ARB Old Man Emu Nitrocharger Lift Kit Installation – Step-by-Step Guide For The 6th Gen Badlands Ford Bronco
There are a lot of lift kit options available for the 6th Gen Bronco, but today, we’re installing the OME (Old Man Emu) 2021-2023 (current) shocks and a complete lift kit from ARB. The OME Nitrochargers are one of the most popular shocks on the market next to Bilstein – which comes stock on the Bronco. If you asked a seasoned off-road veteran what the best entry-level off-road shock is, they would answer with Bilstein and OME – so you can’t go wrong with either. I would argue that the ARB OME Nitrochargers are among the best “bang for your buck” suspension kits on the market.
OME offers light, medium, and heavy kit options. The more weight you add, the higher the spring rate you should buy. For our Badlands non-sasquatch, we decided to install the Medium Load Lift Kit. This lift kit will provide up to 3″ (.75″ for the sasquatch package) of additional lift.
If you’re looking to gain the full 3″ of lift, or control driver/passenger side lean issues, ARB provides shims for the front and rear. In order to get the most lift possible from this kit, you should install all the shims on both the front and rear coilovers.
The only downside to this kit is that you have to swap the top hats from the factory coilovers to the new coilovers. Unless you have a quality wall-mounted spring compressor, I wouldn’t recommend installing this kit on your own. I’ve used hand-held spring compressors in the past and although they work, they’re just sketchy. I’ll link a set of hand-held spring compressors below but you should call a few local shops and see what it takes to have them professionally swapped.
Find it online:
- ARB OME Medium Load Lift Kit: Check Price
Our friends at Mudify.com have built a helpful product page that lets you visualize a 2″ or 3″ kit on a Bronco in addition to common overland parts added and weight distribution recommendations. Head over to their ARB/OME product page in order to customize your kit and see which option works best for your specific build.
Tools and Materials
- Wall-mounted spring compressor (preferred)
- Hand Held spring compressors (optional)
- Pro Eagle Jack
- Jack Stands (6-Ton or Larger)
- Breaker Bar
- 7mm – 30mm open-end wrenches
- 15mm – 24mm sockets
- 3/8″ – 1/2″ wrenches with extensions
- Impact Driver
- Drill Driver
- Plastic Clip Removal tools
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Large Flat Head Screwdriver
- Needle nose pliers
- Bent Needle nose pliers
For the Medium kit, ARB provides the following parts listed below. However, for our installation, we’re not going to run the front sway bar. In order to gain the full 3″ offered by this kit, we’re going to install both trim packer fitting kits on the front and rear coilovers. The rest of the installation will be pretty straightforward.
- Front Coil Springs 3199
- Front Nitrocharger Strut 90047
- Rear Coil Springs 3206
- Rear Nitrocharger Strut 90048
- Front Sway Bar (mandatory fit) OMESTAB10
- Trim Packer Fitting Kit FK110 (Included- optional installation for fine-tuning ride heights)
- Trim Packer Fitting Kit FK111 (Included- optional installation for fine-tuning ride heights)
- Panhard Relocation Kit FK109
Shock Length and Stroke
- Front 22.638 / 14.961 7.68”
- Rear 27.008 / 16.732 10.276”
Swapping Top Hats
For swapping the top hats, we took our factory coilovers down to Stellar Built in Sacramento, CA. Stellar Built specializes in a wide variety of off-road and overland services for Toyota, Jeep, and Bronco applications. Their team is incredibly knowledgeable in all aspects of suspension work, including both IFS and straight axle applications. They provide suspension installations, 4wd service, custom fabrication services, and much more.
Now is also a good time to dismount your factory boots and bump stops in order to reuse them on your Nitrocharger shocks.
Step 1. Jack Up Truck & Set Jack Stands
Crack your lug nuts, and then jack up the Bronco and remove the lug nuts completely. Then remove your tires, set them under your frame rail (just in case), and then set your 6-ton jack stands in place under the frame rail near the body mounts.
Step 2. Remove All Skid Plates
With your driver and passenger side tires and jack stands in place, proceed to your skid plates. Remove all the skid plates all the way back to the sway bar.
Step 3. Disconnect Sway Bar from Frame
Loosen the bolts that connect the sway bar to the frame but do not remove them yet.
Step 4. Disconnect Sway Bar from LCA
Remove the sway bar end link bolt from underneath the lower control arms.
Step 5. Remove Sway Bar Links from LCA
Pull out the sway bar end link.
Step 6. Disconnect the Electrical & Remove Sway Bar
Disconnect all the electrical connectors and plastic clips holding the harness in place on both the driver and passenger sides.
You don’t technically need to remove your sway bar in order to drop your shocks but it does make the removal of the LCA bolts easier.
