ALL BETTER
Four Wheeler|September 2021
A 3.5-inch suspension lift and 33s was just what this Sierra needed
Verne Simons

4 Derik chose wheels that were to his liking and a set of 285/70R17LT BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2s. We loaded the Skyjacker lift kit into his truck and had him drive around to our shop.

When our buddy Derik got a new-to-him ’14 GMC Sierra 1500 Z71 and complained that it looked like a grandpa’s truck, we knew just what to do. We talked to our friends at Skyjacker Suspensions for the perfect setup to make the truck look way better and increase clearance for a larger-than-stock all-terrain tire. Derik uses his truck on the weekends to go hunting. That means he uses it on rough backroads, sometimes towing a toy hauler, a UTV, or a camper.

First, we suggested a leveling kit, but Derik really wanted a full lift kit and some 33-inch tires. With that info, Skyjacker suggested a 3.5-inch upper control arm lift kit with Black MAX rear shocks for trucks with cast-steel control arms. Upfront, the lift kit spaces the factory front strut down with a spacer, drops the differential a touch, and includes a new differential skidplate. New tubular upper control arms with new frame side bushings and new, beefier ball joints allow more droop from the suspension by repositioning the upper ball joints. The rear is lifted with blocks and longer Black MAX shocks from Skyjacker.

1 Here’s Derik’s crew cab Sierra in stock form. It had the cast-steel control arms. Sierras with cast-aluminum control arms, or with the Denali package, may require different suspension lift kits to work with their different suspension and possibly full-time 4WD.

2 With the Sierra on our 10K BendPak Asymmetric vehicle lift, we started by pulling the factory wheels and tires off the truck. The front wheels may not have ever been off this rig as they were stuck to the front hubs, requiring some prying to get them loose.

3 Derik’s truck only has 20,000 miles on it, which means it will last for quite some time. Having said that, we’re pretty sure the tires were original to the truck, and they looked like they wouldn’t last much longer. They were badly curb-checked and dry rotted. It was time for an upgrade.

5 Following the detailed instructions, we removed the factory plastic “skidplate.” Yeah, it’s plastic, which to us means it’s at best a mudguard. Either way, it had to come off so we could drop the diff and disconnect the wiring from the electric power steering rack.

6 With the splash guard off the truck, we then used some small screwdrivers to disconnect all the electrical connections from the OEM power steering rack.

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