[b]Ford SuperDuty V-Code Leaf Spring Installation on a 2000 Ford Excursion[/b]
It's widely known that Excursions, while sharing a similar chassis to the F-250, do not share the same leaf springs from the factory. Due to the SUV body style of the Excursion, leaf springs specific to the Excursion come from the factory so the Excursion will fit in your standard garage and parking garage. The result: front leaf springs with significantly reduced travel (on 4x4 models) that eventually sag and leave less than 1" of leaf spring travel...further resulting in a very harsh ride.
[b]Why V-Code Springs instead of standard Excursion springs?[/b]
After 175,000 miles, I had about 5/8" of clearance between the leaf spring and the bump-stop. I could feel every bump I'd drive over on the road. It was time to swap springs. Instead of swapping back to factory Excursion springs, I opted for "V-Code springs" which ended up providing me with 1.5" of additional frontend lift over my sagging factory springs.
(8 ) Nuts - Part # N805480-S426
(2) V-Code Leaf Springs - Part # 2C3Z-5310-HA
(2) U-Bolts - unfortunately the u-bolts I ordered at the dealer were incorrect. My Excursion has a rounded-square u-bolt style, but I was given square-style u-bolts (Square-style u-bolt Part # is F81Z-5705-BA)
We'll cover tools needed in each step.
[b]Estimated Time Required[/b]
7 out of 10 (1 being easiest, 10 being hardest)
[b]IMPORTANT[/b]: Your front OEM u-bolts for your leaf springs may be different. I ordered replacement u-bolts from the Ford dealer and they were incorrect. The u-bolts that came from the factory on my 2000 PSD Excursion are actually more rounded than these squared versions pictured here. I will end up returning these as I reused my original U-bolts. Pictured here are the square-style u-bolts, part # F81Z-5705-BA.
Before jacking up the front end, I measured the height from the ground to the top of the wheel well. You may want to do this too so you can compare the height after you install the V-Codes.
Stock Excursion leaf springs before the spring swap created 37.5" from the ground to the top of the wheel well. (After the V-codes were installed, this was increased by 1.5" to a total height of 39"!).
This install covers the passenger side leaf spring. When jacking up the passenger side, position your floor jack like I did in the above picture. If you're doing the driver's side, you can position the floor jack under the front differential.
Since we'll need to jack the truck up and lower the front end, I jacked the front end under the axle tube as high as my floor jack would go.
Using a 6-ton jack stand, position the jack stand under the frame rail behind the rear mount of the front leaf springs.
[i]NOTE: The Excursion is one heavy beast. I noticed halfway through the install after wrenching on the frontend that the single jackstand was leaning a bit. I [b]highly[/b] recommend positioning a 2nd jackstand about 1 foot behind the first one to ensure sturdiness. I eventually did this but did not get it pictured here.[/i]
With the lower shock bolt removed, you can compress the shock as much as possible to get it out of your way for the rest of the project.
You may also lower the floor jack to the point where the leaf spring is not compressed and the floor jack is barely providing support underneath the axle. The leaf spring will prevent the axle from drooping all the way to the floor if you fully compress your floor jack. The goal here is to release compression on the leaf spring for later steps, but still leave the front axle supported by the floor jack.
With the shock disconnected, we can now remove the nuts on the u-bolts. My u-bolts actually turned out to be in great shape so I decided to reuse them (considering the dealer sold me the wrong ones in the first place).
21mm deep socket (for the nuts)
1/2" impact wrench
Here are the new u-bolts (left) and my original u-bolt (right). Notice how my original u-bolt is more of a "rounded square" than a square. Make sure to double-check your u-bolts with new u-bolts, if you buy them.
Next up, remove the nut from the rear eye-bolt of the leaf spring. Simply punch the bolt through the hole with a hammer. Make sure not to crush the threads. You may need to use a 3/8" extension (6 inches in length) to punch the bolt all the way through.
As you can see, I pulled out the Bernz-O-Matic propane torch for the step and headed up the nut bolt to make it a little easier to loosen this nut. Spend about 3-5 minutes doing this, got to the next step. If it still won't budget, heat it up some more. You may try some penetrating oil like JB-80.
