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Lowering Your Silverado Pickup Truck

Written By: Connor MC

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If you're not the off-roading type, lowering your Silverado might be in your best interest. A frequent highway cruiser can net a few MPGs with a lowering kit, and a street track truck will certainly see the benefit in cornering capabilities.

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Lowering your Chevrolet Silverado may seem counterintuitive at first but it is in fact a very popular modification. Dropping a Silverado is an excellent cosmetic upgrade for owners who want to close the gap between the top of the tire and the fender well in order to simulate a more hot rod, or hot truck, look. Most trucks come with a factory rake where the rear end is set higher than the front and many owners do not find this tail high stance very appealing. Additionally, lowering a Silverado will give it sportier handling characteristics to match the sporty look due to the change in position of the center of gravity.

Lowering the Front End

Using lowering springs to drop the front ride height of a Camaro or Mustang is common practice in the muscle car world, and in this same principle can be applied to the same effect on a Silverado pickup. Built with an overall shorter length than the regular coil springs, drop springs also feature a revised spring rate responsible for lowering the front end by 2-3”.

Similar to lowering springs, drop spindles are engineered to provide a total drop in the neighborhood of 2-3” depending on the manufacturer. They act as a direct replacement for the OEM spindles but have the pin assembly installed 2 inches higher than normal. This draws the wheel up and closer to the fender well but still retains all of the factory suspension mounting points such no other modifications are necessary.

A third method available to lower the front end of a Silverado 1500 is to use a set of drop control arms. Compared to the original lower control arm, an aftermarket drop control arm will feature a deeper spring perch for the bottom of the coil spring to sit in. By lowering the spring perch, the effective length of the spring is changed and the truck will sit lower – usually at about 2”. Furthermore, these drop control arm sets include an upper control arm redesigned to provide superior camber control and eliminate any bumpsteer that may be present.

Dropping the Rear

Leaf spring lowering blocks are a very simple way to lower the rear of your Silverado. Machined from steel, these rectangular blocks sit on the top of the leaf spring and between the axle. Typically available in 1”, 2”, or 3” sizes, drop block kits also come with longer u-bolts in order to span the increased distance between the leaf spring and the axle. Some leaf block systems may also come with a tapered shim used to retain the proper pinion angle (if adjustment is needed). Lowering blocks are certainly the least expensive means of mechanically lowering the rear end ride height of any Silverado half-ton.

Drop shackles are another easy method that can be used to lower the rear of a Silverado. Replacing the factory shackle found at the rear end of the leaf spring, a drop shackle is a taller shackle that mounts the rearward eye of leaf spring higher up. Doing so effectively raises the leaf spring which in turn draws the rear axle up and closer to the frame rail, thereby closing the gap from tire to fender well. Another great feature of a drop shackle is often times an aftermarket shackle will have multiple mounting points that deliver varying amounts of drop. Thus if one day you decide you want more or less drop, you just need to remount the eye of the leaf instead of purchasing a whole new shackle kit.

An axle flip kit is the most aggressive drop option and is used when you really want to slam your Silverado to the max. These kits work by swapping the placement of the leaf spring and the axle, meaning once the installation is complete, the axle will now be located beneath the leaf spring and the spring on top the axle. Such an arrangement produces the most drop possible by a single kit – up to 7” of drop with some flip systems. However, to achieve such a drop, there is some work to be done. Installing an axle flip kit requires the frame to be notched (c-notch) in order to provide adequate clearance for the axle to move within its normal range without smashing into the bottom of the frame. If the thought of having to cut a notch into the frame rail strikes uncontrollable fear into your heart, fret not, as heavy duty support and sandwich brackets are included to reinforce the notched area and maintain its structural integrity.  

The Sum of all Parts

The really cool thing about Silverado lowering kits is different kits can be combined together and the total drop will be the sum of each kit. For example, if you wanted to drop the front by a total of 4”, you could combine a set of 2” lowering springs with a pair of 2” drop spindles. The net result is a 4” total drop on the front end. This exact same principle applies to the rear end – pair a 1” drop shackle with a 7” axle flip kit and you’ve got yourself a massive 8” drop.

Lowering Springs and Tow Capacity

Silverado pickups are supposed to be rugged, durable, and capable of moving heavy loads. How does lowering it affect its tow and payload performance? It goes without saying that slamming your Silverado to the ground probably means it was never intended for it to do any towing. However, what about a mild or moderate drop? Well, a mild to moderate drop executed properly shouldn’t affect the tow or payload capacity at all. Suspension travel may be a concern to some and it is possible that dropping the ride height of your Silverado could cause the rear end to bottom out sooner or on smaller bumps than it normally would (especially when loaded heavy). The popular solution to stave off this potential issue is to use a set of air bags as helper springs if you plan to tow or haul heavy.

Matching the Springs with Shocks

You don’t absolutely need to, in the sense your half-ton won’t fall apart if you keep the stock shocks. It is, however, absolutely recommended to swap any OEM-spec shock for one that has been built to work with the new ride height of your vehicle. All shocks have been engineered to work with a specific ride height and within a certain range of motion and operating outside of these parameters will lead to poor driving characteristics.

Fitment includes: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, LTZ, Z71, WT, XFE, Hybrid, Custom, HighCountry, LS, LT