You wake up Saturday, anxious to see if your truck is ready to be picked up from your favorite off-road shop. They've had the truck since Thursday, when you dropped it off to have an 11-inch lift, 39.5-inch tires, and 20-inch wheels installed. The clock strikes 8:30 a.m., and you hit redial to see if they're in yet. "Yeah, your truck is done. Bring me some cash," is all your ears needed to hear to provoke you to rip the covers off the bed and interrupt your girlfriend's dream about George Clooney.
She gets dressed under your constant "Are you ready yet?" annoyance. She yells at you about driving her car fast for the next 30 minutes, till you pull up to the shop. With the gold card in hand, you rush through the door and stand in a line of three guys talking about possibly modifying their trucks. Tony the sales guy, who hooked you, doesn't work Saturdays, so you are a little bummed that you won't receive the "Red Carpet" treatment you got when the hook was set. Impatience overcomes you, and likean unexpected fart while receiving a lap dance, you say, "I'm here to pick up my truck."
The customers at the counter recognize your anxiety and stop talking till one of the shop employees ask, "What's the name?" After signing the credit slip, he says they'll bring it around. You open the door and an ominous truck rolls around the corner. You recognize it as yours and the awesome sight invades your senses. The tech slips out of the truck, pulls the plastic off the seat, and hands you the keys. Oh yeah! It's bigger and badder than any of your friend's trucks and you're itching to go rub it in. You know fame of this nature is short-lived and go to jump in.
Upon opening the door, you realize a running jump wouldn't help you get in this truck. After pondering how to get in, you put your foot in the bottom corner of the doorjamb, grab the door and steering wheel, jump with the other leg, and pull yourself into the driver seat. With the girlfriend in tow, you get on the freeway to drop off her car at home. You want to listen to the new CD you left in the stock stereo, but the sound system is no match for the mud-terrain tires that make the truck sound like the Spruce Goose. You get home, help your girlfriend into your truck, and take off to visit some friends to show off the new mods.
Not long after noon rolls around, you ask your girl where she might want to eat. She replies, "something quick," so with that in mind, you go to your favorite drive-through, but the truck won't fit under the roof overhang. There's a grip of cars behind you, so you decide that you will just roll over the curb to get out of line. You turn the wheel and go over the curb with a bit of resistance. You pull out, only to find your truck veers to the right now because running over the curb just bent the tie rod end. Again, the next 30 minutes are spent going back to the shop, while listening to your girlfriend screaming in your ear-this time, without the excitement of the new lift, just a deep-seeded disappointment about what you may have done to your truck.
As in most cases, customizing your truck screws up how user-friendly it was when stock. How does lifting your truck change how it functions? And what can be done about the adverse effects that plague the behemoth baller? Keeping your truck ergonomical is not an impossibility-it just costs more. With an aftermarket kingdom designing, marketing, and distributing products for lifted trucks, there are few negative elements that you can't correct to make your truck a full-functioning driver with awesome off-road ability.
Cleanliness is a good thing. Larger rolling stock will put more stress on wheel bearings and seals. Keeping the truck clean makes it easier to recognize problem areas in the drivetrain. Here, you can see seals on a hub assembly leaking wheel bearing grease. Lifted trucks require more maintenance. Bearing and seal failure can be dramatically reduced by checking hub and axle fitment every time a tire rotation is performed. Make sure the axle nut has the proper tension. This will reduce flex in the hub assembly, providing longer-living parts.
A smaller spare could get you in deeper trouble than no spare at all. Rotating one side of a drive axle faster than the other can actually damage the differential, even if the axle is not in gear! A Triple A membership card could save you a bunch of headaches, but the proper size spare and a cheap longneck bottle jack would serve you better. You don't need to carry the spare every day, because someone might be able to bring you the spare from home, but it's good to take with you on the long hauls.
Saving axle life from the extra torture can be done with an aluminum differential housing that provides addition gear oil and dissipates heat quickly. Some aftermarket housings have a magnet that helps trap metal particles, which will also extend the gear life.