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Well, to start off I want to thank everybody for their insight and opinions on this forum. I have spent the better part of a year researching, learning, and deciding how to lift my truck.

Being that this is a family vehicle and it needs to last me a good long time, I knew I didn't want anything too extreme. I just wanted to make the truck look like a truck and not a skateboard. I also wanted some more ground clearance for the rare occasion I go off road. I loved the way the truck felt while driving and was very reluctant to do anything that would make the ride harsh and bumpy. I did have a problem with body roll and therefore I only got 22,000 miles from the factory "Dunflops" it came with. I never liked those tires from day 1. So I knew I had to tighten things up a bit, but not too much. If my wife rode in the truck and got bounced around, I knew I was in for it. So began the research, the confusion, and then finally the answer.

I decided to install the Bilstein 5100 adjustable front shocks, and after reading many posts, I set them on the top notch for the most amount of lift. I also installed a 1" diff. drop kit, a Hellwig rear sway bar, 1" rear blocks, and some BF Goodrich 285/75/R16 A/T K/O wrapped around some Wheeler's Polished alloy wheels.

The Install: I must say I had an advantage over most do-it-yourselfers because a close friend of mine works at a body shop and we had full access to it. More importantly, access to the lifts and tools. After performing the work there, I can honestly say, it is not something I would have wanted to do laying in the driveway with the truck on jack stands.

1st thing to go in was the front shocks. We started on the drivers side. Getting the old unit out was a breeze. With the suspension at full droop, I took off the top three nuts, then the main bottom bolt and the assembly popped right out. It was definately tight trying to get the bottom bolt out without tearing the axle boot. I stuck a 2" putty knife between the bolt head and the boot, while my friend tapped the bolt out with a punch. The bolt slid nicely down the knife without touching the boot. Now off to the strut machine. Yes, we had the advantage of a wall mounted strut tool that worked beautifully and I would not recommend using the kind that clamps on to the springs and are tightened with a wrench. I will explain why very soon. We compressed the spring, loosened the top nut, removed the top plate, paying attention to it's position in relation with the bottom mounting hole of the shock itself. We then inserted the new shock and tried to reassemble everything along with the new rubber bushings that came with the shocks. Problem was, there was not enough space on the shaft for everything, the new rubber bushings were just too thick. We tried everything from pre-compressing them to pure brute force. There was no getting that nut on the end of the shaft. After a while, I decided to re-use the old bushing that seats in to the top plate. I figured the truck is only a year old and it has 22,000 miles on it. I'm sure it is good enough shape. It didn't look weathered and dry rotted at all. So we finally got the assembly back together and ready to install on the truck. Obviously since this new assembly is longer than the original one. It wasn't going to go back in as easily as the other one came out. We got the top in and re-installed the top 3 nuts. Then came the bottom. We tried using prybars on the control arms, and many other methods, but to no avail. We even tried putting a set of clamp on strut spring compressors to try to take up some slack to allow us to get the shock in, but it didn't work. Although the clamp ons did compress the spring, I don't recommend using these. The bolts were bowed so much that it looked like they were ready to go at any second. In our situation, if they did, the springs couldn't go anywhere. Finally we took off the nut for the front sway bar and that gave us enough play to muscle it in place. Once we re-installed the bottom bolt, the same way we took it out. We used a floor jack to raise the assembly so we could get the sway bar re-attached. The drivers side was finally done after almost 2 hours. I never would have thought it would take that long. So on to the passenger side. With all of the things we learned from the drivers side, this side only took 20 minutes. Hey, now it almost looks like we know what we're doing.

2nd thing we did was mount 2 new tires on 2 new rims. This went well only because my friend had prior experience with tire pressure sensors and we decided to set the tire beads with regular valve stems first. Then we removed the sensors from the old wheels, broke the bead on the new tires, removed the new valve stem, put in the pressure sensors, and blew up the tire. It sounds like the long way around, but I trusted him. He said the last time he tried to set new tires with sensors and wheels on that machine, him and 2 other guys wrestled with it for 1 1/2 hours before they tried it the way I just described. Now for balancing the tires. Long story short, he wasn't familiar enough with the way the machine worked, and after an hour of playing with it, we gave up and just mounted the wheels to the truck. I am going to the dealer today for an alignment and tire balance. Now on to the rear. The lifting blocks are as easy as anything to do. We took off the old u-bolts and hardware to see if we could get the rea to drop enough to slip the new blocks in. No such luck. We had to remove the bottom shock bolts as well to get the blocks in. We did our best to keep everything aligned while doing this. It would not be good if you took the shock bolts out and the rear end started rolling away from you. So after mounting the last 2 tires, the lifting was done.

