This post is part of a full series on lifting your late model Ford Ranger or Mazda B-Series:

Why Swap Leaf Springs?

As we saw in Chapter 1,  the Superlift kit lifts the back of your truck with 3″ blocks that you’re supposed to stack onto the Ranger’s factory blocks. While this is passable for light duty use, this setup has some major disadvantages:

  • When you lift using blocks, stacked or not, they add extra stress to your leaf springs and can cause them to break.
  • Stacking blocks can lead to the blocks popping out when stressed, seriously breaking your truck, causing loss of control and/or hurting someone.
  • You don’t get any extra wheel travel or articulation compared to the factory spring
  • The 3″ Superlift blocks aren’t really tall enough to maintain the slight higher-in-the-back rake – they assume you want to level the truck. This is a matter of taste, but I like a bit of rake so that my truck sits level with a bit of a load.

Leaf Spring Options for Rangers

There are many custom spring shops that could make a lift spring for you, but it’s usually easier and cheaper to use an off-the-shelf part.

Deaver makes a 2-1/2″ lift spring for Rangers, but:

  • I needed more lift to eliminate the blocks
  • They come with the following disclaimer: “Deaver Leaf Springs are progressive design springs. They are not suited for carrying weight in the back of your truck or for towing.”

That second point ruled them out for me completely.

A bit of research on the forums confirmed that Skyjacker’s FR36S 6″ lift spring (and their FR34S 4″ version) will fit on newer Ford Rangers despite the application guide only showing compatibility for 1980 through 1997.

My objective was to completely eliminate blocks, including the factory one, so I used this math:

Factory 1.25″ block +
Superlift 3″ block =
4.25″ minimum required lift from new spring.

Since I didn’t want to end up a quarter inch lower than when I started and I didn’t want to also buy the longer Belltech shackles, this ruled out the 4″ FR34S spring and left only the FR36S, which nets me 1.75″ of lift over the stacked blocks.

Truck Profile

With the coilovers installed and set to Superlift’s upper spec for ride height, this is my truck’s stance.

 

Other Parts

Rear Shocks

This guide assumes you’re installing or have installed the Superlift kit, which comes with longer rear shock absorbers than stock. The Superlift shocks are long enough for use with the 6″ Skyjacker leafs. If you’re not using the Superlift shocks, you’ll need to find a new rear shock that is 4-5″ longer than the factory unit. The Superlift  85156 shocks that come with the kit don’t seem to currently be available separately, though you can try contacting Superlift to ask. I’ll be researching this more when mine wear out!

Bolts or Bushings

This is the only difficulty with this leaf spring swap. At some point after 1997, Ford switched to a larger front leaf spring eyelet and a larger bolt, so while the rear of the FR36S bolts up nicely, and the length is right, the front bolt from the newer Rangers don’t fit through the sleeve in the new spring’s bushing.

The Skyjacker eyelet, above, is smaller than the factory leaf spring's eyelet.

The Skyjacker eyelet, above, is smaller than the factory leaf spring’s eyelet.

The Ranger’s stock bushing won’t fit into the Skyjacker spring’s smaller eyelet (I tried) so there are two options to resolve this:

  • Find a bushing sized for a 1.5″ eyelet, 2.5″ wide spring and an inner sleeve sized for a 5/8″ bolt (so far I’ve been unsuccessful, but this would be the ideal solution – please leave a comment with the part number if you’re able to find one), then press it (or have it pressed) into the front eyelet of the Skyjacker spring
  • Buy a couple of 9/16″ by 5″ bolts and matching lock nuts to fit the Skyjacker’s bushing sleeves.

Because I had my truck all taken apart and didn’t have time to go hunting for correctly-sized bushings, I opted for the smaller bolts. The implication of the smaller bolts is that the holes in the Ranger’s front spring hangers are now too large for the bolts. To prevent them hammering around and ruining something, I used 4 extra thick 9/16″ steel washers (2 per side of the truck) and after installing the springs, I drove my truck over to Next Level Automotive and they welded the washers to the spring hangers.

9/16" Washers Welded To Spring Hanger

9/16″ Washers Welded To Spring Hanger

 

9/16" Washers Welded To Spring Hanger, Inside View

9/16″ Washers Welded To Spring Hanger, Inside View

U-Bolts

Before ordering, check the condition of your factory U-Bolts. The Superlift u-bolts can’t be used without blocks because they are too long, so hopefully you still have your factory ones and they’re still in good condition.If they seem severely rusted, you may not be able to reuse them, or even remove them without cutting. If necessary, order some fresh ones. I had about 40,000 kms (25,000 miles) on my factory u-bolts. They unbolted nicely and were fine to re-use with the Skyjacker springs, without blocks.

Leaf Springs Shopping List

ItemPart #WhyWhere To BuyQuantityCost (USD)Amount (USD)
TotalNot including taxes or shipping$447.26
Skyjacker 6" Softride Leaf SpringFR36SThese are the springs for lifting the back of your truckAmazon.com2$217.13$434.26
9/16" x 5" Grade 8 Bolts & Lock Nutsn/aTo fit the smaller sleeves in the Skyjacker bushings.Fastenal or your favourite industrial fastener store.2$5.00$10.00
9/16" Grade 8 Washersn/aFor welding to the Ranger's front leaf hangers so the smaller bolts don't rattle around.Fastenal or your favourite industrial fastener store.4$0.75$3.00

Ordering

Ordering is pretty straightforward – the Skyjacker leaf springs are available at most online auto parts stores and the bolts and washers are standard items. When your springs arrive, just check the part stickers on them and make sure they match each other – I have read about people receiving mis-labeled springs that were the wrong ones.

Further Reading


And that concludes the long, drawn-out, boring part of the project: getting all the stuff you need and preparing for the build. Hopefully this has saved a a few days’ worth of research and a few hours worth of trial and error during your install.

In the next chapter, we’ll look at the installation itself.