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Suspension 1st Gen Dodge Ram Suspension Problems and Questions


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  #1  
Old 07-21-2013, 05:08 AM
Nabby Nabby is offline
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Today I picked up my new project 91 Ram from my grandfather and drove it 2 hours home, what an adventure. He was in an accident a while back, T-boned someone at about 20mph, didn't do a lot of damage, cracked the grill and tilted in the front bumper. He's very hard of hearing and has a hard time putting things into words, but I gather that his mechanic said the frame was slightly bent and they straightened it, put on two new front tires, and did an alignment. The shocks all around are in pretty sad shape, every bump in the road causes the front end to bounce around crazy-like, but on smooth roads it drives really well, I had it up to 75mph most of the way back and there was no shaking or anything, just had to keep the wheel turned about 20 degrees to the left the whole way back. If I let go the wheel would immediately center and the truck would go right like I was changing lanes.
I need the suspension and pull to the right fixed before I go any further on this truck. Any ideas where to start?

Last edited by Nabby; 07-21-2013 at 05:19 AM.
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Old 07-21-2013, 06:00 AM
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Curves and pot holes can do the same thing. I'm going to guess that the impact was on the right hand side and the frame wasn't pulled out completely. You may be able to take some measurements yourself and check it but I can't tell you what to go off of. You have to figure that out for yourself. I'm talking about the distance from the front spindle to the rear axle on each side to compare between the left and right side of the truck with the steering straight. I'm guessing the impact side would be shorter. If they're both the same all is good and just get an alignment. If not you need to get the frame checked unless you can do it yourself. The same thing can happen to your rear end if you hit a curve with it. Curve damage to the rear tire can push the axle back 1/2 inch or more and your a$$ end will be riding sideways while going straight. Just like the front ends doing only you can steer it straight.
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Old 07-21-2013, 04:02 PM
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I'd be concerned with the shocks and check the mounts.

Ask grandpa: DID IT BREAK THE SHOCK MOUNT? JK

I had a bad shock and it dove to the right (under braking). It could also be a brake issue from sitting. Rotor build up or a caliper not releasing completely.

It could be a bad alignment. center the wheel and check that the front wheels are straight. Run a piece of string from the back of the rear tire to the front of the front tire. With the steering wheel centered the wheels should be pointing straight ahead.

If not, get them as forward facing as possible and do the string test to make sure the R/F isn't toed out.

Last edited by Warlock III; 07-21-2013 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 07-22-2013, 09:12 AM
Nabby Nabby is offline
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I had a look at the front suspension this morning, as best I could. The RF coil spring is broken a couple inches up so on top of the shocks being out, the truck is probably leaning slightly right. Most of the steering and suspension is pretty rusty and nastied up. It's been a long time since I've had a vehicle with this many parts up front.
There's a couple things I don't know what they are... there's a long arm on each side that runs from a big mount and bushing about the size of a pop can behind the bumper roughly on either side of where the license plate would be off at an angle to either wheel, can't tell exactly where it connects. Any idea what that is? The driver's side one looks like it has a little arc to it.
Also from the angle I was looking, the center link looked like it may not be exactly straight.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:21 AM
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I can't tell from your description. Show us a pic or bring it to a Autozone or similar and show them the parts you're asking about.
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:44 PM
Gen1dak Gen1dak is offline
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Bad tie rods, bad bushings, and the oft overlooked steering center link. Have someone turn the steering wheel back and forth through the whole range. Look for slack in the links. Typically, you will see movement near the end of the travel or immediately upon reversing travel of the wheel. You can pretty much count on a shot center link.
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gen1dak View Post
Bad tie rods, bad bushings, and the oft overlooked steering center link. Have someone turn the steering wheel back and forth through the whole range. Look for slack in the links. Typically, you will see movement near the end of the travel or immediately upon reversing travel of the wheel. You can pretty much count on a shot center link.
Psssst. G1D, He said it had a broken coil spring
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:09 PM
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I can't really picture what you are describing, but maybe a link to locate the bottom part of the suspension. Is it two wheel drive or 4 wheel drive.

After you fix the spring, I'd get an alignment and there is a good change your alignment guy can tell you what if anything needs replaced on the front end.
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:14 PM
Nabby Nabby is offline
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Yeah, I have Moog 7172 heavy duty springs and KYB Gas-A-Just shocks coming for the front... since I'm putting in stiffer springs, I'm sure an alignment is in order anyway.
I'm not exactly familiar with this steering/suspension setup, but my beloved slant six Volare in the garage has bad ball joints and tie rod ends (that's why I finally garaged it - engine still runs with 355,000 miles) and I know with those going out, every bump changes the direction it wants to steer and puts a lot of slack in the steering wheel. The Ram's steering is drum tight and dead on consistent.
I'm used to holding the tires at 9 and 3 and rocking back and forth to check for loose tie rod linkage and then doing the same at 12 and 6 to check for bearing play. There's no give on these, feels really sturdy.

On an aside - I am considering replacing the center link anyway, because rockauto has the Delco on dealer closeout for $50 or the Moog for $65. It's a hard call because the Delco says "ROD,STRG LNKG RLY" which I'm going to think stands for "Strong Linking, Really!" but the Moog says "Problem Solver" ... I really want a strong one, but I do have a lot of problems that need solved.
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:10 AM
Nabby Nabby is offline
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Finally got my FSM in the mail and had a look over the suspension. It *looks* like the part I was talking about is called the "Lower Suspension Arm Strut" ... can't seem to find one for sale in the usual places, must be a rare part. Only found a couple on Jim's Auto Parts to the tune of $160 each.
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