I am often asked the difference between the different basic lift kits available for the Nissan Titan. Since there are so many questions and options and a lot of misinformation out there, I will attempt to answer most questions regarding the currently available lifts right here in one handy spot. Please note that these are my opinions and perceptions and, although I intend to detail the positive aspects of each option, I also intend to list the downsides, but I want to clarify that at PRG we only sell suspension products that we stand behind. Even though there may be some things we don't like about one kit or another, every kit and component listed here is high quality and far better than the junk we don't bother to mention. If you are one of the manufacturers, please take no offense and feel free to utilize the r&d we've done to improve your product (let us know if you make any changes so we can update this guide). Hold on. We're going to cover a lot here...
4WD Titan Lifts All the current lifts [Rancho, CST, Fabtech, and Pro Comp] are very similar and all work well. They ride just like stock in the front (as they use spacers and keep the stock strut assembly) except the Rancho, and it rides very close to stock because Rancho provides a longer OEM style front shock. The rear is typically a block and different shocks, although the Fabtech is different than the others by using an add-a-leaf and block combination. All the kits move the front wheels forward about 1" for more fender clearance. Despite what you may read elsewhere, all the kits can run STOCK wheels and run 35" tires (the exception is the CST kit on stock wheels with 325mm wide tires or Toyo/Nitto MT...the sidewall lugs will hit the spindle). All the kits mentioned can use aftermarket coilovers. We offer custom Sway-a-way coilovers and 2 versions of the Radflo coilovers for bracket lifted applications. Also, it is not recommended to use the regular Icon (formerly DRE) coilovers or the 2.0 Radflos as they are longer than the stock struts and will allow the upper a-arm to hit the coilbucket (unless an aftermarket a-arm is used) except on the CST kit using the weld-on droop stops. The SAW replacement struts (stock or those for use with the UCA) will not fit any bracket lift due to their unique upper mount. Also, although Bilstein replacement struts are available, they are longer than the factory shock and have a tendency to crush when installed with a bracket lift kit. It sounds like a great combination, but we have had many Bilsteins fail when used in this application.
I have seen on some of the forums that people will badmouth one kit or another saying it makes noise. The fact is that none of these kits will make noise if installed properly. NOISE PROBLEMS ALMOST CERTAINLY STEM FROM POOR INSTALLATION or some form of part failure. People will also say that one works better than the other but they really all perform and ride about the same. It's just that some come with more bells and whistles. Here are some facts about each kit.
CST 7"- -Actually about 6-6.5" lift in front and 4" block in the rear. Kit typically has about 1-1.5" rake. -Kit does not come with rear shocks, but they are sometimes added by the retailer, though. Typically CST house brand shocks (really Edelbrocks) or Bilsteins, or white shocks on the cheap end of things. -Kit has one-piece subframe and is powdercoated gloss black. Is the subframe stronger than a 2 piece? Probably, but I’ve never seen a problem with the two-piece kits either. -It uses a fabricated spindle upright. These are nice, but offer fewer rim options due to the shape of the riser tube and the tire may rub if the wheel has too much backspace (too little and the tire will rub the inner fender). Also, it’s harder to tighten the upper ball joint and even harder to remove later. -Kit requires cutting for the rear differential bolt (as do the Rancho and Fabtech kits). It CAN go back to stock, but welding a plates over the notch is recommended. -Welding is required for the "droop stop". CST builds the spindles a bit shorter than they should be (my opinion) and the upper a-arm will hit the coilbucket (like a leveling kit, but worse) so they added these weld-on tabs w/ urethane striker pads to let the upper arm rest on these at full droop. You can install the kit and add these later, actually. Or you can add an aftermarket upper a-arm and there will be enough clearance that you will not need to weld at all. Remember, this in only for THIS kit. -Kit comes with flat aluminum skid plate under the diff. It's nice, but it makes jacking the truck up a pain later. -Kit comes with heim jointed sway bar endlinks. These are a very nice option, the best of all the end links, but they can be added to other kits for a nominal price. They can be bolted on without even jacking the truck up (as can the Rancho and Fabtech end links). -The bumpstop brackets are silly and were designed on a pre-production Titan when the bumpstops were taller and therefore do a piss-poor job on any post '93 titan. Easy solution is to add a 2" tall urethane bumpstop. We provide them if you buy the kit through us. -Has very nice braided DOT brake lines from Crown (all but the Fabtech come with braided brakelines). -4" offset-pin fabricated blocks come with this kit. They are powdercoated gloss black also. The u-bolts are actually the correct length on this kit too; most are too long. -As with all CST spindles, they will eventually make a popping noise at full turn due to the spindle hitting the steering stop. It can be lessened with a dab of grease and a bit of grinding. -Most expensive of all the kits -The instructions are rather vague. -This kit is actually the lightest of all the kits and easy to ship -Doesn’t have stupid faux-strut-braces like all the other kits.
