How to Install Definitive Bilstein 5100 Shocks for Ford F150

Here I want to share a guide on how to do a driveway install of front Bilstein 5100 shocks.

I’ve done quite a bit of research here on the forums determining whether or not to attempt swapping my stock front shocks for the Bilstein 5100s. After I took into account that I could get the shocks much cheaper on Amazon ($97/each), alignment is much cheaper if you shop around and I could skip on labor charges, I did the math and found I would save about $350 by doing the install myself. Not to mention, it is exceptionally satisfying to complete a job like this yourself. I found a number of hints and tips online and in the forums, but no definitive instructions on how to do the install. So here it is…

Preliminary notes: This job should take about 3 hours. It really helps to have a buddy helping, two is even better, a cooler full of beer doesn’t hurt either. If you’re missing any of the necessary tools especially a lift, jack stands, spring compressors, remember that any auto parts store is happy to rent them to you for absolutely free. The instructions below don’t include an impact wrench, if you have one it would be exceptionally helpful, but not necessary.


**Sorry the pictures are after the fact, my camera ran out of juice just as we started the job.

Disconnect Negative Battery Terminal
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 8mm socket
Instruction: On newer trucks it is recommend that you detach the negative battery terminal to save your EPAS (Electronic Power Assist Steering)

Get the truck on lifts
Tools Needed: Floor jack, jack stands
Instruction: Lift the truck up off the wheels and place jack stands as wide apart as possible on the center frame area

Remove wheel
Tools Needed :21mm lug wrench (for stock lugs)
Instructions: Pretty straight forward, removed the lugs, remove the wheel and set aside. This is a good opportunity to clean the inside of your wheels a well.

Remove 3 nuts off top of shock mount
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 15mm deep socket, or ratcheting box wrench
Instructions: There are a few wires in the way, but they’re easy to work around the and nuts should come off easily

Remove large bolt from lower shock mount
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 27mm socket, 24”+ cheater bar and 30mm box wrench
Instructions: Although this step seems a bit daunting it really isn’t all too bad. You can break the bolt free without holding the nut, but you will need the box wrench after the first few turns.

Disconnect sway bar
Tools Needed: 18mm box wrench, Ratchet with 8mm standard socket
Instructions: The sway bar can be disconnected from either the top or bottom. The top was easily accessible so I went that route.You will have to hold the 18mm nut and ratchet the center post at the same time to remove.

Remove brake line bracket
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 10mm standard socket
Instructions: It helped to remove the small bracket that the brake lines were attached to in order to keep the spindle from pulling onthe lines when you drop it in the next step.

Remove the ball joint nut
Tools Needed: 22mm box wrench or very deep socket (I think, I had to use an adjustable wrench for this one), Floor jack, Rubber Mallet or Hammer with small piece of 2×4, 8mm socket
Instructions: This was the most frustrating part of the process, but still not all that bad. First, you have to remove the nut from the ball joint connecting the upper A-arm and spndle. This nut is
on pretty tight and takes a bit of work to remove, mine didn’t spin because the taper was holding tight, but some WD-40 definitely helps the process along. It also helps to clean all of the exposed threads as best you can before you start taking the nut off. Once the nut is removed you have to unseat the taper holding the parts together. Use the rubber mallet to hit down on the control arm until it pops free. Use the floor jack to support the spindle and lower A-arm.

Remove factory shock
Tools Needed: N/A
Instructions: This step takes a bit of finesse. First you should drop the lower A-arm/spindle as far as you can with the lift, making sure that none of the brake lines are being pulled on. Next I
found it best to unseat the bottom of the shock from it’s mount and reposition it so the bottom of the shock is as low as you can get it behind the brake rotor. Next, have a buddy push up on the upper A-arm to get it out of the way and then guide the top of the shock out of it’s seat. It may take a few tries, but you’ll get it.

