Our big 2011 Ram 3500 has racked up over 130,000 miles in the last six years, and it’s going strong, but we decided it was time for some steering upgrades. We always run on 35-inch rubber, often with a trailer, and had noticed an odd clunk in the front end. Steering is the most important component on your 4x4 (brakes are second, but they just slow you down).
The factory steering is quite robust, but when an opportunity to upgrade comes along we can’t resist. We found upgraded steering parts for heavy-duty Dodge/Ram trucks from Offroad Power Products, Synergy Manufacturing, and Fox Racing Shox. Though this truck drives most of its miles on asphalt, we like having it ready for dirt adventures, so we took the opportunity to upgrade the steering box and linkage for additional beef. If you are looking at larger than 35-inch tires you may want to consider some or all of these bolt-in upgrades for your heavy-duty Ram truck.
The stock steering gear in the Ram 3500 was upgraded with a new Red Head unit from Offroad Power Products. The Red Head box is rebuilt and upgraded with needle bearings in place of bushings, an upgraded sector shaft, better seals, polished seal surfaces, and improved worm gears and bearings.
We ordered the Red Head gear drilled and ported for ram assist. We chose not to add ram assist just yet, but the new gear is ready in case we want to upgrade in the future. If we ever go to larger than 35s we would add the ram.
To install the new steering gear, we headed to the Synergy Manufacturing R&D shop. Synergy offers this steering box brace that attaches to the frame above the sway bar mounts and supports the bottom of the sector shaft for additional rigidity. We did need to modify the bracket slightly to work with the AEV front bumper skidplate.
The old tie-rod ends and drag-link ends had started to wear out and the boots were leaking grease. The Ram steering has changed a lot over the years. There was a Y-style, (Haltenberger) where the drag link connected to the passenger knuckle and the tie rod connected from the middle of the drag link to the driver-side knuckle. In the T-style, the drag link runs to the passenger side of the tie rod and the tie rod connects both knuckles. Our truck had the T-style, which is better, but it still had room for improvement.
Synergy offers a beefed-up version of the T-style with a solid drag link and larger tie rod (bottom) and is designed for additional strength over the factory steering linkage (top). Plus, it can be retrofitted to trucks that came with the old Y-style steering for better steering geometry and less chance of bumpsteer.
The Synergy tie rod has a double adjuster for ease of adjustment and wobbler stoppers to keep the bent link from flopping over while steering. The tie rod has a slight bend in it to clear the diff cover.
Fox offers a steering stabilizer with a through shaft that equalizes steering feel in both directions while helping control steering chatter. Plus, the stabilizer offers adjustability to fine-tune the steering forces with 24 optional settings. The damper even has an integrated reservoir for additional cooling in extreme steering scenarios.