This weekend I ran into another example of a 3" lift kit that was about to destroy a CV joint and/or front differential. While talking to a friend that had installed a 3" lift kit on a Suzuki, I recommended that he jack the truck up off the ground, leaving the tires hanging and suspension fully unloaded. Now, try to rotate the front wheels. With a 3" strut spacer type lift, the passenger side will usually be really rough, if it will turn at all. He reported that his was very difficult to turn and seemed to have "bumps". What he is feeling is the lugs of the CV joint binding in the housing because the CV joint is at too great of an angle. This will destroy a CV joint and possibly the front differential due to reflected loads from the interference in the CV joint.
Some may argue that the CV joint works fine with the truck on the ground and the suspension loaded, and they are correct. But as the truck is driven, especially off road, there are times that the suspension will reach a fully extended, unloaded condition. Think about crossing a ditch at an angle. One front strut will be fully compressed as the other is fully extended (depending on the depth of the ditch).
My suggestion is to perform the simple test. Jack the truck off the ground and rotate the front tires. If there is any binding, you are looking at fairly expensive repairs in your future. Based on my experiences and a ton of research and development on my personal truck (I have a 5" lift in the front and 4" from an axle-over in the rear) the 3" spacers are not a good long term solution for lifting a mini truck.
Last edited by JRinTX; 01-28-2008 at 01:34 PM.
Then how did you get away with a 5"? I"m just curious, lifts have always scared us a bit
JR where is a picture of your truck? I've been waiting for the pics. I have a 4" on a 99 mitsi and I would like to go more on another 99 mitzi. I've been following your post and would like to see pics unless your waiting to patent your stuff.
JR - After all your Research into lifting these trucks, do you feel the risk is worth the reward? Would it be better to use a 13" Rim with a 175x70 Radial mud- snow tire? This would give additional clearance,and perhaps not near the possibility of breakage. Thank you for all your postings regarding lift kits,very helpful for all of us. ValleyMiniTrucks
To go above 2" of lift with any expectation of life in the front suspension you need to drop the front differential and crossmember.
This is from another post about 3"+ suspension lifts. . .
"As far as the lift goes, the back end was fairly straight forward:
1 - Flipped the axle to the bottom side of the leaf springs. (You can find new spring perches at your local Tractor Supply store)
2 - Swaped sides on the spring clamp plates so that the stock shocks will work.
3 - Measured both sides to make sure that the axle is centered on the truck, set the differential angle, clamped down the U bolts, then welded the spring perches to the axle tubes. (Read up on driveshaft/differential geomtry before welding the perches)
4 - Cut and re-welded the emergency brake brackets on the crossmember to allow enough slack for the new axle location.
5 - Replaceed the 10" brake hose from the frame to the rear axle with a 13" long one.
On the front end,
1 - I made my own 4" strut spacers with built-in camber adjustability.
2 - Lowered the crossmember that mounts the front differential 3".
3 - Made a bracket to lower the front radius rod mounts 3" to match the differential drop.
4 - Lowered the motor mount crossmember 2" to clear the front driveshaft. (this also included making spacer blocks to keep the motor in the same position as stock).
5 - Measured and set the toe-in and camber, then headed for the nearest mud hole!
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I've heard too many stories of guys blowing the CV joints in their front axles (particularly the left side) by just stuffing 3" spacers on top of the struts and leaving it at that. My front suspension geometry has only been lifted 1" from stock and I won't have to worry about ruining axles. The truck drives exactly as it did before the lift as far as steering and ride are concerned.
It wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it.
Hope that helps,
It sounds a bit involved, but it's really the only way to get any kind of life out of the front-end.
'95 Suzki Carry - 4" lift, Camoclad, 25" tires
That's it - so far . . .
