2000 Suburban K1500 budget low lift with 37"s


Space Monkey
Our trusty old Suburban just turned past 200k miles, and with 3 three kids wifey wants a newer Suburban to replace her 528i and our 2000 Sub for road-trips and hauling kids. This truck has been all over the country on paved and dirt roads. We drove to Fairbanks a couple years ago, top of Mt Washington last summer, frequently explore Death Valley, Canyonlands and other fun Southwest destinations. It runs great so after a couple interesting conversations I got a green light from wifey to turn our trusty old beater into an overland adventure vehicle, only catch is that I am only allowed to spend $1,000 on all the upgrades. Initially it seemed unreasonable to even try, however after stumbling on Dirt Every Day's Ford F354 Monster truck YouTube video I re-gained my confidence and came up with a new game plan. With a little bit of eBay and Craigslist luck and lots of elbow grease and beer this might actually work.

Not so blank canvas to start with. 2000 Suburban 4x4, 5.3l, 3.73 gears, towing package. 275/65R18 (32.1X10.8") tires. Which do not rub on 100% stock truck. Not sure what the backspacing is on the 18" rims. Roof rack which carries 600-700lbs of gear has 4 Yakima 58" cross bars, 4 Yakima RailGrabs, 6.5ft by 36" cargo basket and Thule 6 ski cargo box. 36" light bar for which I cut a hole in the grill to mount when I drove to Alaska.
This is a pic after the level kit was installed, only picture I have of the truck at stock height is below with the 37" tire for reference.


Giant tires that are too big for the truck
Little or no lift that will not fit the tires properly
4.10 or lower front and rear gear with rear lockers
Ability to cruise 4x4 Jeep trails in 2WD

What I have done so far:
Found 2 17" rims with 37x13.5 Toyo Open Country tires and 2 17" rims with 37x12.5 ProComps on Craigslist for $250. They got a lot of wear on them but for the price the Weld Racing 17x10" rims are more then worth it alone. Now I have to figure out how to put them on, (insert evil laugh here)

Level kit:
Ford Torsion keys: $18, 3" rear coil spacers: $33. Skyjacker Hydro front H7009 (stock length) and H7017 (3" longer than stock) in the rear: $115

I used the local shops loaner tool program to rent the torsion bar unloading tool and McPherson strut compressors to install the Ford torsion keys and 3" rear coils spacers. Initial front fender height: 35", rear: 36" (it's a Chevy thing). When I adjusted the Ford key screw to my original screw height, front fenders came up to 39.5" and the rears came up to 38.5". I am jumping for joy about to pee my pants. 4.5" from the keys alone. After a quick break in drive around the neighborhood with that set up and nitrogen shocks, I felt like I was inside a paint shaker in Home Depot, new front suspension travel = 2.5" = we are going back down. Adjusted the front fender down to 37.5" and the ride is still harsh but tolerable. Put in new stock length oil hydraulic front shocks, because the front was leveled not raised. Added new oil hydraulic rear shocks that are 3" longer then stock, rear spacer actually raised the back end. Now the ride is as smooth as stock ride with nitrogen shocks. Front fender height 37", rear fender height 38.5".

level kit.jpg
Before and after level kit. 37" tire is for reference.

Cheapest $33 eBay spacers work just as well as any $200 CNC machined aluminum ones, I got pictures and a 2,500mile story to prove that.

Had to go to a used tire place to trade my fancy chrome lug nus for some acorn style that fit into the new rims, and the new shoes can finally go on.

level and 37s.jpg
32"s with level kit on top and 37"s with level kit below. Have more space between top of tire and bottom of fender with level kit and 37"s then I did with 32"s before the level kit.



As you might have already guessed, fender clearance is a little tight with the 37"s. Fender trimming and pocket fenders will be the next project in a couple months. Here is how much clearance 37x13.5 in the rear and 37x12.5 in the front have.



Damages so far:
$250: wheels and 37" tires
$115: Skyjacker shocks
$33: 3" rear spacers
$18: Ford torsion keys
TOTAL: $416
$584 remaining

Next steps:
I know I have to get the tie rod reinforcement sleeves and 2" or 3" wheel spacers to clear the frame rails and suspension parts. I know that I need to cut 3"-4" into the fenders to clear the tires. That might be the next project before I decide if the Sub needs a 3" body lift, based on the stock wheel to fender gap and the current wheel to fender gap I do not see a need for a body lift provided enough of the sheet metal is cut away. In the mean time I am looking out for a front diff with 4.10 gears and a rear axle with 4.10 gears on eBay or at a junk yard for a good price to stay within my budget. 37" spare tire will not fit in the stock location so I'm going to figure out how to get a 20-25gal gas tank in the spare tire well.

