Posted by Jason Locke on 5/9/2020 to Before you Buy
While we're not trying to add on to all the current doom and gloom in the world, at times a bit of prudence and practicality may be in order with the wonderful combination of viral plague, potential economic calamity, murder hornets, and likely imminent alien invasion (that's what the people in my head say) that spirals all around us. So, instead of teasing you with high-priced 2.5 coilovers, awesome aftermarket wheels, and expensive-ass aftermarket bumpers, we decided to take a look at more budget-friendly modifications and parts options so that you can make your 2011-2020 F150 look and feel like a whole a new truck. We're going to take a look at what we consider the Holy Trinity of budget modifications: basic suspension mods, tires, and tuning. These three mods alone can really turn your truck build around all without putting too big a dent in your wallet. Check below for all the details.
2011-2020 F150 Budget Suspension ModificationsWe here at Stage 3 Motorsports do love our suspension mods, and regardless of your budget, it's a good place to start to get a new look and give you the clearance to mount up larger tires. Since we're trying to keep our budget down, we're going to be looking at 2009-2014 F150 Leveling Spacers, 2009-2014 F150 Leveled Struts, 2015-2020 F150 Leveling Spacers, 2015-2020 F150 Leveled Struts, and F150 rear shocks.
Front leveling spacers (2009-2014 F150 versions here)are by far the most budget-friendly suspension upgrades we offer. While they don't directly do anything for performance, they add just enough front ride height to reduce your truck's rake and give it a more leveled (or even completely leveled) look while giving you some extra clearance for bigger tires (more on those in a bit). F150 leveling spacers are easy to install and some variants can be had for under $100. The only real downside of leveling spacers is that they won't really do anything to improve handling, and your F150 still suffer from all the typical issues with body roll, bounciness, and whatever else. Still, if you're short on cash, but trying to put a truck together, then they may your only option.
When it comes to actual handling and damping improvements, one of the best bang-for-your-buck F150 suspension mods are rear shocks. The lightness of the bed and rear frame (especially on the 2015-2020 F150s with aluminum beds) means that you get a ton of rear instability, bounce, and jounce on even the most mild F150 build. Aftermarket rear shocks tighten up your truck's rear end handling and are much better able to dampen hard impacts from potholes or off-road obstacles. Even basic rear shocks like the Bilstein 5100s or Eibach Pro-Truck Rear Shocks can make an enormous difference in handling performance without blowing up your bank account.
If you manage to save up enough scratch, you can get a budget leveling and handling solution all in one place with leveled struts, or even better a leveled struts package that comes with both front struts and rear shocks. Kits like the Bilstein 5100 complete package or the Eibach Pro-Truck Package are nice suspension overhauls that tighten up handling on all four corners of your truck to reduce body roll and eliminate bounce and jounce. The front struts both alone and as part of these packages add ride height so that your F150 build gets less rake and more tire clearance on top of the improvements in suspension performance. While more expensive than spacers, the performance improvement may be worth it if you can't stand the stock suspension or if you need something more robust for going down forest or hunting roads on the regular.
Perfectly Decent Tires at a Decent Size at a Decent PriceOne of the biggest changes you can make to your F150 is its tires. The stock tires really aren't all that great either on or off the road, and if you want to get a huge improvement in traction and handling performance, then you'll need a new set of tires. Hopefully, you managed to squeeze out a little more ride height with either a leveling spacer or leveled strut so that you can squeak on slightly larger wheels and tires. If not, an improved stock-sized tire is still a nice addition to pretty much and F150 build. One of our current favorite tires in general are the Falken Wildpeak A/T3Ws. The A/T3Ws provide excellent traction off-road, a quiet on-road ride, and great handling both on and off-road. Moreover, they come in at a great price. Most of the OE-sized or slightly oversized versions of the A/T3Ws manage to stay in the $200 to $250 per tire range, and are arguably one of the best bang-for-your-buck tire options on the market. We've had the Wildpeak A/T3Ws on our 2018 F150 Budget Build, 2015 F150 XLT Build, 2011 F150 XL Build, and a couple of our Toyota builds with absolutely excellent results.
F150 Tuning: Bang-for-your-Buck Power and TorqueIf you're looking for power, but you're on a budget, then you're going to have to maximize your per-dollar output. Tuning is really your best budget performance option. While the cost of some devices may seem pricey, especially when the devices themselves often feel kind of cheap, but what you're really paying for is the tuning software and tunes that lay within. When you tune your truck, the device of choice changes up the software within your F150's PCM which adjusts fuel curves, timing, boost curves (on EcoBoost models), transmission shift points, and a bunch of other factors so that your F150 feels like an entirely new truck in practically no time at all. Even more basic devices with preloaded tunes like the Edge EVO HT2 or Edge CS2 can add way more power than multiple hard parts by just plugging a device in and pressing a few buttons. Most of these devices are capable of datalogging, performance testing, and clear DTCs which makes them handy for troubleshooting and monitoring, as well.
Being on a tight budget is never much fun when it comes time to mod your F150. Frankly, we don't make it much easier with our fleet and history of throwing powerful 2.5 coilovers, aggressive wheels, and awesome bumpers just taunting you over the interwebs. Despite all that, you can still put together one hell of a truck, even if you can't get spendy, and hopefully you found this guide helpful. If you're still looking for parts to put together your own shoestring budget truck, give us a call directly at 623-434-5277 and speak to one of our sales reps.
F150 Leveling Spacers: Falken Wildpeak A/T3Ws F150 Tuners & Monitors:
- 2011-2014 F150 5.0L Tuners & Monitors
- 2011-2014 F150 3.5L EcoBoost Tuners & Monitors
- 2011-2014 F150 6.2L Tuners & Monitors
- 2015-2017 F150 5.0L Tuners & Monitors
- 2015-2017 F150 2.7L EcoBoost Tuners & Monitors
- 2015-2017 F150 3.5L EcoBoost Tuners & Monitors
- 2018-2020 F150 5.0L Tuners & Monitors
- 2018-2020 F150 2.7L EcoBoost Tuners & Monitors
- 2018-2020 F150 3.5L EcoBoost Tuners & Monitors