2nd Godfather / Administrator2005 Granite Xterra Off-Road
Join Date: Jan 2006
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a. What it is and How it works: Adds extra pucks to the stock body mounts which shifts the body upwards away from the frame. Does not effect existing suspension.
b. Lift amount: 1 to 3 inches
c. pros: Increases approach and departure angles. Provides clearance for tires to articulate and when used in conjunction with suspension lifts it can allow for larger tires.
d. cons: Increases body roll. No additional ground clearance under frame, no increase in suspension travel. Creates gap between body and frame, 3" kit requires custom sliders/bumpers and may cause issues with radiators, hoses, wiring, and manual transmission shifters.
e. Prices: $149 to $340
f. examples: Nisstec, 4WP, AC
a. What it is and How it works: A block is added between the coilover and upper coilover bucket/mount. It forces the front suspension downward thus lifting the vehicle.
b. lift amount: up to 3 inches
c. pros: Inexpensive and easy to install.
d. cons: No increase in travel. Can result in the Upper Control Arm (UCAs) hitting the coilover bucket/mount at higher lifts. Increases CV angle which will add stress to the front differential
e. Prices: ~$60 to $160 alone (can be purchased in packages)
f. examples: AC,Nisstec, Calmini, Daystar, PRG Products, Pro Comp, Ready lift, Revtek, Rough Country, Top Gun, Vendors on Ebay
a. What it is and How it works: Replaces the current strut assembly with a better performing shock/spring combination. The stock spring can be used with a better performing shock or the entire shock and coil spring can be replaced.
b. Lift amount: up to 2 inches without new Upper control Arms (UCAs) without Coil Bucket Contact (CBC) or 3" with aftermarket control arms.
c. pros: Increases travel, better articulation. Can provide additional weight capacity
d. cons: Can result in the Upper Control Arm (UCAs) hitting the coilover bucket/mount at higher lifts. Increases CV angle which will add stress to the front differential
e. Prices: ~$140 to $1500+ ($140 for just new coil springs)
f. examples: AC coils, Bilstien, Radflo, Swayaway (SAW), King, Icon, Rancho Quicklift, Nisstec MK84
iii. New Upper control arms (UCAs)
a. What it is and How it works: Replaces the stock UCAs with ones that avoid the coilover bucket/mount when the vehicle is lifted.
b. Lift amount: None on there own but when used in conjunction with coilovers and/or spacers ~ 4 inches (I'm guessing)
c. pros: Maximum articulation and travel without completely changing the suspension. Aftermarket UCAs offer more travel than stock. Some offer additional ability to align the front suspension.
d. cons: Can effect alignment or wear out over time.
e. Prices: ~$490 to $710
f. examples: AC, Calmini, PRG Products, Total Chaos, SPC, Mevotech
iv. Drop bracket / Spindle
a. What it is and How it works: Bracket attaches to the frame and moves the front differential downward. Steering knuckles and/or spindles are replaced and the tire mount locations also move downward. Most kits come with 5" to 6" spacers but longer adjustable coilovers can be used instead of spacers.These kits also offer rear suspension components, to include AAL, shocks, shackles, and/or full leaf spring packs.
b. Lift amount: ~5 to 6 inches
c. pros: Lots o lift, lots o travel, lots o articulation. Keeps CV shaft angle low which avoids extra stress on front diff, however extendedcoilover will increase that angle. Can run 35" tires (increasing ground clearance by up to 2")with minor trim or body lift. The kits can be easily customized by introducing other manufacturer's bolt-on components to create a hybrid kit which offers additional performance advantages.
d. cons: Requires cutting notches into the frame. Lower differential mount takes up to 4" of front ground clearence away however replacing the spacer for extended adjustable coilovers can compensate for this and move the ground clearance back by up to 6"; on IFS systems adjustment by compression of the coilover spring incrementally raises the bracket clearance up to 3.5". Also, suspension lifts exceeding 4" can result in drive train vibrations introduced by the new angle on the driveshaft, and to resolve this vibration requires a modification of the drifshaft.
e. Prices: ~$1500 to $2000 (includes rear lift components)
f. examples: ]Fabtech: Oz, Pro Comp: PrerunnerGreg, Calmini: SeXTerra and LA RANA
v. Titan Suspension Swap
a. What it is and How it works: Replaces your Xterra's front suspension with a Nissan Titans'. This is a bolt on upgrade. Because the arms of the suspension components are longer this gives you more travel. All of the above lift methods can be used in conjunction with a Titan swap to further increase travel and/or lift. Doing this will also make your front tire width or stance approximately 3" wider on each side or 6" total.
