Level & lift? Lift only? Level only? Help me decide!

JakeH

Adventurer
In the market for suspension work. I only load a few hundred pounds in the bed of my Nissan frontier Pro 4x about 20 days a year, it's an empty daily driver the rest of the time. Should I lift both ends or just level? Or both? My main concern is riding too nose-high when loaded & I actually need decent mileage those trips... Help me decide?
 

andrew61987

Observer
Ever done a steep climb off road, where you're getting to the top and can't see the road in front of you because the hood is in the way and you're sticking your head out the window as far as possible to try and make sure you aren't about to drive straight off a cliff? Leveling makes this just a bit worse. In addition to the loading problems you described, this is why I will always maintain at least factory rake. In my opinion leveling is for talking the talk, rake is for walking the walk.

Also what's the driving factor for suspension work? If you aren't out on trails dragging your underbelly on dirt and rocks I think you'd be crazy to even mess with it.
 
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JakeH

Adventurer
We do quite a bit of driving on mountain trails when we're on these trips, but overall I just think the truck sits 2 inches too low & it's definitely an inch or so lower than when I bought it. You're probably right about leaving it alone, but I'm still pretty sure I'm going to do something to it... I know myself!
 

Scoutn79

Adventurer
You could look into air bags or possible supplementing your current shocks with air shocks and when you don't need the support of the air keep the pressure as low as the manufacture recommends.
This should have minimal affect on your unladen ride and keep thing more level when laden....

I am assuming you are sagging in the rear not the front since it wasn't specified. My suggestions might not apply.

Darrell
 
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JakeH

Adventurer
That has been on my mind, level for the looks, add airbags for the trips. Seems like extra money, but then again I do plan to run this thing to at least 200k, so it wouldn't be wasted. Honestly if it wasn't so capable dead stock, it would already be modded underneath!
 

Stumpalump

Expedition Leader
A general rule is to set the front first to clear tires for turns, hit bump stops when it should, dial in max turning with stops, check for tie rod bind and make shure shocks don't bottom or extend all the way. Trophy trucks don't care that the rear is low. I don't care that my desert buggy rear is low because the front is complicated and correct. If your load is maxing out your rear travel then chalk your bump stops and put zip ties on your shocks to check travel. If your pretty much bone stock you don't want a rear lift you want a stiffer spring rate. Simple as that but good luck getting a straight answer from a forum or a "lift" company. I'd find out what rate you have and go stiffer. Raising the height is the stupid way most achieve a better look and not a better performing suspension.
 

JakeH

Adventurer
Yeah, stiffer is not an option. It's already stiffer than I like & I don't think I've ever bottomed out.
 

Stumpalump

Expedition Leader
Yeah, stiffer is not an option. It's already stiffer than I like & I don't think I've ever bottomed out.
Higher initial spring rate will give you a softer ride. When your sagged, you have blown thru the first inches of soft travel and are into the progressive stiffer part of the spring giving you a harsh ride. Stiffen up that initial rate and you will stay in the softer few inches of travel giving you a softer ride. Your truck is sprung for two things. A soft empty test ride to sell the truck and some ridiculous payload and towing capacity to satisfy marketing and the DOT. A soft few inches that you blew thru and stupid stiff lower to satisfy the DOT that you have never used. For a mild loaded rig in our world you want more rate on the top and less on the bottom or overload. In fact if it has thick overloads from the factory IDK, that will tell you that it's not good for your use but you already know that it's not right. If it were me I'd start with a call to a junkyard for another set of stock springs to harvest a leaf from. Cut the eyes off a harvested main spring and add it under your main. Just like ARB old man emu add a leaf but what do they know. That's the first soft test ride spring that you want to be on most of the time. Adding that sister spring or rate may be perfect or a great start. If that's too little you add the next spring. Cut to split the difference between the one above and below. If that was too much you could trim it or better yet trim a shorter spring or two an inch or two on each side. Next you add a shorting spring in the pack and ditch the thick overload if it has one. You get the hang of it about the time your sick of loosening U bolts but it can ride exactly like you want it in a few try's if you put your mind, wrenches and cutoff wheel in action. You can always go back but you won't. Some will say the factory knows what they are doing. Yes they know how to sell you a stupid soft empty truck with a stupid high paylode. That's the problem you need to fix and that will fix your height issue while giving you a way better ride with more flex and travel. You will ride like an Escalade and jump like a trophy truck but you always start with rate.
 

docwatson

Adventurer
If it were me I'd start with a call to a junkyard for another set of stock springs to harvest a leaf from. Cut the eyes off a harvested main spring and add it under your main.
Not the same vehicle, but I did this with an XJ cherokee and got only a mild lift with a great ride. It carried loads better too as Stumpalump states. Probably a good option if this is your only concern. The other, as previous posters have stated would be air shocks/bags. Fill 'em up when you load up the bed, air 'em down when there is nothing in there.
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
Some of you guys are overthinking this. OP only carries a few hundred pounds, only a few days a year. He seems to want some lift just because he wants some lift. He doesn't seem to need more payload or a softer ride or better jumping ability. It may be mostly about looks. His main concern is riding nose-high when loaded, and a few hundred pounds at the front of the bed with stock suspension will not make him nose-high. Any lift or leveling kit will negatively affect gas mileage at highway speeds, just like fat tires will. It's part of the price you pay for having a lift, and for most it's not a big deal. A leveling kit will change handling dynamics slightly because it will shift weight distribution a little to the rear, and will reduce understeer. On some trucks, that's a good thing, but it's never going to handle like a sports car. It's a light duty truck and he uses it lightly. It's fine from the factory and anything else for his stated needs is just frosting. It's want vs need. Absent any new info, I'd leave it alone.
 

JakeH

Adventurer
Extra payload is not an issue, it's never loaded that heavy. In a perfect world with an unlimited budget, I'd do a 2 inch lift front & 1 inch back just for the look & to move a few hundred pounds backwards for even suspension flex when empty because the back is too stiff when empty & the front is too low all the time. The new front shocks would be the softest adjustable jobs I could find & the back would have airbags to maintain level when on my way from Texas to the Colorado house fully loaded. Unfortunately I can't afford ALL of that, so I have to start somewhere. Basically I wish I could do the same suspension setup as that HEMA 200 series land cruiser... Duckys dad knows what I need but I still want a little lift just cuz. I appreciate all the input guys!
 

Stumpalump

Expedition Leader
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