No matter how many accessories you pile onto your truck, one thing in the Lift’d community remains a given — choosing the right lift! And while there are many different options when it comes to the suspension aspect of your build, we always recommend checking out the industry’s leading lift manufacturers to ensure that you are truly happy with the quality products and craftsmanship, both of which McGaughy’s Suspension is well known for. In our first install and tech piece here at Lift’d Trucks we wanted to show you the process and just how easy it is to upgrade your ride using high-quality components from an industry innovator! So follow along as we lift our 2015 GMC Sierra 4wd utilizing the all-new McGaughy’s “Black Edition” 7 to 9-inch SS Lift.
Photos & Words: The Lift’d Trucks Crew
The 7 to 9-inch SS Lift Kit (Above, Right; PN: 50767ss) is one of the latest offerings from McGaughy’s for the new lineup of GMC and Chevrolet pickups, including fitment for our 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 4wd. With adjustable front nitrogen gas struts, this kit offers up to 9 inches of lift with each McGaughy’s performance strut being able to be set at 7 inches, 8 inches and 9 inches, with the front of the truck sitting 1 inch lower than the rear at the 7-inch setting, level at 8 inches, and an inch higher with the 9-inch setting. McGaughy’s puts a ton of R&D and proper engineering into the development of each new kit and dropping the crossmember and differential a full 7 inches, keeps your truck’s suspension geometry, steering geometry, and CV axle angles completely factory for optimum lasting performance.
Included in the lift kit is everything you need to lift your new GM 1500 pickup, including adjustable lift struts (or clam shell to use the factory struts as optioned, like we did for this install), front lift spindles, crossmember drops, compression struts, differential drops, lift blocks, outer tie-rod ends, sway bar drops, sway bar extenders, rear bump stop extenders, brakeline bracket extenders, rear shocks, hardware and skid-plate. Options to consider with this kit are the choices between steel or aluminum control arms (we went with steel), a Gloss Black or Metallic Silver powdercoat finish (we chose black), and the additional Add-A-Leaf-Kit (PN: 50005) for an additional 1-inch lift in the rear, making your truck level with the front struts set at 9 inches (we chose to do without on this install). Desired tire size and wheel backspacing is also something to consider, with a maximum tire size of 35 to 37 inches depending on the chosen lift setting, and a maximum backspacing range of 4.5 inches to 5.75 inches based on wheel size ranging from 17 to 20+ inches.
Lifting your truck with McGaughy’s new SS Lift is a fairly simple process and can be done in your garage with basic tools and mechanical knowledge. Of course, if you have access to a lift like we did, it will make your life a whole lot easier, but it’s not necessary. Top, Center: With our truck in the air we started the lift process by removing the front wheels [left] and then the tie-rods, using a rubber mallet on the spindle to loosen them up [right]. We then unplugged the ABS from the a-arm and chassis, removed the factory brake hose bracket from the spindle and coil pocket, and removed our brake calipers [below], making sure they didn’t hang from the brake hose.
Next we took off the clips on the wheel studs and removed the bearing cover, axle nut and washer, and the rotor with the hub bearing all in one piece on the drivers side before moving to the passenger side and repeating the process [above; right and center].
Once both bearing assemblies were removed, we moved on to the front ball joints, followed by the removing the front shocks and the brake line bracket on the upper a-arms. Because our truck is a 4wd model, we then had to remove the CV axles and sway bar end links as well [below].
Above: The front skid plate and crossmember was the next thing to be removed, followed by the driveshaft and the rear crossmember. Last but not least, we removed the vacuum line and plug from the differential housing before completely removing it.
From there the actual lifting began, starting with cutting 3 inches off the driver side lower a-arm frame mount and 3.5 inches off the passenger side lower a-arm frame with a sawzall, measuring from the edge of the frame inward on both sides [below]. We then ground a 1/4-inch off the lower a-arm pockets on both sides, ensuring the new lift kit would fit.
Next, we bolted the new differential drop brackets to the front a-arm frames using the stock hardware, then installed the factory differential cover onto the new drop brackets, making sure to use the provided 1/2-inch x 1-3/4-inch bolts to install the cover on the drivers side and 9/16-inch x 1-3/4-inch bolts on the passenger side. We then torqued the drivers side bolts to 75ft-lbs and the passenger side bolts to 95ft-lbs. With the cover in place, we were able to easily reinstall the vacuum line and electrical plug to the differential.