Pro Comp Stage 1- -Best instructions of all the lifts. -Easiest to install due to no cutting or welding, but some grinding on the stock lower subframe may ease installation of the new drop brackets. -Lifts 5.5" in front and uses a 3" billet off-set pin rear block. U-bolts are too long and need to be cut to look right. Sits with the front just a tad lower than the rear with a stage 1 kit. Stage 2 will lift the front about 1.5" more inches and the rear will sit about 1/2 lower than the front. -Steering stops are HUGE and need to be ground down to regain most turning; this is true of Fabtech kit too. -Comes with braided brake lines from Earl’s; nice. -Square front cross brace is nice for jacking the truck up, but looks like it hangs down more than the others. -Uses square eccentric bushings to locate the subframes; a very nice touch. -Crappy semi-gloss black finish. -Has best rear brake line brackets of all the kits. -Lots of tire clearance, as do the Fabtech and Rancho kits. -Best front bumpstop bracket of all the lifts. -Pro Comp sway bar end links are the nicest between Pro Comp, Fabtech, or Rancho kits, but a far cry from the CST. -Comes with rear twin-tube shocks....made by Tenneco (Rancho,Fabtech, etc.) they ride pretty nice, but only for a short time until they crap-out. -Kit is fairly easy to ship with 4 or 5 boxes about 50 lbs each. -Typically priced well, since Pro Comp is owned by the same company as 4 Wheel Parts, you can usually get them cheap from there.
Fabtech- -Requires cutting for clearance for the front diff bolt. And the driver’s side front diff mount. Very hard to go back to stock. -Requires "stretching" the stock metal brake lines....not a good idea. Best to add a longer brake line. -Includes 1/4" thick steel skid plates for front diff, but looks kind of funny as they tend to hang down. -Rear uses a 2" tapered cast block and an add-a-leaf like people used in 1983. The ride is typically too firm for most people after the AAL is installed and is stiff enough to break the stock shackles. A taller block can be used instead of the AAL. -The only positive of this kit that I see is that the spindle upright is very tall and way overbuilt. This leads to the potential of being the tallest kit using coilovers, custom spacer and aftermarket UCA (about 9" total), add about $1500-2000 to get the extra height with those components. -Typically this kit sits about the same height in front as the CST and about 3" of lift in the rear. It sits pretty level. -Sway bar end links on this kit are junk. They will slip to one side of the urethane bushing and start to make noise. Upgrade to the CST versions. -This kit can be ordered without rear shocks and is by far the least expensive of all the kits. -This kit is HEAVY (about 50lbs heavier than any other kit!) and is fairly expensive to ship. -My experience shows this kit to be the worst as far as fit and finish. -For a 2wd, you can cut the diff brackets and have a really clean look, this kit can go to about 10" of lift on a 2wd using the right combination of parts.
Rancho- -A nice kit. From what I understand, Rancho's insurance will only let them advertise 4" max lift. This kit will actually give about 5" of lift in front and uses a tapered 2" cast block for the rear. It typically sits with the front just a tad taller than the rear. -The biggest problem with this kit is that Rancho requires you to buy their front shocks (interesting sales pitch as they are a shock manufacturer). This adds to the cost and the labor as the stock struts need to be broken down with a spring compressor to install. The shocks offered in the kit are basically just longer stock shocks. They could have built this kit using the spacers just like the other manufacturers. You can add the 9000 series adjustable shock if you like gimmicks, but you're getting the same shoddy quality as the regular shocks. -The spindle on this kit is slightly shorter than the other kits and adding an aftermarket coilover will cause upper a-arm to coilbucket interference unless an aftermarket arm is used. -This is a nice kit, but is the most difficult to upgrade and, in my opinion, offers the least lift for the dollar.
