Project: Budget Lift! Short Cuts
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Author: Phil Hansford June 2001

This is the recipient of "Budget Lift": a 1989 Mitsubishi Montero 2d V6, with coil springs.

As fun and capable as the 2 door Montero/Raider is "out of the box", most owners eventually outgrow the 215mm (8.5") of ground clearance, and search for ways to give this truck some lift. Additionally, the spring's constant rate of 101 lbs/inch does not allow for extra large loads, and tends to bottom out easily. Giving the front end an increase of two inches or so is not difficult, as we attested when we cranked up the torsion bars on project "Budget Lift!" in a previous article.

To level out the rear end 4 cylinder owners have the relatively cheap option of installing "add-a-leafs" in their spring pack, or putting in longer shackles, but 6 cylinder drivers have fewer options with the factory coil/trailing arm setup. We have explored several options in the past, including Valley Spring Works lift coils, and a complete suspension kit from Old Man Emu. For those on a budget (read: Cheap!), this month we will give some much needed lift to an 89 Montero V6 using oem coil springs. One catch however: These coils are from a 1993 4 door Montero!

"Jack and the Been-Stock"

The most difficult part of this project lies in ensuring the vehicle is secure enough to work under, since we need to be able to jack up the body, and drop the chassis, in order to access the springs. To this end, we used five (5) jacks/stands in total:

5 jack points in total! The stock bottle in action Anchoring the Jackall

Since this project involves raising the rear wheels off the ground, the emergency brake is not an effective way to keep the vehicle in place (nor is it ever!). Before you start this project, put the vehicle in 4 wheel drive, locks the hubs, and then shift to P (or low gear for standard transmissions), before blocking the front wheels. Slowly raise the rear axle with the floor/bottle jacks, and then put a jackstand under each frame rail, to ensure the truck's stability, while you are working under it. Remove the rear wheels for better access, and then go ahead and remove the lower shock mounting bolt. If you are considering new shocks, this may be a good time to install them, since you need to let the bottoms go anyway. Finally, attach a shackle to the foot of the bumper jack, and the other end to the tow loop, and carefully raise the body off the supension.

Editor's Note:
Anytime you are working under a vehicle, use EXTREME caution. Do not rely only on jacks to hold the vehicle up. As a result of changing the springs, the vehicles' handling will change, since the spring rate is much higher and the vehicle's COG becomes higher. ORN does not take responsibility for any effects of this project.

After the body has been jacked up a little, remove the jackstands, and slowly lower the suspension, via the floor/bottle jacks. Be aware of brake lines and wiring harnesses which may be stretching as a result: if the suspension is lowered too far from the body, you may incur other costs which will quickly negate the savings of "Budget Lift"! After the body has been lowered, reset the level of the jackstands, and replace them under the framerails, for safety. You are now ready to wrestle the factory coils out of their hiding spots...

Ensuring that Spring has Sprung...

The original lifting agent was more of a bandaid than a permanent solution

In our previous two rear suspension articles, the springs were easily removed after the shocks had unbolted, and the suspension was lowered. In this case however, the springs were not as easily convinced to give up their homes. This was partly due to the fact that "Budget lift" had been previously subjected to an even cheaper solution to level the rear end: rubber spring spacers had been forced between corresponding coils, to increase the space between them. This temporary "fix" made the springs more difficult to remove than normal. A spring compressor would make this part of the procedure easier, but in the spirit of "Budget Lift!" (and the fact that we did not have a spring compressor) we elected to remove the springs the old fashioned way: brute force, and the long bar that raises the stock bottle jack.

The springs used for "Budget Lift" came from a 1993 Mitsubishi Montero, after its owner elected to replace them with OME springs, details of which can be found in 4x4Wire's review of the Old Man Emu Suspension System. Any 4 door 3.0L Montero from 91 to 95 should be a suitable candidate for rear spring "recycling", but it is advisable to check the spring rates in a manual to be sure they match the ones of the 93 used in this project.

The "new" spring on the left looks slightly lower sitting on the floor The spring perch should be cleaned of grit with a wire brush Remove the rubber bumper and install it on the new spring

After the old springs have been removed, clean all the grit off the spring perch using a wire brush. Also don't forget to remove the rubber bumper that sits on top of the old spring, and fit it onto the new one. Side by side on the garage floor, the two springs are the same height (partially owing to the coil spacers which had been previously used) but once installed, the heavier Montero's higher spring rate will lift the vehicle by several inches.

SWB (Short Wheel Base) coils vs LWB (long Wheel Base) coils vs OME 1" Lift Coils

Specifications SWB (89-90) LWB (92-95) Old Man Emu "910"
Wire Diameter 14.0 mm (.55") 14.2 - 15.8 mm
(0.56 - 0.62")
Outside Diameter 174.0 mm (6.7") 160.2 - 161.8 mm
(6.3 - 6.4")
Free Length 433.3 mm (17.1") 404.5 mm (15.9") 390-400 mm
Rate Type constant progressive progressive
Rate Spec 101 lb/in 151-218 lbs/in 150-260 lb/in

In looking at the specs of the OE springs versus the LWB coils, it is obvious that, though the free length is lower by 29 mm (1.2 inches), the 50% to over 100% progressively higher spring rate of the LWB's coils is going to provide lift, as well as a much stiffer ride, when installed in a 2 door. Specs for Old Man Emu's 910 series 1" lift coil for the 4 door are also provided, for comparison.

To install the newer springs, compress them with a spring compressor (if available), and then push them in place, top first, to seat the rubber bumper. A long crowbar aids in this process immensely. Once the springs are in place, raise the suspension to where the lower shock mounting holes line up, and bolt on the lower rear shock mounts (80-94 ft.lbs). Replace the rear wheels, let down the bumper jack, remove the jackstands and lower the jacks all the way to the ground. Your "budget lift" has been completed!

Pinch an Inch

The measured differences in height are tabulated below, but in essence, we gained about 51 - 64 mm, or 2 to 2 1/2 inches from the stock setup, depending where you measured. Though certainly not significant, this is enough to level the vehicle up after a torsion bar crank, and gives a little more clearance in the wheelwells for 31s or even 33s, which will help you realize even greater heights in your quest to reach the sky on a few dollars!

Offroad, "Project: Budget Lift!" benefitted from the extra clearance as we took it through its paces in deep snow. The higher spring rate of the 4 door Monty springs changed the ride home as well; instead of major porposing over every bump, the truck now rides straighter, though obviously much stiffer too.


Measurement Stock with 235's Stock with 31's "Budget Lift" with 31's
Ground Clearance 215 mm (8.5") 241 mm (9.5") 279 mm (11")
Overall Height 1850 mm (72.8") 1875 mm (73.8") 1918 mm (75.5")
Bumper Height (front) 480 mm (18.9") 508 mm (20") 560 mm (22")
Bumper Height (rear) 440 mm (17.3") 467 mm (18.4") 540mm (21.75")

insert comment
This little Uhaul can fit a lot of stuff!

Update: Having just completed a trip across Canada (over 7000 kms), I found the extra load-bearing offered by these coils to make a big difference when towing. My U-haul wieghed in around 4000lbs (admitteldy too much!), but with the 4door coils holding up the rear end, the sturck was still level and stable. I'd recommend this swap to anyone who is loking for a little more height and stability from their 2 door!

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