I couldn't fit my impact wrench in this space so I had to resort to using a 1/2" ratchet on the bolt head and a 1/2" breaker bar on the nut. On top of this, I had to use a 3-lb sledge hammer to hit against the 1/2" breaker bar to loosen the nut. I eventually got it to a point where I was able to leverage my body weight to pull down on the 1/2" breaker bar.
1/2" breaker bar
24mm socket (bolt head)
24mm deep socket (nut)
Success! Before you go pounding this bolt out, you'll need to remove a support bracket on the front of the radiator for the trans cooler. Please proceed to the next step -- this bolt will not be able to be removed until the support bracket is removed!
This photo is actually from the driver's side -- but it applies to the passenger side leaf spring eye-bolt as well. This bolt runs into a support bracket for the cooler that's mounted to the front of the radiator. See next step for removal.
Fortunately for us, this bracket is simple to remove with a 3/8" ratchet and an 8mm socket. It's somewhat hidden behind the rubber radiator support strap -- just hold it aside with one hand while you use your ratchet on the bolt. Fish the bracket out when finished (don't drop the bolt!)
Now it's time to lower your floor jack. Keep lowering it until the axle separates from the leaf spring. The leaf spring has a short stud that fits into a notch in the top of the axle. This should separate naturally by dropping the axle with the floor jack -- you may need to pry it apart with a large screw driver.
The blocker beam on the front of the Excursion was blocking my ability to drop the leaf spring completely out from the front end. So, I removed the blocker beam. There are two brackets on each side (the very rusted brackets). The plastic front facia (below the bumper) is also connected to these brackets and it removes as one large piece.
There are 2 facia bolts on each side that you need to remove. These are the two bolts connecting the plastic facia to the rusty blocker beam bracket in this photo.
With the 5 bolts removed from each side, you can separate the blocker beam and facia from the front bumper. The rusty bracket will still be keeping everything held together due to the long studs that are binding against the stud holes.
The coast is finally clear to remove the leaf spring. You can use your 3-lb hammer to knock it out of the spring hangers. The leaf spring is somewhat heavy and awkward. I found that rotating it like this in the picture and fishing it out provided the easiest method of removal.
New leaf spring (bottom) and old leaf spring (top). There doesn't appear to be a significant difference when compared side-by-side (other than the fresh coat of paint). However, the old leaf springs have 175,000+ miles on them and are fatigued. The new leaf springs will be stiffer and actually do have more arch to them to provide the additional lift.
Reinsert the eye bolt in the front of the leaf spring first (save the rear bolt for the next step for easier installation). The front spring mount is stationary while the rear spring shackle does pivot -- thus making it easier to install the rear eyebolt [i]second[/i].
24mm deep socket (nut)
21mm socket (bolt head)
1/2" breaker bar
I also wanted to show this bolt from the driver's side angle as well. You may run into the issue where the front driveshaft interferes with the bolt. Simply jack the floor jack up to create enough room for the bolt to clear the top of the driveshaft.
Jack the front axle back up with your floor jack. Hopefully the stud in the new leaf spring will align with the notch on the leaf spring perch. If not, you may need a second set of hands to raise/lower the jack while you use your body to lean into the axle (or push it with your foot) to get the stud and notch to line up while the second person jacks the axle up/down.
[i]NOTE: Do [b]not[/b] kick the front hub, hub assembly, or knuckle to position the axle. Applying pressure is fine, but jarring motions will run the risk of damaging the bearing in the front hub assembly -- I speak from experience! Hub assemblies are not cheap.[/i]
The completed install! There's actually room for spring travel again.
This project was painfully drawn-out as I struggled with seized bolts and identifying the most efficient way to disassemble and reassemble. Once finished and on the first test drive, I noticed an immediate difference in ride quality. There are no more jarring bumps and the Excursion handles much more smoothly on the rougher roads.
* The stock U-Bolts are the correct length for V-Code springs.
* I reused my standard-height front shocks. With my sway bar attached, I don't anticipate over-extending these shocks and I also don't drive off-road to really flex the suspension anyway. If you drive off-road or on terrain where you will test the limits of your suspension, you should consider upgrading to taller shocks in the front.