To complete a Titan Suspension swap you need:
I. Titan Lower Control Arms (LCA) (stock or aftermarket)
II. Titan Upper Control Arms (UCA) (stock or aftermarket)
III. Coilover shocks (stock or aftermarket)
IV. Extended tie rod ends for steering (aftermarket)
V. Cam bolts for alignment
VI. Extended brake lines
VII. Optional front Titan spindles and rotors (stock or aftermarket) and rear wheel adapter to get 6 on 5.5 bolt pattern.
IX. 4WD needs either:
A. Extended axle/ constant velocity (CV) shafts (aftermarket)
B. Stock Titan axle/ constant velocity (CV) shafts AND stock Titan Front Differential (M205) with matching gear ratio as rear axle. The only stock one that currently (11/04/09) matches up is automatic Offroad Xterra models with 3.357:1 ratio and Titan/Armada/QX56 with offroad or Big Tow packages or V8 Pathfinders (P/N 38500 8511A).
*Note: You can do a Titan differential (M205) swap with a Xterra suspension if you use V8 Pathfinder CV shafts or have Titan CV shafts shortened to V8 Pathfinder length.
b. Lift amount: ~3 to 4 inches or more if used in conjunction with drop spindles
c. Pros: More travel, currently(11/04/09) more lift options for Titans than Xterras, allows for stronger Front Differential (M205), M205 gearing can match E-locking Rear Axle without regearing, M205 ARB and 4.10/4.56 gears rumored to be in development (until I can actually order or pre-order it I consider it a rumor), Wider stance gives you more stability especially with higher lifts
d. Cons: Probably voids power train warranty for 4WD. Wider stance may prevent you from going on some narrower trails. With stock rims, the front tires will protrude out past the stock fenders which is technically illegal on the road in at least some areas. Aftermarket fenders or fender flares can remedy this.
e. Price: 2WD ~$300 to $1800+ ($300 for mostly junk yard stock parts, $1800+ for new LCA and performance aftermarket components)
4WD ~$850 to $2350+ ($850 for mostly junk yard stock parts, $2350+ for new LCA and performance aftermarket components)
f. Examples: PRG products kit
vi. Solid Axle Swap (SAS)
a. What it is and How it works: Removes your entire front suspension and front differential and replaces it with a solid axle (like a Jeep Wrangler).
b. Lift amount: Need at least 6" but can go pretty much as high as you want
c. pros: Stronger components, better articulation than Independent Front Suspension (IFS), many aftermarket accessories available
d. cons: No kits available, lots of custom work needed. Will need to regear or replace rear axle. Most likely won't have ABS
e. Prices: Completely custom so its going to depend greatly on what you do.
f. examples: 8th Man
i. New shackles
a. What it is and How it works: Replaces the stock shackle with a longer one pushing the rear leaf pack downward. Can be used in conjunction with any other rear lift option but new shocks will be needed over 2" total of lift.
b. Lift amount: 1 to 3 inches
c. pros: Inexpensive and easy to install, most aftermarket ones are stronger than stock, adjustable ones allow fine tuning of rear ride height
d. cons: soft suspension, known to prematurely wear out factory leaf packs when used alone
e. Prices: ~$65 to $130
f. examples: AC, Calmini, Daystar, PRG Products, Nisstec, Readylift, Vendors on Ebay, 4x4parts
ii. Add a leaf (AAL)
a. What it is and How it works: Replaces the overload leaf in the stock with another leaf increasing the spring rate so the weight of the vehicle doesn't push the spring down as far.
b. Lift amount: up to 3 inches
c. pros: Can increase payload capacity, stiffens the suspension, generally more durable than shackle lift
d. cons: Often results in driveline vibration due to changing the angle of the driveshaft shims can help with this.
e. Prices: ~$65 to $200
f. examples: AC, Calmini, PRG Products, Rancho, Revtek, Rugged Rocks, General Spring, 4x4parts.com
iii. New Leaf pack
a. What it is and How it works: Completely replaces the rear leaf spring with one that has a higher spring rate. New shocks will be needed over 3" of lift.
b. Lift amount: Pretty much whatever you want.
c. pros: Lift you want, increased payload capacity.
d. cons: Possible driveline vibrations without a new driveshaft
e. Prices: ~$550+
f. examples: PRG/Deaver, Alcans, Calmin, Local spring shop
iv. U- bolt flip
a. What it is and How it works: Removes the spring plate under the axle and replaces it with Titan 2WD plates and U-bolts. This puts the U-bolt nuts on top of the axle eliminating the risk of banging them on rocks.
b. Lift amount: zero, nada, nothing...