As for coilovers to add to whichever lift you choose, here are the current options:
Fox- Foxes will bolt onto any of the kits except Rancho (will work on Rancho w/ aftermarket UCA). These are an emulsion shock, meaning there is no internal or external reservoir. These are great shocks, but all the others offer at least an internal reservoir which makes for more consistent damping. They also come with a CST spec'd spring; many users notice a lot of premature spring sag and these springs are too stiff for most 2wd. The springs can be upgraded but will cost an extra $200. These typically ride pretty smooth with fairly good bottoming resistance, but not as good as the others. Add the extra price of better springs and these are by far the most expensive of the bunch.
Radflo 2.5" dia. coilovers- I'm going to lump the internal and external reservoir versions into one group as they function the same on our Titans. These offer more potential travel then the Fox if using an aftermarket upper a-arm and come with different Eibach or King springs for 2wd or 4wd titans. Radflo is a custom shock manufacturer and builds these shocks for PRG Products with my specified valving and we then build the upper mounts, supply the springs, and do the final assembly. These are the smoothest riding of all the coilovers, with very good bottoming resistance. The internal reservoir version are about the same price as the Fox and the external reservoirs are about $150 more.
Sway-a-Way- These are built and valved for PRG products in the same way the Radflos are built for us. We order the shocks bare and built to a certain length and certain valving. We then provide the appropriate Eibach spring and do the final assembly. These are the most aggressively valved coilovers available. The ride is great, but is a bit more firm than the Radflos.
DRE- DRE has closed shop and they are no longer available for the bracket lifted Titans. These were a great shock, but the limited spring length (same issue the Fox has) meant that many users were not able to get the height they wanted.
Fabtech Stage 2- These are seem to be similar in construction to the SAW shocks, but a lot of people have had issues with them. I don’t have a lot of personal experience with them, but the valving and spring seem to be way off and many people have had noise issues. I have no experience with Fabtech rear high-end shocks so I cannot comment on them.
Pro Comp Stage 2- I'm clearly a big fan of the PC lift kit, but their coilovers have had many issues. Lately people seem to be happier with them and the price is good, but we don’t sell them because they are not serviceable and have a pretty checkered past. Their MX-6 rear shocks seem good and most people like them.
Bilstein- These are typically the 5100 (5125 or 5150 also) series and are a generic length and valving. The ends need to be modified to fit a Titan properly (we modify all our Bilsteins to be a direct fit for our customers). Since Bilstein offers so many configurations, the best option is just to know the way each shock works and then pick the best one for the application. We know these pretty well and we'll usually pick the best one for you in our different packages. These are a "mono-tube" design just like the high end race shocks, but are not serviceable and use rubber mounts on the ends, where a true race shock will use a bearing.
CST- These are made by Edelbrock and are a very good shock. The only issue is that there are not a lot of valving choices. Many manufacturers re-badge the Edlebrocks as their premium line and they get a choice of say 4 or 5 valving options. If that particular valving works, perfect. If not, then your not getting as good of ride as you should be with a properly tuned shock.
Radflo- These are a 2" diameter body race shock that is rebuildable and revalvable. These have an external reservoir and are custom valved for the Titan. We offer these in 3 different lengths to get the optimum performance from your lift. These are, in most opinions, the smoothest riding of all the available shocks for the Titan. We set these up as to make them 100% bolt on and to keep the bearing (uni ball) mounts using new bolts and hardware.
Sway-a-Way- These are a 2.25" body with a piggy-back mounted reservoir and a very beautiful shock. They are very close in performance to the Radflo but with a very slightly stiffer ride and more damping potential. These are valved specifically for the Titan and we offer these in 2 lengths to cover all the applications. These are also a direct bolt-on as SAW was able to use a 5/8 uniball and keep the factory 14mm shock bolts.
Fox- There is not a direct bolt on application. Typically the uniball bearing mounts are pressed out and a urethane bushing is installed. There are not Titan specific 2.0 rear Fox shocks. Although many shops will sell them, you are getting a generic shock, not one fitted or designed for the rear of a Titan.
All white-bodied-shocks-- Typically made by Tenneco and rebadged by Rancho, Procomp, Fabtech, Skyjacker, Superlift, blah, blah, blah. I’m not going in to the details here, but these are all non-servicable disposable shocks. Just like the factory parts but with better stickers.