I'll add to the thread when more parts go on the truck or we go on our next adventure.
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Great start but if you thinks you can get all those parts for 584$ you're living in a state where weed has become legal I'm guessing.


Wiffleball Batter
Wow, 32's to 37's just seems kind of crazy but I guess it works for you. I can understand why you'd want to go up to 4.10s though.
As far as the body lift goes, I would agree with you, if you can get the clearance you need without it, I would try that first. A little trimming of the fender flares and that front valance panel would seem to be in order - I'm actually going to trim the front valance on mine, too, even though I'm just running 33's.
Nice build, though. I use the RailGrabbers on my roof, too. Made a mistake last time I used them and over-tightened the railgrab portion and kind of twisted my factory roof rack. It seems to have gone back to it's previous state after I removed the railgrabs but just keep in mind not to tighten them too much.
I'll agree with Paddy that it's going to be tough to find the parts you need for the money you have but I actually like the "low buck" challenges - being a cheap SOB myself I appreciate the creativity that goes into saving money!
After all, not everybody has a "money cannon".



turn our trusty old beater into an overland adventure vehicle
Since you're into watching YouTube for inspiration, I'd highly recommend checking this video out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itFrwNXQETY

Sure, it's just another opinion, but these guys have been there/done that. I'd put a good dose of merit behind their thoughts on what works best/what's needed (tire size and type) for overland travel.

however after stumbling on Dirt Every Day's Ford F354 Monster truck
Even without considering the backstory there (using Motor Trend credit card to rockcrawl and create magazine/web content), big Ford trucks are arguably some of the most stout platforms one can buy. Though it may be considered full-size, your 1500 Burb is in a completely different class of vehicle; even if you chop up the body for 37's, where does that leave you?

Rip 10-bolt out. Source 14-bolt w/locker
Destroy 4L60. Convert to 4L80.
Front axle swap to 9.25"
Smoke stock brakes. Swap to hydroboost setup.
Etc, etc. etc.

Eventually, to have something with any degree of reliability/durability, you'll have created a 2500 Burb with a 5.3L (instead of the 6.0/8.1L) and spent well in excess of the stated budget.

Wouldn't it just make more sense to sell what you've got (put old tires/wheels back on), and purchase a better platform? If you were just running down the road to the trail and had the full support of a magazine crew, then it'd be one thing. Overland travel with your family is another.
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Lost in Space
What was the final ground clearance from "stock" to now?

Nice build, can't wait to see the updates.


Space Monkey
What was the final ground clearance from "stock" to now?

Nice build, can't wait to see the updates.

Original top of fender height was 35" front, 36" rear. With the 3" level kit it came up to 37" front, 38.5" rear, no ground clearance gained under rear diff. After the 37"s 40.5" front, and 41.5" rear. So the bottom of the rear diff sits 2.5" higher than where I started with the 32"s. I'll get some action shots once I trim the fenders and get wheel spacers.



Very cool. I'd recommend going to a 4.88 or at least a 4.56 with 37's. Interested in seeing her after the trimmed the fenders.


Space Monkey
Udate: rear 2" wheel spacers added

Acquired a pair of 2" wheel spacers from a friend for $20. Going to start trimming fenders soon, 2" spacers should give me enough clearance for the 37x13.5s in the rear to maximize wheel travel and decrease rubbing.



Stock wheels look a little more aggressive at leas in the rear.

Rotors before wheel spacers

After wheel spacers



I know how the 37s sit on the truck, 2" wheel spacers will give me enough of an offset so that they don't rub on anything. Next step is trimming the fenders in a few weeks to comfortably fit the new tires.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans.
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Burb One

While I am very weary of 37's on the 1500 running gear and would highly recommend against it, as stated the 10 bolt is not going to like the 37's at all, much the less the 8.25 front end... All of this adds up to anywhere you actually needed 37's for, will just blow up your running gear and get more than stuck but broke (pun intended)

With that caveat, I am interested to see it done! At the least, ignoring the above, you need to get a much, much larger transmission cooler. Even the tow package one won't be enough. There is a medium sized B&M all said and done for $60-80 if you do a search, but I would recommend a tru-cool (see my thread for details). They run around 110 bucks. If you don't, with 37's and camping stuff in it that 4l60e is going to maybe last 5k miles. I wouldn't be surprised if you hit 220 degrees on a cool day at 70mph...

Edit: be weary of those wheelspacers, they are not hubcentric which the GMT800 wheels and hubs were designed to be. I would say don't worry about it if you were on 33's maybe 35's but with 37's and the stress involved I don't know.... I'm the first to say wheel spacers are okay if well and properly designed (id doesn't effect the stress much than the same backspaced wheel) but those are not the proper design and GM purposefully put hubcentric on there.... YMMV
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