The 1997-2003 F150 trucks are superior workhorses that can definitely get the job done for work or fun but, depending on whether you drive it on the pavement or if your adventures take you off-road, you've most likely put quite a bit of miles on it over the years. One of the best ways to breathe some new life into your truck is by adding a set of much more updated and modern-looking LED headlights for a great new look. Here at Stage 3 Motorsports, we have your needs in mind and are now offering some incredibly inexpensive LED Projector Headlights from our friends at Spyder that not only add safety for your nighttime driving but also give your truck an awesome new look that will make it a real stand-out among the rest of the pack.
The Stage 3 Motorsports 2014 6.7L F250 "Project Ice Box" Super Duty has already come a long way since we picked up this truck in its completely stock form by adding some awesome performance and exterior upgrades and we've now taken it a step further by throwing on both a Fusion Front Off-Road Bumper and Fusion Rear Off-Road Bumper. We were not only able to ditch the factory chrome for a much better matching fit for the black on white look we're going for, but the toughness level has definitely been bumped up from about a 4 to 12.
One of our most-requested install guides by our fine customers is how to get a pair of Rigid D-Series LED Off-Road Lights installed behind and shining through the grille slats of both our 2012 F150 5.0L FX4 and now our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project trucks. Now,we said time and again that you just need a power drill and $3.16 worth of hardware from your local hardware store. So, here's something that's a little bit more in-depth to help some of you folks out and get your truck a pretty fantastic result.
With our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project Truck up on a towering 8" lift provided by combining a Zone Off-Road Lift Kit with a set of Pro Comp Add-a-Leafs, the Zone rear shocks that came standard with the kit were pushed past the point of being useful. That's why we grabbed a pair of 2009-2014 F150 BDS FOX 2.0 Rear Shocks for 6" or higher lift kits for our truck to get both improved performance and more articulation ability. The good news is that the BDS FOX Shocks are just as easy to install as a set of stock replacement shocks, making them an extremely painless upgrade for anyone that wants to get a little bit more out of their F150's 6" (or taller) suspension lift kit.
We've had our ADD Stealth Front Bumper on our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 installed for a while now, and it was high time that the rear of our truck go the same treatment. So we grabbed ourselves a 2009 to 2014 F150 & SVT Raptor ADD Stealth Rear Bumper so that we actually had a truck that matched front to rear. Our ADD Stealth rear bumper was decked out with slots for our F150's factory backup sensors, lights mounts for a pair of Rigid D-Series lights, and a standard Black Hammertone Finish for the bumper's frame and Black Satin Finish for the bumper's integrated Stealth Panels. The rear bumper definitely helped finish up the look of our truck and gave it the extra protection we needed, since we tend to run into stuff on occasion. And by we, I mean me.
The twin turbochargers on the 2011 to 2014 F150 EcoBoost are the big reason why those F150s make so much power, but there's still some more performance to be found by upgrading some of the core components of your F150's turbocharger system. One of those are the hot side tubes leading from the turbo compressor outlets to your F150's intercooler. The stock tubes are fairly small and have a ton of bends that restrict their flow, which is why aFe developed these 2011 to 2014 F150 Hot-Side Intercooler Tubes to give your truck an overall bump in performance. The tubes greatly improve airflow to the intercooler and reduce back pressure, adding performance especially when tuned. Given that our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project Truck was rolling around with a ton of extra weight and 37" tires, we decided to get aFe's Hot-Side tubes installed to get all the performance we could get.
We here at Stage 3 Motorsports definitely throw our vehicles around more than the average bear, and while we don't do that much towing, we did make the executive decision to add a 2009 to 2015 F150 aFe Machined Transmission Pan to our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project Truck, mostly out of concern that we would wend up damaging the stock one sooner rather than later. aFe's pan is made out of cast aluminum an has machined cooling fins which lowers transmission temperatures while being much stronger than stock. Most impressively, the pan increases transmission fluid capacity by a whopping 7 quarts over stock which further improves cooling. Install was surprisingly simple, though also extraordinarily messy thanks to the lack of a drain plug on the factory transmission pan. Still, it was all pretty painless, and the end result looks and feels like a massive improvement.
Our good friends over at UPR have updated their pretty excellent 2011 to 2014 F150 EcoBoost Dual-Valve Catch Cans with Clean Side Separators with a new clean side separator design that installs directly onto the driver's side PCV port instead of the oil cap neck to give your bay a cleaner look. While this update is a "good thing" at face value, UPR may or may not have instructions for the older CSS design and stuck them with the new catch can kits. Luckily the change was horribly drastic, and there's really only one change in the overall install process. Anyway, here's a link to UPR's updated PDF instructions, and a little explanation below of the differences between the old and new versions of the kit.
