Step By Step
The Superlift 5-inch kit is one of the most complete kits we’ve seen for the -present Dodge trucks. It includes coil springs, tubular radius arms, new sway-bar mount brackets, bumpstop extenders, Superide shocks, limiting straps for the front end, upper spring plates, a new pitman arm, and a track bar bracket. We opted for a new steering stabilizer, replacement leaf springs, and replacement rear U-bolts.
Travis Buhrman of Off-Road General Store began the lift by securing the truck frame on jackstands and removing the front tires and wheels. He also laid out all the parts on the floor to make sure we had everything we needed.
The first suspension component to come off is the sway bar. Superlift suggests cutting the old sway bar endlink mount brackets off the axle and welding on the new ones provided. We decided the truck would perform better off-road without a sway bar and skipped this part. Driving the truck after the lift, we didn’t even notice the missing sway bar.
The front shocks and springs are retained by the upper spring plate. Buhrman supported the axle with a floor jack, removed the shock and plate, lowered the axle, and pulled the springs from their perches. These springs are not clamped in place like many Ford coil-spring suspensions.
With the springs out, Buhrman unbolted the track bar and steering linkage. He then marked the caster plates so he could ballpark the alignment after the lift and removed all four control arms. A front end alignment will be necessary after the lift is completed.
The kit includes compression bumpstop brackets and polyurethane pads to limit upward axle movement. These bolt to the upper control arm mount on the axlehousing. Superlift also includes strengthening plates that Mark Hinkley welded into the factory bumpstop tab on the frame.
Buhrman lubed all the polyurethane bushings before installing them in the new control arms. The arms are constructed from 1-1/2-inch diameter 0.120-inch wall DOM tubing and have grease fittings at the pivot points to easily alleviate squeaks.
The arms attach to the factory lower control arm frame mount. Advantages of the new arms are strength and better axle control without giving up any ground clearance. Even though they don’t maintain caster alignment at extreme suspension travel as well as the factory Quadra-Link does, our truck drove just fine after the lift and axle articulation is quite good.
Part of the front end kit is a track bar drop bracket that is bolted and then welded to the factory bracket. Buhrman torqued every nut and bolt on the suspension to factory spec, unless Superlift advised differently.
This drop bracket, the bumpstop reinforcement, and the sway bar endlink mounts are the only parts that need to be welded during installation of the kit. The factory endlink brackets are the only items that need to be cut off and we avoided that by deleting the sway bar altogether.
The lift doesn’t require that you add longer brake lines--you can move the bracket to the position shown and still have adequate length with the limiting straps provided. If you want to increase travel by using longer limiting straps, you’ll have to install longer brake lines.
Bret Lovett at Superlift says Dodge offered 17 different coil springs for the 1994 models. The new coil springs have a middle-of-the-pack stock spring rate, but are 5 inches taller. The Superlift system doesnt use spacers so there is plenty of potential axle articulation.
The kit’s track bar bracket reinforces the factory track bar frame mount and bolts to the crossmember under the engine. The kit includes a sleeve that installs in a factory hole in the crossmember. This was the most challenging part of the kit install. Since the hole is punched in the metal, getting the sleeve to seat properly was a chore.
The Superlift pitman arm doesn’t provide any drop, but the taper on the hole is reversed so the drag link installs from the bottom instead of from the top. The angle of the link is still greater than stock, but we haven’t noticed bumpsteer or any other problems. According to Superlift, the link attachment is lowered as little as possible in order to minimize load on the steering sector.
To finish up the front, Buhrman bolted on the upper shock mount, shock, and limiting strap. The Superide shock absorbers work very well to control the vehicle and the weight of larger tires while still providing a nice ride on the road. We’re not fond of limiting straps and huge bumpstops, so we’ll play with these later to see if we can squeeze more articulation out of the suspension without causing massive tire rubbing and other problems.
The rear suspension is as simple to lift as it appears. The hardest part is breaking the U-bolts loose, which wasnt too difficult on this 1997 Ram. We wanted the best performing and safest lift possible so we opted for new Superide rear springs. These trucks come from the factory with lift blocks, which the new springs are designed to retain.
The rear bumpstop brackets space the factory stop down far enough to keep the larger tires away from the sheetmetal, and Buhrman moved the brake line/rearend breather tube combo mount onto the driver-side bracket. The lines are snug at full droop so we will probably replace them with longer ones soon.
Lifting the rig you wheel is as much a necessity as lockers and the right tires. Even if youre just gaining a couple of inches under the framerails, there are few rigs that wont benefit from the added clearance, which reduces body damage and improves approach and departure angles. To give you an idea of whats what when it comes to lifting various trucks, we put four different lifts, shops, and trucks to the test. The results are shown on the next few pages.
The Superlift 5-inch Dodge Ram kit shown in this article has the tallest advertised lift of the bunch and raises an already lofty 1/2-ton rig even higher, leaving acres of room under the rocker panels. The kit actually claims to lift the truck 5 inches in the front and 4-1/2 in the rear to level it out, but we gained just over 6 inches of front lift and 5 inches in the rear. The amount lift you realize will depend on how your truck is optioned (how heavy it is); ours is relatively light.
There are basically three schools of thought on lifting a new Dodge. Installing taller springs but retaining the factory four-link setup or using longer arms works well up to about 3 inches of lift. Beyond this, the link angles become too great. The next method is to drop the mounting brackets, but this compromises ground clearance.
The Superlift kit uses unique tubular radius arms in place of the factory Quadra-Link suspension. These provide better front-axle control and allow sufficient droop without binding in the frame mounts. The Superide springs provide lift without a harsh ride. We drove this Ram for about 1,000 miles on- and off-road with the stock tires. We found the ride to be barely stiffer than stock with the factory tires and expect it to be much softer when we switch later to 36x12.50-15 TSL radials, due to the increase in sidewall height and tire weight.
With the kit parts in the bed, we took the truck to Off-Road General Store, where Mark Hinkley and Travis Buhrman raised the truck and gave us plenty of lift tips in the process.
Off-Road General Store
Laguna Hills, CA