To the surprise of no one, Ford Transits aren’t really designed for off roading and don’t have the best ground clearance. They are built in a different way than the old body on frame Ford Econolines and need some modifications to tackle anything but smooth dirt roads.
Look under any Ford Transit and you’ll quickly see that these vans were really designed for running around town on paved roads. The rear shock mounts sit just 6 inches above the ground and the differential is only slightly higher at 7 inches of clearance. For reference, a stock Subaru Outback has 8.7 inches of clearance.
Aside from the parts that hang down, vans suffer from being long and having a hard time when going over short steep hills. Vans have a higher chance of grounding out in the middle and also bottoming the back end in these situations. An overall lift is the only way to reduce your chances of bottoming out. This is even more of an issue for the extended-length Transit that has a long overhang behind the rear wheel.
Here are the the 3 best options for lifting Ford Transits
- Front 1" lift coil springs
- Front camber correction bracket
- Front sway bar relocation brackets
- 2" rear lift block
- 2" rear bump stop spacer
- All necessary hardware
- Front strut spacers - Aluminum
- Cut and welded front control arms for camber correction
- Rear 2" lift blocks - Solid Aluminum
- Longer U-bolts
- Fully Fabricated Lower Control Arms
- 2-Piece 6061 Billet Coil Lift/Camber Correction Spacers
We prefer the Van Compass kit. Their kit provides 1/2" more lift and corrects the front geometry the best out of all 3. The Van Compass kit has a few more steps to installation and does cost a bit more. However, you get more for your money and a proper method for lifting your van that does not cause additional stress on ware items. The Van Compass kit is also the only one we can confirm has an option for AWD Transits. If you go with another kit, we recommend reaching out to the manufacturer about AWD options.
The Foes kit puts the front control arms at an angle when the lift is installed. They only provide a strut spacer to create the lift instead of spacing the entire suspension assembly. The modified front lower control arms provided are actually made by cutting the end of the control arm and welding it in a new location to fix the camber issue they create with just a strut spacer installed. This can create issues down the road and eventually wear out bushings which require replacing the entire assembly.
The Foes kit also does not include rear bump stop extensions. Without these, larger tires can hit the sheet metal of the van.
The WeldTec kit takes a similar approach to Foes but instead of a modified control arm, they designed their own. This is a better approach and the price reflects that. The big thing missing from their kit is anything that lifts the rear end. With the Van Compass and Foes kits you at least get spacer blocks so the lift is even front to back.
Regardless of the kit, we also recommend buying a set of high clearance shock brackets that move your rear shocks up 2". This is the lowest hanging component on the van and should be addressed.
If you’re going to lift your van, upgrading your suspension components is a good ideas as well. The added weight of a fully converted camper van has impacts on ride quality and handling. Upgrading your shocks and springs will ensure your van handles properly with the added weight.
There you have it! If you plan on leaving the pavement in your Ford Transit we absolutely recommend installing a basic lift. A suspension lift combined with larger tires will ensure you don’t damage the underside of your vehicle or get stuck on the trail.