Next we installed the new rear crossmember drop and new front crossmember drop [above] using the supplied 5/8-inch x 5-inch bolts but not tightening them all the way just yet. We then attached the truck’s lower a-arms to the new crossmembers, installing the new lower a-arm support rods between the crossmembers before sliding the a-arm bolt completely through and finishing them off with the provided washers and nuts. Next, we attached the new skid plate [below, center] with the provided 7/16-inch x 1-1/4-inch bolts to the front crossmember and 1/2-inch x 1-1/4-inch bolts to the rear crossmember before going back and tightening all the bolts from the crossmember installation on, torquing all the bolts per the included instructions.
Once everything was snugged up, we moved on to attach the new lower strut extenders to the lower a-arms and install the new McGaughy’s spindles, attaching the upper and lower a-arms to the spindles using the factory hardware [above, right]. Next we fitted the truck’s axle shafts into the new lift spindles, torquing the axle nut per the included recommendations before reinstalling the factory bearing cover and installing the new CV axle spacers [above, center] between the rear differential housing and the CV axles, using lock-tite on the hardware to keep everything properly in place. We then reinstalled the truck’s hubs/bearing assemblies, followed by the factory brake rotors and calipers.
From here we were able to remove the truck’s stock outer tie rods, replacing them with the new McGaughy’s components before bolting up the new sway bar drops to the frame using factory hardware to where the old sway bar mounts were attached. On the bottom of the sway bars, we attached the new sway bar extenders, which we then attached to the factory sway bar end links, attaching the links to the lower a-arms. Next up, we bolted in the new front brake line extender to the factory mount using factory hardware, before attaching the original bracket to the extender. We were then able to bolt the brake hose and ABS to the new lift spindle, making sure to reconnect the ABS line and securing it out of the way with the provided wire while leaving enough slack to compensate for the expected suspension travel. Then we reinstalled the truck’s driveline into the differential.
Now, with the transmission crossmember supported, we unbolted the crossmember from the frame and slid in the new compression strut brackets, bolting them to the frame. We then bolted the new compression struts to the new brackets to finish off the front end portion of the lift.
With our truck still on the lift and the front suspension complete, we moved on to the rest of the rear. With the rear differential supported, we then lowered down the rearend, making sure not to put any strain on the rear brake line. We then installed our new McGaughy’s lift blocks, fitting the center pin on the bottom of each block into the axle before removing the old U-bolts and bolting the new U-bolts in their place around the rearend [below,center]. Next, we unbolted the factory bump stops and installed the provided bump stop extender before bolting them back in place.
We then used the provided self-drilling hex head screws to re-position the factory brake line bracket to the underside of the frame [above, left]. Finally, we installed our new rear shocks [above ,right], reattached our ABS and switched out the drivers side emergency brake line for the passengers side line in the factory bracket and re-bolted it into place. We then checked all our lines for clearance and needed slack for proper suspension travel, as well as all the suspension hardware to make sure it was tightened properly per the specs provided.
With our lift complete, we installed our new 20×9-inch Forza 308 wheels fitted with 35×12.5r20 Lexani Mud Beast rubber, making sure both our wheel and tire size were congruent with McGaughy’s recommendations for the lift application. Once we got our truck back on the ground, we once again checked our lines and hardware. To make sure our truck was road-worthy, we finished off our lift project with a front end alignment and a bit of headlight adjustment.
Just like any good build, you’ve got to test out your hard work, so we wasted no time putting our newly lifted GMC back on the road. It didn’t take long for reality to hit us — not only were we cruising around in a brand new GMC with a fresh McGaughy’s lift, but the truck also rode so nice that we didn’t even notice much change, something that definitely can’t be said with every lift.
With the McGaughy’s SS lift, our truck maintained its precise handling qualities on the road while also giving us a ton of extra ground clearance for those days when off-roading with a factory suspension just isn’t enough, making this lift an excellent option for weekend off-road warriors and daily drivers, exactly what we wanted! We plan on taking full advantage of our new McGaughy’s lift in the future, running it on and off-road, as well as showing it off on the show circuit. If you happen to catch us at a local show or on the trail, be sure to give us a wave and take in the new McGaughy’s SS 7- to 9-inch Lift Kit in action – see you out there soon!
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