We here at Stage 3 aren't very good at leaving anything alone for any given period of time, so we made an executive decision to add even more height onto our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project Truck on top of its current Zone 6" Suspension Lift Kit. The first step of the process was to bring up the rear of the truck, and to that end we grabbed a 2009 to 2014 F150 Pro Comp Add-a-Leaf Kit to get roughly 1" to 1.5" of rear lift. The Add-a-Leaf kit consists of two, new leaf springs that install into your truck's leaf pack to provide some extra ride height without compromising ride quality or towing capacity. Install is pretty basic, though getting the stud holes in the springs to all line back up while compressing them can be a bit tricky. Still, this job is totally doable as a DIY. After install, our truck gained about 1.5" of ride height which should settle down a bit after the springs are broken in, but we achieved our goal and our ride is still butter smooth.
While there's a few lower-cost coilover kits available on the market, there's not much out there that can hit a full 3" of extra front lift while keeping ride quality butter smooth. The F150lifts BOSS coilovers are the exception, and offer 0-3" of extra ride height while giving your truck a silky smooth ride on the street and improved performance off-pavement. Now, our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project truck was already sitting pretty with its Zone 6" Suspension Lift kit, however, we here at Stage 3 can't leave well enough alone, so our dastardly plot for getting more front ride height involved swapping out our Zone Kit's lifted strut assembly with the Boss coilovers attached to pair of Pro Comp strut spacers meant for one of their lift kits. While this install basically shows you how to turn a 6" lift into an 8" lift, you can still get a good idea on how to install the BOSS coilovers on truck with stock ride height. You'll just have a heck of a lot less hassles than we did. For those of you who want to turn your 6" lift kit up a notch or two, this is basically what you're in for. Overall, we got the job done, but install wasn't quite as easy as simple strut/coilover swap. The end result is still super-impressive.
One of the most aggressive, most noticeable, and most helpful modifications for a dedicated off-road F150 is getting an off-road bumper. Given that we're going full-on loony with our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project Truck build, we decided to invest in a little something-something from our cross-town neighbors over at Addictive Desert Designs (ADD). We grabbed ourselves one of ADD's awesome 2011 to 2014 F150 EcoBoost Stealth Front Bumpers to help keep our truck protected off-road, give it an awesome look, and serve as the base for a bunch of future off-road LED lighting. Basically, the bumper was everything we could ever want, and when it arrived, we were like kids on Christmas Day. In any case, the bumper was totally awesome, and was perfect for our aggressive truck.
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.
There has yet to be a project truck here at Stage 3 Motorsports that hasn't been graced by the goodies our friends over at Recon Lighting manufacture with gusto. While our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 received headlights from elsewhere, and our plans for the taillights and third brake light are currently up in the air, we did grab us one of Recon's 60" Xtreme LED Tailgate Light Bars. Now, we've put Recon's standard 60" bar on several of our trucks, but this Xtreme bar is a whole different animal. Each Recon Xtreme tailgate bar features red running lights and white reverse lights, but also comes with scanning amber turn signal LEDs that look totally awesome when you throw on your truck's blinker. While all that sounded pretty awesome on paper, we wanted to get one of these bad boys on a truck to see it in action for ourselves.
Banks is one of the biggest names in the diesel truck performance world, and while they've dabbled in a few gas-powered trucks here and there – most notably with their exhaust kits – but they've finally put in a bigger effort with the F150 EcoBoosts with this awesome Ram-Air® intake system. This drop-in cold air intake fits all 2011 to 2014 F150 EcoBoost trucks thanks to its MAF and MAP sensor adapters and comes standard with a full air box assembly with a front air duct, deep-pleated Banks Lifetime Air Filter, a one-piece inlet tube assembly, PCV adapter, and high-quality silicone couplers and clamps. The kit is 100% complete out of the box and pretty impressive to look at, especially when its installed. While not as radical as the aFe Stage 2 kits that we've previously installed, the Banks kit looked pretty snazzy and we were pretty pleased with the end result on our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project Truck.
While the 5.4L Triton V8 under the hood of our 2004 F150 4WD XLT Project Truck is still running strong with 170,000 miles on the clock, the vehicle it happened to be in is very tired. No where was that more evident than in the rear shocks. Now, that truck had it's 6" Pro Comp lift kit on when we first picked it up. We don't know how long it had been on there, but given that the Pro Comp ES9000s weren't doing much of anything but taking up space, we're guessing that kit was installed fairly early in its very long life. In any case, it was time for a change just to get back a decent street ride, so we stuck with Pro Comp and grabbed a set of their 2004 to 2008 Pro Runner Series Rear Shocks for 6" Lifted Applications. The Pro Runners are bit more heavy duty and durable than the baseline white-body ES9000s, so we were pretty pumped to get them installed and have our truck running clean and mean once again.
Trying to handle your F150's tailgate with your hands full generally means pulling the handle and letting it come down to a crashing and clattering stop that neither looks nor sounds very pretty. That's the main reason that the DeeZee F150 Tailgate Assist is such a handy little doohickey. The kit basically consists of a small strut and mounting hardware that installs on the driver's side of your truck's tailgate and keeps your tailgate from crashing down by slowly lowering it to a safe, non-life threatening stop. The DeeZee kit is extremely easy to install and comes with everything you need to get the kit on your truck. We only had one fairly minor issue with DeeZee's nutsert, which was solved by using a much more beefy nutsert tool than one provided by DeeZee. Still, installation only took a few minutes, and the tailgate on our 2005 F150 Project Truck is now a smooth operator.
