Towing with an off-road Ram
New guy here with what may prove to be some rather odd questions. Hopefully not THAT odd.
I'm getting ready to retire in a couple of years, and I'm in the "research and planning stage" for my escape vehicle.
I want to acquire a used (probably 2000 - 2005) 2500 Ram 4X4 that will be set up to both tow a small (16 - 20 foot) Travel Trailer and be a serious Off-Road machine. The plan is to use the TT as my base camp and then use the Ram for day trips and/or overnight trips deep into the back country for my photography.
I want to winter in the southwestern deserts and summer in Wyoming & Montana and pretty much get everywhere in between. Probably at least one trip up the Alaska Highway and into the Yukon, etc.
I know that with the right options, the Ram is a great tow vehicle, and with the right mods, it can be a great off-roader. I suspect, though, that a truck that has been optimized for towing will be less than optimal off-road, and one that has been optimized for off-road will be a less-than-optimal tow vehicle. So probably a few compromises will be in order.
So, first off, if anybody here is towing with an off-road modified Ram, I'd love to hear exactly what you did and how it's all working out for you.
For my own thinking, so far, I'm thinking either no lift at all, or a very minimal 2" lift, say front coil spacers and rear add-a-leafs. I'm thinking higher lifts would NOT be a good thing on a tow vehicle. (A "death-wobble" while coming down a long moutain grade pulling a trailer . . . shudder!)
I should be able to fit 33" wheels with no lift and probably 35"s with the two inch lift. Dick Cepek speciffically mentions that all three of their models - the Radial FC II, the Mud Country, and the Crusher - work well as towing tires.
Anyone here running any of them, and if so, how are they working out for you?
Any other tire recomendations for good off-road tires that have also proven to be good highway tires for a tow vehicle?
Beyond that, I'm thinking an appropriate front bumper and winch, and at least one ARB locker in the rear, if not a matched pair of them front and rear. Oh, and I'm thinking 4.10s with 33" wheels or 4.56s with 35"s.
Comments on any of that?
Finally, I'm toying with the idea of swapping out the stock transfer case for a rebuilt Jeep SelecTrak, in order to get the full-time on road 4 wheel drive option. In theory, it should be fairly simple swap. Has anyone here done it to their Dodge, and if so, how is it working out for you? Any problems to report?
Well, that's all I can think of, now. I appreciate any and all responses I get. Thanks.
Welcome to the Z, John! Sounds like you have travel plans! :D
Let me see if I can't help some.
I tow with a lifted (4") Ram on 35's. I always try to go with a load rated Class D or Class E tire. With your load, a Class D tire should be more than sufficient.
Since the rear suspension on the generation Ram you are considering will be a live axle with leaf springs, your lift there will be a set of blocks between the leafs and the axle tube with extended length U bolts. One option is a good set of air bags at the back to level the load. You could even use air bags vs. blocks to raise the rear.
You will need a drop hitch so that when you hook up the trailer it will be level vs. running downhill, front to back. I just measured my trailer hitch height with the trailer levelled, then measured to the center of my hitch receiver, then took the difference between the two. That is how far the ball top had to be below the center of the receiver tube.
Shudder should not be a problem as long as your truck remains level while towing. I have no problems with that condition because the loads I tow don't compress the suspension enough in the back to raise the front end much. Again, levelling the trailer on the hitch and possibly using air bags at the rear to level the truck should eliminate that problem.
On the tires, look for the proper load rated tire. Here's some links to those load ratings for your info. In the second link, look at the Load Index info.
Any good tire shop can hook you up with the right tires as long as they know some basic info on the weight of your truck, the weight of your load and the tongue weight you will be towing.
As far as tires, I have towed heavy loads before (5'vr) and I got really good service from the Toyo M/T and A/T tires.
The differential gear sets you are discussing seem a bit high, numerically, for what you are going to be doing with the truck. You do need gears higher than 3.55's but a 4.56 is a bit extreme unless you plan on towing very steep grades off-road. I'd suggest no more than 4.10's and I believe that a 3.92 set front and rear will do very well. You do have to tow on the road and really high gears will kill your mileage with little additional benefit.
I'd strongly suggest you move up to a HEMI in a 3/4 ton or even find a clean used diesel Ram, especially one with a 5.9L 24 valve Cummins. They are tow monsters!
My only comment is to pass on the Jeep transmission. They were not built for a lot of towing and the diesel Ram's have all you need with respects to towing as they are geared properly and are built to tow.
Good luck with your choice and holler back if you have more questions or want to discuss this further. We will be glad to help.
Welcome to the Z. :iagree: with what Michael said. I've had full-time 4x4 in the past on my 76 Power Wagon. You don't want to go there. Dry pavement and 4x4 is not a good thing unless the front end is built for it. The trucks are not. You will be tearing up front bearings and other parts unnecessarily. The other reason you want to avoid it is that it will kill any gas mileage you get.
With the Hemi or the Cummins you'll get decent mpg when towing and plenty of power for playing.
We have a lot of forums for all kinds of topics, so you shouldn't have any problems finding a place to post questions.
We LOVE pics of Rams.
Here's how to post them: http://www.ramforumz.com/forumdisplay.php?f=73
Hello and welcome to the site!
Thanks for the reply and the info. I will take a look at the two sites you mentioned.
A couple of questions, please:
You mentioned air lifts. I thought air lifts were a no-no if you are using a load-equalizing hitch?
As for the axle ratios, 4.10s with 33s and 4.56s with 35s have been recomended to me as optimum for off-road running. Any real problems with towing with them other than the milage? Given a choice between optimizing for towing, and optimizing the ability to get back to civilization from the middle of nowhere, well, I prefer the latter choice!
And thanks to the others who welcomed me to the forum.
I run 33X12.50 Dick Cepek Mud Country's on my 2002 ram with a 2'' leveling kit. I have only towed once with these tires so far, it was about a 5 hour round trip tow with about 6500 pounds. The tires performed great and they have done well so far on and off-road for me. I really like them because they have the aggressive terrain but don't have the deafeningly loud hum that most mud-terrain tires have, which is great for long trips. As far as gears, I run 3.92's in the rear with the factory limited slip and they tow great and do really well off-road. I normally do not have to put the truck in four-wheel drive unless it is some serious stuff. Good luck with everything and what you are doing sounds awesome I would love to do something similar myself someday! And the Ram is a great choice for your needs.
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