Need improved my ride quality - Ford Excursion - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
Suspension & Steering Discuss OEM & aftermarket suspension, lifts, air ride suspension, shocks, steering components, etc.

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post #1 of 11 Old 09-12-2019, 06:12 AM Thread Starter
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Question Need improved my ride quality - Ford Excursion

Looking for advice/recommendations for improving the ride on my Ford Excursion. Just bought a 2002 Excursion with 120k miles that is lifted/blocked up about 6". Rides like crap – very stiff with a slight bit of instability on highway even when not towing. Sits way too high - hard to get in/out - especially for wife. Sags terribly towing 32' TT but surprisingly the sway is not too bad.

Even though it rides like crap I love the vehicle and want to invest a few bucks to set it up right for my needs. However, I don’t want to over-invest or over-upgrade a 17+ year old vehicle. I bought it knowing I’d want to lower it to 2" to 4" above stock and replace the shocks, linkages, ball joints and upgrading from 34" to 35" AT tires for off-road and looks.

Plans for the Excursion are to use it as our family camping, fishing, hunting and towing (boat and TT) vehicle. Planning cross-country tent camping and fishing trip in 2020. Will off-road for tent camping (without TT), fishing and hunting trips with lots of rocky, unpaved, single lane roads with occasion snow, ice, mud and hard bottom stream crossings. I will not be rock crawling, racing, jumping or mudding. No plans to tow 32' TT cross-country but I do tow TT up to 2000 miles roundtrip from the Florida Keys to the Appalachians. Don't tow the boat over a few hundred miles roundtrip.

For me, an improved ride (softer and more stable) on highway and in city is more important than towing performance because I’m towing less than 20% of the time.

I want the following:
- Ride – much improved (softer and more stable) on highway and in city
- Towing – level with no sag when vehicle is packed with family and gear
- Off-roading – level, stable, not too stiff with clearance when vehicle is packed with family and gear
- Automatic – auto leveling with remote
- Quality – durable components made in USA

I’ve done research and talked to a few off-road shops and everything seems to be leading me to an air suspension (helper?) system with upgraded shocks. I know ASBs and WDS will improve sway and sag when towing but neither will improve ride quality when not towing.

What’s been recommend are either a Kelderman system ($8000) or an Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 ($2900) system. From what I understand the Kelderman system is pretty much a replacement of the vehicle’s leaf suspension while Air Lift is more of a “helper” system that bolts onto the existing leaf suspension. Firestone has a system too that’s pretty much the same quality and price as Air Lift. I’m leaning Air Lift because it seems like Kelderman might be more of a commercial vehicle system and is overkill for what I intend to use the vehicle.

Kelderman:
Front: Kelderman 1999-2004 FORD SUPER DUTY/EXCURSION 4X4 2-STAGE FRONT AIR SUSPENSION LEVELING KIT
Rear: Kelderman 1999-2005 FORD EXCURSION 2-STAGE REAR AIR SUSPENSION
Controller: Kelderman MECHANICAL SELF-LEVELING AIR CONTROL SYSTEM (2-STAGE SUSPENSION)

Air Lift:
Front: Air Lift-88154-loadlifter-5000-ultimate-air-spring-kit
Rear: Air Lift-88340-loadlifter-5000-ultimate-air-spring-kit
Compressor control system: Air Lift-wireless air-leveling-compressor-control-system

My questions for the Forum:
• What are your experiences and thoughts on air suspension systems given my needs?
• Will the ride quality improve with an air bag system? I know it levels.
• Do I need both a front and rear air system for a quality ride?
• What’s your experiences and thoughts on Kelderman and Air Lift systems?
• Is Kelderman and $8000 overkill for what I want to do?
• Is my thinking off-base or is there anything I’m not thinking of?
• Shock reccomendations?
• Any Ford Excursion specific advice is welcome

Thanks in advance.

My Ex:
2002 Ford Excursion Limited 7.3L 4WD
Towing: 32ft Boat or 32' Travel Trailer
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post #2 of 11 Old 09-12-2019, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Even though it rides like crap I love the vehicle and want to invest a few bucks to set it up right for my needs.However, I don’t want to over-invest or over-upgrade a 17+ year old vehicle.


I want the following:
- Automatic – auto leveling with remote


What’s been recommend are either a Kelderman system ($8000)....

You realize you said all that in the same overall post.