I agree with swoop. I have installed or are in the process of a 5" on my 99 Daihatsu. I started with a Cross Roads 3" lift. Replaced the 3" front riser tubes with 5" tubes (Basically cut the welds off and only used the laser cut flanges and hardware). Fabbed spacers to lower the front suspention cradle 4" (Used some 1 1/2" round x 3/16" wall tubing and 2" steel c-channel). For the rear the CrossRoads lift has a 3" add a leaf so I added a 2" shackle for the rear (Also used 1 1/2" round x 3/16" wall tubing and 2" steel c-channel). I had to extend the front radius arms 1 1/2 inches to get the wheel back centered in the wheel well. Modify the crossmember to allow clearance of the front drive shaft. Instead of lowering the engine crossmember I fabbed a 1 1/2" spacer to the rear tranny mount to align the output shaft to the rear pinion. Replaced the rear shocks with some from a 90 Datsun pickup. I still need to replace the front and rear brake lines (You can play the banjo on the rear line). Manufacuted a type of 4" dropped pitman arm. There were also some vaccuum lines that needed to be lengthend on the front. Its actually quite a big job.
Has anyone tried turning the wheel to the far left lock in an unloaded state and seeing if the short CV joint binds? BC mine starts to get tight.
I have no intentions of patenting any lift kit ideas. Nor selling them. I just enjoy tinkering! And I will post pictures of what I have done.
The only correct way to lift a mini truck is the way Swoop described. The entire front suspension must be lowered in order to increase ride height. Have you ever seen a lift kit for a full size, independent front suspension truck, like a Chevy Silverado? Same concept.
This is the way I am able to get away with a 5" lift. The entire front differential is lowered by a similar amount, actually 4", just as Swoop described. A 1 inch difference from original geometry is not noticable. I have actually built a 3" kit and a 4" kit, both of which I have installed and tested on my Suzuki. The 5" is the last one...the fun is wearing off!
The truck looks great, plenty of clearance for 25" tires. A lifted truck may not be the most practical for driving on the road because it does raise the center of gravity. But for an offroad toy....you can't beat it!
I know this is the Zuk thread, but I think these trucks are all basically the same. Here are some pics of what I have mocked up, 1st pic is of the 4" spacers. 2nd includes the 5" strut riser. and 3rd is what happens when you actually get some snow in TN and your truck is being lifted..... So, my snow friends and I had to have some Jager bombs.
Looks alot like a Suzuki. Exact same concept....great job! Looks very clean and well built.
Everything looks familar, except the last picture. Not much snow in SE Texas!
Thanks. I was thinking about adding a 1/4" plate between the two tubes from top to bottom to form a gusset for added strengh. I'm confident that it is strong enough but sometimes it doesn't hurt to over engineer. Although I like the idea of being able to see through to the back side and it allows for easy pressure washing.
I just recently lifted a Daihatsu with one of Crossroads lifts. Nice kit, but really makes a groan when driving now. Also the angle of the driveline is very steep. I think it's going to start eating U-joints. Has anyone approached a lift manufacturer, like Pro-Comp, or someone like that about engineering a system for these trucks. I would spend the extra money to have one done right, but not very practical if I have to hand build each one and do all that fab on every truck I sell.
I did the same thing except I used 3" x 4" x 1/4" tubing for diff spacers. Maybe with all the info getting out now, someone will start building higher quality lift parts.
I also made my spacers from square tubing. I used 2"x4" x 1/4 wall tubing. I am debating on whether it needs a gusset in the center of the piece of tubing for lateral strength. But, like Greg said... I probably over-engineer also!
The only problem I see with someone mass producing correctly designed and built lift kits is that there are so many variations in the trucks. There are differences between makes and also between year model within makes. It will require a large inventory of information about individual models and years of trucks. Although, with all the useful info being gathered by all the users on the forum that have built lift kits, there is a good start on a database!
I would strongly recommend testing the driveline by jacking the truck off the ground and rotating the front wheels. If there is a bind or roughness then you will destroy the front driveline. The CV joints will probably be the first problem. You should take care of the problem now, because it will be an expensive repair if you wait!
Thats one of the happiest looking snowmen I have ever seen!
94 Mitsubishi Mini Cab 4X4