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Lifting a '95-01 IFS Article

ExplorerDMB

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Superlift vs. Trailmaster: Information on the Pros and Cons of both kits! Includes pictures (all on page two of this thread!)


Lifting the ’95 and newer Explorer IFS


When the Ford Explorer shifted from the Traction Twin Beam (TTB) front suspension to the Independent Front suspension (IFS) in 1995, hardcore off-road enthusiasts cringed. Not only would they lose a suspension that offered greater strength (similar to that of a solid axle) and performance but also a suspension that offered an overall simplicity that made for cost-effective modifications as well as an assortment of aftermarket suspension upgrades.

Exactly what were the minds behind the mighty Blue Oval thinking? Well, follow the money trail.
You’ve got to remember that the Explorer was a pioneer in its class. Not only did it more-or-less create a class of its own, the SUV also became the benchmark by which ensuing “grocery getters” were measured and a standard issue for “soccer moms” nationwide. In a nutshell, the Ford Explorer did not become the best-selling SUV by merely catering to rock-minded, dirt-thirsty heathens that we are. It became the best-selling SUV by courting the ladies; giving them the ride and comfort that they desire. And the SUV has maintained that honor for 12 years in a row.

So, when the inevitable occurred in 1995, the Ford Explorer dropped the TTB from beneath the front wheel wells, picking up the IFS. This equated to a more comfortable ride on the road and helped the Explorer maintain its rank over competitors eager to coddle comfort-minded consumers.

The repercussions for off-road enthusiasts were rather grave. Because of the increased cost and complexity of the IFS, as well as the limited demand for suspension lifts, aftermarket suspension manufacturers dropped the Explorer suspension from its lineup.

For nearly a decade, Explorer owners stricken with IFS were left with virtually no means of a suspension lift. Sure, the leaf sprung suspension in the rear is an easy upgrade. But what about the daunting task of lifting the front end? Well, cranking up the torsion bars to gains a nudge of lift was about the best we could do. Until now.

After nearly a decade, a suspension manufacturer finally stepped forth with four inches of off-road performance in its arsenal. Superlift engineered its newly released four-inch suspension specifically for the throng of dirt-thirsty off-roaders who drive a ’95 or newer Explorer. Instead of just “getting the groceries,” Explorer IFS owners may simply toss the groceries to the side as they navigate the trails with greater height, handling and confidence.

TEN magazines recently hooked up with Off Road Unlimited in Burbank, California, where we followed along on the install of Superlift’s latest addition to its family of performance suspensions. Our candidate, a 2000 Ford Explorer Sport 4X4 shod with stock 255/70R16 tires, a 4.0L V-6 and just over 60,000 miles on the odometer, was on the lift and already in the works when we arrived on the scene. Off Road Unlimited lead mechanic, Danny Kempf, and general manager, Mike Duval, were on the job.

FIT AND FINISH

Early into the upgrade, it became evident that Explorer owner and ORU sales associate, Desi Lobos, was a perfect candidate for the suspension upgrade. After a recent trip to Azusa Canyon, the rig, in its stock form, had been hammered to the extent that the front crossmember was nearly in contact with the front axle. Under load, the front axle would likely come in contact with the crossmember and possibly lead to further trauma.

So, in order to work it back into shape, the front axle was removed, allowing enough room to take a torch and a huge hammer to the crossmember and smash it back into shape. No fault to Superlift, rather a fault to an overzealous driver in a once under-equipped Explorer, this became the only snafu of the install.

Other than four Pro Comp 265/75R16 Mud Terrains and the 8 x16-inch Pro Comp Xtreme aluminum wheels the rig was outfitted with, the Explorer required a pair of limiting straps up front. This was due to binding of the CV joints while at full extension. Kempf quickly remedied this issue by welding tabs to the lower control arms and the frame, creating attachment points for the straps. This simple modification saves the CV joints from premature failure and is a modification indicative of a professional installation.

Otherwise, the Superlift suspension was complete with all the necessary hardware and went together just as Kempf expected. After years of experience, Kempf noted that Superlift Suspensions has built a reputation with him and his colleagues for proper fit and finish.

TIRE SIZE

Although ORU chose to go with the 265/75R16 tires, alleviating any real need for a gear upgrade, the kit allows for 285/75R16 tires to be stuffed beneath the wheel wells, according to Kempf. And to take it one step further, although not yet tested, 305/75R16 tires may be a possibility with some trimming and quite possibly some fabricating finesse.

RIDE AND HANDLING

Several days after the install, the ORU crew took to the desert for a maiden voyage, taking particular note to how the 2000 Ford Explorer Superlift 4” suspension performed. While making the rounds between the ProROCK rock crawling season finals and Mojave Desert Racings California 200 off-road race in Lucerne Valley, California, our first impressions were good.

On the road, the overall handling and ride quality remained about the same. Driving down the boulevard, the Superlift suspension adds a tough appearance to the once tame-looking Explorer. Off the road and in the rough, ride was improved with the addition of suspension travel. At speed, the Explorer maintained its stability while soaking up the rocks and ruts in a more performance-minded fashion. In the desert, the suspension worked well.

TRACTION AND CLEARANCE

The added traction the ProComp Mud Terrains produced in the sand was typical for a mud terrain tire. The increased traction was admirable. On the hard pack and asphalt, the increased performance could be attributed to the sipes that are strategically placed throughout the center lugs of the tires. The ride was quiet and controlled.

As for clearance, what more must be said of four inches of Superlift? The increased height towers over most commonly encountered obstacles with ease. Along with the skid plate included with the kit, the increased height will go a long way in keeping the undercarriage from harms way and protecting it when the inevitable occurs.




