F-250 BDS Four-Link Suspension Install
Gaining ground clearance with a BDS 4-inch suspension lift makes way for taller tires and better on- and off-road handling
by Bruce W. Smith
Ground clearance and traction are the two biggest needs of anyone driving a pickup in the construction business. If your pickup gets hung up and loses traction, you’re stuck. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Now the majority of ProPickup readers aren’t blazing new roads or breaking trails through the bush.
But if you are one of those whose work requires the occasional foray to the front of the roadbuilding job or making your way into a well site over roads that are at best nothing more than a double-barreled cow path, ground clearance, suspension travel and traction are essential.
We are setting up 2012 F-250 Project Super Crew specifically for that type of work. Like we said at the outset, “no road, no problem” is this Ford’s build motto.
Super Duty 4x4s come with good running ground clearance right from the factory.
Our truck, for example, came with 33-inch LT27570R18 Continental TR tires that provide 8.5 inches clearance under the front and 8.1 inches under the rear diff.
But we found early on during our late-winter, early-spring drives the street Contis might as well be slicks in soft soil and mud.
We also want more air under the differentials for those days when we have to get in and out of a tough job location.
Our remedy to improve the Super Crew’s off-pavement performance: a BDS 4-inch lift kit and 35-inch tires.
Our build goal is to maximize ground clearance without compromising ride quality or towing/hauling functionality.
BDS is a premium suspension manufacturer and they offer both standard and “4-link” kits, with rear lift blocks or replacement rear springs for both their 4- and 6-inch suspension kits.
The 4-link front suspension design allows full suspension travel while actually improving ride and handling by reducing caster change through wheel travel, which creates a more controlled feel both on- and off-pavement.
So we opted for the 4-link kit with the leaf springs and the 9500 Dual-Steering Stabilizer kit, the latter to provide added stability for the taller, heavier tires.
The BDS “Glide-Ride” rear leaf springs, which feature tapered and roll-pointed leaves for an even deflection rate resulting in a softer ride with increased wheel travel, keep the stability we want when a big trailer is in tow.
(Using lift blocks in place of a spring pack is not recommended when heavy trailer loads are part of the equation.)
The suspension package with all these options retails right around $2,500. The kit also comes with anti-sway bar drop brackets, a dropped pitman arm for steering angle correction, a track bar relocation bracket to properly center the axle and bump-stop extensions.
Installation takes about eight hours. The job isn’t overly difficult for those experienced working on Ford 4×4 suspensions.
Even if this is your first suspension install rodeo, the BDS installation sheets do a good job covering all the bases with detailed photos and step-by-step instructions.
The BDS lift kit provides plenty of room for the 35-inch Mickey Thompson LT325/65R18 Baja MTZs to work while keeping the Ford’s OEM steering geometry intact.
The MTZs, mounted on 18×9-inch Dick Cepek Torque wheels, are the official tire of Project Super Crew and will remain on the truck for the duration of the build.
What surprised us the first time we drove it out of TSO’s shop for a spin around the block was how much the Crew Cab’s ride and handling improved; it goes through dips and curves smoothly and with great control.
It’s a pleasure to drive and is one of the best 4-inch suspension kit kits we’ve been around in both performance and quality.
That control is there even while towing 12,000 pounds of equipment locked on the Super Crew’s weight-distributing hitch setup. And that’s exactly what we’d hoped for with this suspension upgrade: keeping function priority one.
Now we have the traction and added ground clearance we wanted with the benefit of a better overall ride.
Making changes to a taller suspension and tires necessitates a couple additions to your work truck if you want to keep function and form.
Now that the Super Crew body is about five inches taller than stock, we needed a way to make easier access to both the cab and tool boxes. An easy fix: add steps.
Our project build partners, Truck Supply & Outfitters, replaced the Ford running boards with Amp Research Power Steps, and installed a pair of Amp BedSteps under each corner of the rear bumper and two Amp BedStep2s just in front of the rear wheel wells.
These nifty spring-loaded bed steps, which can support 300 pounds, give you a literal leg-up getting into the toolboxes or reaching over the tailgate.
We also installed Buschwacker’s Pocket Style fender flares that extend the stock bodywork 1.5 inches, providing additional protection from mud, grime, grit and other debris flung up by the wider and more aggressive tires. The flares are very easy to install and don’t require any cutting or drilling.
(If you’d like to see the installations step-by-step, go to propickupmag.com and click on the “Installs” tab at the top of the Project Super Crew page.)
Amp Research: amp-research.com
BDS Suspension: bds-suspension.com
Bushwacker BodyGear: bushwacker.com
Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels: dickcepek.com
Mickey Thompson Performance Tires: mickeythompsontires.com
Truck Supply & Outfitters: trucksupplyandoutfitters.com
- Amp Research: amp-research.com
- ARB 4X4 Accessories arbusa.com
- B&W Hitches turnoverball.com
- Buckstop Truckware buckstop.biz
- Ford Trucks ford.com
- Hypertech hypertech-inc.com
- Mickey Thompson mickeythompsontires.com
- Mile Marker milemarker.com
- Sage Oil Vac sageoilvac.com
- Town & Country Ford alabamaford.com
- Transfer Flow transferflow.com
- Truck Supply & Outfitters trucksupplyandoutfitters.com
- USFleetTracking usfeettracking.com
- UWS Truck Accessories uwsta.com
- Valvoline Commercial Products valvoline.com
- Vanair vanair.com