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Dodge Ram Truck Suspension - Well Traveled

Posted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on November 1, 2006
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When a buddy picked up his new diesel Dodge from the dealer, he had it for a whole week before he longed for a suspension change. The rough rider was on flimsy-looking pizza-cutter tires, and the chatter from the suspension would almost send the truck out of control on some bumpy freeway sections. The truck rode great when we loaded him down with our 10,000-pound trailer, but it gets old driving everywhere with one of those behind you.

Sway-A-Way has revamped its products to make a better shock for the market that uses it. The new bodies are electroless nickel-plated cylinders that have been accented by dark red anodized aluminum caps and ends. The new shock shaft is dark thanks to the nitrosteel used to produce the new hardened shafts.

We started searching around to see what we could find. This truck's owner is sort of a maniac behind the wheel if given the chance in the right area, so we wanted something that would really let him rail his truck without fear, while not being too expensive, since our buddy wasn't made of money. Remote-reservoir shocks were a must, and we probably needed to do something about both the front and rear springs. The front factory control arms are much improved on the '03-present solid-axle Dodge trucks over the '94-'01 cheesy stamped C-section arms that would bend and twist, so they were deemed acceptable to stay. And we wanted just enough lift to get on a set of 13 1/2-inch-wide, 35-inch-tall tires, since the normal 35x12.50 just wasn't gonna cut it on this wide-standing truck.

When we came across the Lorenz Industries suspension featuring Sway-A-Way shocks and new springs for both ends, we decided to dig a little deeper and really check out Lorenz's kit options. We learned we'd get a true 10 inches of front suspension travel that would stay absorbent even after hours of use for around $3,500 with the top of the line kit. It was a bit pricey for a suspension, but this owner didn't want just any old lift kit, and when compared to the change spent on purchasing this truck, we don't think it's unreasonable that the owner would spend so much making his truck ride great.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow

Since we can't afford electrical power to our dirt lot yet, we do a lot of work with handtools and ingenuity instead of with hydraulic and electrical power. But sometimes we bring in a few tricks to help us out.

When having to remove and replace a lot of big bolts, an impact gun will save you hours of time. We grabbed a Powertank out of the back of our truck and went to town using it to replace this suspension. Except for freezing a regulator temporarily due to constant use, this worked out great, and let us keep on being cheap for a little longer.

Also, we have a great hint for you when trying to get a track bar back onto a Dodge or almost any truck that uses one. Have one friend work on the track bar with the bolt ready to go in place, while you hop in the truck and start it up (make sure not to run over your friend). When you turn the steering wheel back and forth, the front axle and tires will stay in place, while the body and frame of the truck move from side to side since the drag link is pushing them around on the springs and arms with no track bar to hold them steady above the axle. This will save you tons of time instead of trying to move an axle that weighs hundreds of pounds.

We got the kit on just in time to load up some mountain bikes and head to Moab. Moab is known for its incredible red rocks and rockcrawling, but outside of town are some pretty awesome dirt roads that you can have some pretty fast fun on with the right suspension. We spent a few days running some fire roads and ranch roads in between some trails, getting to speeds that nearly doubled what was possible with the rough-riding suspension that was on the truck just a few days before. The valving in the shocks was right on, and the truck soaked up the bumps like a pro.

But believe it or not, the best thing that this kit brought to this owner was an incredible ride on the street with more responsiveness and tighter handling. And though we hate to admit it, that's where most trucks spend the majority of their time. Since this one resides in Southern California, we were only too familiar with the incredible harshness that the freeways give its truck travelers, and the constant rear wheelhop that was so characteristic before was all but gone after retrofitting our truck with the Lorenz suspension.


Chatsworth, CA 91311

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