Removal of the Leaf Springs on a 2003 Ford F-150

The 2003 Ford F-150 has two rear leaf springs, one on each side of the rear axle. These springs contain special shackles on each end that secure them to the frame of the truck. The leaf springs are held to the rear axle using two u-bolts per side. These springs hold an advantage over coil springs in truck applications because they help to hold the rear axle in position, eliminating the need for a separate axle linkage. As time passes, these springs can wear out causing sagging and reduced performance. Some F-150 owners also choose to replace the springs with stiffer, aftermarket springs that allow for increased payload capacity.

Materials:

Floor jack
Jack stands
1/2-inch drive ratchet
1/2-inch drive socket set
24 mm 1/2-inch drive socket
1/2-inch torque wrench
Work light

Instructions:

1. Loosen the lug nuts using a 1/2-inch ratchet and a 19 or 21 mm socket, depending upon your specific truck. Raise the rear of the truck using an automotive jack and lower it down onto jack stands. Be sure that the jack stands are underneath the frame and not the rear axle. Placing the jack stands underneath the rear axle will compress the leaf springs making it difficult and dangerous to remove them. Remove the lug nuts and remove the wheels.

2. Remove the bolts holding the shocks to the rear axle using a 15 mm socket, 1/2-inch ratchet and a 15 mm box-end wrench. Place a floor jack under the rear differential and raise it so it’s barely touching the bottom of the differential to support the rear axle.

3. Remove the front and rear shackle bolts holding each leaf spring to the frame using a 24 mm socket, 1/2-inch ratchet and a 24 mm box-end wrench. Remove the 21 mm nuts on the U-bolts holding the springs to the rear axle using a 21 mm socket and a 1/2-inch ratchet. Remove the leaf springs from the truck and set them aside.

4. Position the new leaf springs so that the shackle bolt holes line up with the frame and reinstall the 24 mm shackle bolts. Torque the front shackle bolts to between 157 and 212 foot-pounds and the rear shackle bolts to between 73 and 97 foot-pounds using a 1/2-inch torque wrench.

5. Reinstall the u-bolts that secure the leaf springs to the rear axle and torque the u-bolt nuts to between 73 and 97 foot-pounds Reinstall the bolts holding the shocks to the rear axle and torque them to 60 Ft-lbs. Reinstall the wheels and torque the lug nuts. in a crisscross pattern, to 100 Ft-lbs for 19 mm lug nuts and 150 Ft for 21 mm lug nuts. Carefully lift the vehicle off of the jack stands using the jack and lower it down to the ground.

Tips:

If you have access to an air compressor and an impact gun, it can make this job much easier. However, this job can still be completed with hand tools; it will simply take longer and require a bit more effort.

Be sure that the vehicle is solidly supported by the jack stands before you begin working. Never attempt to work under or near a vehicle that is only supported by a jack.

Compressed leaf springs contain a large amount of dangerous stored energy. Make sure that the leaf springs are not compressed in any way by the jack or jack stands before you begin this process.

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Filed in: Automotive

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