10 inch lift and 37 inch tires on 88 suburban

88suburbanoverlan

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Hey guys I am looking for opinions here on the best lift kit and parts needed to run a 37 inch tire. My rig is mostly going to be for highway use but I’d like to have a big lift kit on it since it’s being wrapped for my company.

Attaching pictures of my rig as it sits now, it’s the tan one, along with pictures of a red one that has the look I am going for.

As far as axles go I’m pretty sure I have 12 Bolts in the front and back and since I am buying the truck I am not really sure about the gear ratio just yet.
With that being said I am looking for a ideal gear ratio for highway use and light off roading, Along with be ideal and cost effective way to upgrade or swap my axles if that is needed
 

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shiftpro

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Unca Nick,, we need more data. Engine, transmission please. Gonna need about a 4.10 gear swap.. hopefully they make them for the 12 bolt. Normally I'm the guy coming from actual off road worthiness and would say never run tire that large on 12 bolts.. but you said it was for looks and highway.

So you probably don't want to do fender cutting? Or maybe just a little, like the front 'horns' ? And then that could ead to a new front bumper like perhaps a pre-runner tube style that would suite the fender trim. Cut the that fender 'horn' or some guys call it the 'fange', but cut right under the horizontal marker light.

My suspension recipe would be Tough country 4" lift springs, a 1" easy-inch from ORD... a 1" body lift kit. While your doing the body lift, and ALL the mounts are loose, try to slide the entire body back as far as you can on the body mounts. If you .5 - .75 of an inch your doing good. Every bit will help. The easy-inch bolts right into your spring pack, from the bottom. It has offset spring pin holes so you can move your front axle forward. Are you seeing where this is going? You're making tire clearance to the firewall.

Your tire selection will also effect the possibility or not of connecting rubber to metal. Since your goal is road driving, I would assume you'll be after a not too aggressive all-terrain type of tire. You can have better luck with tire clearance with this type of tire over say, a mudder.. with big side lugs that reduce tire to firewall side fender clearance. And when a mudder's lug comes up and grabs metal there will be a lot of damage. A smooth AT without big lugs will rub but not catch.

I think the lift on the red Burb is way too much, imo. Also please don't go any larger than 178" rims.

You can use a shackle flip for the rear lift or even blocks since your not rooting around off road getting tire hop.
 

Originalthor

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I think your truck as it sits looks way better then the red one.
I would do a 4 inch lift 1 inch body and 33s or 35s. I think it would look better.
Theres a YouTube video of a white suburban with a company wrap on it with that combo and looks sharp. I'll see if I can find it at dinner time here.
 

88suburbanoverlan

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Thanks for the input guys- I’m not sure but I think mine may have a small lift and 33inch tires currently (I’m picking it up from out of state next week).

@shiftpro :
I have a 350sbc motor and standard 350 transmission I’m pretty sure.

If I do 37 inch tires I’d do ones exactly like the red suburban I posted the photos of.
I do quite a bit of highway driving so I would really like to go the extra mile to stabilize the suspension if I go that big. I know the lift on the red truck looks pretty extra but since this will be for a company vehicle I really want it to stand out and be a showstopper.

Do you guys think a 2 inch body lift would be too much? I am wondering if I can save a little bit of money doing it this way and then maybe just do an 8 inch suspension lift and get a little extra clearance by doing shackles on the leaf springs.

One thing I am wondering on this is at what point with the lift kit size do I need to get longer drive shafts? Also wondering what implications this has on the steering arm or Pitman arm. I haven’t seen the steering box set up but I would imagine I would need to extend it in someway and want to make sure I am getting everything in the rough country kit.

Do you guys have any opinions on the skyjacker lift kits? I’m not sure rough country goes up to 8 inches but I could be wrong. It seems like skyjacker is the only one with a lift above 6 inches for this vehicle. Like I said having a stable smooth ride on the highway is my primary concern. The most off-road and I am going to be doing is muddy back roads and some light trails but no rock crawling or anything.

I have also seen a lot of guys on the forum talking about braking ability when you run a big tire. Do you guys think doing a larger master cylinder would be a fix for this so I don’t have to do a rear disc brake conversion?
 

Shorty81

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A friend of mine built a highly lifted K10 about 40 years ago. I think 10 suspension and 4" body lift with 44" Denman Groundhogs. Had to shave tires for balance. It looked bada$$, but driveability went out the window. The 350 was a slug, truck handled badly, gearing was awful. The young fella who bought it from him rolled it into some water and drowned. Unless you have a major budget I wouldn't attempt such a lift. I agree with @Originalthor that it looks way better than red one. JMO
 

Frankenchevy

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The lifted red burb is trimmed, so I guess you aren’t opposed to that. Is a 10” lift necessary for 37s with other accommodations in place?

