An Economical Bolt-On Buildup
Building a rig isn't exactly a cheap endeavor, so in these tough economic times it's good to know we can still find a decent suspension lift for less than $1,000 that's built with quality parts and easy to install. We've been using our '97 Dodge 1500 as a weekend beater and a camping rig and it was in dire need of a suspension boost, and there are literally hundreds of available options.
Since we needed a suspension that fit our budget, we called Tuff Country and ordered its EZ Ride suspension. The kit isn't a complicated jigsaw puzzle of parts, and it can be installed by a person of moderate mechanical ability. It uses coil spacers and lift blocks, so the truck's original coil springs and leaf springs are retained to keep that factorylike ride.
Since using a two-post lift makes installing any lift kit leagues easier, we headed down to Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, where it only took the technicians a couple of hours to bolt it on. By the end of the day, we were out on the trail testing the truck's newly enhanced suspension performance.
We lifted the vehicle for additional ground clearance, but that couldn't have been achieved without taller tires. We wanted a tough, aggressive tire, but didn't want to sacrifice highway comfort, so we chose Dick Cepek's newly designed Mud Country tire. Dick Cepek is an off-road legend, and he was also one of the first guys to design a wider tire specifically for off-road use. We liked the legend behind the Cepek line of tires and that the tire uses the latest radial technology in its construction. It's also built with a special chipping- and cracking-resistant compound, since we are extremely tough on tires. The tire is constructed with a triple-ply sidewall, and it features siped lugs, which are great for wet-weather traction, and Sidebiters for additional sidewall protection and traction when the tire is aired down. The Mud Country tires come in sizes ranging from 31 to 40 inches, and wheel sizes from 15 to 20 inches. We are very impressed with the tire's off-road toughness and traction, and that a tire with such an aggressive tread pattern was exceptionally quiet at highway speeds.