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I do not think I have seen a comparison looking at the pros and cons of the Bilstein 5100's vs. a leveling kit.  Here are my thoughts, but I am interested in your thoughts:

 

I think install time is wash, because on a leveling kit, you dont have to compress the spring, but you have to install spacers and on some, replace the upper control arms.  Where the bilsteins, you dont have to do any of that, but you do have to compress the spring. 

 

Both kits require an alignment afterwards.  

 

Spacer kits actually make the shock "longer" so to speak to raise the suspension.   Spring compression rate remains the same.

 

Bilstein changes the mounting point for the spring, thus using the springs compression to raise the suspension.    Changes the spring compression at neutral stance thus giving a bit more firmer of a ride..? 

 

Better leveling kits account for the difference in the upper ball joints and replace the UCA.  I would assume the Bilstein kits also change the ball joint angle, but they do not account for it.

 

Is all that accurate?  Is everyone doing the Bilstein 5100's just leaving the UCA and ball joint stock?

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if you want to go 2" it wont matter what kit gets you there (2" is 2").....you can buy eibach or bilstein kit and they will mimick the gm kit and they are cheaper and better quality.....the gm kit get

I just installed Bilstein 6112s up front with Icon tubular UCAs and Bilstein 5160s in the rear.  I already had the "Trailboss" 2" lift so I have the longer axles...the Bilsteins I bought were for TB/A

Yep, I've run across all kinds of ignoranance and misinformation on the lifts for regular trucks vs. TB/AT4.    It will ALL bolt up just fine....but like you said, it may not level it and yo

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Whether you lift through suspension upgrade, or spacers, the angles are affected equally and the forces applied to your ball joints by the wheel hub are equal between the two styles.  By changing springs and shocks you are changing ride characteristics.

 

Most people lift through a spacer because it is cheaper and less work which makes it a GREAT kit for those who only want a taller stance.  However, for those who find the stock suspension lacking, or just want a higher quality suspension and have the available funds and know-how, they will generally do a shock and spring lift to get the characteristics they are looking for. 

 

Regardless, the forces on the ball joints for a 2" spacer or a 2" suspension lift are the same with all other things being equal.  The only way to alleviate that is to replace your control arms.  Equally important is your CV angle, and to correct that you most often need a differential lowering bracket which effectively reduces your ground clearance negating the lift you just put on.  Tires are the best way to increase lift without affecting your suspension geometry.

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This topic is discussed extensively in this forum and elsewhere.   I wrestled with the same dilemma on my '15 and have read literally 100's of pages on level kits and Bilstein's.  You will find lots of support for both.  Maximum setting on a Bilstein gives you <2" of lift.  Installing a level kit with the same amount of lift will not noticeably impact your ride.  Problems are more likely to occur with the larger spacer kits of greater than 2" unless you replace other components.  FWIW, I concluded that a 1.5" spacer kit made the most sense for me. Someday, I might even have it installed!  

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General consensus is to purchase an up-top spacer as opposed to a lower mount spacer.  The lower mount spacers create a situation where a CV boot could potentially be affected by the shock during operation of the vehicle.

Edited by Gangly
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3 hours ago, Xterrable said:

I do not think I have seen a comparison looking at the pros and cons of the Bilstein 5100's vs. a leveling kit.  Here are my thoughts, but I am interested in your thoughts:

 

I think install time is wash, because on a leveling kit, you dont have to compress the spring, but you have to install spacers and on some, replace the upper control arms.  Where the bilsteins, you dont have to do any of that, but you do have to compress the spring. 

 

Both kits require an alignment afterwards.  

 

Spacer kits actually make the shock "longer" so to speak to raise the suspension.   Spring compression rate remains the same.

 

Bilstein changes the mounting point for the spring, thus using the springs compression to raise the suspension.    Changes the spring compression at neutral stance thus giving a bit more firmer of a ride..? 

 

Better leveling kits account for the difference in the upper ball joints and replace the UCA.  I would assume the Bilstein kits also change the ball joint angle, but they do not account for it.

 

Is all that accurate?  Is everyone doing the Bilstein 5100's just leaving the UCA and ball joint stock?

