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Newbie Levelling, Bigger Tires, Shocks

1667 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  TDIpowered
Sorry for the long post, if you are not a total newbie, you can stop now.

Just wanted to put out this info, a lot of which has been said before, but i thought it might help someone if I said it in total newbie terms. Any knowledge I have is from this forum, or my own experience leveling my truck and getting bigger tires.

I am bit obsessive compulsive with research. Not a great quality to possess, let’s just say I did my research. I read every single post in every single sticky in this section, and the tires section, over and over again. Including this great thread from another forum:

The Truth About Lifting with Torsion Bars - Diesel Place : Chevrolet and GMC Diesel Truck Forums

I had several consultations with Nor Cal trucks as well as all my local shops.
I talked to guys on this forum and made a few posts trying to get a handle on my tire, wheel, and suspension plans.

Couple days ago, I pulled the trigger and mounted tires, wheels, and had the torsion keys cranked as well as an alignment.

This post is meant to give you my opinion, as well as an account of my experience so far. It is by no means meant to be comprehensive or replace any of the awesome info on this site and I’m sure I’m not done working out the kinks on my front end. But hopefully it will answer some questions in simpler terms that as a total newbie, I just couldn’t understand without jumping right in.

Thanks to all that helped with my steep learning curve.

1st issue I had in my journey: I found wheels I liked and they turned out to be 0 offset. I had no idea what this meant in real terms. I’m not the smartest fellow, so the awesome stickys with detailed explanations couldn’t quite sink in for me. I knew the basics, negative means the wheels stick out more, positive means the wheels suck in more, like factory wheels. This is basically the extent of my understanding, and zero offset was not as common on the forum as I would’ve thought so it was hard to see too many trucks with this offset mounted.

This issue was eventually overcome by me just buying the wheels and taking them to a shop and test mounting them. Not the most cost effective route, and a bit risky, but I’m the type of guy that just has to see it with my own eyes. Luckily I found that that offset was perfect for me.

2nd issue was I wanted bigger tires, but at the same time, I didn’t want to do any metal trimming. The more I researched the more I realized that fit was dependent on so many factors it would be almost impossible to truly accurately predict fit by seeing what others have done on this forum because so much could be different from truck to truck…ie factory set up of torsion bars, OBS vs NBS, wheel (offset and width), tires (sizes and type, like mud vs street), comfort level with “trimming” and / or comfort level with “rubbing” (apparently some guys on here don’t mind a “little bit of rubbing” or “just rubs at full crank” or “in reverse”).

These factors make huge differences in the “rubbing” outcome. And because of that, we can’t just ask the senior members if a simple 2 inch level will let you put your new tires and wheels on your truck. It makes you really understand how hard it is for forum members or even NorCal Nick to provide a simple yes or no answer when people post questions like “Will it fit?”

My real world experience occurred when I test fit BFG All Terrains. We mounted them, and they “appeared” to fit just fine with a couple cranks of the torsion bars. Week later, I bought the same size Nitto Trail Grapplers instead and now I had to trim because of the combination of my wheel offset and the extra “side tread”.

And it doesn’t take much to change the fit, because “any” rub is still a rub and is very noticeable when you get the loud crunch as you pull into a driveway.

For me, I solved this issue by “just getting over it” and allowing my tire guy to do a little trimming. It used to terrify me to consider cutting any metal, ie the small or large fender mods as described by NorCal Nick in this forum, but now I see it is a very minor operation, so it’s not a big deal, but we will all have our own comfort level with this. I can say that this mod will gain you the most cooperation from your larger tires and this mod is what most guys who do not have a true lift, ie “just leveled” have to do to get those big tires in comfortably without rubbing and may also help by letting you avoid having to possibly over crank you torsion bars and damage your suspension.

Even though my fender mod now allowed even bigger than 285 tires, I went with the NorCal Nick recommendation and stuck with 285’s as the safest size large tire for my truck with just a leveling kit.

So just before mounting, I consulted with the Nor Cal consulting line and was recommended to the Bilstein 5100 NorCal Truck 0-3 package of shocks. I bought them because I didn’t want the harsh ride as described in all the excellent posts on this forum. I bought them, and had them delivered. They didn’t make it on time for install with tires and alignment, so I planned on installing the shocks later.

Now here’s the thing that surprised me, and was unexpected after reading some of the horror stories on here. I drove my truck home and all weekend and realized that my truck rides just fine without new shocks!

No bone jarring smacks, no rough ride, other than a hearty new rumble and whir from my new mud tires.

Keep in mind, my truck is not totally level, as again, I followed Nicks advice and cranked just enough to get the wheels and tires in and still kept the recommended spacing for the stops, maybe even a little overly safe within the green zone.

My point here is to help newbies realize that just because it’s not riding rough, doesn’t mean my shocks aren’t getting damaged. It just means they might not be damaged yet and we really don’t know if and when they will be damaged because it depends so much on how far you cranked your bars, and how you drive, how beat your factory shocks are, etc.

So like I said, I’m not done here. For me, my next step is to find a few dips and speed bumps to test her out a bit before putting the Bilsteins on and see what my ride dictates as far as future mods.

Hope this helps someone out there that is sitting in the same head space I was in and gives some good, real world experience for another newbie like me to see what can happen when you start playing with your suspension. For my simple mind, things got complicated real quick, and I’m just starting to see some light.


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yeah i did like mack and read a few words! truck looks sweet!!
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