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Leveling and/or Lifting 2021 GMC Sierra SLT


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I am new to this site as well as GMC trucks.... long time Ford driver but decided to make a change and move from a Super Duty to a 1500 and went with the Eco-Diesel.  

 

I know that when I post this, alot of you will say do not add a lift kit to the Bilstein 5100 Adjustable Ride Height front struts, a fact I did not know prior to the installation and calling Bilstein.  Regardless, here is where I am.  I added a 3 inch Superlift to my GMC that came with Bilstein rear shocks and 1 1/2 inch lift block as well.  All of that was fine and raised the rear from 38 1/2 inch to 40 1/8ish stance in the rear.  I added the Bilstein adjustable struts in the front, left them on stock level and added the spacers that were supposed to give me 3 inches of lift yet only yielded 2 inches (measured 36 1/6 inch height before and 38 1/2 inch after).  The off road shop told me that when I bring it in for retorque of the bolts, they can adjust the front struct to the second ring which is 1 inch giving me the desired 3 inch front lift and leveling out my truck as well.  I do tow a bass boat often and also added Firestone Ride Rite air springs in the rear to avoid the "sag".  My question is really not can I add spacers on top of Billsteins, it is has anyone added suspension lift and not got the height that you thought, in my case I only got 2 instead of 3?  My truck came with the X31 package and had Rancho shocks, wonder if I put them back on with the spacers would that give me the 3 inches to lift and level or just adjust the Bilsteins up one inch and in theory it should alleviate some of that rake and level it all out.  My lift also came with Control Arms and other stuff to help with Angles etc.  Any advise OTHER than dont add spacers with Bilsteins?  Thank you.  Here is a after lift picture as well.  or just leave it with that built in rake. 1.jpg.a3b47c64dace219f01ed737f2f80487f.jpg3.jpg.c0df0b03626ffb0ce0233e6451139273.jpg

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Thanks.  I was just looking at the Eibachs.  Looks like they only go up to 2 inches?  I am looking for 3 to add wider tires.  Most of the trucks on custom offsets have rubbing when at 2 inches and wider tires.  Thank you for the information.  I am going to look at them more.

 

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6 minutes ago, timothycan said:

Thanks.  I was just looking at the Eibachs.  Looks like they only go up to 2 inches?  I am looking for 3 to add wider tires.  Most of the trucks on custom offsets have rubbing when at 2 inches and wider tires.  Thank you for the information.  I am going to look at them more.

 

Tire width can be mitigated to an extent if you get correct backspacing to counter the additional width.

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Thank you.  How much lift did you get in the front?  I just read I can get 2.75 inches total?  Can either of you confirm your lift heights in the front and did you use a block at all in the back?  What size?

 

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4 hours ago, timothycan said:

I am new to this site as well as GMC trucks.... long time Ford driver but decided to make a change and move from a Super Duty to a 1500 and went with the Eco-Diesel.  

 

I know that when I post this, alot of you will say do not add a lift kit to the Bilstein 5100 Adjustable Ride Height front struts, a fact I did not know prior to the installation and calling Bilstein.  Regardless, here is where I am.  I added a 3 inch Superlift to my GMC that came with Bilstein rear shocks and 1 1/2 inch lift block as well.  All of that was fine and raised the rear from 38 1/2 inch to 40 1/8ish stance in the rear.  I added the Bilstein adjustable struts in the front, left them on stock level and added the spacers that were supposed to give me 3 inches of lift yet only yielded 2 inches (measured 36 1/6 inch height before and 38 1/2 inch after).  The off road shop told me that when I bring it in for retorque of the bolts, they can adjust the front struct to the second ring which is 1 inch giving me the desired 3 inch front lift and leveling out my truck as well.  I do tow a bass boat often and also added Firestone Ride Rite air springs in the rear to avoid the "sag".  My question is really not can I add spacers on top of Billsteins, it is has anyone added suspension lift and not got the height that you thought, in my case I only got 2 instead of 3?  My truck came with the X31 package and had Rancho shocks, wonder if I put them back on with the spacers would that give me the 3 inches to lift and level or just adjust the Bilsteins up one inch and in theory it should alleviate some of that rake and level it all out.  My lift also came with Control Arms and other stuff to help with Angles etc.  Any advise OTHER than dont add spacers with Bilsteins?  Thank you.  Here is a after lift picture as well.  or just leave it with that built in rake. 1.jpg.a3b47c64dace219f01ed737f2f80487f.jpg3.jpg.c0df0b03626ffb0ce0233e6451139273.jpg


How much time ya got? Lol

 

If I was you, I’d put the rancho’s back on, put a 2.5” spacer in the front and a 1.5” spacer in the back.

