WHY BODY LIFTS ARE BACK IN FASHION THANKS TO IFS 4X4S

The murky truth about body lift laws

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Body lifts were a thing of the past, that are strangely enough coming back into fashion. Especially with the changes late last year to the VSB14 laws and the staggering popularity of IFS dual-cabs and wagons that can only be raised a few inches economically.

 

The changes have allowed a 75mm overall lift when measured from the roof – so whatever you do, the roof can be up to 75mm higher than standard.

 

So if you think your average dual-cab ute can get a 1.25-inch (30mm) suspension lift, and 2-inch tyre increase to 33s (which only equates to 1-inch overall lift), you’re going to struggle getting the 33s (read: 285s/32.8-inch) inside the guards. If you can easily add an extra inch in the guards to clear the tyres, you’re laughing.

 

Enter the estranged, somewhat looked down upon, evil stepchild of the lift family: The body block.

 

Body lifts give you, in the case outlined above, the option to fit blocks between the body and chassis of a 4X4 to raise the cab. This provides additional space, so you can maintain factory up-travel without taking the lugs off your brand spanking muddies on the inner guards. You’ll also get that much higher – keeping water out of the cab on water crossings – without raising the centre of gravity significantly; helping to keep all four wheels planted on terra firma.

 

The State rules are different insofar as what you can use materials-wise, but all of them allow body blocks to be used; however some do still require an engineer to give your vehicle the once-over and make sure the work’s been done right and you’ve used the appropriate materials for your State. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of throwing a set of body blocks at your truck.

 

Pros:

Cost: A set of body blocks and bolts will set you back around $400, give or take. Kits can be had for less – but one can only assume the quality of them, and cheap crap is generally something you don’t want to trust your family’s life or an engineer’s wrath to.

 

Ease of installation: Body blocks are reasonably easy to install, and other than allowing the steering yolk to move up a touch, there’s really not much to it besides a bunch of bolts. You’re not having to fully remove and replace suspension components like upper and lower arms; you don’t need to mess with castor correction; and the job can be done at home over a quiet Sunday.

 

Suspension characteristics remain unchanged: Unlike modifying your suspension, the way the 4X4 moves on the road will remain essentially the same for the most part.

 

Lower centre of gravity: Lifting only the body higher, you’re leaving all the heavy stuff in the same place. We’re talking about the chassis, engine and gearbox. Easily a tonne (and change) in most dual-cabs getting around.

 

Actual tyre clearance: With the suspension left unchanged, there’s no increase in up or down travel, so you’re gaining a full inch of clearance for the tyres. Hence if at full lock, fully flexed, you were hitting your 32.8-inch tyres into your inner guards, they will clear easily now.

 

Cons:

Cracked mounts/floor pans: Yep, they’ve been known to crack floor pans and body mounts over 20 years of harsh use – simply due to the extra stress on the mounts with the higher cab being thrown around.

 

Engineering: In some States, they still require an engineer go over them; however in others they’re ‘self certification’ (basically do it yourself, and do it right).

 

Issues with controls: Besides sliding the steering yoke up a little, with too aggressive of a body lift there have been 4X4s that have had issues with wiring harnesses, gear shifters, throttle and clutch cables, and brake lines; however a reasonable size body lift won’t have these issues.

 

Miss-matched panels and bar work: Most of the bar work on your vehicle is going to be hard mounted to the chassis – move the body up, and there is an instant 1-inch gap. There are ways around this – bullbars/rear bars for body lifts – but it can be just a bit of a pain to sort out if you’ve already spent squillions on all of your bar work.

 

All in all, the body lift isn’t a terrible thing. And with the change in laws, it gives a lot of us that much more ability to fit decent-sized tyres under our 4WDs, without having to go full retard in the suspension department.

 

STATE BY STATE – THE RULES FROM THE ENGINEERS

 

NEW SOUTH WALES

  • Vaughan Larkham at Signatory Automotive Engineering Tamworth told us:
  • Engineering: Must have engineer’s report
  • Self install: Can be self installed
  • Block size: Up to 50mm
  • Bolts grade: Grade 8.8 bolts, and hardened washers with Nylock nuts
  • Block material: Block material can be alloy, steel or poly, but alloy is recommended for strength. ‘Material of similar strength and durability to original components’.

 

QUEENSLAND

  • Dwayne at Ken Day Automotive in Bundaberg told us:
  • Engineering: Mod plate required
  • Self install: Can be self installed
  • Block size: Up to 50mm
  • Bolts grade: 8.8 grade, hardened washers and Nylock nuts
  • Block material: Steel, alloy or polyurethane accepted

 

VICTORIA

  • Archie at Archie Robertson Auto Services told us:
  • Engineering: Engineer’s report required
  • Self install: Can be self installed
  • Block size: Up to 50mm
  • Bolts grade: 8.8 grade, hardened washers and Nylock nuts
  • Block material: Steel, alloy or polyurethane accepted

 

NORTHERN TERRITORY

  • Alex McDonald at McDonald Engineering told us:
  • Engineering: Engineer’s report not required for under 4-inch total lift
  • Self install: Can be self installed
  • Block size: Up to 50mm
  • Bolts grade: 8.8 grade, hardened washers and Nylock nuts
  • Block material: Must be as good as OEM pads (rubber/poly)

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

  • South Australia driving and transport website:
  • Engineering: Engineer’s report not required if total lift less than 50mm
  • Self install: Can be self installed
  • Block size: Up to 50mm
  • Bolts grade: As good as or better than original – grade 8.8 bolts
  • Block material: Steel, alloy or metal of equivalent strength

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

  • Department of Transport website – per VSB14:
  • Engineering: Inspection and declaration of modification required
  • Self install: Can be self installed
  • Block size: Up to 50mm
  • Bolts grade: 8.8 grade, hardened washers and Nylock nuts
  • Block material: Must be as good as OEM pads (rubber/poly)

 

TASMANIA

  • Josh at Eurotech Automotive Hobart told us:
  • Engineering: Mod plate not required for under 50mm total lift
  • Self install: Can be self installed
  • Block size: Up to 50mm
  • Bolts grade: Must be as good as OEM
  • Block material: Must be as good as OEM pads (rubber/poly)

 

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

  • Access Canberra government website – per VSB14:
  • Engineering: Engineer’s or inspection report not required
  • Self install: Can be self installed
  • Block size: Up to 50mm
  • Bolts grade: 8.8 grade, hardened washers and Nylock nuts
  • Block material: Must be as good as OEM pads (rubber/poly)

 

 

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