Don't let people "oversell" your wants. Did you ask them to give you a reference of their work installing a Kelderman kit? Would they put you in touch with a past/current customer so you can take a ride so you can judge for yourself the ride quality??


- Ride – much improved (softer and more stable) on highway and in city>>> Not impossible with good leaf springs and shocks, but might not be a Cadillac ride.
- Towing – level with no sag when vehicle is packed with family and gear>>> Air bags can help with that pretty easy and not cost $8k.
- Off-roading – level, stable, not too stiff with clearance when vehicle is packed with family and gear>>> Quality leafs all around with awesome shocks can do that.
- Automatic – auto leveling with remote>>> They will see you coming....Please hand over your checkbook.
- Quality – durable components made in USA>>> Not impossible but you never know unless you ask.



Best suggestion: Find other Ex owners in your area, or as close as possible, maybe they have a modded ride you can talk about and get a test ride.



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post #3 of 11 Old 09-12-2019, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, its very helpful and has me thinking. I'm going to look into the possibility of doing this in stages where:

Stage 1: Replace leafs, shocks, linkages, ball joints and fittings with quality components. Drive it for a while to see how it rides.
Stage 2: Do airbags if I feel it still needs it. Probably will want rear bags for towing.

As long as I can add air bags without wasting $'s spent on newly installed leafs, shocks, etc. this sounds like a good approach.

BTW, I have driven a F450 4WD with a Kelderman setup for gooseneck towing and it was a really sweet ride. The guy who owns it does a lot of towing for his business so he can justify the expense.

Thanks
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-12-2019, 07:33 PM
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First off what is your budget?

Getting involved with a proper air suspension is going to be a $20K+ setup not $8K out the door. The parts alone for a front & rear just from Kelderman will be $8K then you're going to still need all the maintenance items that need to be done on a 2002 lifted truck such as ball joints, tie rods, axle seals, steering box, power steering pump, new wheels, new tires and the list goes on if you want a truck that will drive straight doing 80mph loaded. Oh did I mention the labor cost?

I don't like air bags ontop of leaf spring setups as you were looking into. They ride like **** and a proper overload leaf spring setup with proper spring rate won't sag when loaded and will ride 100x better.

It doesn't surprise me your truck rides like ***. It has a stacked block with an add-a-leaf that was done improperly on the rear. An add-a-leaf typically shouldn't be shoved in between your block and factory springs. Most require you to take the pin out of your springs and put the new leaf inbetween your existing leafs. Your shocks also seem to be budget. Your wheels are also ebay specials. The previous owner just wanted a lifted truck appearance without paying for it. I hope the money was better spent on motor maintenance.

But its ok we're here to help you build an awesome truck!

Knowing your budget would really help in recommending what type of setup to go with. Don't feel bad about wanting to spend stupid money on a 17 y/o truck. I just restored my 02 and spent nearly what a new truck costs.

Do you have plans for motor work, interior, cosmetics, etc?

2002 Ford F350-Lariat-CrewCab-LongBed-7.3L PowerStroke Intercooled Turbo Diesel!
2.5 PMF lift on 325/60r20 Nitto M/T's
Enough Stuff To Pull Yours!


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post #5 of 11 Old 09-13-2019, 03:22 AM
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I recently purchased a used Excursion myself. There is plenty of reading to do in reference to the ride, stability and towing. A lot of what I've read has pushed people to swap to F250 and 350 springs. It will be lower than what you currently have, but a bit taller than a stock Excursion. Mine is leveled in the front with a leveling spring pack. I'm going to try and squeeze 35's on it as it sits. I'm in the process of replacing all the bump stops, spring stubbers in the rear and all the sway bar bushings and stock steering damper. If that doesn't get me the result I'm after, I'll look closer at F250/ F350 springs or just call Deaver and get them to build me what I want. It already has Biltein shocks on it, so that's done. I have Deaver springs on an F350, 8" lift and they are better than great. So I may end up there eventually. Towing, depending on the spring set up. you may want an air bag assist system. Precision metal fab makes rear blocks to accommodate it all...and that would get rid of your stacked blocks in the rear.
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post #6 of 11 Old 09-13-2019, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you to all for the great information.

Yes I want to do a lot of upgrades but I’m resisting the urge - trying to be smart. Bought this to haul the family and our gear so the first priority is getting the ride right. If I can get the ride right then I’ll keep it for a long time and do more upgrades.

