Several years ago, PickupTrucks.com published an article about electronic stability control systems and the problems that aftermarket suspension, wheel and tire combinations can create.
As of the 2012 model year, all new vehicles sold in the U.S. had to have some form of ESC, which meant a pickup's computer sensor might not work as the manufacturer intended once aftermarket products were installed. Manufacturers spend a lot of money testing their trucks in order to meet federal safety requirements, so they have been quick to deny liability when certain aftermarket parts — like suspension lifts or bigger wheels and tires — are installed. Drastically changing the center of gravity has been a problem for truck customers who want to purchase the safest products possible and for suspension companies that want to make safe products.
In the past, truck makers have been protective of their software data because of the liability issues involved. Now, however, more aftermarket companies like Superlift Suspensions and Pro Comp USA are working around that obstacle. In fact, Superlift's latest 6-inch suspension lift for 2009-2013 Ford F-150s is certified to pass the government's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126 requirement (a 169-page document you can find on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website), which validates ESC functionality. It's the same standard that factory-made trucks must meet. This means that on modified pickups, the ESC system will work similarly to the way it did when the truck was stock and brand new.
But what does that mean for us? The simplest explanation is that for those who want a taller pickup with bigger wheels and tires will no longer be risking as many unknown variables (with a modified vehicle and higher center of gravity) as they were before.
Of note, Superlift just announced the first FMVSS 126-compliant 6-inch lift kit for the popular 4x4 Ford F-150 (2009-2013). The kit was certified with a maximum tire size of 35 x 12.50 inches, and we're told the entire suspension kit takes about eight hours for a qualified shop to install.
These types of lift-kit modifications are clearly not for everyone, but in certain parts of the country they can help vehicles and their occupants get to places that would be otherwise unreachable. We expect to see more aftermarket products like this — products that keep as much of the original safety engineering in these pickups as possible. And that's a good thing for all drivers.
For more information on the Superlift's computer testing, click here.
For more information on Superlift's 2009-2013 6-inch lift kit, click here.