Like I mentioned earlier in this thread, I tried to make this truck rub upon picking it up and simply cannot. There's four-wheeler track less than a mile from my residence and I took it there for about 30mins recently. Nothing.
I'm currently running the tires front/back at 42PSI. I’ll drop that figure down to 36PSI when summer rolls around. These numbers, after much trial-n-error, worked on my previous setup for best ride/comfort and thus far seems to be doing the job on this truck nicely.
I told my install guy there were three priorities with this setup. First was I did NOT want any trimming anywhere. I had some [minor] trimming on my previous truck on the lower valance, bottom lip of inner fender guard and absolutely hated it. Nobody ever knew it was there – at least nobody ever commented on it – but it used to piss me off every time I looked at it simply because I knew its existence. I got over it but vowed my next truck wouldn’t be trimmed.
Second was I did not want any rubbing, any time, ever. I told him what my plans were with this truck [beach 4WD’ing, some light trails and maybe some light mudding] and rubbing was not an issue I wanted to deal with.
Finally, I did not want any type of wheel spacers used to achieve my goal of rubbing avoidance. I’m not a fan of wheel spacers and either is my install guy. I’ve read/heard of way too many horror stories over the years for my liking. I wanted the tires sitting no further past the wheel well’s lip, too. The tires on my previous truck sat a little further out than I liked/preferred and that kind of bothered me a little every time I viewed them at “certain” angles.
If he was unable to meet these requests, then we would write-up a different game plan and take a serious look at different wheel/tire combinations and/or maybe even consider a proper lift as opposed to just a level. I wasn’t hell bent [no pun intended] on a level exclusively but it was my first choice. No need for concern. He nailed it.
I also wanted a dead-level but wasn’t too concerned with a slight rear hike if need be [it was actually my preference if I had a choice because I like the ever-so slight rear hike] on the ass-end. At a 2.1” Bilstein setting on the front, would have given the rear a very slight hike, but the front would have rubbed slightly with my configuration requiring the cutting-n-shutting I mentioned earlier, so he opted for a 2.8” setting and a near dead-level with [again] no rubbing. Works for me.
Now that I’ve accumulated well over 1.5K miles on this setup [since install] I believe I’ve gathered enough information to accurately forward a fair opinion on the equipment, setup and quality.... so here goes for those interested.
Ride Quality & Handling -
I must say that I was VERY skeptical about the people on these and similar boards, who would often comment that following their Bilstein 5100 install, the ride quality was on par – or even better than – the OEM ride. How was this possible with a lift [level] after obvious and direct alterations to the truck’s suspension? Better than OEM ride? Pfftt… c’mon! Past experiences have taught me that when you mess with a truck’s OEM stance, ride quality will suffer to some degree. After all, I had recently departed with a leveled 2005 Ford Screw that had the identical wheel/tire combo as this, with a Hell Bent 2.5” level kit, and the ride quality took a noticeable dive following installation of the setup. It lost its “dampening” factor almost instantly with a noticeably “harder” ride that just didn’t absorb road bumps and bruises as well as I expected or anywhere near the OEM ride. However, seeing as this was a secondary [weekender] vehicle at best, it really didn’t bother me too much. Long rides were not the most pleasant of experiences but I soon got use to them and didn’t know better after some time. Around town, brief shoots were no problem as by the time you had a chance to analyze the ride’s quality and make a comment; you were at your destination. I lived with it during my ownership, but it was always on the back of my mind to re-do the entire suspension. I never pursued it.
This truck’s a much different story!
Ride quality IS on par with the OEM and, at times, appears to be significantly better than the OEM ride. I don’t remember the OEM setup absorbing pavement imperfections, bumps-n-bruises like it does now. Honest. Because a vehicle’s shock absorbers directly affect its braking, handling and pretty much overall ride quality, I now have noticeable improvements in just about all three of those areas. Braking has shown no noticeable improvement much to my expectations, but handling and overall ride quality is, at the very least, on equal ground with the OEM ride if not improved. Highway/interstate driving is smooth and comfortable with no discomfort as I use to experience with my previous truck. My previous truck’s setup also use to have me gripping the steering wheel a little tighter at highway speeds above 65MPH as the truck use to grow a mind of its own and would require driver intervention to stay straight and in control. It wasn’t a very reassuring and/or pleasant feeling, as you can imagine. Not so with this truck. It controls the same at 75MPH as it does at 45MPH. The “jolts” that my previous setup [Ford] had are non-existent now. Yes, the ride now is a tad tighter, or harder, than OEM but IMHO this is the way it should be. Some will notice it and others will most probably continue sipping their lattes without any spills. All highway bumps and bruises are absorbed VERY well and it just seems to stay in a straight line without effort [something I would often struggle with on my Ford] at speeds above 65MPH. Very nice indeed.