In order to remove the sway bar, balance the center portion of the hydraulic assembly on a jack and gently drop it down and then slide it out. Set the sway bar to the side as you will reinstall after your new coilovers are installed.
Step 7. Loosen Lower Shock Mounts
Remove the bottom two bolts holding the coilovers in place.
Step 8. Loosen Cam Bolts & Nuts
Removing the cam bolts is a bit challenging because they’re so tight. If you have a breaker bar, you will need it. Also, try to avoid using an impact as you risk stripping out the cam bolts. Ask me how I know.
If you happen to strip a cam bolt, here is a helpful reference: Genuine Ford Lower Control Arm Adjust Bolt W720555-S439
Step 9. Punch Out Cam Bolts
Once the cam bolt nut has been loosened, you can punch out the cam bolts.
Step 10. Loosen & Remove top Coilover Bolts
Remove the three bolts on the shock tower. The two in the front can be reached with a 15mm open end wrench.
Step 11. Remove Rear Shock Bolt
The bolt in the back can be reached with a deep 15mm socket and then a shallow socket after the nut starts to come up.
Step 12. Remove Coilovers
After the bolts have been removed, and the lower control arms are dropped out, you can wiggle your coilovers out. Set them to the side as you will reuse the top hats from each coilover.
Step 13. Getting Started on the Rear
Now we can remove the rear coilovers. Just like the front, remove your tires and set your jack stands in place.
Step 14. Remove all Phillips Push Clips
Remove the fender liners by removing all the phillips push clips. There are quite a few of them.
Step 15. Center Plastic Tabs
On the passenger side there is one of these bolts and plastic nuts, on the driver side there are two.
Step 16. Small 7mm Bolts
In addition to the plastic push tabs, there are three 7mm bolts that need to be removed before the fender liners can be fully removed.
Step 17. Remove Trac Bar Bolt
Remove the trac bar bolt to make room for the new trac bar relocation bracket.
Step 18. Remove Lower Coilover Bolts
The rear coilovers require a 30mm wrench on the outside and a 24mm wrench on the inside.
Step 19. Remove Top Coilover Bolts
The rear coilovers require a 15mm open end wrench on all nuts.
Step 20. Remove Coilover
After the top nuts are removed, you can pull out your coilovers.
Now that all your factory coilovers are off, you can now move to your coil spring compressor.
Step 21. Compress Factory Coils
Huge shout out to Stellar Built in Sacramento, CA. They were kind enough to let us use their coil spring compressor for compressing and assembling each coilover. If you need any assistance with your top hats, reach out to a local off-road shop with the right tools. If you reach out to Stellar Built, they will provide this service for you. Just give them a call before you stop by.
Step 22. Remove Top Hats
If you plan on adding shims, now is the time. We decided to add two shims per corner because of the added weight going on soon.
Step 23. Shim Placement
For the front coilovers, the shims are placed between the isolator and the top hat.
For the rear coilovers, the shims are placed on top of the top hat – in between the shock tower and top hat.
Step 24. Assemble New Spring and Strut
Once your top hats are configured, assemble your new coilovers.
VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure the position of your bottom mount points line up with the top hat bolts. The top hat bolts and bottom mounting points are designed to be mounted one way. First reference your factory coilovers, both front, and rear, and make a note of how the bottom mounting points sit in relation to the top hat bolts. Make sure your new struts and top hats are mounted in the exact same position for reinstallation.
Step 25. Shock Tower Bolts
Now that the coilovers are assembled, install them on the Bronco.
Start by loosely threading in the shock tower bolts first.
Step 26. Mount Lower Shock Bolts on LCA
Now you can loosely thread the lower shock bolts to the lower control arms (LCA).
Step 27. Fit LCA Into Mounts
The passenger side LCA lifted up into place easily while the driver side was a bit more challenging. On the driver’s side, I used the Pro-Eagle Jack, a 2×6, and some thick cardboard to get the LCA pivot into place. It was a fairly simple process but it did take maneuvering.
Step 28. Track Bar Relocation Bracket
ARB provides a track bar, also known as a “panhard rod” bracket, and a brake line relocation bracket.
Step 29. Brake Caliper Bolt
Start by removing all three bolts; the track bar, brake line, and brake caliper. Then place your bracket over the factory mount and loosely thread on the brake caliper bolt (circled).
Step 30. Bottom Track Bar Bolt
Install the factory track bar bolt through the bottom hole in the bracket and through the provided spacer.
Step 31. Relocate Brake Line
Relocate the brake line with the provided bracket and position the new bolt through the backside facing up.
Step 32. Top Track Bar Bolt
Tighten everything down.
NOTE: Do not torque bolts until all four Bronco tires are back on the ground.
