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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
after having ordered and received months ago all the parts to lift my Metris i finally got around to install them.
a big shoutout to @surfmetrisca for all the footwork and info!
i got the 2" lift kit/springs from the AdventureVan Co;
Bilstein B6 front struts incl shaft extender:
Stand-off Coupling Hex Nut (14mm x 50mm)
Threaded Rod Screw (14mm x 50mm);
strut bearings (just in case);
KYB gas-a-just 554248 ML01 K.
i also bought cross drilled and slotted brake rotors front and rear with new brake pads from BrakePerformance.com.
i already had Toyo OpenCountry A/T3 225/65R17 mounted.

Front installation:
the first replacement in the front was a PITA because i had to figure out how to. the other side was much easier. and the rear is quite simple.
to remove the front struts one has to remove the the steering knuckle assembly from the strut (2 bolts/nuts) and the 3 bolts on top of the strut dome.
the brake hose and sensor wiring have to be unfastened and the stabilizer link as well.
in order to access those 3 top bolts the windshield wiper arms have to be removed and the cover of the wiper linkage assembly. the linkage assembly itself doesn't have to be removed!
installation is just the reverse. i suggest to have a 8" C-clamp at hand. you will need it to press down the steering knuckle assembly inside the strut ears to align the mounting holes for the 2 bolts.
i suggest to re-attach the stabilizer link after the wheel is mounted and the van is lowered to the ground. it's much easier that way.

Rear installation:
much easier and it takes only 30 minutes per side. pretty much self explanatory. except: the KYB shocks require a spacer of 25-30mm length for the upper mounting point.

a few thoughts:
- initially i thought the stabilizer/sway bar links have to be extended. now i firmly believe that is not necessary. the distances between control arm/sway bar/ steering knuckle assembly and strut is exactly the same all the way up to the point where the stabilizer link attaches to the strut.
rather the stabilizer links have to be slightly shorter due to the different angles which is why i suggest reinstalling them with the wheels on the ground.
  • as the Bilstein B6 come only in one length the shaft has to be extended to accommodated the longer spring in order to provide the same travel within the range provided by the shock. otherwise the shock will top out 2" sooner.
  • the same applies to the rear end as well but here longer shocks are available.
  • i think with the aforementioned lift even bigger tires can be mounted, 235/65R17 should be possible, maybe even 235/75R16.

first impression:
sweet ride! no more clunking noises or thunks.
driving over potholes ( hey, the grow them here in CA by the millions!) at any speed doesn't cause any anxiety anymore. feels like really planted now.

still left to do:
- proper wheel alignment.
i did a preliminary alignment in the front with a digital inclinometer, camber set to -0.5 degree. the rear wheels seem to have a positive camber as of now.

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Great write-up, thank you. I am really fighting the urge to do the lift myself.

Coincidentally, I saw the beauty below hanging around the last couple of days -- lifted about 2" with 225/65 KO2's. Anybody want to claim it? It has personalized Cali plates, barn doors and an aftermarket tow hitch. I couldn't identify the lift kit.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Great write-up, thank you. I am really fighting the urge to do the lift myself.
i strongly dislike working on cars nowadays. but in this case i preferred to do it myself as a suspension shop could be quite expensive and also i was experimenting a bit by considering to install lift spacers as well.
i bought the Tema polyurethane spacers for that purpose. they might have worked in the rear but definitely not in the front. i tried hard but the to align the steering knuckle assembly with the mounting holes of the strut ears is impossible.
 

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@cafebmw, great write up with photos! Thanks for sharing. Do you have any before/after measurements to confirm height changes?

I had an indie MB shop install these springs 1-1/2 years ago and am still dragging on fixing the suspension travel issues with the shock extensions. I am actually considering mixing lift kits with strut spacers up front and the AdventureVanCo springs in the back. The extra spring rate is great when loaded. I only netted about 1-3/16" lift in the front but 2-3/8" in the rear, lightly loaded. I'm looking for at least a true 1.5" or taller lift in the front now. I have quite the rake when unloaded and had to adjust headlights. I saw your Tema kit for sale, but probably not quite enough lift for my front.

I'm wondering if my van just had a more compressed rear suspension to begin with. Could you post your center of wheel-to-fender arch measurements? I'm now at 17-15/16" front and 18-13/16" rear unloaded. This goes to 17-7/16" front and 17-1/2" rear when loaded with ~1,200 lb of camping gear + people and 3 bikes on the hitch receiver.
 

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Awesome write-up, thank you for sharing with us. I installed a similar kit (Bilstein struts/shocks and Eibach springs) but I think mine turned out a little less lifted. The ride is still nice but it's noticeably firmer. The rear doesn't sag under load anymore and handling is markedly improved.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
follow up:
The actual resulting lift in the front is 40mm/ 1 5/8", in the rear 80mm/ 3 1/8", measured empty cargo bay;
when loaded with 800kg/1,760 lbs the sag is 50mm/ 2" in the front and 65mm/ 2 1/2" in the rear.
With the bigger tires, here the Toyo open country at3 in 225/65r17, adds another 10mm/ 1/2" in height.
total clearance ground to rocker panels seam in the front is 285mm/ 11 1/4", in the rear 390mm/ 15 1/4".

I'm rather disappointed that the front springs don't add actually 2" lift, the fall short by 1/2". not much but i paid for 2"!!
I'll contact AdventureVan Co about it.
Don't forget, the front strut shaft was extended by 2", so the full spring expansion is not limited by a strut reaching it's maximum range.
In addition the slope rear to front is now even more pronounced as before.

