How to Lower an '86 Chevy Truck

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The second-to-last year that Chevrolet produced its third generation model pickup truck was 1986. Recently, these trucks have begun to gain a following in both the restoration and customization world due to the ease with which they can be found in solid running condition, as well as the clean, uncluttered body styling that allows custom truck enthusiasts to unleash their creative talents. Lowering these trucks using the standard rear block and front spindle replacement is the easiest, least expensive and the best way to maintain the ride characteristics of the stock vehicle while bringing it significantly closer to the pavement.

Things You'll Need

  • Automotive jack
  • Jack stands
  • Lug wrench
  • 1/2-inch-drive socket set
  • 1/2-inch-drive hex bits
  • Small flat-head screwdriver
  • Rear axle lowering block kit
  • Front spindle lowering kit

Install the Rear Block

  • Jack up the truck, then use jack stands to support its frame. Use the lug wrench to remove the wheel lugs, then pull the wheels off of the hubs and set them aside.

  • Support the rear axle of the truck with the jack, then examine the suspension components. The axle is mounted to the leaf spring suspension with two shackles on each side of the truck. The shackles are installed over the top of the axle housing and then down through a mounting plate attached to the bottom of the leaf spring. Under the mounting plate, there are four nuts which secure the shackle to the mounting plate.

  • Unbolt the shackles using the 1/2-inch drive socket set. With the bolts removed, push the shackles up and out of the mounting plate, then over and off of the axle.

  • Use the jack to raise the axle of the truck until you can slide one of the suspension blocks between the axle and the leaf spring. With the block in place, install the replacement shackles over the top of the axle, then through the mounting plate on the leaf spring. Secure the shackles with the nuts provided with the lowering block kit. The installation procedure is the same on both the driver and passenger side of the truck.

Install the Front Lowering Spindles

  • Examine the front suspension components of the truck. The disc brake is located immediately in front of you, with the brake caliper located on the brake disc and situated toward the back of the truck. Above the brake disc is the upper control arm and the upper ball joint. Situated toward the front of the truck is the tie rod, which is bolted to the steering arm of the spindle. Below the brake disc is the lower control arm and the lower ball joint nut.

  • Unbolt the brake caliper using the ratchet fitted with a hex bit, then remove it from the brake disc and allow it to hang gently to the side of the spindle. Pull the brake disc off of the wheel lugs. No tools are necessary to pull off the brake disc. Behind the brake disc, you will see the wheel lugs mounted to the wheel hub. There is a metal cover which protects the inner hub and retains grease. Use a small screwdriver to pry off the metal cover and reveal the nut below.

  • Use the socket wrench to remove the bolt located within the center of the wheel hub. With the bolt removed, the hub can be slipped off of the spindle shaft.

  • Unbolt the tie rod from the steering arm of the spindle, then allow the tie rod to hang to the side. Support the lower control arm with the jack and then remove the upper and lower ball joint nuts. Lift the upper control arm with your hands to release and remove the spindle from its mounting position, then install the replacement spindle onto the control arms. Install and tighten the ball joint nuts, then bolt the tie rod to the the steering arm of the spindle.

  • Reassemble the hub and the brake components of the truck. The installation procedure for the spindles is the same on both the driver and passenger side of the truck.

Tips & Warnings

  • While the spindle is removed from the truck, check if the ball joints need servicing.

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References

  • "Automotive Suspension and Steering Systems"; Tom Birch; 1998
  • "Chevy & GMC Truck Performance Handbook"; Jim Allen; 2000
  • "Custom Cars: Coupes, Sedans, Pickups"; Alan Mayes; 2010
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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