c. pros: One less thing to get hung up or damaged on a rock
d. cons: Can't really think of any
e. Prices: ~$100-$160
f. examples: Nissan Dealer, OK 4WD, PRG Products, Nisstec
v. Spring over axle (SOA)
a. What it is and How it works:Relocates the springs from under the rear axle to sitting on top of the axle. Current spring perches are cut and ground off axle and new ones must be welded on. Custom driveshaft work will be needed. New shocks will be needed. A traction bar is highly recommended.
b. Lift amount: ~ 8" +
c. pros: Lot of lift, greater articulation, ground clearance increased at perches
d. cons: Propensity for axle wrap
e. Prices: ~ $600+ for perches, driveshaft and shocks plus any labor cost
f. examples: Oz, rs182
vi. Air Bag Helper Springs
a. What it is and How it works:Air Bag Helper Springs supplement the existing springs with an inflatable bag positioned between the vehicle frame and the leaf spring. Kits for stock suspension setups are available. Or parts can be purchased separately to accommodate setups with more wheel travel than stock. A Schrader valve (found on car, truck, and bicycle tires) is used to adjust air volume.
b. Lift amount: 0 to 4+ (4 inches @ 50 psi, Max PSI = 100
1. Easy to adjust height by adding or removing air.
2. Convenient valve location enables height adjustment without crawling underneath (valve stem through existing license plate holes).
3. Increases load carrying capacity of Xterra (without bottoming out).
4. Variable height adjustments are possible (by fractions of an inch).
5. Firms suspension in the rear, improving on-road handling (e.g. reducing body roll with independent air between springs).
6. As leaf springs continue to weaken, air helper springs can adjust to compensate.
1. Vehicle height is influenced by air temperatures. As the seasons change (hot <---> cold) the air in the helper springs will expand and contract. Just like the air in tires, a small adjustment keeps the PSI where you want it.
2. Adding air requires a device such as:
a. bicycle pump (floor standing works well)
b. air station (gas station or wherever you go to air-up)
3. The additional height firms the suspension in the rear. Some may find it too firm. Easily addressed by adding gear and/or passengers[/FONT]
e. Prices: $221.40 (Firestone Air Springs)
vii. Timbren SES or Active Off-road Bumpstops
a. What it is and How it works:Replace factory bump stops with a rubber "spring" to increase payload and cure the hard "bump" associated with bottoming out the rear suspension.
b. Lift amount: 0", no lift unless you are really sagging in the rear.
c. pros: Easy to install, quickly improves rear ride and helps with load carrying
d. cons: Only works well if rear springs are not sagging till they contact the axle at static, unloaded height
e. Prices: $214
C. Common setups
i. spacer + shackle:ii. coilover + AAL
a. Amount of lift:0.5" to 3"
b. pros: Inexpensive, easy to install, most maintain OEM ride quality, rear height adjustable with proper shackles
c. cons: Above 2" is prone to Coil Bucket Contact (CBC), shackles alone can cause premature wear of factory rear leaf springs
iii. coilover + UCA+ spring pack
a. Amount of lift:1.5" to 3"
b. pros: Inexpensive, mild difficultly due to having to split leaf packs, maintains stock ride quality and generally improves rear load carrying capacity, doesn't damage rear leaf packs
c. cons: Above 2" is prone to Coil Bucket Contact (CBC), no adjustable rear height available
a. Amount of lift:1.5"+
b. pros: Increase in load capacity all around, better quality front shocks usually included, no Coil Bucket Contact (CBC) with trimming of coil bucket edge, increase in usable front wheel travel (up to 14" with full Titan Swap), generally more durable components
c. cons: More expensive, more involved to install
D. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
How much lift can I get without coil bucket contact with stock UCAs?
What does it take to run 31" tires?
Nothing, that's the stock size on anything other than the OffRoad and Pro4X model XTerras.
... 32" tires?
Nothing, that's the stock size (265/75r16) on the OffRoad and Pro4X model XTerras.
... 33" tires?
Likely very little, ultimately it will depend on the width of your 33" tires and the wheels you're trying to run them on. Most can run 285/75r16 tires on stock wheels with only the "How-to: 'MELT MOD' or Making 285/75/16 Tire's Fit - PBR". With wider tires, wheels, or wheels with more offset than stock; a combination of the "Melt Mod" and "How-to: EASY Fender Trim for 33's + Wheel Spacers".
... larger than 33" tires?
