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Suspension 2nd Gen Dodge Ram Suspension Problems and Questions


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  #1  
Old 11-27-2013, 11:27 PM
tminor tminor is offline
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Default Steering geometry question(s)

I've currently got 2" coil spacers in the front and 1.5" blocks in the back. I'm looking at buying some 3" coils for the front and getting rid of the spacers and getting 4" skyjacker springs for the rear.

At what point do I need to worry about steering geometry and pinion angles? Would the extra inch up front really mess up my steering angles that bad? And would the 4" springs in the back require any modifications I don't know about?

I'm pretty new to all this still, just trying to learn as I go. Thanks!
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Old 12-01-2013, 08:10 PM
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This may be a bit more/different information than you asked for but it might be helpful to others.

The two ways of adding lift to a Ram is either coil springs or spacers. Rather than debate the logic of one over the other, I'll focus on what happens when you use either.
As a rule of thumb, for every 2 inches you add in lift to your Ram you will move the front axle back about 3/4 of an inch and un-center under the frame about the same amount. So a 3 inch spacer/spring would move the axle about an inch. A 5 inch (another common size) spring would move your axle back and over about 2 inches, etc. Obviously this causes caster and dog legging issues along with severe triangulation of the factory track bar, control arms and ball joints. It degrades the ride because the of the control arm angles, and places unrealistic loads on shocks, ball joints and the afore mentioned track bar. The front sway bars ability to control body roll is also compromised to the angle of the links which causes them to deflect under load rather than load the bar and vehicle, destroying handling. I'm going to explain in a moment why a properly lifted vehicle retains this piece.

This why quality manufacturers go to great lengths to design suspension systems and not just lifts. A decent suspension system not only lifts the vehicle, but retains a decent ride, handling within reason (NOT removing sway bars) and allow for factory settings of caster and toe in. Cheaper easier to install systems tend to use factory mounting points as much as possible and may require some drilling to bolt things up. Think Rough Country or similar. Higher quality kits will make sure the control arms are as parallel to the frame as possible for a great ride and handling and usually require cutting and welding. Think BDS, Fabtech, or DOR. If the adage is that you get what you pay for it certainly holds true here.

So a proper suspension would include longer control arms to restore caster and ride, some kind of track bar system or bracketry to restore the triangulation of the and center the axle, and if needed, a drop pitman arm to restore steering geometry and reduce bump steer. Lastly, a proper suspension will have links or drop brackets to restore sway bar geometry. Having a lifted vehicle with a higher center of gravity needs all the help it can get, and with a proper non tank like ride will need roll control.

I'm going to reach out on the track bar for a moment. Its seems no other piece on a 2nd gen 4x4 suspension draws more ire or has inspired more design mods then this piece. So lifting a truck and buying another Oem replacement is a waste. There are still about a dozen or so companies that make anything from re thought OEM parts to 3rd gen conversions to designs beefy enough to whack a rhino. Even mods to the OEM bar which can adjust for wear on the stock ball joint. Seriously, your budget should include replacing the track bar with something better.


Someone is thinking...ok what about leveling kits...? Well they do work but you still will move the front axle and with certain wheel/tire combos, you will notice the off center axle from the front of the truck. There's nothing worse then adding a leveling kit to better clear 33 inch tires (a common mod) and then having them rub on the right side inner fender. FAIL!

Since we've covered the basics of front axles, lets talk about the back. There are about 3 common ways to lift the rear suspension on a 2nd gen Ram. They are.. add a leaves/new springs, stacking or longer blocks, and shackle lifts.
To me stacking or replacing blocks is the least preferred method, aibiet the easiest. The danger and carnage of a stacked block setup popping out is still fresh on my mind, decades after seeing it happen. Stacking blocks or taller blocks also induce spring wrap up quicker on slippery or uneven terrain, causing potential drive train damage. Block lifts tend to cause springs to "back arch" over time, requiring replacement. So why do the job twice? Anything over the factory block is too much. Add a leafs or AALs, or new springs are the better/best solutions. BTW, I recommend long style AALs over the shorter ones because they cause the same issues as blocks.

Which ever method you use, you will start to change the geometry of the rear axle as well, moving it forward towards the cab. This becomes noticeable starting with 7 inches of lift and is more pronounced when a shackle lift is utilized. You can compensate by getting new springs with the center bolt off center or a "zero length spring" a short piece of steel that mounts to the existing pack but moves the axle backwards.

I hope this answers some basic questions about how your suspension/steering is affected by installing lift components. I certainly don't consider myself an expert on the subject but after 11 years of owning an modding the same truck and helping a few others with suspension installs, I do consider myself knowledgeable with what not only works, but the perils of failure.

Btw I spend much of my time reading information on other sites as well. This not only includes forums but vendor sites that still build 2nd gen components.
If you are planning something more than a 3 or 5 inch short arm lift I would suggest expanded reading. There are many other sources of information which can offer knowledge of suspension parts, but only a few cater to 2nd gen trucks. Per forum rules I'm not allowed to post them here.

Also a 5 inch lift is the invisible line where anything over that may start requiring more mods.
Thanks for reading!

Last edited by Okiespaniels; 12-01-2013 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tminor View Post
I've currently got 2" coil spacers in the front and 1.5" blocks in the back. I'm looking at buying some 3" coils for the front and getting rid of the spacers and getting 4" skyjacker springs for the rear.

At what point do I need to worry about steering geometry and pinion angles? Would the extra inch up front really mess up my steering angles that bad? And would the 4" springs in the back require any modifications I don't know about?

I'm pretty new to all this still, just trying to learn as I go. Thanks!
At >3" there is a need to get an adjustable track bar. This is used to center the axle under the truck for tracking and alignment purposes. 3" kits typically include this, plus longer control arms (~0.5" longer). A drop pitman arm also comes into use, which just bolts the drag link from the bottom rather than the top by changing the taper direction.

Alignment is required.

Rear lift will impact pinion angle. This is important for the factory 2 ujoint driveshaft. Shims are added between the leaf spring and block for correction. Kits will have full leaf springs that already account for this.

Alignment is required.

Sure you can piece it all together, get it close and see what stuff starts to breakdown, possible bumpsteer, etc.
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:36 PM
tminor tminor is offline
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Thanks for all the help guys. I think I've got a pretty good grasp on building a simple kit. I'm looking to keep the truck low yet still have solid amounts of articulation for simple wheeling, so I think I'm on the right track!

And whiteknuckle, if you PM me your e-mail address I'll get in touch with you about those tow hooks. I'd PM you, but I don't have the rep yet!
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