Choosing the Right Torsion Key
Torsion suspension bars, which are common in trucks, bear the weight of the vehicle much like coil springs do in smaller vehicles. Torsion bars can be "leveled" or "dropped" to raise or lower the height of a vehicle. Truck owners prefer to do this themselves because torsion bars are easily adjustable, and because there is usually a need for an owner to compensate for heavier or lighter engines or loads. What makes this adjustment easy is a small lever at the end of the torsion bar: mounted perpendicular to the bar that is attached to a suspension arm is a simple mechanical part called the torsion key.
What to look for in a torsion key
Although a stock torsion bar key is available, it has a limited range to which you can raise or drop your ride height, and might also affect your ride if you plan to change tires. Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself before deciding to buy a certain brand:
- Can it provide additional clearance when I change to larger tires?
- Is it durable, and how long is its service life?
- Is it easy to install?
- How high or how low (usually in inches) can it raise or lower my vehicle?
A torsion key's effect in ride height
A torsion bar's main function is to keep the wheel assembly from shifting forward and backward when you are driving on a rough road. With a torsion key attached to a torsion bar, however, you should also be able to change your ride height easily. A word of warning, tough: the ride will get stiffer when you raise the front end of your vehicle higher. Aftermarket torsion bar keys-also called "green keys"-will help you with this. Torsion keys can also restore ride height, which may have changed due to worn torsion bars, to factory specifications.
How to Install Your New Torsion Key
Many different retailers produce torsion keys that will either level, lift, or drop the vehicle. Vehicle owners usually need to adjust this due to a heavier or a lighter load. Aftermarket torsion keys can help you achieve this without affecting ride quality. We can show you how to install a new torsion key to help you get the height you want for your car.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Tools that you'll need:
- Tape measure
- Jack stands
- Torsion bar puller
- 9/16-inch socket
Step 1: Using a tape measure, record your vehicle's height, starting bottom of the wheel well to the bottom of the rim. You will be able to use this later.
Step 2: Lift the vehicle using a jack and lower it onto the jack stands.
Step 3: There are two torsion bars-one is placed on the driver's side and one is on the passenger's side. Use the torsion bar puller to one of the torsion bars, making sure that the puller's tip touches the dimple on the stock torsion key.
Step 4: Tighten the torsion key puller using a 9/16-inch socket until the torsion bar key becomes loose enough and can be pulled off the torsion bar.
Step 5: Place your new torsion key into position. Make the key rotate upward by attaching the torsion key puller to the installed key and tightening down the puller.
Step 6: Below the tip of the torsion key is a frame where you can insert the new adjusting bolt and key Do this, slide the key keeper through the cut-out in the torsion bar frame support, and slide an adjuster bolt into the threads of the key keeper.
Step 7: Adjust the bolt using a 9/16-inch socket, and tighten it so that 1/4-inch of threading is visible through the frame.
Step 8: Perform steps 3 through 7 on the other torsion bar. Remove the jack stands.
Step 9: Refer to the original height measurement in Step 1 to check how much of an adjustment was made on both sides. Make sure that both sides are even, and readjust if necessary.
NOTE: When adjusting the ride height, you will notice that the front end will become stiffer. Take utmost care not to adjust it too much, and be careful not to rotate the stock key too far. It can bend the adjusting bolt and place the shock piston outside its recommended position.