3rd thing we did was install a Hellwig rear anti-sway bar. Let me just say that the instructions that came with it are a freaking joke. The hardware wasn't correct and the bolts were too short. I might address this with Hellwig customer service. By looking at the photocopied pictures that came with the kit and taking a guess at the hardware, we got it on. One tip is, make sure you put the bolt and top spacers in to the L bracket before you mount the L bracket, or you will have to take it off again. We ended up trimming about 1/4" off the tubes that slide over the bolts because everything just would not fit as designed. We lined everything up, made it as straight as possible, and tightened everything down. All was solid and stable. I would be more concerned if I wasn't planning on getting quick disconnects for this, which replaces all of the hardware anyway.

Okay, almost done, now for the diff. drop. All we had to do was drop the front skid plate, remove the 2 bolts and nuts holding the diff. in place, slide the spacers in, and install the 2 new nuts and bolts, making sure to re-use the large factory washers. We then re-installed the skid plate. The drop kit came with two longer bolts and washers for the rear of the pan. I took to two of the rubber bushings that we didn't use from the shocks (remember we re-used two of the old bushings), slid them in with the new bolts and tightened it up. Now it was time to put the truck back on the ground and inspect everything.

Let me just say that this was a huge improvement to the looks of the truck. It sits level and it looks great. I tested the for any rubbing issues by having my friend turn the wheels full right and full left while I watched. The tires rubbed the mud flaps slightly at full turn, so off they came. I was planning on taking them off anyway, so no big loss. Now it was time for a test drive. I knew that the truck still needed an alignment and the tires balanced, so I wasn't expecting much. I figured the ride would be stiff and the wheels would vibrate like heck. Well, I figured wrong. The truck is slightly stiffer, but I think in a good way. It feels like it can handle the potholes now and some off-roading. Steering is crisp and and the control I now have is a huge improvement. I couldn't be happier with it. If you are like I was and was very concerned on how all of this would effect the ride quality, don't be. This is a huge improvement over the stock configuration. A couple of things I also notice is that the tires are a little louder than the original ones, which is to be expected. Look at the difference in the tread between the two and that should explain it. I also think I will be getting 5100 shocks for the rear sooner then later. It is softer in the rear and you notice it.

Oh and by the way, I do know about the CV boot mod, I just have to d it yet. After 8 hours of work with no food, be were beat. I'll do the mod when I get my new rear shocks.

As only time will tell, I will post any new opinions and/or issues with this setup, but thus far, in my opinion, if you want to improve the handling and appearance of your truck, in a cost effective way, this is the way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh. yeah, here are some pics. If this doesn't work they are also in my gallery.
 

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Hey man, thanks for the play-by-play. Always nice to hear that I am not the ONLY one that has to fight with his trucks to get things right! Definately keep us posted on the reliability.....
 

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looking good. hows the ride of the 5100's? besides the addition of the hellwig, the back end is stock (no lift)? wonder how that hellwig rides...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just wanted to give an update. Everything has been great. Put on about 6000 miles with the new lift and all is well. I have noticed a couple of things though. I do have a slight amount of rub when i go in reverse and turn the wheel. Also rubs a little when wheel is turned hard and i hit a bump. I'm sure it is only rubbing the plastic in the wheel well or the plastic mouldings. Not enough to damage or endanger anything, just a slight rubber on plastic sound. No wear on the tires from this either. I also have not done a CV boot clamp mod yet and I do see a very small amount of grease around them. I will put new clamps on when the weather gets warmer. All in all, I am still very happy I did the work to the truck, and would do it again. I have had other Tundra owners follow me in to parking lots and ask what I did to the truck. After I explain it, I recommend they do some reading on this website to see exactly how they want to approach such a project.

Oh yeah, integraGSR, the Hellwig makes an unbelievable difference in body roll. I strongly suggest putting one on. I also have a 1" lift block from wheeler's installed to make the ride level. The 5100's ride stiffer than stock but not uncomfortable at all. You will notice the difference more on bumpy roads, but they will shine going over the railroad tracks, bridges and such. I have only done some very light off-roading with them and they seem like they are very capable, but others can probably comment on that aspect better then I.
 

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Well done. It looks great. So do these adjustable shocks leave the springs in a constant compressed position? I installed a toy tec spacer lift on my previous 02' TRD Tundra and it left very stiff for my taste. Thanks.
 

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Thanks for the info. Did you need to install a longer rear shock for the 1" block in the back or is stock fine ?
 
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