Originally i planned to add a 30mm/ 1 1/2" spacer on top of the strut but this doesn't seem possible as the lower control arm can't be lowered any further. I even tried to compress the strut with spring compressors but to no avail as there is not really space inside the strut dome to apply the tools.

What i also learned is that the stabilizer links have to be shortened when a strut shaft extender is used.
2" shaft extension = 2" shortening of the links.
i just receiveded 2 new links. The shaft have a 10mm diameter. I will cut out a segment of 1 1/2" to 2", thread the ends and connect with a M10 x 1.25 standoff/coupling nut. That way it's even adjustable.
 

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follow up:
The actual resulting lift in the front is 40mm/ 1 5/8", in the rear 80mm/ 3 1/8", measured empty cargo bay;
when loaded with 800kg/1,760 lbs the sag is 50mm/ 2" in the front and 65mm/ 2 1/2" in the rear.
With the bigger tires, here the Toyo open country at3 in 225/65r17, adds another 10mm/ 1/2" in height.
total clearance ground to rocker panels seam in the front is 285mm/ 11 1/4", in the rear 390mm/ 15 1/4".

I'm rather disappointed that the front springs don't add actually 2" lift, the fall short by 1/2". not much but i paid for 2"!!
I'll contact AdventureVan Co about it.
Don't forget, the front strut shaft was extended by 2", so the full spring expansion is not limited by a strut reaching it's maximum range.
In addition the slope rear to front is now even more pronounced as before.

Originally i planned to add a 30mm/ 1 1/2" spacer on top of the strut but this doesn't seem possible as the lower control arm can't be lowered any further. I even tried to compress the strut with spring compressors but to no avail as there is not really space inside the strut dome to apply the tools.

What i also learned is that the stabilizer links have to be shortened when a strut shaft extender is used.
2" shaft extension = 2" shortening of the links.
i just receiveded 2 new links. The shaft have a 10mm diameter. I will cut out a segment of 1 1/2" to 2", thread the ends and connect with a M10 x 1.25 standoff/coupling nut. That way it's even adjustable.
@cafebmw thanks for the shoutout and all the additional info. Now you’re actually helping me out as I’ve recently realized I need to replace my front swaybar links as the front passenger one is badly bent. For the longest time there was a clicking noise when I turned my wheel hard right. I ignored it until last week when it was a much louder noise. I looked and realized the right swaybar link is bent and had been rubbing up against the shock/strut. When I had my new springs and shocks installed I asked my install shop multiple times if I needed new swaybar links and they incorrectly told me I did not. Now I’ll have to pay for it.

So did you end up ordering the stock size swaybar links and you’re cutting them down 2” or did you find ones that are already 2” shorter? I’d like to find 2” shorter ones or even buy adjustable ones so I can get the swaybar completely level again and hopefully that will also help improve my ride a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@cafebmw thanks for the shoutout and all the additional info. Now you’re actually helping me out as I’ve recently realized I need to replace my front swaybar links as the front passenger one is badly bent. For the longest time there was a clicking noise when I turned my wheel hard right.
you better do it sooner than later as the link can bend towards the strut and squeeze the brake hose. on mine it bent the ear which the brake hose attaches to. i caught right in time and for the time being i bent the rod the opposite direction.
 

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I had the front driver side factory stock coil spring and spring seat collapse on my van under “normal” conditions. When modified, I’d be looking everywhere for a potential failure. In this case the sway bar links. Good catch! Mine are sill fine but I’ll be checking on them. I’d like to know if there is an adjustable heavy duty link out there that we can use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
re sway bar links:
it is mandatory to shorten them when using strut/shock shaft extenders otherwise the links will bend sooner or later.
it happened to me and to @surfmetrisca as well.
the point where the ball joint attaches to the strut sits lower by the same amount as the length of the extension, in my case 2".
i bought new links, they are less then $50 each. i cut out a 2" section of the rod, threaded the ends (M10 x 1.25) and reconnected them with a coupling nut.
i haven't installed them yet, i will do so this week.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
For some reason I cannot visualize why these need to be shorter vs longer.
consider the distance between the strut dome, where the strut assembly is attached to, and the attachment ear where the ball joint of the link is attached.
with the taller spring and the 2" shock shaft extension the strut is extended by 2" in the top half (spring assembly) and the distance between strut dome and attachment ear also increased by 2".
if you try to install the unmodified link the sway bar bottoms out and touches the lower control arm.
it took me a while to figure that out.
 

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re sway bar links:
it is mandatory to shorten them when using strut/shock shaft extenders otherwise the links will bend sooner or later.
it happened to me and to @surfmetrisca as well.
the point where the ball joint attaches to the strut sits lower by the same amount as the length of the extension, in my case 2".
i bought new links, they are less then $50 each. i cut out a 2" section of the rod, threaded the ends (M10 x 1.25) and reconnected them with a coupling nut.
i haven't installed them yet, i will do so this week.
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You are considerably braver than me.
 

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consider the distance between the strut dome, where the strut assembly is attached to, and the attachment ear where the ball joint of the link is attached.
with the taller spring and the 2" shock shaft extension the strut is extended by 2" in the top half (spring assembly) and the distance between strut dome and attachment ear also increased by 2".
if you try to install the unmodified link the sway bar bottoms out and touches the lower control arm.
it took me a while to figure that out.
Ok so do the links from SC campers look the same as what you are doing?

 

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Welding seems smart if you know the length you need.
I'd like to see how the factory does it. I'd be worried about compromising the integrity of the sway bar links, but I'm neither a metallurgist nor an engineer. The weld or threaded adjusting collar seem like potentially new failure points?
 
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