We're pretty big fans of huge lift kits, and we really can't just leave well enough alone. Even though our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 had a set of Rancho QuickLifts and Rancho rear shocks when we first picked it up, we needed something a little more capable and something more massive for our truck. Our friends over at Zone were kind enough to give us a lift – literally – by getting us one of their awesome 6" Suspension Lift Kits for the 2009 to 2013 F150 4WDs. The kit provides a huge increase in ride height and wheel clearance, easily giving us the ability to squeeze on a full set of 37x12.50" Mickey Thompson ATZ tires wrapped around 20x9" Fuel Trophy Wheels with a 01mm offset. While our 2012 F150 EcoBoost was already looking pretty mean, this kit and wheel and tire combination brought it up to the next level. Just like the Zone lift kits we installed on our 2007 F150 and 2005 F150, this 6" kit was an excellent balance of quality, fitment, durability, and price and has made our truck one of the toughest things around.
For our Zone lift kit installation, we headed over to Scottsdale, Arizona, where the guys over at Dyno-Comp were going to give us hand while we did video and photography. Matt, Clay, and the other Matt were ready to help us out, though this was their third lift kit install for us, and I'm sure their tired of seeing our mugs following them around. In any case, we arrived and the gys got right to work getting the truck up on one of their lifts.
Once secured and in the air, the guys removed all four wheels and tires from the truck.
Our truck was a bit dirtier than we hoped, but it's monsoon season here in Phoenix, and it can't be avoided.
Matt removed the the cladding (or "diaper" if you prefer) from under the transmission.
Then he unbolted the stock splash shield from the truck by unclipping it from the from air dam and then removing its mounting screws.
Next, Matt moved on to the brake caliper and loosened the mounting bolts holding it to the steering knuckle.
Before removing the mounting bolts and caliper, Matt unscrewed the brake line retaining bracket from the knuckle and set it aside.
Matt then pulled the vacuum line for the hub and moved it out of the way.
With everything that could potentially be stretched out moved out of the way, Matt finished removing the caliper mounting bolts, removed the caliper from the rotor, and hung it from the upper control arm using a bungee cord.
After the caliper was secured, Matt removed the brake rotor from the truck.
Matt then disconnected the ABS wiring harness at the frame and let it dangle from the sensor mount.
Next, Matt pulled the caps covering the front axle nuts and set them aside.
Matt then loosened the bolt holding our truck's outer tie rod to the steering knuckle.
Next, Matt loosened the upper and lower bolts for the sway bar stem.
Matt then removed the nuts for the sway bar frame mounts.
Matt returned to the tie rod, and gave the knuckle a few whacks with a hammer to jar the bushing and stud loose.
Matt then loosed the nut holding the upper control arm to the knuckle's spindle.
Then Matt removed the nuts for the axles.
He then loosened the nut holding the lower control arm ball joint to the knuckle and knocked everything loose with a hammer.
Matt then removed the upper control arm ball joint nut completely and pulled the stud from the spindle.
With everything basically unbolted and removed from the knuckle, Matt removed the lower LCA ball joint nut and then got Clay's assistance in removing the knuckle assembly from the truck.
Meanwhile, Clay finished up working on another vehicle in the shop and came over to start work on the driver's side.
While Clay was catching up on his side of the truck, Matt was busy pulling the passenger's side CV shaft from the differential. In hindsight, this was kind of a wasted step, given that the guys ended up using a transmission jack to remove the differential, but removing the CVs does make sense if you're dropping it alone with muscle power. Still, it's not totally necessary.
Matt then removed the nut for the front strut's lower control arm mounting bolt before removing the bolt. The QuickLift held up the LCA with its bushing.
Next, Matt unbolted the LCA and removed it from the truck.
Clay caught up with the driver's side and Matt helped him remove the knuckle assembly once all the bolts were removed.
Clay then unbolted the driver's side strut and lower control arm.
While Clay was getting his side of the truck finished up, Matt unbolted the differential driveshaft from the front differential.
Both Clay and Matt then unbolted the three nuts holding the front strut assemblies into the truck.
Clay then unbolted the stock rear subframe crossmember and removed it from the truck.
With the crossmember out of the way, the guys started unbolting the front differential from its mounts.
Once the bolts were removed, the guys grabbed a transmission jack and maneuvered the differential out of the truck. They did need to tip it back toward the front of the truck in order so sneak the driveshaft flange past the subframe.
