Front End Upgrade Kit: How To Make Chevrolet/GMC Front End’s Last

There are a few guarantees in life. One of those guarantees is that stock front end components on GM trucks will fail. Okay, okay that may be a little harsh, but you know what I mean. The front of these trucks are unlike any other and they see their fair share of problems. These problem areas are known and companies like BD Diesel Performance want to put an end to them.

Simply put, the steering linkage and tie rods on these trucks are made of weak material. For even a stock application, they are at risk. When you start adding power, strain and wear is inevitable. You’re going to have a failure at some point. With powerful engines, larger wheels and tires, and other suspension upgrades, these steering system components have more stress placed on them than intended coming out of the factory.

When you put that big lift kit on or put those 12-inch wide (or more) wheels on the truck, the rest of the foundation needs to be bolstered alongside it. Although that won’t deter you from doing it anyway, BD now offers an upgrade kit that will fix all of these issues and allow you to modify as you wish and keep on going. Common failures include loose steering, front wheels toe-in under load while in four-wheel drive, and broken tie rods.

If you have performance upgrades in your truck, you’ve lifted it, or do serious towing, you will want to upgrade your steering kit before doing catastrophic damage to your truck. You’re probably wondering what is included in this “upgrade kit”.We spoke with Paul Thiessen, BD’s Marketing Manager, and found out that there is a whole swath of parts included.

DA – Why did BD want to offer this type of kit? See a lot of this issue? 

PT- GM’s parallelogram steering has proven to be too weak for big tires, lift kits, and additional power. The first issue is the tie rods bend when overloaded, and the inner ball joint wears quickly due to load. The second issue is the center link is not designed for this extra load either. Combined with repeated tie rod / pitman / idler replacement can become worn out. The larger tie rods are stronger, with larger ball joints to withstand extra load and wear, and the upgraded USA forged center link creates a strong base for these tie rods. Check out the product videos on our youtube page, as well as our tie rod testing video.

DA- Do you anticipate this being a big seller with so many issues?

PT- Indeed! There has been a big historical demand for GM steering parts, and we’ve had great feedback on the product thus far! BD sees these opportunities to create affordable and more durable parts for GM truck owners.

Five Reasons This Kit Solves The Problem According To BD Diesel

#1- The BD Diesel tie-rod features a 1.5X larger main shaft. At the center of these parts, this is where they will commonly fail. You’ve seen the trucks break these and toe inward real bad. This makes the truck basically unsteerable. With the larger construction, you’re able to run a larger tire, more power, and not worry about this sort of failure.

#2- BD’s inner tie-rod ball joint is 1.5X larger than OEM. When it comes to these joints on the tie-rods, the OEM’s fail in this area. BD, like the shaft size, has constructed this ball stud size to be 1.5x larger. This reduces the stress on the bearing inevitably lasting longer. Also, these joints are greaseable.

#3- BD’s center link is 30-percent stronger than OEM. This I-beam construction makes these a great upgrade over OEM center link’s because of their weak points. The known weak points are on the taper mounts where the pitman arm and the idler mount meet. Commonly you will see OEM links turn oblong or become wobbly after many miles.

#4- BD’s front end upgrade kit retains factory geometry. There are upgrades out there for center links but they don’t retain the factory geometry. While they are stronger, you’re losing some of your steering distance. With BD’s kit, you’re retaining the same form and gaining durability.

#5- BD’s front end upgrade is economic. The parts in this kit are 100-percent necessary. The OEM parts on your truck will fail and you will need to replace them eventually. The total package is an economic upgrade for worn out steering and will increase the durability, longevity, and dependability of your truck while saving money by preventing catastrophic repairs.

Let’s Fix This Silverado

It’s been a while since we’ve made it down to Scheeter Auto & Diesel in Scott City, Missouri. It’s here that we’re going to be testing out BD’s latest kit on Scheeter Auto’s shop truck. Brennan Scheeter, the owner, uses this truck every day and has plans to play with it on the sled pulling track and possibly drag race it. With that being said, the factory parts it has were not going to live.

This truck features custom tuning, an aftermarket turbo, an upgraded BD Venom Lift Pump system, and a few extra add-on’s. With plans to crank up the power even more, what better time to upgrade the front end than right now, right? Excited, I tore into this box and couldn’t wait to see how the new upgrade kit looked.

As expected, each part looked great. Not a single flaw. The coatings were clean and durable. The parts themselves were much beefier when sat next to the factory take-offs.

To begin, we tore all of the old parts out and we started with the tie rods. With the old, worn tie rods out, we placed them on the floor next to the new ones to compare and you can see a huge difference in appearance. With 1.5x larger parts advertised, you can physically see the difference and they look to easily handle whatever abuse you’re planning on putting them through.

Just before we put the new tie rods in the truck, we put the supplied grease inserts into them. A big sell on these tie rods is the fact that they are greaseable. Most aftermarket parts don’t offer this option and for that, they will wear faster. Get them greased up and hit the road.

Moving on, we started to remove the factory sway bar end links. We struggled and struggled to get them out and finally said forget it. Out came the sawzall and the old ones were out. Once again you can see the difference between the two parts. The new links are much sturdier and feel as if they are constructed a lot tougher than OEM. Also, to accommodate those of you who are looking at lift kits, these are one inch longer.

Installing these were a breeze as you're only lining up the studs and tightening up the provided hardware. Once they were cinched down, they are good to go.

Lastly, the center link needed to be installed. The old one was finagled around inside the front end erector set and removed. Once out, we put the old part next to the new one. Like the other upgraded parts, the construction is much bigger but still retains the factory shape. Like mentioned earlier, most replacements that are stronger force you to sacrifice some of the steering capabilities but with these, you still have a full turn worth of the wheel.

  • Forged I-Beam Center Link- The component that links the steering gear box to the pitman arm
  • Heavy Duty Tie Rods- Ties your vehicle’s steering rack to the steering arm
  • Heavy Duty Sway Bar End Links- The sway bar link maintains the camber angle of the inner wheels to control motion

“This truck was in dire need of an upgrade. The parts on here, as expected, were starting to wear and I was really hoping to find a full package deal that would take care of things,” Scheeter said. “Luckily, this BD kit really saved the day. I’ve taken care of all the issues at once. For this affordable price, it can’t really be beaten. I love that this center link stays within the same OEM shape and allows me to keep all of the steering. The parts look beefier and I look forward to running them.”

For more information about BD Diesel Performance and their parts list, head on over to their website here. For more part reviews, installs, truck features, and event coverage stay tuned right here at Diesel Army. If you’re looking to upgrade a GM front end, say no more. This kit is something you should seriously consider if you’re upgrading the power and tire profile of your truck. Making sure the foundation can keep up with these upgrades is critical to the success of your build vision. 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds, as well as sled pulling competitions.
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