The following is added by me and is not part of the origional article:


WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YOU:

One thing you will need to do once you have the kit installed is either lengthen your front driveshaft or order the Trailmaster/Superlift front driveshaft. The front driveshaft which consist of a c.v. style joint at the transfer case (not a double cardan yoke -- ball and socket type) will need to get rid of that. The angle created with the lift will be too great for this style to last and will cause noise/vibration. I would consider getting a Double Cardan Yoke installed at a local machine shop instead of the manufacturers driveshaft because of cost. Getting a driveshaft lengthened and/or made to have a D.C.Y. will run anywhere from $85-150 bucks. I do not know how long this picture will work: but this is the type that you cannot have for a front driveshaft after the lift:



HOW MUCH AND WHERE:

I have recieved a few PMs over the few months, and even replies in post, about where I got the kit, how much, etc. Well, I did some searching and found some websites where you can order a kit and it will help out on figuring the cost. The Trailmaster kit will be harder to come around, but the Superlift one can be found easily. A suspension lift will run anywhere from $1,400 - $1,800. Word of advice, watch out for shipping. These kits are extremely heavy, so if a company has free shipping, but a little more on the actual price - go with them. Shipping will be atleast $90 bucks.

Part Numbers:

Trailmaster - FB124 (anything after is just the shocks used in the kit; i.e. SSV)
Superlift - SUP9637
Superlift Front Driveshaft - SUP9636
Superlift Skid Plate - SUP9632


Websites:

--www.4wheelonline.com-- Sells both Superlift and Trailmaster kits.
--www.ultimateautoaccessories.com-- Sells just Superlift
--www.windrockoffroad.com-- Sells just Superlift

Note: I've only taken about 20 minutes to come back with 3 different sites. If you really wanted to shop around, you could find more websites!


I posted this article in this way, instead of a link, because a link would sometimes fail after a month and the article would be relocated. This is a way so people down the line will be able to read up on things. Hope this helps some people out.



-Drew
 


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TheRookie

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Looks good. good post. I do have a question though. How is this Not putting a nasty angle on the cv's? I dont see that being any better for a cv than cranking the bars up too much
 




JTX

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Dont forget thats with no weight on the tires. With the weight of the truck its probably not that bad.

Edit. Actually thats with no front a arms at all. The cv's are just hanging there.
 




TheRookie

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I know, But once its all together the CV angle is no better than it would be if you cranked the hell out of the torsion bars. Many on here are constantly worried about CV angle
 




jonjones80

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I don't see why it cost 1200 to install.
 




Hokie

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TheRookie said:
I know, But once its all together the CV angle is no better than it would be if you cranked the hell out of the torsion bars. Many on here are constantly worried about CV angle

not true. the whole front axle is dropped down to keep stock driveline angles
 




ExplorerDMB

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Hokie said:
not true. the whole front axle is dropped down to keep stock driveline angles


Yup, that is the way mine was done. There are axle drop down brackets, as along with other drop down brackets.

-Drew
 




ExplorerDMB

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jonjones80 said:
I don't see why it cost 1200 to install.

It is a very intensive job. I believe for my kit, it was about 17-18 hours including the alignment and tire/wheel mount. The rear is very easy, but the front and middle is where the "little pieces" are. I installed mine for free though.


-Drew
 




jonjones80

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Yeah I just looked into it more and see that it is a lot more then I thought it was. Where did you buy the kit from?
 




ExplorerDMB

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You can get the Superlift kit from many online vendors. I'm sure plenty of local facilities can get them for you. 4wheelparts.com may have them. I have the Trailmaster kit, but I'm not sure exactly where you can get that besides looking online and local stores.

-Drew
 








SteveO2569

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Trailmaster also came out with a four inch suspension kit for 95+ explorers did they not?
 




ExplorerDMB

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ExplorerDMB said:
I have the Trailmaster kit

Yes, Trailmaster does make a kit. Some say the Superlift one is stronger, which I believe it could be with the spindle set up upfront for the uppercontrol arm instead of the spacer that Trailmaster uses.

-Drew
 




ExplorerDMB

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I've added some parts:

-What They Don't Tell You
-How Much And Where (including part numbers)
-Pictures Of Finished Products


This is a good information post -- hopefully people will read this!

-Drew
 




ExplorerDMB

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SteveO2569 said:
how well will 33's fit on the explorer with a 4in lift

I do not think it is possible. I have 7" of lift (via 4" suspension, 3" body) and I can only clear 33s without rubbing!

-Drew
 




SteveO2569

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they would fit if u trim a little wouldnt they?
 




SteveO2569

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DMB, u say u have the trailmaster lift? how well has it worked for u so far
 




ExplorerDMB

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SteveO2569 said:
DMB, u say u have the trailmaster lift? how well has it worked for u so far

SteveO2569 said:
they would fit if u trim a little wouldnt they?


1 - The Trailmaster kit has worked fine. My alignment came out fine (factory settings) and it was pretty easy to install. It has been good so far (In August it'll be a full year of having the Suspension Lift)

2 - Anything will fit with trimming - but you will be cutting more than just plastic from the inner fender well. If you look at the picture with just the 4" lift with 32s -- it is a snug fit as it is!

-Drew
 




SteveO2569

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yea they do look pretty snug, i was originally thinkin about goin with the trailmaster just bc it is cheaper but i keep hearing how much the superlift towers over the trailmaster in performance and how the trailmaster uses the spacers so my mind might be changed so its always good to hear from someone who actually has the trailmaster
 


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TheRookie

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I fit a set of 33's on a 98 sport with only a 3 inch bl and tt. Trimming was needed but not terrible. little metal and fair plastic. but you couldnt tell anything was cut from the outside
 




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