Torque everything to spec:
- OE Track Bar Bolt: 158 ft. lbs
- ARB Track Bar Bolt: 158 ft. lbs
- Brake Caliper Bolt: 110 ft. lbs
Step 33. Upper Rear Shock Bolts
Loosley thread on all three rear shock top bolts.
Step 34. Lower Rear Shock Bolts
Punch the bottom shock bolt through and thread on the nut.
Step 35. Insert Fender Liner
Re-position your factory fender liners and proceed with all your factory clip fasteners or aftermarket fasteners. I am not personally a fan of the Ford Phillips head clips. Instead, I used brand new 1/4″ clip fasteners (click here for a photo). They’re faster, easier, and don’t strip like the factory ones.
Step 36. Reinstall Electronic Sway Bar
To reinstall the electronic sway bar, simply place it on a jack and slide it directly underneath the Bronco.
Step 37. Connect Sway Bar to LCA
After aligning the sway bar with the mounting points on the frame, I jacked it up into place, positioned the sway bar links into the LCA, and loosely threaded on the link nut.
Step 38. Connect Sway Bar To Frame
After the sway bar links were set, I jacked it up into its final position and bolted the OE bolts in place.
Step 39. Install Bronco Skid Plates
Jack up all the skid plates into place and then bolt them down.
2021+ FORD BRONCO Torque Specs: Ft. Lbs.
- Upper Ball Joint – 46
- Lower Ball Joint – 85
- Upper Control Arm Inner Bolts – 122
- Lower Control Am Inner Bolts – 210
- Tie Rod End Nut – 46
- Upper Endlink Nut – 111
- Lower Endink Nut – 111
- Front Strut Top Mount Bolts – 41
- Front Lower Shock Bolts – 66
- Axle Nut – 221
- Rear Lower Control Arm Bolts – 159
- Rear Upper Shock Nuts – 41
- Rear Lower Shock Bolt – 350
First of all, the on-road experience is almost on par with the factory Bilsteins. The OMEs offer an incredibly smooth ride, and just as OME states, the compression, and rebound feel identical to the Bilsteins. There is, however, a noticeable increase in body roll and sway around corners at speed. An increase in nose dive is also noticeable, however, not as much as the body roll. With the 37″ tires, the gearing is now completely off and it’s VERY noticeable. The shift points are dramatically late and obnoxiously slow. The 4.46 gears need to be re-geared FOR SURE to something much lower; 5.13 or 5.38 – not sure which option I will go with yet. I am leaning on the 5.38s as I will likely push for a larger tire after these 37s.
I am still amazed at what the Bronco can do off-road, and this suspension takes it to a new level. The shock stroke (Front 7.68” and rear 10.276”) in addition to our 37s proves to provide a very capable rig in the rocks when travel is needed. I was able to traverse through 2-3′ boulder fields without teetering once, and this was through sections where my belly skids were sliding over rocks, shock skids slamming down, and sliders connected a few times as well. I’ll have some b-roll shots on IG (@trail_bronco) and a follow-up review post coming soon.
I’ve run well over 7 suspension systems in the past on many Toyota builds. I’ve installed and wheeled everything from Bilsteins and Nitrochargers to the OME BP-51s all the way up to 8″ stroke long travel FOX 2.5 Race series coilovers paired with 8″ stroke secondaries and hydro bumps.
After my past experience, I would argue that the ARB/OME Nitrochargers are some of the most affordable, yet highest quality shocks you can buy for the money. Sure, KING and Fox’s shocks are top tiers, however many people get confused about their intended application. After running race series Fox shocks on my long-travel Tacoma build, I will be the first to tell you that KING and Fox race shocks are overkill for most builds.
If you’re looking for a dependable suspension system, it doesn’t get any more dependable than an Australian design, built, and tested shock. Off-Roading in the “bush” is a national pastime for Australians. They literally beat the piss out of their products before they bring them to market. If you want a dependable shock, that you can hammer on and doesn’t need a rebuild like the top performance race shock brands – the Nitrochargers are a great option.
All that said, these Nitrochargers arent built to hit whoops at 50mph in the desert for hours. If you want to push your Bronco hard and fast – these shocks aren’t for you. If your goal is a go-fast build then you need 2.5″ race shocks with remote reservoirs for added heat dissipation. If you want to wheel moderate to advanced trails at slow speeds (general overland and rock crawling use) then these shocks are for you.
If you guys have any questions, let me know. Happy to answer any comments below.
Why did you not install bump stops and dust boots on struts?
The Nitrochargers don’t come with dust boots on the Bronco kit. Weird because they come equipped on almost all other model lines; Tacoma, 4Runner, etc. For bump stops, we have some SumoSprings on order. Those should be here in the next week or so.