While Matt went off to double-check Zone's instructions, Clay got to work transferring everything from the stock knuckles over to Zone's lifted knuckles. He started by unbolting the vacuum hub on the stock knuckles.
Next, Clay unbolted the hub assembly from the factory knuckle.
While Clay took care of the knuckles, Matt was marking the rear subframe for the necessary cuts, as specified in Zone's instructions.
Clay then unbolted the brake rotor dust shield from the stock knuckle and set it aside for reinstallation.
With everything removed from the factory knuckle, Clay started bolting up the stock components to Zone's lifted knuckles. He started by installing the hub assembly.
He then grabbed the vacuum hub using the factory bolts.
Finishing up, he installed the stock dust shield onto Zone's knuckle.
Clay started work on the other knuckle, while Matt began cutting with his sawzall and a heavy duty blade. A blow torch or plasma cutter are also effective.
While Matt was slicing and dicing, Clay was transferring everything from the other factory knuckle over to the Zone knuckle.
Once Matt had finished cutting with his sawzall, he grabbed a grinder to deburr and smooth out all the cuts.
After the deburring, Matt and Clay lifted Zone's rear crossmember into position and marked off where they needed to drill into the stock subframe bracket for the second differential mount.
While Matt took care of drilling, Clay assembled Zone's lifted struts. He started by dropping on the lower spring perch and twisting the rod so that it would expand out. He then made alignment marks for the spring installation.
Now, Zone's instructions require you to pull apart the factory strut/spring assembly and transfer the factory spring over to Zone's strut. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the Rancho QuickLifts use a softer spring, we had to source Ford OEM springs for this install. The good news is that we a had pair laying around from one of our other builds that worked just fine. Anyway, Clay set up the spring in Dyno-Comp's spring compressor and then assembled Zone's strut around it.
While all these fun and games with the struts and springs were going on, Matt was busy drilling. He started with a small pilot hole and used progressively larger drill bits to expand it out.
With everything drilled and ready to go, Clay and Matt lifted the rear crossmember into place and slipped its bolts through the mounting holes to hold it in place.
The guys attempted to install the differential drop brackets into the truck before jacking the differential back into place, however, the lower bolts for the differential come extremely close to the steering rack, and there wasn't enough clearance to fit a wrench back there.
The guys switched over to Plan B and installed the drop brackets onto the differential before they lifted into the truck using their transmission jack.
Once the differential was up and in place, the guys bolted it down using the supplied hardware from Zone.
After the differential was fairly secure, Clay and Matt grabbed Zone's sway bar drop brackets and installed them onto the truck.
With the drop brackets in position, the guys tightened down their mounting bolts.
At more or less the same time, one of the guys fit the secondary differential mounting bolt into place and through the hole that Matt drilled earlier.
Clay then installed the differential support bracket onto the passenger's side crossmember and differential drop bracket.
While Clay was getting the support bracket installed, Matt pulled the breather hose down and he attached it to the differential.
The guys then fit on Zone's front crossmember and slid its bolts through the mounts to hold it in place.
The guys then installed the differential skid plate and bolted it down to the front and rear crossmembers.
With everything more or less in place for the crossmembers, the guys tightened down the front crossmember's bolts.
The guys then reinstalled the lower control arms using Zone's new bolts and cam washers.
The guys then reinstalled the passenger's side CV axle.
Clay and Matt then installed Zone's struts, and started by fitting their upper studs through the truck's top strut mount.
With the struts in place, the guys swung up the lower control arm, fit the strut into the mount, and then installed the strut mount bolt through before tightening it down with a nut.
Now came time to reinstall the knuckle. The easiest way is to slip it back onto the lower control arm's ball joint joint stud, fit on its nut to finger tightness and then swing the whole assembly up and toward the truck while aligning the CV axles.
Once the axle had been slipped in, the guys inserted the upper control arm's ball joint stud into Zone's lifted spindle.
The guys then fit the tie rod into Zone's knuckle.
After the passenger side was reassembled, the guys got the driver's side squared away.
Once of the guys then reinstalled the CV axle nuts.
Zone's kit doesn't come with extended brake lines (unlike their kits for the older trucks). Instead, they can include a brake line drop bracket at extra cost, and we highly recommend it. Matt unbolted the stock bracket from the truck.
Next, Matt had to bend the hard line down in order to properly position the stock bracket onto Zone's drop bracket.
Once the bracket was installed, Matt bolted the second brake line retaining bracket to Zone's knuckle.
With the brake line in place, Matt routed the ABS wiring harness alongside it and then zip tied it in place.
