is then installed using the new mounting points on the Skyjacker front and rear crossmembers.
    A new bumpstop is required in a continued effort to keep things within the OEM specs. Skyjacker provides an extended bumpstop, which is installed on the lower control arm. First the bumpstop is aligned with the existing upper bumpstop and the center punched on the lower control arm. Then the control arm is drilled and tapped, and a 3/8-inch bolt is installed to hold the bumpstop in place.
    With the lower control arm installed, it's time to assemble the hub, rotor, and Skyjacker steering knuckle. You'll remember our earlier note about reusing the stock hubs and the ABS problems we had. It would have been nice to have had the foresight to install new hubs at this point! Then, the new brake components can be installed.
    Next, the rest of the RockAuto brake components are installed and mated to the existing brake lines using Skyjacker's provided extended brake hose.
    To retain the stock geometry of the front sway bar, a new bracket is provided by Skyjacker and installed using existing mounting locations on the lower control arm.
    With the front differential relocated, a spacer is required, and provided by Skyjacker, to lengthen the front driveshaft and retain the OE angles.
    Next to be installed is a pair of Skyjacker Black MAX shocks.
    The torsion bars are reinstalled and torqued to reflect the original installed height. The Skyjacker lift kit is a wrap, at least for the front.
    Out back, the rear leaf springs are being dropped out of place after the rear shocks, U-bolts, and E-brake hardware have been removed.
    The new Skyjacker leaf springs go in just like the originals, but with new hardware.
    A brake line spacer block is provided in the Skyjacker kit and ensures that the stock brake hose isn't over extended.
    Once again, a pair of Skyjacker Black MAX shocks rounds out the install.
    We opted for a set of Type M19 series alloys from Mamba Offroad Wheels, called The Intel, in matte black. These wheels give us not only the clearance required for the larger front disc brake but also the backspace clearance required by Skyjacker for the 4-inch lift (4 3/4 inches). Did we mentioned that they also look great? Of course, a proper off-road tire is also a necessity, and to that end we opted for a set of 285/70R17 Kenda Klever R/Ts, giving our Colorado the ability to handle the most challenging obstacles as well as anything the city might throw at us.
    With everything installed and looking good, the last task is to go over every nut, bolt, and fastener with a torque wrench, tightening them to spec. This prevents any squeaking and clunking as well as any other unwanted characteristic of the suspension components, and it's a good habit to use anytime you're working on your truck!