Disclaimer: "Please use caution and seek professional assistance when necessary. ColoradoFans.com, myself and all associated members are not responsible for any damages, injuries or other harm which may occur with this modification. This post does not reflect the views of ColoradoFans.com and it's ownership." Before attempting this modification, it is advised to verify your Colorado or Canyon service manual or a certified mechanic, as not all GMT 355's are the same!
A CFans Members Mod Projects/How-To by ssgjurista
Description: Owners of Canyons/Colorados with the torsion bar front suspension resort to 'cranking' the torsion bar adjuster bolts to gain front end lift. Lifting more than 2" by this method often leads to a harsher ride. The Suspension Maxx Leveling/Lift Kit allows for lifting up to 3" without totally compromising the factory ride. It enhances the overall ride profile and is an economical alternative to more expensive lift kits. It also allows the vehicle owner to compensate for torsion bar sag and fatigue. This patented kit features 'calibrated' cams and keys and by design the same kit also allows for lowering. Also includes bump stops to prevent the upper control arms from hitting the frame bracket when driving over rough terrain.
Lift: .75". 1.5", 2.0", or 3.0"
Lower: .5", 1.2", or 2.0"
Skill Level: Easy to Moderate
Model: Colorado Z71 LS 4X4
Install Time: 3-4 hours
1/2" drive torque wrench
1/2" drive breaker bar
1/2" drive ratchet
1/2" drive universal joint
1/2" drive extension, 9" length
1/2" drive extension, 2" length
27mm socket or 27mm combination wrench (1 & 1/16" socket or 1 &1/16 combination wrench will suffice)
18mm regular depth socket
18mm deepwell socket
18mm combination wrench
15mm or 17mm combination wrench
9/16" combination wrench
Large flat tip screwdriver or prybar
Suspension Maxx Leveling/Lift/Lowering Kit (SMX-MCJRC)
Lets take a look at the kit components:
The Cam and Key
Differential Spacers and Upper Control Arm Bumpstops
1. Measure from the floor to the bottom edge of the front fender on a line through the center of the axle on both sides and record these measurements for later use.
In my case, the stock height was 35 & 1/2".
2. Loosen the wheel nuts on both front wheels 1 - 2 turns.
3. Raise the front of the truck and place jack stands under each frame rail behind the radiator.
4. Remove both tire and wheel assemblies.
5. At this time, install the supplied urethane bumpstops to the frame brackets under each upper control arm. Secure the bumpstop by placing the supplied washer and locknut on the bumpstop bolt and tighten. If needed, use the jack to raise the lower control arm until there is enough room to install the bump stop.
6. Place a floor jack and suitable wooden blocks under the front differential. Raise the jack until it touches the differential. Locate the four bolts securing the differential to the frame.
Two bolts are just to the passenger side and the other two are located at the end of the axle tube on the driver's side. With the jack supporting the diff, loosen the two passenger side bolts and remove the two driver's side bolts. Slowly lower the jack until there is enough room on the driver's side to insert the supplied spacers. They go between the top of the mounts and the vehicle frame. Apply Lock Tite to the last inch of bolt threads, install the bolts, and tighten several turns to ensure the bolts are started. Repeat this step for the passenger side bolts.
Use the jack to raise the differential to its' original position. Tighten the bolts to 112 lb ft.
7. Locate the factory torsion bar keys and adjusting bolts at the rear of the torsion bars.
Left (Driver's) Side
Right (Passenger Side)
Starting with the right side torsion bar, turn the adjuster bolt counter-clockwise. This will 'unload' or remove tension from the torsion bar. Completely remove the bolt.
Note: the smaller of the two 'half moons' is on top of the key. Raise the torsion bar with one hand and wiggle the key with the other hand to break it loose. If the key is difficult to remove due to rust/dirt, you may tap it with a hammer. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, USE HEAT TO LOOSEN THE KEY! Heat from a torch will have a negative effect on the torsion properties of the bar. Remove the key from the torsion bar. Repeat this step for the left side torsion bar.
Right Side key Removed
Right Side Torsion Bar
Note: The torsion bars are coded for each side and are not interchangeable. You can use this code if you ever need to order a new torsion bar.
