One drawback to the Ranger is the torsion bar front suspension, which is more complicated than the Tacoma’s coil and strut suspension. Perhaps that is why so few companies have supported this platform. One notable exception is Superlift, which offers a 4-inch suspension lift for the Ranger. This suspension is similar to what you would find for a full size domestic truck, with replacement crossmembers and new steering knuckles to lower the front suspension to create room for larger tires.
Ford Rangers use a torsion bar front suspension, as opposed to coilover struts that have become the norm on 1/2 ton and mid sized trucks. Torsion bars are not inherently inferior to coilover struts in terms of ride quality or durability, but they do limit ground clearance.
The first step is to mark the torsion bar position so that they can be reinstalled in the same orientation. Since we retained the stock torsion bars, the ride quality was not compromised by the added suspension height.
The torsion bars are under a tremendous load since the twist in the bars (or torsion) is essentially what holds up the front end of the Ranger. You will need a tool to unload the torsion bars, and should be able to rent one from a parts store. If your local part store doesn’t have one to rent or purchase, you can purchase one online.
While Superlift recommends professional installation, This is something that anyone with mechanical skills can do in their own driveway or garage. You’ll need some heavy duty jack stands and a floor jack.
The Ranger uses an upper short arm and lower long arm to locate the steering knuckle, with the torsion bar connected to the lower arm. The Superlift kit lowers the lower arms and the torsion bars by 4-inches and leaves the upper arm in the factory location. The difference is made up by taller steering knuckles.
The new Superlift knuckles are constructed from nodular iron and are 4-inches taller than stock, but they accept the factory ball joints, brakes, and unit bearings for a bolt-on installation. Note how the steering mount has been moved up to allow the steering rack to stay in the stock location.
Unlike some independent front suspension designs that require mounts to be cut off of the front axlehousing to install a lift kit, the Ranger uses a bolt-on torque bracket. This makes installation that much easier, and also means that the lift kit can be removed and the truck can be returned to stock in the future if needed.
Re-installing the front differential is arguably the most difficult step. You may find it easier to raise the differential in place with a floor jack, and then bolt it all together.
This is a fairly complicated installation, with plenty of parts. Fortunately Superlift includes detailed instructions that cover every step. If you should still have questions, the tech support line is happy to help.
This Ranger has lived a hard life, as evidenced by the bent bumpstop mounts that had to be straightened and reinforced before adding the Superlift extensions. They use pins to align the extensions, making for a straightforward installation.
Superlift uses three-piece crossmembers constructed from 1/4-inch-thick steel to relocate the lower A-arms. (16) 3/8-inch bolts and Nyloc nuts tie the crossmembers to the lowering brackets. While one-piece crossmembers are nominally stronger, they can be difficult to install, particularly on a truck like this that has been beaten prior to the installation.
The torsion bars are dropped by an equal amount to the lower arms. The front suspension height can then be fine-tuned by preloading the torsion bars. In this case, the bars were actually unloaded back to stock, which smoothed out the ride while still providing room for 33-inch tires.
The unit bearings on this Ranger were worn out, so they were replaced with new ones from Rockauto. This wasn’t a planned repair, but it seemed like the perfect time to go ahead and do it.
Superlift includes a 3-inch lift block that is designed to install under the factory lift block with the included U-bolts. If you’re working on a FX4 model, you will need the Superlift 10914 u-bolt kit that contains (4) 9/16 x 3-5/8 x 13.5 round u-bolts and nuts.
Note how the Superlift Superide shock absorbers are larger than stock, providing increased fluid volume to resist fading when subjected to prolonged use off-road. The Superide shocks use 10-stage velocity-sensitive valving for maximum control without sacrificing a comfortable ride. The shock resistance continually adjusts depending on terrain and vehicle speed.
With the lift complete, new 16×8 MB 11 wheels were added with the proper backspacing to keep the 285/75R16 (33-inch) Cooper Discovery MTP tires from rubbing. You will need to get the truck aligned when the lift is complete.
With the Superlift 4-inch lift and the 33-inch Discovery MTP’s installed, it was time to play!