It appears from your Bio you have an AT4. This means you already have a 2" lift over a stock 4X4 Seirra. Therefore, any additional lift should probably include properly sized upper control arms (IMHO).

 

Any lift will change your factory ball joint angle. How much is the question? The non-lifted stock Sierra and the 2" lifted AT4 share the same UCAs and ball joints. So you have a ball joint already working at increased angles to accommodate the AT4's 2" of lift. GM has supposedly engineered for this accommodation.

 

The Bilsteins only provide a maximum lift of 1.1" on the AT4 and yes some just leave the factory UCAs. I can only guess it's due to the small 1.1" or less increase. However, when you consider the AT4 already has 2" of lift on it, the 1.1" additional lift is essentially 3.1" of lift on the factory ball joints.

 

I wouldn't add additional lift to an AT4 without, at least, replacing the UCAs with some that are appropriately sized for the lift.

 

JMHO

No expertise implied or expressed

 

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General consensus is to purchase an up-top spacer as opposed to a lower mount spacer.  The lower mount spacers create a situation where a CV boot could potentially be affected by the shock during operation of the vehicle.
It was a gift, prior to extensive research. That's why it hasn't been installed. But I've seen just as many positive no issue reviews as I've seen negative on lower kits.

I have just a standard 19 LT Z71 package so leaning more towards the Bilstein option. Just want to level and get the benefits of better shocks as well. I plan on running 275/70/18s essentially 33s on stock rims.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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Good information.  And yes, I have a AT4.  I just added 285/70/18 Ridge Grapplers.  They claim 34" tall. But I found real world off the truck, they are about 33 1/8....  far cry from 34"..  But to be honest, i think a 34" would have been dang close to rubbing.  And the contact patch is a hair over the factory 275's.

 

And I am fine with 1" lift up front with the Bilstein's.  Thats all I really want.

 

Does anyone make an UCA that does not bring it closer to the tire?  I have about a finger's width between the tire and UCA now....   And I do not want to run spacers.

 

When I move back north, sadly I'll have to get new wheels anyway.  I'll need to push the wheels out to get chains in.  I could never run chains being that close to the UCA... 

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2 hours ago, EagleRising said:

It was a gift, prior to extensive research. That's why it hasn't been installed. But I've seen just as many positive no issue reviews as I've seen negative on lower kits.

I have just a standard 19 LT Z71 package so leaning more towards the Bilstein option. Just want to level and get the benefits of better shocks as well. I plan on running 275/70/18s essentially 33s on stock rims.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

I have an LT Z71 as well and installed the Eibach kit (adjustable up to ~3") that included springs with the shocks.  Its been a really nice suspension upgrade so far and the more I use it off road the more I understand its characteristics.  For the price it cant be beat in my opinion, so check it out as well.

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6 hours ago, Gangly said:

I have an LT Z71 as well and installed the Eibach kit (adjustable up to ~3") that included springs with the shocks.  Its been a really nice suspension upgrade so far and the more I use it off road the more I understand its characteristics.  For the price it cant be beat in my opinion, so check it out as well.

I don’t see a listing under 2020 for the Sierra.  Only Canyon.

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issue i have with spacer kit vs coilover suspension lift is the travel of the shock......on adjustable shocks you dont lose much if any compared to spacers.....and on some you gain travel,

 

suspension over spacer 100% of the time for me

 

seems most people end up there anyway after messing around with a few spacer kits

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I put the billsteins on my 20 lt z71 myself and i found the ride to be much improved over the factory...the front end felt a little squishy from the factory like riding in a buick goin down the interstate...i did the install myself which saved me a couple hundred bucks so it was a no brainer for me....if youre looking for more economical ive read that upper spacers are better.

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I am not a fan of the stock shocks on my LT Z71 so replacing them was important to me. Using the 5100’s over a spacer was a no brainer in my opinion. The quality of the ride is just much more greatly improved over the stock shocks with a spacer, and the net cost all in just isn’t that much more to not do it - unless you’re on a major budget. 
 

My problem is I have a massive case of scope creep and ended up going with the 6112’s over the 5100’s. ? I also added a rear block and did 5160’s in the rear. I am extremely pleased with the result even though they’re overkill for me. My wife even made a comment that the truck rides so much better. 

Edited by Duramax3oh
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