Sounds like the first thing to do is to replace the hacked suspension thats on it with new leaf springs, bump stops, stubbers, bushings, etc and new shocks. If it sags when towing I'll add rear air spring helpers to level the vehicle.

This ought to save me a few bucks I can use for other upgrades.


My Ex:
2002 Ford Excursion Limited 7.3L 4WD
Towing: 32ft Boat or 32' Travel Trailer
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post #7 of 11 Old 09-13-2019, 03:04 PM
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This is how your suspension should look factory in the rear.



Axle - block - spring pack - ubolt top plate: to help with towing you can add parts 3,4 & 10 which are overloads.

You can go with factory springs or for increased towing capacity have a local truck shop fab you up springs with an increased spring rate or order online from a retailer like Dever or Atlas. This will eliminate the need for airbags.

To start I would run a single block setup from PMF (Precision Metal Fabrication, on Google) and keep your factory springs and remove the factory block, lift block and add-a-leaf. To get a proper block height measure your factory block + the lift block + the add-a-leaf. Your factory block should be 2" the lift block 4" and the add-a-lead 1" for a 7" block that would have the truck sit at the same height. Decrease block height by how much lower you want the rear to sit. To run 35's on an Ex you should be at a 4" lift height to keep it simple. So the most I would lower the rear of the truck by is 3" otherwise a 4" block. If you measure you'll get a proper height. PMF does 1/2" increments. I'd also run PMF ubolts and ubolt plate to keep it simple. You will now need to change your rear sway bar links if you have a rear swaybar but the pic seems as you don't, if you do look for ones for a 4" lift either by PMF or else where. Your shocks also need to be changed for a 4" lift height. I would go with FOX 2.0's or Bilstien or BDS.

For the front.

I would buy 4" lift springs from BDS or Atlas with new ubolts. Since this is a 6" lift you most likely have a track bar relocation bracket and pitman arm. These will only work with a 6" lift. I would get a factory track bar bracket and a pitman arm from BDS for a 4" lift. Then you'll need an adjustable track bar to go with the factory track bar bracket. PMF makes a nice heavy duty one for stock to 4.5" lift. Front swaybar links will need to be changed for a 4" lift height as well as shocks and bumpstops. Brake lines might also need to be shortened. Ditch the budget special single steering stabilizer shock in the front for a PMF dual shock kit. The way it bolts is superior to all and will help keep the truck straight. You can pair it with their matching diff cover if you want some cheap bling.

I would also do maintenance items like balljoints and tie rod ends. A built steering box from Red Head steering boxes will also be beneficial.

Wheels and tires are also critical for a good ride. This is really up to you but i'd want quality! if it was my family while towing heavy. You can go as small as a 16x8 or up to a 20x10. For tires in a 35x12.5 i'd go with Nitto ridgegrapplers, exograpplers, Toyo RT, or Goodyears.

All of this should get you a killer ride and be in it for less then just the kelderman parts. Things like traction bars, overload springs, airbags, etc can be added later on to tweak towing capabilities.

If you don't want to piece together things, Carli makes a killer Excursion kit that sits at 4.5"s and comes with basically everything you'd need. Minus maintenance items and wheels/tires.
https://carlisuspension.com/product/...rformance-2-5/

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2.5 PMF lift on 325/60r20 Nitto M/T's
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post #8 of 11 Old 09-17-2019, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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Many thanks for the detailed information and guidance. I've completely changed my approach and will be going with new springs, shocks, linages, joints and other components. I'm going to load up the Ex, hookup the boat and TT to see how it sits before deciding on air bags; look forward to sharing before and after pics.

As far as tires I'm looking for AT tires wirh a smooth, quiet ride, good mileage and cool look. I know smooth, quiet and good mileage contradicts with cool looking so need to strike a balance. I like the look of 20 x 35s but for my taste steering performance on tires wider than 12.5 is too grabby for the highway and I'm not into the look of tires protruding beyond the factory fender flares. Have 17 x 35 x 12.5 MT Bajas on my lifted Rubicon but thats too aggressive for my Ex. I'm thinking tire width closer to 10 than 12.5.
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-17-2019, 12:52 PM
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18" wheels/tires are a great choice as well.



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post #10 of 11 Old 09-17-2019, 06:49 PM
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Pmf bracket with 11-16 rear leafs. Best of both worlds and not too bad on the wallet
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