Trailmaster Chevy 4-Inch Lift Install

Making a GM truck slightly taller than a sedan

Published in the December 2009 Issue February 2010 Installs

We'll admit right up front that we're not huge fans of big lifted trucks. Sure, they're awesome to look at and are a great cure for a small ego, but we tend to not associate lifts with work getting done.

However, we can appreciate the benefits of a lift. Tire fitment, ground clearance, ride quality. etc. And on no truck is that more true than with a Chevy or GMC, no matter the year.

Right off the dealer's lot, you can run 33-inch tires under a Ford Super Duty or a Dodge Ram Heavy Duty. With a $250 level kit, you can easily get away with 35s. But on a Chevy? Thirty-one-inch-tall 265s are about as big as you can go without changing the torsion bar settings.

And the GM chassis tends to favor those who like to slide into the driver's seat rather than climb up to it. That makes for a down-to-earth ride and car-like handling, but the down side is that it makes for a down-next-to-earth ride and, well, car-like handling.

We searched out the options for giving our Chevy Silverado 2500 HD more of a truck-like feel and appearance, while increasing round clearance and making more room for larger tires. We could have gone with the popular six-inch lift that is very common for this truck, but we had our minds set on something a little more conservative.

Few places offer a four-inch lift for Chevy 4x4s, and even fewer with the quality and value of the Trailmaster 4-inch lift kit. We wanted a mild lift-something to get the Chevy up off the ground a little, clear 33s with no issues and give the truck a look that's more factory-shoulduvbeen than show truck wannabe. And we wanted a lift kit that would maintain (if not improve) the factory ride quality of the independent front suspension Chevy.

The $2,437 C4102SSV Trailmaster 4-inch lift we installed on our Chevy included four SSV shock absorbers, two-inch rear blocks with U-bolts, spindles, drop brackets and everything else required to complete the conversion. And it's just that-a conversion. When you put a lift on one of these trucks, it's not something that you can take off later on.

We don't want to give you a step-by-step guide to the installation process. That's what the instructions are for (and Trailmaster's instructions are as clear and easy to follow as it gets-they've done an amazing job at getting clear pictures of what goes where during installation). We just want to give you a heads up on a few things you might encounter along the way, give you an idea of what to expect and give you our impressions of the lift kit.

A lift installation is something we recommend you have done by a professional shop, although it can be done by a capable shade tree mechanic with the right tools.

Before you begin tearing things apart, you should measure the height of the truck at all four wheel wells. This will give you an idea of how much height you gained and help you adjust the torsion bars properly later on. Make this measurement by measuring from the center of the axle to the bottom of the fender lip.

Twist it: Adding a few inches of suspension travel does wonders for keeping all four tires on the ground on ugly terrain. The Trailmaster 4-inch lift has handled everything we've thrown at it, from sled pull competitions to off-road weekend joyrides.

We like the clean factory look of the Trailmaster suspension. It lacks that "look at what I spent lots of money on" look to it, which is a good thing. Everything in the kit was built to high-quality specs, making the installation process a clean one.

Four inches of lift under a Chevy gives the truck room for 33x12.50 tires and makes the truck look more like a truck and less like an open-trunk sedan. No offense to GM engineers (well, maybe a little).

Do the front end first. Jack the vehicle up and set the frame rails on jack stands.

This is the factory front end. Once the tires are removed, Trailmaster recommends removing the torsion bars.

With the torsion bars removed from the truck, unbolt the torsion bar cross member and remove it from the frame.

There are a few parts that will be reused with the new suspension. The bump stop bushings are removed from the truck and installed on the Trailmaster components.

Carefully remove the brake caliper and either tie it back to the frame rail or set it on something so that no tension is on the brake line.

You access the axle nut by removing the axle cap from the steering knuckle.


Remove the axle nut from the steering knuckle and remove the six bolts from the axle differential mount.

By the time the driver and passenger side front ends are ready, everything but the upper control arms, tie rods and stabilizer bar will be out.

Now the fun begins. To get to the front differential, remove the differential skid plate and the differential cross member.

This is the point where the front drive shaft is dropped. There are a few things you need to be careful with and watch for here. There's a wiring harness on the differential and a vent hose. Both of those need to be removed from the differential.

Out comes the front differential. Use a transmission jack or a floor jack (with caution) to lower the differential.

Here's where the bridge of no return comes into play. Following the directions with the kit, measure out and mark the lower control arm mount on the frame and cut the tab off. A plate (supplied with the kit) is welded into place here to reinforce the frame tabs.


Keep the sawsall out. The upper mount on the front differential gets hacked off too. Don't worry, Trailmaster's directions are very clear on how and where to make the cut.

Bolt the supplied differential bracket with new bushings and sleeve installed to the differential using the supplied replacement hardware.

Reinstall the differential and the new Trailmaster cross member. Reattach the vent line and wiring harness to the differential, along with drive shaft and drag link.

The factory steering knuckle (or spindle) and the Trailmaster unit (right).

The factory shock absorber and the longer Trailmaster shock.

The front end goes back together just as it came apart.

The lift kit comes with longer sway bar links.

Now move on to the torsion bar brackets. The torsion bar cross member needs to be lowered to maintain a straight angle with the lower control arm. The kit's supplied brackets accomplish that.

Reinstall the torsion bar cross member into the new brackets. There are four holes that need to be drilled into the bottom of the frame rail to support the drop brackets. Reinstall the torsion bars and keys (reinserted to the same position as they were originally) and adjust the torsion bar tension bolts to the same position as they were on the factory suspension.

Install the riser blocks, U-bolts and new shock absorbers to the rear end. We were running air bag helper springs on this truck, so we used the supplied bump stop spacers to mount to the top of the air bags. Install the carrier bearing drop bracket (long bed models only).





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