Let me just add that there is a VERY light “shimmy” you will feel from these Toyo Open Country MT tires from a stand-still roll. It’s evident for barely a full second until you achieve a little rolling speed, but it is there and it is evident. I had the identical feel on my previous truck, so it was no surprise to me when I felt it this time around too. It really is a VERY trivial issue and not a concern at all. On a full tank, you barely feel it given the ass-end weight and drop; south of one-half a full tank and it becomes apparent. Those who have/had these tires will know EXACTLY what I’m speaking of.
Simply put: Bilstein 5100’s ARE the very BEST way to level these 4th Generation Ram 1500 models….if ride quality, handling and all that’s in between is of concern to you. Add to that you get a near perfect level stance and it’s win-win. At times, I’m truly amazed how well this setup rides as it seems to ride a little better every time I step in. Spend a little more than the common method [block spacers] and do it the proper way; it’s worth every penny. At least this is my opinion, so take it for what it’s worth.
I have [very] quickly become a Bilstein 5100 advocate. It simply rocks!
Prior to pointing the finger, let’s consider the source here. I’m riding on 35” mud terrains designed for [pretty much] off-road use exclusively, so noise, to some degree, is to be expected. However, remember that noise, or its interpretation of it from one person to another, is very subjective simply because no two people hear, translate and identify frequencies identically or even sound output [SPL]. Thereby, what’s mediocre and relatively quiet to one person may seem obnoxious and overwhelmingly loud to another, and visa-versa. Because I’d previously ridden on this [similar] setup, my expectations and ultimate outcome of tire “hum” or “whine” was not a surprise but rather a given/sure thing. I just wasn’t sure how much/little in comparison. With the radio at a normal listening level, you probably won’t notice the tires’ sound, or at least it will not be talking point. At least I don’t. However, trying to have a whisper/quite conversation with someone at 40MPH in and around town with the windows rolled up, may be a different story. It’s certainly not unbearable [far from it] but apparent nonetheless. Best analogy I can give is it’s like the neighbor’s barking dog, five houses down, in the middle of the night. You can hear it, only just, but it doesn’t distract you from the task at hand [sleep]. Highway driving, to my surprise, was less intrusive and actually quite pleasant in every way. It’s almost like the tire noise is drowned out by the [other] exterior elements/happenings.
Like I said in another thread recently, IMHO, the Toyo Open Country MT’s are the quietest mud terrain/aggressive tire you will own. Certainly the quietest I’ve ever used.
I will say this to end the noise issue: the tire hum/whine I experience now was NOT as apparent on my Ford as it is on this truck. Not a huge difference, but noticeable to me nonetheless. This, I’m certain, is a cabin insulation/sound-deadening issue as my Ford was quitter in the cabin [OEM] than my Ram ever was [OEM] before the mods, so my expectations were realistic in this regard with the recent changes.
Though MPG tests were initially hand calculated, nothing will be forwarded as I scrapped everything about one week back.
No speedometer corrections were performed to compensate for the changes so any figures/tests/numbers posted would not only be inaccurate, but, more importantly, misleading. Again, thanks to the forum member for pointing this out earlier in this thread.
For the record, and for what it’s worth: I stopped taking MPG calculations on this truck not long after winter came around late last year. Or shortly following the introduction of winter-blend fuel at the pumps. I only just started again shortly prior to this setup being installed and immediately following, to crunch and compare numbers for the boards. Why had I stopped altogether? It use to give me something to do sitting around the firehouse waiting for a run, mixing, matching, comparing and crunching numbers [it was actually fun and explained a lot about the changes in my driving habits from fill-to-fill], but it started depressing the sheet out of me when the winter-blend fuel hit the market. Like I was discussing with another member recently, plain and simple, IMHO these 5.7L Hemi 4th Generation engines AND winter-blend fuel, simply do not like one another on any level. I'm using Top Tier fuel [Shell or Exxon exclusively]. I’ve taken a significant beating in the MPG department since [forcefully] switching to winter-blend fuel. I’m not going to throw out any numbers [I’m done with the MPG thing] but I’ll say this: the amount of MPG I’ve lost on this truck with the current fuel available, is considerably more than I’ve experienced with ANY car/truck I’ve owned in twelve years. Maybe it’s my truck exclusively. I don’t know….
So I’m done tossing numbers around. Now - remembering why I made the initial purchase - I just remind myself I’m driving a truck, and to enjoy the [damn thing] truck.
Thanks for reading.