2WD Titan Lifts
The 2wd Titan has a few more lift choices than the 4wd and this can offer a substantial savings, better looks, more performance, and easier installation. I will start by stating that ANY 4wd lift (Pro Comp, CST , Fabtech, or Rancho) will work perfectly well on a 2wd, and with any of these kits these is no cutting of the lower stock cross member or differential mounts, although some drilling is still required to mount the bumpstops on the Rancho and Fabtech lifts. Although these kits typically come complete, you will need to add a carrier bearing drop bracket kit with any kit that offers more than 2” of rear lift. As noted, any of the current 4wd kits will work on a 2wd, but only CST makes a specific 8” 2wd complete lift kit. The kit is similar to their 4wd kit, but uses different spindles that and a tubular upper a-arm (mostly for looks) and the front will sit 2” wider than stock when installed. The actual front lift is about 7.5”. Wheel travel stays the same as stock at about 7.5”. This is a very nice kit, a bit pricey, but complete and easy to install as there is no cutting or drilling (although some welding is required), plus this kit uses the CST sway bar end links. The reason for the higher price of this kit vs. some other lifts is the use of the tubular upper a-arm. These are expensive to manufacture. The rear of this kit uses a 4” block and tends to leave the front about 1-2” taller than the rear. Any of the bracket lift coilovers will work with this kit. It includes a giant coil spacer and uses the factory front strut. Like other CST kits, this kit does not include rear shocks, but most retailers will provide them for you. This leads us to the 4” CST Spindle lift. This spindle just replaces the factory steering knuckle or “spindle upright” and provides 4” of lift by moving the wheel hub 4” lower. Nothing else changes; the shock, sway bar, upper and lower a-arms, they all stay in the exact same position as before. No cutting, grinding or welding at all. The spindles are sold with new, longer brake lines, but nothing else. You can add 1.5, 2, or 2.5” spacers to get up to 6.5” of lift using spacers. Or you can add a coilover to get up to 8” of lift total. You can even add a coilover/upper a-arm combo to get a max of 9” of lift. The spindle will keep the stock wheel travel and all of the advantages of the coilovers will still be effective with the spindle lift ( more travel and height). The rear lift is determined by the retailer or designed by the installer. Since Titans typically sit with about a 3” forward rake, adding a 4” spindle lift and a 2” rear block will leave the truck close to level with a very slight forward rake. The beauty of the spindle lift is that any of the other methods of lifting can be added for more height (leveling kit, coilovers, coilovers and upper a-arms). And any of these methods can be done a different times allowing the kit to be modular and grow with your tastes and budget. The spindle can be combined before or after the installation of a leveling kit, coilovers, etc. The rear of the truck can be lifted the same as any other kit, i.e blocks, springs, block/spring combo. The question of what is the best method to get 4” of lift gets asked often. I will go over the pros and cons of each method:
Spindle Lift- Fairly inexpensive. Medium difficulty to install. Neither adds or detracts from stock ride. If your stock struts are blown, they will continue to ride just as bad as before. If you have previously installed performance struts, you can keep them and the ride will be the same.
Coilovers- Because the ’04-’07 2wd Titans sit so low in the front to begin with, getting up to 4” of lift (3” on the ’08) with a simple coilover is possible. Price ranges from about $700-1300 depending on the brand and style of coilovers. Pros to this setup are a great ride, longevity of the shocks and springs, better handling, better braking, better cornering, it's easy to fine tune the ride height, and the installation is easy. Cons are the high cost and there's not as much lift as other options. All coilovers will allow maximum lift and wheel travel with out any upper a-arm to coil bucket contact. Please do not add spacers or leveling kits to coilovers in the hopes that you can gain a bit more lift. All you will do is decrease wheel travel and have upper a-arm interference issues.
A WORD ON LEVELING KITS: The most height we recommend is 2.5” on ’04-’07 and 2” on ‘08+. Although some companies will advertise more lift, the upper a-arm will rest on the lip of the coil bucket at full suspension extension and create noise. Although it may be tempting to stack leveling kits or combine coilovers and a leveling kit, it is just not recommended and will lead to a poor ride, bad alignment, and broken parts.
IN CONCLUSION I hope this gives you a little bit better understanding of the differences between the options out there. We've put together a good selection of packages that feature components that work well together. Check them out here and if you still have questions, let me know!