Swap out shock and place into assembly
Tools Needed:
2 sets of 2 strut spring compressors (not coil spring compressors), Ratchet with 19mm standard socket and 4in extension, 17mm box wrench, Ratchet with 8mm socket, hammer, 19mm box wrench, 6mm hex wrench

Instructions: This is the step that scares most people about swapping out their own shocks and the reason Rancho makes a bunch of money selling their “Loaded” system. It’s really not bad, and
with a friend can be relatively painless. First thing to do is mount the 4 spring compressors evenly around the spring. Then evenly tighten them all down. It will take a bit of work to get them all down, but you have to keep going until you can feel the spring move around within the assembly. Once the spring is loose, you can break the top nut free and remove it while holding the hex head with the 8mm socket.Once the nut is off simply remove the top shock seat, spring,   bumper, then knock off the bottom shock seat with a few light hammer blows. The dust cover will get in the way of removing the bottom seat, just let it rest against the bottom of the cover and use the hammer again to knock it off as well. Now, set your Bilstein to whichever setting you choose and install the supplied shock mount seat. Push the bottom shock mount onto the new shock and give it a few taps to make sure it’s evenly pressed onto the seat. Add the bumper,and additional supplied Bilstein hardware, replace the spring and top shock seat. Make sure the spring is lined up properly with the shock seats. Screw on the Bilstein supplied nut while using the hex wrench to hold the shock rod. I’m not sure of the exact torque required for this nut, but simply bottom it
out and I imagine the spring weight will hold it in place just fine. After the nut is on you can remove your spring compressors.

Replace lower shock mount bolt
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 27mm socket and 2in extension, 30mm box wrench
Instructions: Very simple, just put the lower bolt back in place and hand tighten

Replace brake line bracket
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 10mm standard socket
Instructions: Replace the brake line bracket from where it was removed, tighten until snug

Reassemble upper A-arm and spindle
Tools Needed:
22mm box wrench, Ratchet with 8mm socket, Vise Grips (Maybe)
Instructions: First step is to make sure the threads on the ball joint stud and nut are as clean as possible. Next use some WD-40 great the threads a little. Assemble the ball joint stud through the spindle and thread the nut on. Get the nut to goas far as possible before the stud starts spinning with it. If you’re lucky you will have exposed enough of the stud below the bolt to get the socket on, if you’re slightly less lucky you will have barely enough to get a set of vise grips on and if there is nothing showing your patience will be tested. If you’re able to get a hold of the stud just thread the nut all the way back up and torque to 85 ft/lbs. If you’re have trouble with the stud spinning just work the nut back and forth quickly to try to get something to show, make sure not to grab the taper or threads with your vise grips because thisis not a piece you want to have to replace.

Tighten nuts on top shock mount
Tools Needed: Ratchet with 15mm deep socket, or ratcheting box wrench
Instructions: Tighten down the nuts you put on hand tight when you installed the shock assembly. Torque to 47 ft/lbs

Tighten lower shock mount bolt
Tools Needed:
Ratchet with 27mm socket, 24”+ cheater bar and 30mm box wrench
Instructions: Tighten down the lower bolt with a good amount of force. The torque spec is 351 ft/lbs which your average torque wrench won’t measure, but as long as you give a strong steady couple of pulls with a cheater bar you will be close enough.

Tighten sway bar assembly
Tools Needed:
18mm box wrench, Ratchet with 8mm standard socket
Instruction: Replace the nut on the sway bar assembly and tighten downto 66 ft/lbs.

Double check everything
Tools Needed: N/A
Instruction: Make sure you don’t have any extra pieces and everything has been properly torqued.

Remount the wheels
Tools Needed: 21mm lug wrench
Instruction: Mount the wheels back on and torque lug nuts to 150 ft/lbs in a star pattern.

Tools Needed: Shop
Instruction: Unless you have a lift and laser alignment device you’ll probably need to take your truck in for this one. A local shop should do the job for about $60 Note: Mine truck felt like the
alignment was fine after the install, but I took it in for an alignment check and found out it wasn’t even close, so do yourself a favor and at least get it checked, a lot of shops will check for free.

Tools Needed: N/A
Instruction: After about 75-100 miles of driving make sure to inspect all of the nuts to make sure nothing has started to work its way loose.

Good luck with all your installs. I ended up going with the 1.5″ setting on my shocks and came out with just a little bit of remaining rake, about 3/4″ to be exact. I think the 2.25 setting would have put me nose high, and since I plan on keeping my stock wheels and tires for a bit it would have left too much wheel well space. Anyway, here are the pics….

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Author: wwwforddiycom