Minor lift will likely clear 34" tires just fine, especially when used with the "Melt Mod" and "EASY Fender Trim". Anything bigger will require anything from minor to major fender modification, in conjunction with the selected suspension build-up. With a fairly aggressive suspension build(4"+), 35" tires can be easily run with only minor fender trimming ... i.e. - you're not going to be able to accomplish 35" tires on a spacer/shackle lift, without some major fender surgery.
For more information on tire fitment, see this thread: "Frequently Asked Questions" in the Welcome Center.
I have a vibration around 35mph after my lift, what did I do wrong?
Nothing! It is common to get a vibration around that speed after lifting because your rear drive shaft only has one u-joint in it and a CV type joint. Without the second u-joint to cancel out the velocity changes at the increased driveline angles, you develop this vibration. The cure is a set of pinion angle degree shims which will pivot your rear pinion up, pointing it at the back of the transfercase and lessening your driveline angle. These are sold in pairs through PRG, Nisstec and other vendors and come in 2*, 3*, and 4*. General rule of thumb is you will need 1* for every 1" of lift you have in the rear. NOTE: Full replacement leaf packs and lift shackles are less prone to this around 2" but not immune.
OK, im posting this to kinda put an end to all the speculation of this combo of shock and spacer or that combo of spring and arm. I will have a full photo expose on this later but you guys can mull over this until then.
-Travel of stock shock/stock uca 5.6” (as it says...stock shock and stop bumps...like it was when you drove it home from the dealer)
-Travel w prg 2” lk 5.5” w/ prg bump stop. (this is with our 2" lift spacer..same thickness/lift as some of our competitors 2.5" we just don’t round up) numbers are with our longer bump stop. As you can see there is 1/10inch loss of travel over stock. With a 3" lift spacer you will loose about 3/4" travel vs stock at the wheel unless you run aftermarket arms)
-Travel w 5100/ or Radflo replacement coilover. 5.8” travel (this is for the bils 5100 or Radflo replacement coilovers and stock bump stop). This is the max travel to be had with NO coilbucket contact. You may get a very slight more travel by shimming but we’ll leave this for another article and the gains are in the 1/8” range.
-PRG uca travel 7.0” total...this should also be the same as the TC arms as both our arms are designed to limit droop to prevent harm to the lower ball joints and/or tie rod ends). with some grinding and the removal of our droop stop spacer (keeping the droop stop) you can get about another .4" droop at the wheel for 7.4" total....but at the risk of binding parts.
-SPC uca travel 7.8” (7.4” usable) w contact and cv bind....these arms were not designed to limit droop or prevent damage to ball joints. So these must be used with the proper combination of parts to keep your truck alive. I don’t have the max droop numbers as the test truck we used for this had the front driveline removed. I will get numbers soon though. But from the testing we did while designing our arms, the first thing to bind was the lower ball joint, followed by the tierods then CV’s…and that was about ˝” past where our droop stop kicks in.
-OEM titan uca contact to full comp 7.9” (YES, the stock titan ucas hit the coil bucket, this is the most travel you can get from a stock set of titan ucas)
- Early PRG titan uca contact to full comp 9.9”, 10.4" with new style UCA (this is metal-to-metal contact....most combination of shocks/spacers/lying/prayers will not yield these travel numbers due to the physical design of a coilover...but here you go) you can either get full compression or full extension with a bolt-in coilover...but not both.
All numbers are w/ factory bump (except where noted) moderately squished. Add little bit more for true compression.
I've listed the travel numbers relative to stock below.
Full droop stock 0
Full droop w/ 5100 +.200"
Full droop w stock f/x uca contact +.600"
Full droop w prg uca +1.8"
Full droop SPC (cv bind) +2.2"
Full droop oem titan uca +2.3"
Full droop u PRG uca +4.3-4.8"
Now for the million $$ question "HOW MUCH LIFT CAN I GET AND STILL RIDE WELL/COST LESS THAN $10/WILL MY WIFE ALLOW/ect...?"
Well, it all depends on how crappy you like the truck to ride. With the numbers posted above, you can increase the travel and still maintain a factory ride (or better depending on shock/spring combo). So a T/S can theoretically go up about 4.5" using our (PRG Products) arms, NOT stock arms, and still maintain a stock ride.
Now for some reading;
First a lesson in how suspension works, please put on your thinking caps:
As you drive down the road, gravity is pulling your vehicle towards Earth...all of the vehicle...tires, motor, you. etc. Gravity has a specific force/speed (acceleration for the nerds) at which it operates. When you hit a dip in the road, the suspension will drop into that dip faster than gravity will pull the whole vehicle down. Basically the suspension, pushing against the mass of the vehicle, will push the wheel into the depression faster than gravity will pull the WHOLE vehicle down.