The factory key appears bigger than the Suspension Maxx key. But the factory key is cast while the SM key is forged from 4140 chromemoly steel. The Suspension Maxx key also feels heavier.
8. Apply a thin film of Anti Seize to the 'gear tooth' areas on each cam.
9. Look closely at the cam; one side has an 'A' stamped on one of the teeth and the other side has a 'B'. The inside of the key is also hex shaped to match the torsion bar. Now look at the Suspension Maxx key; each gear tooth area is stamped with a number. The amount of lift or lowering is determined by 'calibrating' one of the letters on the cam to a number on the key. For example, if I wanted to lower my truck 2", I would turn the cam so the letter 'A' faced up and insert it into the key so the letter gear matched up with the number '5' gear on the key. In this case I was aiming for the full 3" of lift so I calibrated the cam/key by matching the letter 'A' to the number '1'.
10. Once you have calibrated both cam/key assemblies, place the supplied 'U' shaped alignment clip over the top of each key. This clip helps keep the cam and key together while you install it.
Photo showing how the adjuster bolts sits in the key.
11. Starting with the right side, remove any loose dirt or rust from the crossmember. Hold the torsion bar up slightly with one hand. Use your other hand to hold the cam and key assembly. Make sure to place one finger on the clip as it can slide off and fall inside the frame. Slide the cam and key over the end of the torsion bar. For the A1 position, the angle on the top edge of the key will be parallel to the angle of the crossmember. Once the key is fully seated, remove the clip. Place the small half moon on top of the key; with the larger half moon on the bolt, place the bolt through the crossmember and slot in the key and thread the bolt. Make sure both half moons are properly seated and tighten the bolt clockwise until you feel a slight bit of tension.
Repeat this step for the left side.
12. Starting with the passenger side shock absorber, look at the top mounting nut and washer. You will need at least 3/4" of rod sticking up through the nut. (I had previously replaced the factory shocks with Bilsteins, these shocks have a shorter rod. But for install purposes, lets assume I still have the factory shocks).
Remove the upper mounting nut, washer,shock insulator bushing, and center sleeve (if present). Then remove the lower shock mounting bolt. When you remove this bolt, there is very little clearance with the halfshaft, but it will come out.
Remove the shock from the truck. Remove the lower bushing and washer. Install the supplied shock spacer, then reinstall the lower washer followed by the lower insulator bushing.
Remount the shock into the truck but don't install the lower bolt. Make sure the nipple on the bushing is properly seated into the hole in the frame mount. Take the upper insulator bushing and place it onto the hex nut/washer assembly include in the kit. It's a tight fit, silicone grease will make it easier. The hex nut/washer assembly included in the kit is designed to allow for the use of the spacer and still be able to thread onto the top of the rod.
Place the nut/washer/insulator on the shock rod and hand tighten. There should be just enough rod sticking up so you can hold it with the proper tool. (Some rods have flats on each side, some have an indent for an Allen wrench, and others are hex shaped). If you don't have enough rod showing you may remove the shock and shorten the shock spacer.
Note: Due to info gathered during my install, if a customer orders a kit directly from Suspension Maxx, he/she can request shorter spacers.
Tighten the nut until the rubber insulator bushing is expanded to the diameter of the washer.
Don't worry if this last step sounds a bit confusing. The kit includes an instruction sheet with photos showing how to properly install the shock spacer and hardware. Since I couldn't use the spacer with the Bilsteins, I left it out. Here's the thinking behind using a spacer. At the lower limits of suspension travel, the upper control arm will touch the frame bracket.
At this point the shock is fully extended. If this happened while driving over extremely rough terrain, it's possible for the upper arm to slam against the frame. This tiny bit of extra travel could over extend the shock and cause damage. Installing the bump stops and spacers eliminates this possibility.
13. Install the lower shock mounting bolt and tighten to 70 lb ft.
14. Install the tire and wheel assemblies. Snug the wheel nuts but don't torque them yet.
15. Starting with the right side, turn the adjusting bolt on the Suspension Maxx key clockwise until about 1" of threads shows above the key. Do the same on the left side.