 

5100’s are off-road shocks/struts. Do you off-road all the time? When they put those at .75, 1.5, or 2.5 it compresses your spring even more. Making it even stiffer than now. 
 

SEnd back your POS jerry rigged lift. Either use spacers and keep the rest stock or drop 10k on a 7” McGaughys/valved IKON/etc long travel if you off-road all the time. 
 

Not trying to write a manifesto here but for an extra inch or two you are really degrading the ride quality and of lesser concern imo, putting a lot of undue pressure on other OEM components.

 

Good luck. Lotta people with crappy lifts on this forum IWBH.

 

Edited by superhighsierra
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And that of course is another option I am contemplating.  I am looking for 3 inches lifted and leveled thus the reason why I went with the 3 inch lift from Superlift.  I had a 6 inch lifted SuperDuty.... If I did swap back to the ranchos, I would use the 3 inch spacers that came with the Superlift that I am using now with the Bilstiens.  As for the ride, as you mentioned, I couldnt tell the difference between the Ranchos that came stock and the Bilsteins.  So..... would it be worth it to put the Ranchos back on with the 3 inch spacers?  Or adjust the Bilsteins an inch..... they are set on stock now with the 3 inch spacers and I only got 2 inches of lift so..... But thanks for the information.  Appreciate it.

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1 hour ago, timothycan said:

And that of course is another option I am contemplating.  I am looking for 3 inches lifted and leveled thus the reason why I went with the 3 inch lift from Superlift.  I had a 6 inch lifted SuperDuty.... If I did swap back to the ranchos, I would use the 3 inch spacers that came with the Superlift that I am using now with the Bilstiens.  As for the ride, as you mentioned, I couldnt tell the difference between the Ranchos that came stock and the Bilsteins.  So..... would it be worth it to put the Ranchos back on with the 3 inch spacers?  Or adjust the Bilsteins an inch..... they are set on stock now with the 3 inch spacers and I only got 2 inches of lift so..... But thanks for the information.  Appreciate it.


That’s all for you to decide. 3” spacer needs UCA’s. 2” spacer doesn’t. I run a 2” spacer in the front and a 1.5 in the rear with the stock Ranchos.
 

Bilstein makes decent shocks for the money. But I wouldn’t put 5100’s on one of these trucks unless you off-road it all the time. And in that application, there are much better alternatives to 5100’s and new coils. 
 

You are essentially taking coils and struts that were made especially for this vehicle and jerry rigging something together that were made for  counterintuitive purposes to one another. Not to mention with a 3” spacer it is next to impossible to even get the spacer and strut assembly back in there after you bolt the spacer on top. It’s hard enough with a 2 inch spacer. So who knows what kind of angles the rest of your suspension are at, regardless if you only got a true 2” of lift. How do those CV axles look? Do you Enjoy changing ball joints and replacing them with aftermarket crap? Nobody will notice that inch of difference but you. I got a full 2” with my Motofab $50 spacers. 
 

If it were me I’d be ordering a set of 2” spacers, putting the Ranchos back on, selling everything you bought and chalking it up to a learning experience. But I’ve given similar advice on here plenty of times before, and it’s not always well received. 
 

If you are hellbent on getting that extra inch or two I’d run something like this: 

 

Proper - 4” Lift

 

And even 5k later (not including labor), you better enjoy getting taking the tires off and getting underneath that vehicle and Turing a wrench or she’ll be squeaking in 2 years. 


Bolting a bunch of aftermarket crap onto one of these things and changing angles is for the birds. At least do it right if you’re gonna do it.
 

There is a reason nobody runs 3” spacers and damn sure nobody runs 3” spacers with the 5100s up a rung. All my opinion. 

Edited by superhighsierra
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Thanks and appreciated.  I only ask because it is all installed and I did add the UCA that came with the kit.  

 

After getting all this information, I may just have the shop pull the Bilsteins up front and redo the coils back onto the stock Ranchos that came with the truck and put the 3 inch spacer that came with the Superlift kit back on the way it was intended instead of putting the Bilstein up a notch to one inch.  

 

Thanks for all the info.  Now that I have done all this, I am thinking should have went with a 6 inch lift as that will be next I suppose.  

