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A Taller Ram for Bigger Tires: Skyjacker’s 4-inch Lift Makes Way for 35s

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on October 9, 2017
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The subject was a ’13 Ram 1500 4WD. The owner was looking for a rise in height of the truck and the ability to run 35-inch tires. Skyjacker was the answer. The company offers both 4- and 6-inch lift kits for these trucks, but the 4-inch kit fit the bill just fine and was a complete lift solution.

The independent front suspension was raised using taller knuckles, and the proper geometry was maintained by moving the lower A-arms and front axle assembly downward using new crossmembers. The factory front struts were retained with the addition of spacers, so the original spring rate and ride were maintained.

The Ram has a standard straight-axle in the rear, located with a linked suspension and coil springs. The Skyjacker kit included new dual-rate coil springs to provide lift, and a drop bracket was used to correct the angle of the lateral track bar. We opted to install the kit that included new Black MAX 8500 shocks in the rear. These include twin-tube construction, advanced foam-cell technology, and a sintered-iron piston. Further, the multi-stage valving of the shocks is vehicle specific.

With two people spinning wrenches we completed the job in about 14 hours in a home garage using common mechanic tools. Installation requires a 1 7/16-inch or metric equivalent socket for the CV-shaft nut and a large torque wrench. Minor cutting and some drilling on the frame are also needed. Skyjacker provides clear, detailed instructions to complete the project.

Once done, the truck had a bolder stance and room for 35x12.5R20LT BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires on 20x10 Helo HE791 MAXX wheels. As expected, the ride up front was unchanged. The ride from the rear of the truck was supple as well with the dual-rate coils that will stiffen under a heavy bed load. In the dirt, the truck felt smooth and flexed well. The approach angle of the truck increased about 8 degrees up front and about 5 degrees in the rear with the added lift and new tires. Of course that’s much appreciated out in the dirt. Ground clearance went up by approximately an inch due to the larger tires. The truck is taller, has better clearance, and rolls better over all terrain with the new lift and tires. Follow along for some highlights of the installation process.

Before.
Here are the 4-inch kit components, which include replacement front crossmembers, a skidplate, knuckles, rear coils, rear shocks, and front strut spacers, along with all the other hardware needed to complete the lift.
After setting the framerails on jackstands and pulling the tires, we started by removing the tie-rod ends, brake calipers and rotors, sway bar links, ABS wiring, and the CV-shaft nuts. Once the top and bottom ball joints were popped free, we pulled each factory knuckle off.
The kit reuses the original wheel hub assemblies, so we unbolted each from their respective aluminum knuckle.
Next, the factory front struts were removed from their attachment points on the frame and each lower A-arm. These came out easily with the lower A-arms drooping down.
Each lower aluminum A-arm had to be removed as well.
The rear crossmember that spans the frame was removed, and the driveshaft was disconnected from the front differential and tied up out of the way. Seven bolts that hold the differential assembly to the frame were removed, and the assembly was pulled from the truck using a floor jack.
With the differential clear of the frame, a short portion of the rear crossmember bracket was cut off to make way for the new Skyjacker crossmember. We used a 4-inch grinder with a cutoff disc to do the quick job.
Relocation brackets were installed on the differential assembly so its mounting location could be shifted downward for the lift.
Here’s one of the relocation brackets used on the center housing. Skyjacker provides all the necessary hardware. Once we got all the bolts loosely started, we began tightening each a bit until the entire assembly was fully secured.
Next came installation of the Skyjacker front and rear crossmembers. These bolt into the factory lower A-arm brackets on the frame and serve to move the new location of the A-arm mount points downward. A skidplate is also included in the kit to span the two crossmembers and protect the differential housing.
The factory lower A-arms were bolted into the Skyjacker crossmembers using the factory cam bolts used for alignment purposes.
The original front struts were reused and ours were still in good condition. Spacers were bolted to the top of each strut and then each strut placed back on the truck. No spring compressor is needed for the 4-inch kit and since the A-arms have been relocated downward, the struts went back in as easy as they came out.
The original wheel hubs were bolted into the taller Skyjacker knuckles, which also accommodate the factory brake calipers and ABS sensor wiring.
The factory Ram knuckles are aluminum, but the beefy Skyjacker knuckles are steel and quite heavy. Putting these in the truck is much easier with two people. We found it best to just start the CV shaft into the wheel hub, then just start the lower ball joint stud into the knuckle. From there, we wiggled and inched each of those further into their holes while also spinning the wheel hub to align the axle splines to the wheel hub as they entered.
Skyjacker provided drop brackets for the front brake lines. We made a cut in each factory bracket with a cutting disc and slid the factory steel brake line out. We were then able to remount each line using the provided drop brackets, and no bleeding was needed. ABS wiring was just rerouted slightly.
The original tie rods were connected to the new knuckles. Longer front sway bar links (shown) are included in the kit and installed easily in the factory mounts.
The front differential is dropped downward and is also angled upward a bit at the rear. The drop leaves the factory front driveshaft a bit too short. Skyjacker provides a spacer plate and longer bolts to make up for the lost distance.
We reinstalled the front CV-shaft nuts and snugged them down. They require 185 lb-ft of torque. We found a good way to hold the shafts for both removal and replacement was to have one person stand on the brake pedal while another person turned the nuts.
With the front complete, we turned our attention to lifting the rear of the Ram. The factory coil springs and shocks were removed, along with the sway bar links. Skyjacker includes taller replacement coil springs. Here you can see the difference between one of our Ram’s factory springs and a dual-rate Skyjacker spring.
We unbolted the factory rear track bar at the frame and installed a drop bracket at that location. It’s held in place by bolts in several locations. This requires some drilling of new holes, and Skyjacker provides a handy template for the work. Longer sway bar links were also installed on the rear.
Skyjacker recommends removing the inner fender liners for better access to the rear shocks and springs. Each upper shock nut on the frame is not accessible with a socket or a standard-length wrench with the bed in place. A crowfoot wrench would work well. We had a cheap wrench we simply cut down so we could hold the nut on the backside while each bolt was removed.
Bumpstop extensions are provided and simply bolt to the top of the axle with included hardware. No modification was needed to the rear driveshaft length.
Here's the completed rear suspension with the Black MAX 8500 shocks. No work was needed on the brakelines or ABS wiring as they had ample slack in them, even after the lift.

Sources

Skyjacker Suspensions
West Monroe, LA 71294
318-388-0816
www.skyjacker.com

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