How to install a Skyjacker 6” lift and more!

Project Silver Lining, as part of a massive makeover for SEMA, received a Skyjacker 6" suspension lift, to give it a better stance and more visible appeal, as well as to perform better off-road. At the same time, we replaced idler arm, tie rods, ball joints, and many bushings as ours were worn out from over 100,000 miles of use!

The Skyjacker 6” lift is certainly not the easiest lift I've worked on, but it's not the hardest either. It's always a good safety reminder to make sure you are working with stable equipment, and that you have some helpers, you can try to do this project by yourself but it will take you a lot longer. You should also ensure that you have the tools handy to do the job before you start, or you may be making some trips to the auto parts store. As with any job, its good to read through the instructions several times before proceeding.
Many of these steps come directly from Skyjackers installation instructions, located here: Skyjacker lift instructions. Typically when writing a how-to, I go off some vague instructions provided by the manufacturer with little or no pictures, and make it into something more readable. However, Skyjacker has done some excellent work with their instructions, with detailed photos and good step-by-step instructions. As a result, the instructions I wrote will tie in closely with Skyjackers provided instructions. However, when installing on this project vehicle, we found some differences that we've included in our instructions. There were also several steps that Skyjacker had combined into one, that really deserved their own step. We also chose to do some additional work at the time of our installation, which we've included here.
The major complication for our project was our installation vehicle has 110,000 miles on it, and many of the bolts were extremely tight and/or rusted. Because of the mileage on the vehicle, we also chose to install Moog Upper Control Arms with Moog Ball Joints, Moog lower ball joints, Moog inner and outer tie-rod ends, Moog Idler Arm, and Energy Suspensions lower control arm bushings. Because many of these components are known to be weak and fail after 100,000 miles, especially with larger tires, we decided this would be a good time to replace them, while things are being taken apart anyway. The Moog items are all greasable and known to last a lot longer then stock parts. Believe it not, they are also less expensive then the Ford OEM parts and can be purchased at most auto parts stores. Because the brake rotors were starting to warp and the pads wearing down, we also replaced the existing brakes with Wagner Thermo-Quiet rotors, calipers, and pads.
For our installation, we chose to replace the rear springs with Skyjackers 6” rear springs, for the same reason (we had over 100,000 miles on our springs were probably sagging so to ensure a good, even, long-lasting lift). If you choose the version of the lift without the replacement rear springs, the lift kit will include blocks for the rear, allowing you to raise the rear while reusing your stock springs.

PRECAUTIONS/PREPARATIONS

The ideal environment for any suspension lift is a garage with a vehicle lift and a plethora of tools available. If you don't have this capability, you will want to have at least one good jack (lets leave the bottle jacks at home, ok boys?) and good jack stands. No whimpy jack stands, you'll want to make sure you have a good tall set of jack stands. Make sure you are working on a flat, level surface, anything else will only complicate the lift. Because some frame cross-members are removed as part of the suspension, if the frame becomes “tweaked” during install it can equal a lot of extra work to get the new cross-members installed. Some other “specialty equipment” you will need includes a torsion bar loading/unloading tool, and a transmission jack or transmission adapter for your existing jack to support the front differential when it is being dropped. If you don't have a transmission jack, its similar to a regular jack, with the exception of having a larger base, and straps to hold the transmission (or differential, in this case) to the jack for stability when raising and lowering into place. A pickle fork (for tie rods), and a press may come in handy if you are doing extra parts like we are for this project. If you are replacing ball joints, a ball joint remover/installer can be rented from most auto parts stores and will make things a lot easier, as can torsion tools and other specialty tools. If you are going to be doing a lot of work on your vehicle in the future however, just buy the tool, you'll probably need it again.
As with any other vehicle modification install, safety should be your primary concern. If you are modifying anything electrical, disconnect your battery first, and be sure to wear safety glasses to protect your vision. Even a few specks of dust can cause permanent damage to your vision, so be careful! You will also want to refrain from wearing clothing that can become snagged or caught, whenever possible. It is recommended that the vehicle be allowed to cool before proceeding with the suspension install, to prevent any burns. As always, when using power tools or hand tools, ensure you are using them according to specification, with an emphasis on safety.
If you plan on installing larger tires as part of your suspension lift you will also want to look into speedometer recalibration. Theres a few ways to do this, but perhaps the best is with a Superchip or other programmer, which can be programmed to account for the larger tire size. Failure to recalibrate will result in a speedometer and odometer that are both off.

INSTALLATION

BEFORE INSTALLING, measure and record the heights from the floor to the center of the fender above the axle, above all four tires.