Remove the jack stands and lower the truck to the ground and bounce both corners of the front bumper a few times. Then just like you did at the beginning of the install, measure both sides. Since my stock height was 35 & 1/2" and I was going for 3" of lift, I needed the measurement to be 38 & 1/2". If it's not high enough, raise the front so the tires are just off the ground and turn the bolts. Lower the truck, bounce the front end, and measure again. Repeat this process until both sides are at the correct height.
If one of your torsion bars has sagged more than the other, you will need more turns on that bolt. (My driver's side torsion bar had sagged a bit more than the passenger side).
Note: At 3" of lift in front, my truck set level from back to front. So I backed off the front lift to 2 & 3/4" so I have a very slight forward rake. My final measurement ended up being 38 & 1/4".
16. Tighten the wheel nuts to 100 lb ft.
Halfshaft angles at 2 & 3/4" and diff spacers installed.
17. Go for a short test drive and listen for any unusual noises. Upon your return, double check your measurements. While driving I noticed the ride quality didn't change except when driving over speed bumps or large potholes. Then it felt a bit stiifer but not harsh. I'm happy with the ride quality.
Everyone should have a good idea of what stock height looks like, but here are a few 'after' pics:
1.5" lift shackles on the rear.
Impressions & Opinions
Fit and Finish: I'm definitely impressed with the quality of the items. Doesn't appear to be any shortcuts here. The keys are forged from 4140 chrome moly steel; (a high strength alloy steel with an excellent strength to weight ratio) and have a nice layer of powder coating. The internal hex of the cam grabs the flats of the torsion bar hex, just like the stock key. The hex nut/washer assembly features an extra tall hex, very thick washer, and the nut extends below the washer to grab plenty of threads on the shock rod. All hardware with the exception of the shock and diff spacers are gold zinc plated. Of course the 3/4" thick aluminum diff spacers don't need any extra corrosion protection.
Ease of Install: Only requires basic hand tools along with a jack and jackstands. You don't have to be an ASE certified mechanic to do the install. The average do-it-yourself person should have no problems.
Ride: The ride remains factory like except when driving over large potholes, large cracks, speed bumps, etc. Then it tends to become a bit firmer/harsher. Is this less so than by simply cranking the torsion bars using the factory keys? Time will tell.
The cam features an 'A' and 'B' side; the key has seven numbered positions. Although the instructions only list seven calibration combinations, there are additional possibilities. For example, after doing the install I spoke with their tech and mentioned my driver's side torsion bar required considerably more turns on the bolt. I also said I might invest in a new torsion bar ($100). He checked his engineering data and sent me an email saying to use the 'A2' calibration for the left side key. This would reduce the number of turns on the bolt to achieve the same lift and a new torsion bar wouldn't be necessary.
From time to time, I notice members asking for opinions on whether they should lift or lower their truck. This kit allows for lifting or lowering just by simply changing the calibration of the cam to the key.
If it means anything to you, the kit is made in the USA. Suspension Maxx got its start from a group of ASE mechanics who were used to making their own tools for special jobs. Larry V. is the tech and head of research and development. He is good about answering emails and phone calls.
Based on this install, he is already initiating several design changes and is intent on making a good product even better. One being the bump stops for the upper control arms. The Suspension Maxx website is still undergoing revision; the H3 install instructions are already posted, the instructions for the Twins should be up soon.
There are other companies that offer reindexed keys for our trucks. However, Suspension Maxx is the only company at the present that includes diff spacers for 4X4s and offers a cam/key combo that gives the customer the option of lifting/lowering in the same kit.
If you want four or more inches of lift, this kit won't suit your needs. If you have no concerns about ride quality, spend your mod money on something else. But if a couple of inches of lift is all you're after than I would recommend it as a worthy option. It does provide up to 3" of lift as advertised. You can also fit 32" tires and most likely some 33's. As I see it, one of the prime reasons to consider this kit is too compensate for torsion bar sag.
If you are considering this kit, I suggest contacting Larry directly. If one or both of your torsion bars have sagged, he can suggest an optimum calibration for your particular situation. In addition, if you have aftermarket replacement shocks like me, he can even customize the spacer length along with the upper shock mounting hardware. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or toll free 1-888-629-9226
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. :D