I think shiftpro’s recipe is a good one, even if it takes 6” of suspension lift to get it done. If drivability is important, I don’t think you can cheap out on a bigger lift.

You know anybody with a truck near the height of the red one? Ask them to drive it. See if you can live with the way it’s going to drive. A truck with more than a 6” leaf spring lift is going to have compromises. The spring arch with be pretty curvy. Depending on budget coils would be something to look at.

What kind of business are you advertising?
 

skysurfer

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Just because you're lifting it for advertising and highway use doesn't mean you can go big with zero risk. This guy found out his truck didn't like sudden steering inputs after an animal ran out in front of him.

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Rumbledawg

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i run 38's and 42's on my '85 crewcab for about 20 yrs.
in that time wit big tires, first off i would be ditching the axles you got and upgrade to some 1 tons, D60 and 14B. big tires will tax your truck and unless ya drive like ya got an egg under the throttle, a 12b will have a hard time surviving with that big of rubber. with 1 tons you will eliminate a sh!tload of probs for much more worry free motoring.
as to steering, when you get into that tire size range, would strongly recommend you go crossover steering. i ran a steering block, dropped pitman and "S" curve draglink. while it worked, it kinda sucked. if you get your susp twisted a little bit off road, you will find yourself turning the steering wheel, yet your tires will still point forward-which really bites.
for the height you want, your pretty much limited to custom springs, skyjacker or superlift springs. i run skyjacker fr springs which have held up beautifully for 2 decades with no sag, but your ride will not be the greatest. big curvy springs won't flex as good as something a little lower in height.
i run an 8" lift with some bushwacker cut out flares. cut out flares are like a 3" body lift, without the silly look of a body lift (low hanging bumpers, big gap under the bed, your fuel tanks exposed for the world to see, etc, etc, etc....) also have done what shiftpro states and cut the fender off below the marker lights. my tires are 14.5 and 15.5 wide and i have tons of clearance, stuffed, drooping and turned lock to lock. could prob stuff a 44 incher in there without any probs
for brakes, a hydroboost swap would fit your needs. i have stock disc in the front and stock drums in the rear. i rebuilt the entire braking system (EVERYTHING!, calipers, rotors, pads, wheel cyclinders, spring kit, drums, lines, shoes) with "premium" parts and it hauls down my four ton honey like no tomorrow. even with my camper and quad trailer (16000lbs) on, stopping it all is a non-issue, and my quad trailer has no brakes.
with a T350, some 4:56's would help, a T400 swap would be better.
ya, been saying swap a lot of your parts, but do want to drive your truck and enjoy it, or do you want a garage queen that is in constant need of work...big tires? go big parts!
 

Harold Strickland

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I have to agree with some of these other folks in that I would definitely NOT put 10 inches of lift on a Sub; not even to do "mall crawling" with. A 6 inch lift and some 37's will be fine and it appears that your Sub is already a 20 Series with a 10 bolt front and 14 bolt rear. These should be geared 3.73 or 4.10 and will turn 37's decently.
You'll have to do driveshaft and brake hose modifications with the 6 inch lift but as long as you're not going rockin' or twistin' then you shouldn't experience too much fender rub; especially when using a 10 inch wheel. Now, if you plan on the "stance" like these squat freaks love then you may as well invest in the big lift kit as 14 wides are gonna rub unless you lift it to the moon.
I hope you can tell by my comments that the red Sub is not my kind of build...or ride. Thanks.

Strickland
 

85K304SPD

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You will need some way to get in & out of there... maybe a little step ladder of some sort. Just a thought...
 

rpcraft

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10 inches of lift and 37 inch tires sounds like a recipe for being deaf, much less some possibly sketchy road handling. I wish you well on your journey into the sky.
 

rpcraft

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10 inches of lift and 37 inch tires sounds like a recipe for being deaf, much less some possibly sketchy road handling. I wish you well on your journey into the sky. OH, and a 12 bolt in the rear and whatever is up front probably won't last too long with those tires sizes if it is all half ton running gear. I'd be looking for a 14 bolt in the rear and dana 60 or similar up front. Your also going to need a new set of gears in the 500 series assuming the previous owner is only running 33's. Your going to want crossover steering probably as well, to handle the lack of steering to the left, and the massive amount of steering pull to the right when you do step on the brake suddenly, again, unless it has been done previously. I'd get the rig first and drive it some. You might like it, and a wrap on a 80's Burb with a couple inches of lift and 33's is still a pretty big billboard, and it's not like the lift and tires will add space for more wrap. Also, if you get a flat, you will still be able to change a tire without having a forklift to take the tire and rim off whatever spare carrier you will still need to build for 37's and matching wheels.
 

