We recently had the chance to watch an install of a Tuff Country 52070 Tundra leveling kit and review the product. To my surprise this kit was very easy to install. As I watched the techs install this kit I thought to myself this looks like something even I could do without messing up. Installing this front leveling required a strut compressor which I do not have, but I learned that many local shops will provide this service to you once you have the struts off the vehicle. This install was performed on a hoist but could be done in the driveway or on the garage floor with floor jacks and jack stands. Starting this process the techs took before measurements as a reference of where the vehicles body sits to middle of the hub on the wheel. After those numbers were logged up on the hoist went the Toyota Tundra.
The tire came off to allow access to the suspension components and the install was underway. It starts with disconnecting all the small parts, not really having much to do with suspension, like the abs lines attached to the upper control arms and the brake lines connected to the knuckles. Although these are not suspension pieces they are attached to suspension parts that will hang things up from dropping out properly when unbolted. They then unbolted the four upper strut bolts holding the strut into the upper spring mount. This allowed them to move on to the next step of separating the upper ball joint in the upper control arm form the knuckle. The ball joint has a tapered shaft that when the nut is tightened it forces it farther into the hole making the connection very tight and very hard to separate. I had always thought that this required a pickle fork to complete this task properly and not mess up the threads. Not the case, the techs schooled me once again and taught me a little trick that not only will save you from going out and buying a new tool, but will also save your grease boots from the abuse a fork will cause often times ripping them and needing to purchase replacements. If you hit the knuckle at the point where the stud goes through the knuckle it will break loose and fall right out of the knuckle . Yeah like magic. All these years of using pickle forks not having the right size for the job, ripping boots and having to buy replacements when all I had to do was hit the knuckle and watch it drop out. Oh well better learned late than never learned at all.
They used this same technique to separate the connection between the knuckle and the tie rod ends and then it was on to getting the struts out of the vehicle. This required disconnecting the sway bar end links and a big pry bar to allow the lower control arm to drop down far enough to slide the strut out.
With the strut now out of the vehicle they started to break down the struts getting them ready for installation of the spacers. The first step before they tore anything apart was to mark the struts for alignment when putting them back together.
Both the top and the bottom of the strut plates with the spring and the lower eye on the strut were marked to make certain it is put back together and fitted back into the truck properly. Once the lines were marked the strut was mounted into the wall mounted strut compressor and disassembly of the struts began. The struts came apart easy with the proper tools.
The cap comes off and has a rubber spring pad on it. This got discarded in exchange for the leveling spacer. With this completed the top cap can be re-installed back on top of the coil and the strut placed back into the strut compressor. making sure all your marks are lined up, pressure can be applied to the compressor until the stud becomes visible and has enough threads showing to fit the bushing washer and start the upper strut nut.
After you torque the strut stud the strut can come out of the compressor and is ready for the upper plate stud spacers to install on top of the cap.
Now reversing everything you just did to get to this point. Start by re-installing the struts back into the factory position. Just as it did to remove the struts, this step will take some prying, even more than before because your squeezing a longer strut assemble back into the same place it came from when it was shorter. Let me take a minute to say that even thou this spacer doesn’t measure two inches it will give the truck two inches by the coil being at a different compression rate as it was before.
Now that the strut is back into the vehicle bolt it all back up and keep the pry bar handy because your not done with it. Using the pry bar you will need to pry down on the upper control arm to get it to mount back into the knuckle. Tighten up the stock castle nut to torque specs until it lines up with the cotter pine hole and lock it in with the cotter pin. Re-install the tie rods in the same fashion and the abs and brake line brackets. After all that’s done we can move on to the last step of installing the differential drop sleeves. This consists of to big sleeves two new bolts and the stock washers. You’ll need to remove the skid plate to gain access to the two front mounts of the differential.