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DIY 'Body Lift' Australian 4WD Action Article

How to body lift your Hilux

There comes a time where suspension lifts alone are just not enough to get your vehicle where you want it to go. Be it because your IFS equipped vehicle isn’t able to be lifted more than a few inches, or because the new suspension in your vehicle is performing well enough to not require altering. So what do you do if you want more air under your guards?

After installing a 2in suspension lift not long ago, the 4WD Custom Guide HiLux’s suspension is pretty much spot on. There is more than enough travel to keep the vehicle moving, and the ride has improved massively over the old suspension. The problem lies with the relatively small tyres on the HiLux which are limiting the places it could go off road, and even these were still rubbing during heavy articulation. While one option would be to cut the guards, an easier and neater solution is to install a 2in body lift. If you’re not in the know, a bodylift spaces the body up above its chassis mounts, and is a relatively simple and effective way of increasing under-guard clearance.

A body lift kit essentially comprises of longer high tensile bolts, and spacer blocks cut to the height you want to lift the vehicle. In this case we decided to go with a 2in lift, which when combined with the 2in suspension lift already installed,will have more than enough clearance for a set of 33in muddies while off road.

After having a chat with Ryan at Snake Racing in Sydney about body lifts in general, we were convinced that the Snake Racing solid alloy body lift kit was the way to go. There are a few kits of dubious quality being sold it seems, especially ones being advertised on the internet as body blocks, not specific body lift kits. Not wanting to take any chances, we had an alloy body lift kit shipped out, and set about installing it one afternoon with the help of a couple of usual suspects. While installing the body blocks is a fairly easy task in most cases, this is only half the battle as we were soon to find out...

Hilux undergoing a body lift Body lift installation photos Recommended tools for a body lift Body lift special thanks

LEGALITIES

In most states of Australia a vehicle body lift of up to 2 inches is road legal, however it will need to be engineer approved before it is considered a legal modification. The type of material the block is made from will come under scrutiny, as well as the total height of the vehicle. Before performing any modification on your vehicle, consult the proper authorities in your state. This is the only safe way to ensure the modifications you wish to make to your vehicle are legal to be used on the road.

When it comes time to purchase your body lift kit, ask the supplier if the kit has been engineer approved previously, and check what materials the kit has been manufactured from. The Snake Racing kit used in this article has been manufactured from solid alloy blocks, which is an engineer friendly material.

Body Lift

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1Before you even start the job, it is a good idea to give the underside of your vehicle a thorough clean with a high pressure cleaner at your local carwash. Give all the body mounts a liberal coating of WD40 or similar a few days before you start, which will ensure easy removal of the bolts when the big installation day arrives. Find a nice flat area and chock the wheels so the vehicle can’t move, release the handbrake and put the vehicle in neutral.

2While a body lift is something that can be done by one person, having a few mates around sure does make things easier. Editor Brenno and Dr Dave took time away from fixing their Pajero’s and jumped on board to lend a hand for the day. This made removing barwork safer as well as having someone around at all times to look and listen for anything out of the ordinary while lifting the vehicle.

3Every vehicle is different when it comes to body lifts, so it pays to check with an expert before lifting your vehicle. There are many possible headaches to take into consideration such as brake lines, steering columns, gear shift levers, fuel fillers and wiring. Have a thorough look through your 4WD before you start the project, for any area which may require attention. You’re looking for components that connect to both the body and the chassis or drivetrain in some way.

4One major hassle that arises from lifting the body off the vehicles chassis, is the gap created between the body and any barwork fitted. This vehicle has front and rear bars as well as side steps, and the 2in gap which has been created not only looks horrible, but gets in the way of the headlights. In our case, we decided to remove the bullbar and side rails, and install a factory bumper bar that we picked up from our local wreckers. This is the perfect excuse to get some custom protection gear manufactured down the track.

5After much research we decided on a solid alloy kit from Snake Racing. There are some discrepancies regarding poly blocks used in body lifts in certain states, so it pays to check the legalities of performing a body lift in your state before you get started. While the Snake Racing kit wasn’t the cheapest around, the fact these blocks and bolts are responsible for holding the body onto the chassis is enough of a reason to do the job right the first time!