Fresh off of our Zone 6" Lift Kit Install, we have another full suspension lift for your fine folks. This time in the form a Zone 4" lift kit that was lovingly put on our 2005 F150 4WD XLT Project Truck. This truck is going for a more subtle and refined look than our much more aggressive and menacing 2007 F150 Project Truck, so instead of jacking it up a full six inches in the air, we settled for four and grabbed a full set of Fuel 20x9" Hostage wheels and Fuel 35x12.50" Gripper M/T tires. While still pretty awesome, the slightly lower lift will keep this truck a little more tame, while still giving it enough room for its big off-road tires to do some serious work on those desert trail runs. In any case, we were pretty impressed with the level of quality with this kit, especially considering its price point. The only real issues we had were a few nit-picks with Zone's instructions that could've shaved some time off the install, but those are some minor quibbles among an excellent overall package.
Let's face it: the 2004 to 2008 F150s look at their absolute best when jacked way up in the air on big wheel and tire combinations, especially given that they tend to sit much lower than the newer trucks to begin with. That's why we had planned on putting a 6" lift kit on our 2007 F150 4WD 5.4L Project Truck from the get-go and we got the hookup from our friends over at Zone Off-Road on one of their 2004 to 2008 F150 4WD 6" Suspension Lifts Systems to get the ball rolling. Once the lift was on the truck, we had a full set of Fuel Off-Road Lethal wheels measure 20x10" with a -24mm offset wrapped in Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 35x12.50" tires ready to hop on its hubs for an awesome, tough look. But first, the lift. While a complete suspension lift isn't the easiest thing in the world to install, we were in for a real doozy. Not that there was anything wrong with Zone's kit, but our 2007 F150 spent a lot of time somewhere with a lot of road salt, snow, and sorrow; meaning that rust and corrosion seemed to dog us at every turn. Still, the techs over at Dyno Comp and ourselves soldiered on and eventually won the glorious battle against John's truck and its rust with a pretty awesome result.
The 2010 to 2014 SVT Raptors are some of the baddest trucks on the road, and they come equipped with three amber grille lights to set them apart from the rest of the F150s out on the road. While a 2004 to 2008 F150 will probably never look exactly like a Raptor, you can at least get those pretty slick grille lights with our 2004 to 2008 F150 Raptor-Style Grille Light Kit. Since we were going for a pretty aggressive look on our 2007 F150 5.4L Project Truck, these grille lights made for a perfect upgrade. Overall install is extremely easy with just a little splicing thrown in. The good news is that the grille light kit comes with more than enough wiring to get the job done. In the end, we were very pleased with the install and the final look.
The stock honeycomb grille on our 2007 F150 5.4L Project Truck wasn't doing it any favors, especially since it's getting a "Halloween" black with orange styling theme. Anyway, the factory grille needed to go, and what better thing to replace it with than one of the most popular and most aggressive grilles for the 2004 to 2008 F150s: the SmittyBilt M1. SmittyBilt's grille looks tough before its even on the truck, and despite needing to be cut into the factory grille shell, installation was pretty straightforward. The end result was a whole different look for our F150, and once the chrome grille surround is its proper black. In any case, we were extremely pleased with the result, and cutting out the stock grille was less of hassle than it firs appeared.
Undercover's Swing Cases are a pretty new thing to us here at Stage 3. None of us have personally had them on a truck, and we were pretty fascinated by them when we first heard about them. Long story short, we got a pair of the in and went off to install the passenger side Swing Case onto our 2007 F150 5.4L Project Truck. While at first glance the Swing Cases don't seem like a "must-have" upgrade, when we finally got a real look at them, we were much more impressed. The sing cases are surprisingly practical for day-to-day use and are incredibly easy to install and operate. Now, our install on our 2007 F150 was mildly complicated by our plastic Ford bedliner (more on that later), but it was all very straightforward, and we're more than happy with the result.
Everybody knows that the intake systems on the 2004 to 2008 F150s, especially on the big Triton 5.4L V8. The odd scoop into an over-engine airbox system just begs for heat soak and restriction. This is one of the reasons that a cold air intake is one of the most popular modifications for these trucks. Our 2007 F150 5.4L Project Truck definitely needed a power and efficiency boost, so we turned to our old friends at aFe for help and they sent out one of their Stage 2 Cold Air Intake kits for the 2004 to 2008 F150 5.4Ls. aFe's intake is a pretty easy, drop-in replacement kit for the 5.4L's factory air scoop and air box that delivers much improved airflow efficiencies and performance. The aFe kit comes with everything you need, and doesn't leave a whole heck of a lot to complain about. Not to mention that it looks pretty cool under the hood.