Rumbledawg

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wow....
lot of negativity towards lifted trucks...
driving my crew for 20 yrs, previously a lifted k5, lifted 71 jimmy, lifted k20, lifted gladiator, lifted sub (x2) and done right, they aren't any worse to drive than a stock truck (maybe a bit bouncier ride but that's about it).
never had "massive" pull under braking with any lifted truck, turning or goin' strait. just why would it do that? i drive my truck with ONE finger-no sh!t. hell, i HAVE taken it threw the McDicks drive thru many times with no issues
noise? frikkin 33" BF's on my stepper howl louder than the 38" M/T's on my crew.
if op wants to go big, the best way, and not cost prohibitive, go find a K30 crew or K30 reg cab or a cucv, if their not butchered, they will already have all the good stuff you need for bigger tires and no problems. crews are by far the best, being a mile long you will run into less issues ie; driveshaft mods, pinion angles....
i drove my lifted crew over 2600 miles threw the back country to the yukon, loaded with a camper and pulling the quad trailer-ZERO probs, not even a flat-done right there just as reliable as any old square.
lift that sucker uncle nick!
a lifted truck imo is waaay better than a slammed to the ground truck that drags it's ass over a speedbump...
 

rpcraft

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i like and prefer lifted trucks. No hatred to lifted trucks, I just also like to embark without the need to carrry a step ladder in the back of the rig. Others may not, and that is fine as well. I just offer some pitfalls that he may encounter, especially if not done correctly, and also if he has no experience with resolving them,

We do agree though that if you are going big, start with one ton hardware. If not a chassis, definitely the axles.

I've had trucks with big lifts and big tires in the past. I'm sure you can get bigger radials now than you could 35 years ago so that probably helps resolve road noise. I'm old now days I guess so all I recall is the roaring and harmonics in my old K5 with 38 inch boggers (It didn't bother me then but now days everything does, that's the joy about getting old in a certain way, lol. Maybe 10 inch lift kits ride softer now days as well too. Mine 6 inch rode like a tank. I'll never know now days though. 4 inches is where I found the sweet spot but I also don't have a practical need to go any bigger. I run 33's on the daily driving and have contemplated going back to a 2 inch lift just because it looks better but I am sure I would regret it offroad once I get back to trail dusting.

There are known quirks of the drag link setup when going with a big lift, often over 6 inches, and high wear makes them worse. It's not my imagination, it's a known fact. There are solutions

Theres's no reason not to do it as he wishes unless practicality starts to play into things. Some people have to drive under bridges and awnings, lol.

Realistically though, I'm just pointing out a few practical items in case he wasn't aware.
 

Craig 85

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I'll throw my hat in here. Based on what I see in the photo of the tan Suburban I'm guessing you have a 3/4 ton. An '88 should have stacked headlights unless the grill was updated. There's probably a 3-4" lift sitting on 35's. Those could be 16.5" or 16" wheels. The OEM engine would be a low HP 350 and and either a TH-400 or maybe an overdrive. As others have said 3.73's or 4.10's.

The picture below is my '77 K5. 6" Skyjacker soft ride all spring lift. The tires were 15/36R16.5" tires on 9.75" wide wheels. Main reason for the cut out flares was due to some wheel well rust the flairs allowed me to remove.

The K5 had a SBC 400 and 4.10's. It did okay power wise, but 4.56's or 4.88's would have been better, especially in your case with a Suburban due to the weight. I had a raised steering arm plus an "S" shaped drag link. I kept the front sway bar, but due to tire/suspension flex it kinda wandered on the road. I got a lot of bump steer even though I had done everything to set up the suspension correctly. There was even a dual steering stabilizer.

What you're trying to do would be fine for mall crawling, but for any highway/freeway driving, I wouldn't recommend it. With and 8-10" lift you will not get a lot of spring flex and the truck would be very rigid. Sidewall flex would be most of your suspension. I had several friends in the late 80's-early 90's that had Square Bodies with 10-12" lifts and 44's. Most were useless except to hit the cruise route in town or a mud bog.

It was a a police officer for 27 years. Part of my expertise was a driving instructor and traffic collision investigator. I went to plenty of roll over collisions over the years. My concern for something as big as you're describing is stability in an evasive maneuver.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but keep these things in mind during your build.

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