 

Thank you again for the information.  

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There is some misinformation in the above posts. 

 

The Bilstiens 5100's are 1000 times better than the Ranchos on and off road, and are not specifically designed for off-road use.  The 5100 is possibly the most popular shock made for these trucks, primarily for its exceptional on-road handling characteristics.  The Ranchos aren'd bad, but the Bilstiens are significantly better in ALL aspects, the Eibachs even more so in my opinion.

 

Second, 3" of lift does NOT require new UCA's.  There are TONS of people running 3.5" (TB or AT4 with 1.5" spacer) of lift with no issues, it's when you go above that height that you begin to have potential UCA issues with snapped ball joints.  

 

At 3" of total lift, your UCA joints wont be an issue and your CV angles wont be an issue. 

 

I wont get too deep into my thoughts on spacers as "lifts or levels", but for an extra $500 bucks you could get an Eibach system that includes shocks on all four corners and new springs up front that are specifically designed for your vehicle.  A block has zero benefit to your suspension, only drawbacks.  If you want an easy 3" lift, get the Eibach pro Truck lift and add a 1" spacer to it.  It will handle significantly better than stock, on and off road, and you will get the benefit of having an actual suspension lift(more travel and much better suspension control) instead of a block lift.

 

 

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Thanks and appreciate it.  I just got off the phone with Eibach as a matter of fact.  They do not have a kit that fits my truck because they have not tested their kits on the 3.0 ecodiesels yet.  The Superlift kit that came had UCAs and they were replaced, I just didnt get the full 3 inches, more like right around 2 inches.  Not a big deal, however when speaking with Superlift, they said it should have lifted the truck 3 inches as it is just spacers and they do not settle, which made me think maybe think it was the strut, but struts dont provide lift, springs do.  But if Eibach had it I would have bought it.  

 

I will keep looking.  Once it is time to get new tires, I plan on moving to a 4 inch BDS suspension lift anyways.  

 

If you have any other ideas about front springs and/or shocks please let me know.  Both Superlift and Bilstein said to adjust the strut up to the one inch mark.  

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On 4/1/2022 at 8:54 PM, timothycan said:

Thanks and appreciated.  I only ask because it is all installed and I did add the UCA that came with the kit.  

 

After getting all this information, I may just have the shop pull the Bilsteins up front and redo the coils back onto the stock Ranchos that came with the truck and put the 3 inch spacer that came with the Superlift kit back on the way it was intended instead of putting the Bilstein up a notch to one inch.  

 

Thanks for all the info.  Now that I have done all this, I am thinking should have went with a 6 inch lift as that will be next I suppose.  

 

Thank you again for the information.  

The stock Rancho's need to stay out of your truck, permanently.  They will have no rebound or compression in a short amount of time.  Don't get me wrong, I liked the way my truck rode with the Rancho's and would love to have that same cushiony ride back, but they were shot at 20K miles.  

 

The Superlift kit is not an optimum setup and makes you change out the UCA's which aren't needed.  Since you have the UCA's already, you might as well keep them, but again I would highly suggest doing an actual suspension lift like the Eibach kit and keep your UCA's since they are already installed.

 

Basically:

Keep your UCA's

Install the Eibach Pro Truck  Lift (Shocks and Springs Adjustable Height) at the 2.1" height

Install a 1" block

 

Wipe your hands and be done.  The truck will ride great on and off road and you will gain the benefit of having increased suspension travel and MUCH better handling characteristics.

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19 minutes ago, timothycan said:

Thanks and appreciate it.  I just got off the phone with Eibach as a matter of fact.  They do not have a kit that fits my truck because they have not tested their kits on the 3.0 ecodiesels yet.  The Superlift kit that came had UCAs and they were replaced, I just didnt get the full 3 inches, more like right around 2 inches.  Not a big deal, however when speaking with Superlift, they said it should have lifted the truck 3 inches as it is just spacers and they do not settle, which made me think maybe think it was the strut, but struts dont provide lift, springs do.  But if Eibach had it I would have bought it.  

 

I will keep looking.  Once it is time to get new tires, I plan on moving to a 4 inch BDS suspension lift anyways.  

 

If you have any other ideas about front springs and/or shocks please let me know.  Both Superlift and Bilstein said to adjust the strut up to the one inch mark.  

If I remember correctly, the Eibach springs can be purchased as stand alone items and provide 1" of lift on stock suspension.  That might be an avenue worth pursuing.

Edited by Gangly
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