Millions of dollars go into the engineering and manufacturing of the factory shocks and struts that are bolted under trucks as they roll along the assembly lines. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a million dollars’ worth of shock and suspension performance under these vehicles! The factory shocks and struts are built for economy and corporate profits, not high-end on-and-off-road performance.
In the last few years, King Off-Road Racing Shocks has taken all their professional real-world off-road experience and rolled it into their line of OEM replacement shocks and coilovers. The line of bolt-in replacements is perfect for truck owners wanting a high-quality performance ride without major suspension modifications.
We have found the King damping components to be some of the best-performing and toughest shocks out there. The company’s OEM replacement coilovers and shocks are available for Ford, GM, Jeep, Nissan, Toyota, and a recently released system for the late-model Ram trucks. The shock systems are available for lifted trucks, stock height, and high-performance leveling kits.
We just happened to have a 2012 Ram truck we’ve been driving around and looked forward to replacing the factory equipment with King coilovers. Off-road performance was lacking, the truck porpoised on the uneven stuff, and hitting the transition line between an asphalt highway and a concrete bridge was almost scary. The coilover system for the Ram, like other applications, is completely bolt-on and the installation of the components can be completed in a couple hours. Although this installation is relatively easy, sometimes IFS coilovers (struts) can be a bear without an extra set of helping hands, so we headed over our friends at Off-Road Evolution in Fullerton, California. After modifying the front coilovers on any suspension, we highly recommend having the truck aligned because the caster, chamber, and toe will be off -- tires are expensive.
Step By Step
1. In theory, shocks use basic science to control the ride of a vehicle, but it’s high-quality components that make a truck perform well off-road. The 2.5-inch King shocks have an adjustable ride height and are designed with hard-anodized 6063 aluminum alloy, quality hoses and fittings, 6061 aluminum pistons, Rulon piston wear bands, 3/4- or 7/8-inch shafts, high-strength rod ends, and aircraft-quality billet aluminum mounts. Kings are fully rebuildable and can be custom valved.
2. Disassembly and installation is straight-forward; the ball joint must unbolted to separate the upper A-arm and steering knuckle. Also, the sway bar must be disconnected and the factory structs'upper and lower bolts removed. if the installation is being completed by one person, you may need to disconnect the steering arm. This creates more room between the upper-and-lower A-arms to slide the King coilover into place.
3. With the upper A-arm and sway bar disconnected or loosened, one person can pull down on the wheel’s brake assembly, while the other places the coilover into position. Slightly turning the wheel assembly left-to-right will allow the coilover’s lower rod end to drop into place between the lower A-arm and steering arm, and then be pushed up into the upper mount.
4. A side-by-side comparison shows the difference in quality between OEM and King coilovers. The highly engineered King shock is manufactured here in the U.S., which makes us feel good about the purchase. The aluminum remote reservoir helps dissipate heat quickly for excellent on- and off-highway performance, especially when driving in hardcore conditions. King shocks performance excels in high-speed conditions.
5. The front coilovers were relatively easy to install, especially with four hands and without disconnecting the steering arm. The remote reservoir is securely fastened to a bracket at the top of the factory strut mount. The King coilovers not only look sexy bolted under the fenderwells, they leveled the truck by raising the front end about 2 inches—ride height is fully adjustable.
6. There’s really no comparison in quality between the rear King shock and factory shock. The difference in performance between the two is as dramatic as the difference in how they look. On our first test drive at high speed, we noticed the truck stopped porpoising and the steering wheel stopped jerking from left to right when the truck hit large bumps.
7. The overall front and rear installation was easy, and the techs at Off-Road Evolution knocked it out in about an hour and half. Both the front and rear shocks are available with adjustable compression knobs, and both have rebuild kits, which are available from King. The Ram’s off-road performance on washboard road and rocky trails is a completely different experience—smooth and controllable.
8. We took our Ram to Accurate Alignment in Orange, California, after the install. Sure, you can compete a driveway alignment at home, but nothing beats the accuracy of a computer alignment system. A suspension that’s out of alignment will quickly eat tires; four good tires cost over $1,000. We’re glad we had the alignment corrected right after the install. The truck’s caster, camber, and toe were way off. The truck’s front left toe was off by 37 degrees, which would have quickly destroyed your tires if left uncorrected.