6In our case, we needed to remove the lower section of the vehicle’s radiator fan shroud and loosen the steering column, fuel filler and air intake. Every single vehicle is different, and some will require additional modifications to these areas for a complete and professional result.

7Loosen all of the body mounts on the vehicle, but leave the nuts and bolts on one side of the vehicle in place. In the case of this HiLux there are eight mounts holding the cab onto the chassis, and six on the tray. While the actual task of performing a body lift is different on a ute, the same principals apply to all vehicles. The body and the tray will have to be lifted separately, and we found it was easier to raise the body first, and then align the tray to the vehicle.

8There are many methods used to lift a body off the frame, but the most common are high lift or hydraulic floor jacks. When raising the vehicle, only lift one side at a time to prevent the body sliding off the chassis, while also assisting in keeping the body squared to the chassis. Hi-lift jacks aren’t particularly suited to this job, as they’re unstable and also don’t allow for minute adjustment. A few other alternatives include using bottle jacks and wood in the vehicles wheel arches on top of the tyre, or a trolley jack and a thick plank of wood. The trick is to take your time and experiment with a few different alternatives, as well as find the best position to raise the vehicle. Remember to think safety first always.

9One question which we are asked regularly at 4WD Custom Guide is whether the blocks sit on top or below the factory rubber body mounts when doing a body lift. Ryan from Snake Racing commented that the best way to think about the order of blocks is to pretend you are welding the block to the floor pan of your vehicle. So to put this myth to bed, body lift blocks sit on top of the factory rubber mounts, not underneath.

10If your vehicle is 100% stock standard, installing a body lift will be far simpler as there will be no aftermarket wiring to deal with. Some typical culprits are spotlight and antenna wiring which has been run through the grill of the vehicle, which then stretches while being lifted. Disconnect any accessories which will get in the way including any batteries, and if required after the lift modify the wiring to suit. Essentially any aftermarket accessory which has been run underneath the vehicle instead of through the cabin will need to be monitored.

11The body washers which were fitted to the original bolts need to be reused, however they will have to be pressed off the bolts. This easiest way of doing this is by placing the bolt head into a socket, and giving the threaded end of the bolt a few hits with a hammer. Inspect the washers for damage or distortion afterwards.

12Gear levers are one area which can cause post body lift headaches, as they can come into contact with the transmission tunnel while shifting gears. Ryan mentioned in the case of the HiLux, the transmission boot becomes bunched with the lift, in turn making reverse, 2nd and 4th gear harder to select. This is why re-positioning the body on the chassis correctly is so important, and if done correctly should cause no issues.

13If your gearstick will absolutely hit the tunnel, either notch the floor pan with a grinder, or have the gearsticks bent or extended. Take care when heating the gearstick however, as they are filled with rubber insulation designed to reduce vibration felt through the gearstick, which will melt if too much heat is applied. Both the inner and outer boot on the gear and transfer case lever needed to be trimmed on the HiLux to allow for easy gear shifting, and the gear shift now sits 2in lower.

14With the body raised and sitting level on the body lift blocks, check to see if the engine driven radiator fan clears the now modified shroud before starting the engine. Engage the vehicles handbrake and check for tension. In some cases the handbrake will need to be adjusted after the lift, as it is possible the handbrake cable has become too tight.

15As the fuel filler and breathers should be loosened off before the lift, it is possible that they have fallen off the metal inlet tubes. Refit the filler and any breathers, and check for length. In some cases new hoses will be required, however we had just enough hose left after the lift to safely reuse the standard parts.

16Once the body (and tray in this case) have been raised, tighten all bolts to the factory specified torque settings. Thoroughly check all wiring and hoses inside and underneath the vehicle, as well as the engine bay. Re-install the top fan shroud, and tighten the fuel filler, steering slip joint and air intake, and check that all electrical components still work as they should. Take the vehicle for a drive, and listen for any strange noises which have occurred as a result of the lift. If everything checks out, consider this a job well done!