2004 Chevy Avalanche Four Wheel Drive Suspension Lowering Kit by DJM
3/3 4WD Calmax Drop Kit for a Chevy Avalanche
Originally published in 2006
Four wheel drives have been around a long time. In fact the first recorded 4WD may be a French road tractor built in 1898. More recently Dodge began to mass produce 4WD’s in 1934, Ford introduced their first 4WD “F” series in 1948, and in 1957 Chevy got on board with a 4WD pick up of their own. The popularity of 4WD and off road has never been greater, so your wondering, why am I telling you about 4WD’s I am a lowering guy! Patience gentle reader patience, old dog – new tricks.
There’s a new sheriff in town, a new fad is born, it’s the latest thing, give up? Dropping 4WD’s used to be an adventure in the world of custom suspension sometimes it worked, sometimes, well you know. Times have changed, four wheel trucks don’t just pull stumps and yank cows from the mud, they are the family ride, the toy hauler, the project truck. Just as trucks have become a preferred cruising choice, 4WD trucks have taken their rightful place in the business of urban people hauling. The modern 4WD can be lowered just like their 2WD cousins, infact those 22’s that you’ve had your eye on would look pretty hot on that 4WD Avalanche, if only you could lower it, and were going to show you just how to do it.
We knew DJM Suspension had been working on a line of 4WD lowering kits so off we went to DJM to find out what was going down. What was going down is a 2004 4WD Chevy Avalanche. Using their unique Calmax control arm system DJM brought the front down 3 inches while maintaining the full use of the four wheel drive and the GM alignment figures. On the rear they used a coil spring and hardware combo along with some frame modifications that allows a 3 inch drop with enough suspension travel that you cannot tell your driving a lowered truck. Seems almost like magic, but it drove like stock, with improved handling, Old dog – new tricks. Here’s how it went down.
(This kit is available at the djmfactorystore.com). Check out the photo gallery below to see how the parts went on, and click on the ( I ) in the picture to read the caption!
It's important to measure the stock ride height before you begin. The most accurate method is to measure from the center of your wheel to the fender lip. This distance won't change if you upgrade your wheel and tires, and will give you the real drop figures after your done! It will also show any irregularities in the factory ride height.[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_002.jpg]4750Proper Foundation
As important as establishing stock ride height is, safety is more important. Having the proper jacks and jack stands makes the job easier and much safer. Make sure your jack stands are rated for the weight of your vehicle and a good hydraulic floor jack and bottle jack are indispensable[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_003.jpg]5290Tie Rod
Loosen and removing the tie rod end is the best way to start.[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_004.jpg]5030Here's A Tip!
Making a simple hanger to use to hang spindles or brake calipers out of the way during installations is a very good idea[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_005.jpg]5080Brake Line & Caliper
Loosen and remove the 10mm bolts that secure the brake line to the upper control arm. Also loosen and remove the cap head screws which fix the caliper to the steering knuckle[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_006.jpg]5050Your Cool Hanger
Now you can use that cool hanger you made to hang to brake caliper out of the way and not damage the brake line![img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_007.jpg]5090Torsion Bar
Remove the lead bolt from the torsion bar key. This will remove the tension or load from the torsion bar. This is like allowing a coil spring to expand to it's full length [img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_010.jpg]5160Shock
Loosen and remove the lower shock mount[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_008.jpg]5040Axle Nut
Loosen and remove the axle center nut from the front hub assembly[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_009.jpg]5110Front Axle
First to gain better access remove the swaybar end-link, then remove the bolts securing the inner constant velocity joint. Now you can remove the front drive axle [img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_011.jpg]4830Lower Ball Joint
Loosen the lower ball joint nut but do not remove it. This keeps everything in place when you break the taper of the ball joint by whacking the spindle casting with a hammer. This is the preferred method, don't hit the ball joint shaft. Very bad idea, it just burgers up the threads and you'll never get it off that way! [img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_012.jpg]5120Lower Ball Joint
Support the lower control arm with a bottle jack and remove the lower ball joint nut. Slowly lift the lower arm until the ball joint is free. Pull the spindle out and let the lower arm down[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_013.jpg]4870Remove the arm
Loosen and remove the pivot bolts on the control arm and remove the control arm[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_014.jpg]5030It's Time to put it back together!
This is the striped out look of your front end[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_015.jpg]5330Pre Fit
Before you go about installing the new arm take a moment and fit the torsion bar in the new control arm and the torsion bar key. Much easier to clean up any excess paint or rust or whatever with all the parts out of the vehicle [img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_016.jpg]5090Prep the arms
Install the grease fittings and grease up the pivot points[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_017.jpg]5030Don't Forget The Ball Joint
While your greasing up, install the zerk in the ball joint and fill the boot with grease before installing the arm[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_018.jpg]5420Lets Go
Hang the control arm by the pivot bolts (you may find it is easier to fit the arm by "knocking out the mounting flanges). Hand tighten only![img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_020.jpg]5530Be Careful
Do not put to much tension on the torsion bar key lead bolt. Only run them up about half way. If you dont run them up half way you run the risk of striping threads. Install all the parts now[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_021.jpg]6600The Rear Kit
New coils, swaybar end-links and trailing arm brackets[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_022.jpg]5960Remove the End-Links
Remove the factory end-links loosen but do not remove the passenger side swaybar pivot bushing bracket. [img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_023.jpg]5910Move the bar
Remove the drivers side pivot bushing and slide the swaybar to the passenger side so the bushing bracket lines up with the far hole. You'll have to drill one new hole to mount the bushing bracket[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_024.jpg]5940Trailing Arm
Unbolt the trailing arms at the axle[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_025.jpg]6260Trailing Arm Brackets
Install the trailing arm brackets with the supplied hardware[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_026.jpg]6590Optional Step
Removing the factory bump stop mount is an option. You will gain a couple of inches of travel and especially if you carry a load often this will improve your quality. We used a plasma cutter to whack this one off[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_027.jpg]6240Bump Stop Mount
This is what the mount looks like[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_028.jpg]6040Clean Up
Use a grinder and some paint and nobody can tell what you did[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_029.jpg]6000Drill
Using a 5/16' bit drill the mounting hole for the new bump stop[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_030.jpg]5880Tap
Cut new threads with a 3/8 X 16 tap[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_031.jpg]6310Install
Screw the new bump stop in place![img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_032.jpg]6270New Swaybar End-link Mount
Install the bolt which will become the new swaybar end-link mount. It is a 1/2X5" bolt supplied. Note: a 1" spacer is also supplied to be used inside the bracket to avoid collapsing the bracket when tightening. Install the springs and jack up the rear end [img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_033.jpg]7000Off Set End-Link
Here is the off-set swaybar end-link installed [img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_034.jpg]6770Shocks
Now it's time to install the new shocks, and your done. Go over your install and see the next step[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_035.jpg]6080Adjust
It's important to move the truck (back & forth) using the brakes abruptly to seat the torsion bars. Then using a torque wrench tighten the nylock nuts on the control arm pivot bolts to 30ft/lbs set the alignment as best you can.[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_036.jpg]6720Measure
Put a few miles on your truck. Check your install to make sure everything is tight and nothing's moved. Get your after measurement and a professional alignment and enjoy[img src=http://calmaxsuspension.com/wp-content/flagallery/2004-4wd-avalanche/thumbs/thumbs_038.jpg]81204WD Lowering
Lowering's not for 2WD's any more. Mild drops on 4wd trucks and suv's are becoming more popular, we can see why!