Matt then reconnected the ABS wiring to its connector at the truck's frame and routed the vacuum line back into the vacuum hub.
Once all the lines were routed on both sides of the truck, the guys test fit the rotors by fitting them onto their mounts to make sure there was enough play left in the brake lines.
With everything looking good, the guys removed the calipers, reinstalled the rotors, and then remounted the calipers.
After the calipers were fitted back on, the guys did one last go around tightening down all of the bolts to Zone's torque specifications.
Matt and Clay then installed Zone's differential driveshaft spacer onto the differential flange and then used Zone's extended bolts to bolt it down.
Next, the guys reinstalled the sway bar by dropping its stems back into position before bolting it down on Zone's sway bar drop brackets.
Once the sway bar was completely bolted down into the truck, the guys were done up front. For the rear, the guys started out by unclipping the ABS kines from the U-bolts and then spraying down the U-bolt nuts with penetrating oil.
Matt then grabbed an axle stand and supported the rear axle while he and Clay worked.
Zone's kit comes with an emergency brake cable drop bracket that's actually pretty impressive. To get it installed, Matt pulled down on the E-brake cable until there was a good bit of slack and then set a pair of lock jaw pliers onto the cable frame mount to keep it loose.
Next, Matt unbolted the nut holding the circlip to the brake cable junction before popping it off the mount.
Then Matt removed the passenger's side cable from the mount and splitter.
Once the cables were both removed, Matt bolted on Zone's drop bracket using their provided hardware.
With the bracket installed, Matt refit the two cables and their retaining circlip.
Once the brake cables were squared away, Matt removed the driver's side shock, which in our case, happened to be a Rancho RS5000. While our Husky Liner Rear Wheel Well Liners didn't offer much clearance, Matt was still able to fit some wrenches up on the top shock mount without removing them from the truck.
Matt repositioned his axle stand and then started unbolting the U-bolt nuts on the driver's side of the truck. A ton of dirt and sand ended up coming out of the U-bolt bracket.
With the nuts and bracket removed, Matt pulled the U-bolts out of the truck.
Zone's lift kit comes with a new U-bolt perch and block mount for the springs, which requires both stock components to be removed. Matt started the process by using C-clamps to hold the leaf pack together to prevent it from shifting.
Once the clamps were in place, Matt removed the leaf spring studs and the U-bolt perch.
Once the stock studs, perches, and mounts were removed from the leaf pack, Matt installed Zone's hardware and bolted it all down.
While Matt was working on the leaf springs and their new hardware, Clay was working on installing the second brake line drop bracket up on the bed rail.
Once Clay had unbolted the upper brake line mount, Matt refit the factory bracket onto the passenger side E-brake line.
The guys swapped out their axle stand for a transmission jack and then lowered the axle to remove the stock block and install Zone's 5' block.
Once they had enough clearance, the guys slipped the block into place and then slowly raised the axle up while making sure everything was aligned properly.
They then removed both C-clamps.
The guys then fit on Zone's longer U-bolts and reinstalled the stock U-bolt bracket using Zone's new nuts.
While Matt fiddled with the U-bolts and nuts, Clay finished up installing Zone's brake line drop bracket.
Once he was done with Zone's U-bolts, Matt grabbed one of Zone's rear shocks and bolted it into the upper shock mount.
Matt then compressed the shock enough to fit into the lower mount and slip its bolt through and fit a nut on.
Once the shock was in place, Matt tightened down the mounting bolts to spec.
The guys then moved over to the passenger side of the truck, and Matt unbolted the upper and lower bolts for the rear shock
Once the shock was out, the guys moved their transmission jack into place and started to remove the stock U-bolt nuts and U-bolt bracket.
With the U-bolts and U-bolt bracket removed, the guys lowered the transmission stand enough to separate the spring pack and block.
The guys then busted out their C-clamps and set them on the leaf pack to hold them together while also removing the rear block.
Next, Matt and Clay removed the studs for the leaf springs, as well as the U-bolt perch and stock block mount.
The guys then installed Zone's new studs, perch, and block mount and bolted them down tight.
Once the leaf pack was back together, the guys slipped in Zone's rear block and then slowly raised the axle with the transmission jack while making sure everything was aligned properly.
Matt and Clay then fit Zone's U-bolts into position and bolted the U-bolt bracket back on using Zone's new nuts.
Clay then installed the passenger side Zone shock and bolted it down into place.
With the wheels and tires on, our Zone 6" Lift Kit Install was complete.
Check our images below of the finished product!