Installing the 2009-2013 Ford F-150 3″ Tuff Country Lift Kit

by Jarred Potter on January 24, 2013

Tuff Country EZ-Ride Suspension recently released a new 3″ lift kit for the Ford F-150 that has quickly become a big hit. We decided to get a first hand look of what was so attractive about this kit. This suspension lift is a great compromise between those who are looking for a little more than just a leveling kit but not looking to tackle all the modifications of a larger kit. It’s simple design includes a new set of control arms to keep the alignment geometry straight. A strut spacer as well as a pre-load spacer give the front end the lift followed by a 1″ block and longer u-bolts to finish out the rear end. The kit is designed to lift and level the truck so you will not have to purchase a separate leveling kit for this truck to sit level. It’s affordable cost is definitely a plus  and the ease of installation means you won’t have too much tied up in installation fees if you decide to have it professionally installed. This F150 lift kit recommends a 33 x 12.50 tire with a wheel that has a 5.5 or less backspacing (will fit up to 35″ tires with a little trimming). The stock tire and wheel combo will fit with this lift if desired, but it will not allow for a wider tire with the factory rims or contact with the upper control arm will occur. Before beginning, the Tuff techs took pre measurements from the center of the hub on the wheels to the fender at each wheel to obtain a starting reference. These numbers were recorded in the instructions for comparison later. Next they checked off all parts included with the kit to the bill of materials list provided on the front page of the instructions. Even though they are the manufacture of this kit and could have skipped this step they still checked every part to make sure that they did not get halfway into the installation process and find out that they were missing something that would cause the truck to not be able to be put back together. They put the Ford F-150 on the hoist and stripped the tires off. They started with the front end of the truck. The first step is unplugging the electronic rack and pinion harness. after disconnecting the rack and pinion harness you will need to disconnect the sway bars end links, the brake line bracket and the abs bracket. Loosen the caliper bolts and tie the caliper up out of the way taking special care not to bend or pinch the abs lines. remove the rotors and then you’ll need to gain access to the axle nut. This is hidden under a dust cap in the middle of the hub assembly. Grab the dust cap with some big channel locks and work it back and forth until you pull it off. Remove the axle nut and separate the tie rod ends. Moving on to the upper control arm you will need to separate that ball joint as well. Now to get that front strut out. Start by supporting the lower control arm with a jack. Now you can remove the upper and lower bolts that hold the strut into the Ford. You will need to lower the jack and use a pry bar to get the strut out of the F150.

 

After getting the strut out of the vehicle you will need to disassemble the strut  this requires a wall mounted strut compressor. If you don’t have a wall mounted strut compressor you will need to take your struts to a local shop or the dealer to preform the next few steps. You will need to mark both top and bottom of the strut before taking is apart to ensure that you get it back together properly so it will fit back into the truck. The kit has a pre-load spacer and a strut spacer.

 

 

 

The pre-load spacer is the thinner Aluminum spacer that goes in between the strut cap and the coil spring to put a pre-load on the spring so that the factory spring can do some of the work of lifting the front end. This goes in first and then the rubber factory isolator goes back on top of it. Once that is in place the strut can be compressed again and the cap can be installed.

 

 

 

The rest of the lift comes from the strut spacer which also makes the strut compression, when squeezed back into the same place it came from, a tighter fit forcing the F-150 up. The strut spacers are side specific so pay attention when putting them in that you have them on the correct side. The factory nuts will bolt the new spacer into place and the kit will provide you with new nut to bolt the strut back into the upper spring mount.

 

 

 

 

Now you can set that aside and start to assemble the new upper control arms. You will have to install the bushings, sleeves and grease zerks into the arms. You will need to grease the bushings first before you install them into the arms. (click here to read how to properly grease a polyurethane bushing) Install the greased bushings and sleeves into the arms. The Grease zerks will thread into the arms leaving them ready to install into the truck. Install the arms back up into the stock pockets using the stock bolts. Torque to spec. Now you can re-install the struts back into the truck. This will require the pry bar again and possible a buddy to help push down to make room for the longer strut assembly. Re-install the upper ball joint into the knuckle. Torque the axle nut. Re-install all the rest of the parts rotors, abs brackets, brake line brackets, sway bar links,tie rods and calipers and make sure you grease the newly installed grease zerks.

The only thing left is the rear.They definitely saved the easiest for last. Start by supporting the axle and then taking the u bolts off. Lower the jacks until you have enough room to slide the block between the axle and the springs. Place block on pad so pin locks down int the spring pad and then jack up on the jack until the pins on the leaf spring seat into the holes on the block. Install the new u-bolts and washer using the existing u-bolt plate. Torque the u-bolts to spec and put your tires back on.  Once backed out of the shop, this Ford went from a stock raked tuck to a leveled out lifted truck that would defiantly stand out in a crowd. The ride quality did not suffer much at all from this lift.

 

The owner of this F150 decided to install LT 295/70 R18 Nitto Terra Grapplers, which actually measure out to 34.3 x 11.6 x 18 they fit but rubbed on the mudflaps when turning and had not been tested off road. If you don’t want to worry about trimming things up to make them fit then stick to Tuff Country’s recommended size of 33 x 12.50.

 

 

The final look of the Ford F150 was awesome. They really captured the perfect lift not too tall but tall enough to give a custom look and gain some extra clearance for a larger tire size. The Tuff Country F150 lift kit is a bargain at just over $540 dollars and will also save you money, with the install being so easy, by not having to pay for much shop time.


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