If you drive over a hole that is 3" deep, the tire will drop into that depression faster than gravity will pull the car into the hole, allowing the suspension to catch the weight of the vehicle BEFORE gravity pulls it all the way down. This happens because the mass of the "sprung weight-chassis/motor/wife/etc" is far greater than "unsprung-wheel/tire/spindle/brakes/etc”. If these were to weigh the same, both the car and the wheels would move the same amount hitting a dip or bump....got it so far?
Now back to the lift part. So if you lift a vehicle to the point that there is, say, only 2" of droop/extension at ride height and then you drive over a 4" deep hole, the suspension will drop the 2" first and then exhausting it’s travel, gravity will cause the vehicle will drop the add'l 2". You will not only feel the drop into the hole, but now you will feel a much bigger bump exiting the hole. The lack of travel and sudden body movement you will feel as a “crappy ride”. So if you have 6" travel stock and 3" of compression/3" of extension (sometimes called bump and jounce by the silly road racing kooks) and you lift 2" with spring preload (not changing the amount of travel) you will now have 5" compression and 1" of droop.....this my friends will ride like sh*t and now you know why.
This is why coilover users can end up with a terrible ride...the spring rate does not magically get stiffer, but the ride sucks with too much preload/lift and lack of travel. Why? Because they have adjusted themselves out of droop. Most coilovers have more adjustment than you can use, but people often abuse that; "its got more threads, i guess it can go taller".
So the solution to keeping a quality ride and getting lift is increasing travel or at least moving the window in which the suspension functions. This is how moderate spacer-type leveling kits and drop bracket that leave the suspension in stock-like geometry ride well and still offer lift. It also explains why just adding longer coil springs or in-coil spacers ride terrible. No matter what brand of coilovers, how much you spend, or what the sales-clown is trying to sell you, if you have too little droop your truck will ride like ****.
So the new guys are reading this and asking "why not just run a HUGE/LONG shock? Well, there is only so much space Nissan gave us to work with. There is this funky upper a-arm that always seems to be in the way on these trucks. Nissan designed the upper arms on these trucks to cross over the TOP of the shock mount (coil bucket). In stock form it's fine, but if you want to run a shock any more than a little bit longer than stock, the stock arm smashes into the top of the mount. This limits movement of the suspension and we’re back to our original issue. You can lengthen the shock all day long, but the upper arm is the next limit and this will prevent further droop/extension JUST LIKE HAVING TOO SHORT OF SHOCK! Got it?
So you decide you want nifty arms and get a set of the aftermarket ones. Most add up to about 1" more droop. We are NOT talking trophy truck numbers here people!!! It’s a lot of $$ for not a huge amount of gain/droop, but it’s what us maverick Nissan owners must deal with. These will allow the same ride but an inch more lift or a slightly better ride at the same lift you already have.
So now you've perused the internet and a Titan Swap will fulfill all your wildest dreams! Your neighbor has a set of used titan upper arms behind his shed and ebay has a set of lowers for pennies!! Mega-travel is just a CC number and a few OT hours away! Well, the titan arms will hit the bucket too… Even though they are 2.5" wider they still pass over the top of the strut mount. You will get more droop than stock (see numbers above) but it will be hard to align as the stock arms bolt-on but are about 3/8" too short to align properly with the titan lowers with the cam bolts in the middle position. This is how our arms get such good travel numbers. They go AROUND the bucket AND can be adjusted to the correct length for proper alignment.
To summarize the whole debacle: to the get max height (and keep good ride quality), you must run the proper length shock AND an upper arm to get max droop. One will not work without the other. I haven’t touched on running a drop bracket kit which basically just moves everything 4-5” lower and generally keeps the same wheel travel as stock but everything above applies. Even to all the T/S stuff.
Also, notice I have not mentioned CV angles. Surprise to the former Toyota guys, the late-model Nissan CV’s have a ton of movement and don’t self-destruct unless doing something absurd.
Finally, you can mix and match any spacer/shock/spring combo you want as long you:
1) don’t limit compression travel too much and destroy the shock from it bottoming.
2) don’t sit with the upper a-arm on the coilbucket.
Remember if it can touch the top of the bucket, it will make noise at full extension no matter how much lift. How often this happens is directly related to ride height. If there is only ˝ between the arms and the top of the bucket, it will only take a 1” or so dip to make the arm hit. This will also directly affect ride quality. Although it is possible to run a combination of 5100 and a TJM spring and a spacer, the combo will just ride like crap and cost you more money. 2” lift is the max we recommend w/ stock upper arms and 3” w/ aftermarket arms or up to about 4-5” with a titan swap and all the fancy parts.