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AEV Upgrades For 2016 Ram 2500, Part 2 - Steps & Protection

Posted in Project Vehicles on August 8, 2016
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In the last installment we had OC Motorsports in Costa Mesa, California, increase the ride height of our 2016 Ram 2500 with an American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) 3-inch DualSport suspension system and 37x12.50R17 General Grabber tires mounted on AEV Salta HD wheels. This time around we had OC Motorsports make entry much easier with a set of Amp Research PowerStep electrically actuated steps. We also beefed up the front end and the axles with an AEV Ram Premium front bumper and AEV differential covers. The owner has put several thousand miles on the truck with the new modifications. Check out the “How’s It Work?” sidebar for a review of the completed project and the solutions to a few hiccups we encountered that are indicative of what you can expect when modifying a 2016 Ram 3/4- or 1-ton.

OC Motorsports tech Jason Green began by removing the stock front bumper assembly. Don’t toss anything just yet; a few bits are reused in the AEV winch bumper.
The backbone of the AEV bumper is the heavy-duty bumper brackets. These brackets are cinched to the frame in many places to spread the load. A new intercooler shroud is supplied to ensure that there is no loss in cooling efficiency.
It is a multipiece bumper. The center, tow points, and ends are loosely attached separately to allow all the mounting holes to line up before the hardware gets tightened.
Both factory foglamps and the wiring harness are removed from the original bumper for installation in the AEV bumper. They will function just like stock. Other off-road lighting options are available from AEV.
The U.S.-made bumper features two solid ductile iron tow points with clevis mounts. It is designed to house up to a 16,500-pound electric recovery winch. We opted to go without a winch for now, so Green filled the void with the optional AEV winch cover plate.
The factory rear differential cover on the AAM 11.5-inch axle found in most 2014 to current Ram 2500/3500 trucks is relatively thin and susceptible to damage off-road. We decided to upgrade by first removing the thin stock cover and draining the oil.
The new heavy-duty AEV differential cover is made from high-strength nodular iron. It features an oversized fill/inspection plug and a reinforced bottom edge with recessed hardware. It reuses the OE rubber seal and is E-coated and powdercoated for rust prevention. Green refiled the axle with Royal Purple 75W-90 Max Gear synthetic oil for better protection of the spendy gears and axleshafts, which are always spinning slightly despite the CAD design of the front axle.
Green capped our AAM 9 1/4-inch front axle with an AEV heavy-duty nodular-iron differential cover as well. The front cover has all the same unique features as the AEV rear cover. Our front axle was refilled with Royal Purple 75W-90 Max Gear synthetic oil just like the rearend. With the increased capacity and better lubrication properties of the Max Gear synthetic, towing and hard off-road use isn’t a problem.
The pivot assemblies for the AMP Research PowerSteps are aligned with factory body holes for easier installation. They also attach to the backside of the body structure with rivet nuts.
The electric PowerStep motors are tucked up out of harm’s way. You can also see how the pivot assembly attaches to the backside of the rocker panel for rigidity and strength.
The step plates are then attached to the pivots. They can be adjusted front to back, so make sure the steps are even and match up on both sides of the truck.
AMP Research offers a simple plug-and-play wiring harness for the PowerStep controller. Harnesses are available for most popular applications. Green carefully routed the harness away from heat sources and moving components.
Small holes need to be drilled through the pinch seam for the wiring of the LED step lights. The lights themselves attach to the body with adhesive tape.
An LED light is provided for each door. The LED lights brighten the steps for fumble-free entry at night.
When you open the door, the Amp Research PowerStep on that side of the truck automatically lowers and provides secure footing.
When the door closes, the PowerStep retracts up under the body. This not only helps retain the clean body lines of the vehicle but also provides more ground clearance for off-roading than other clunky steps that hang down several inches.

How’s It Work?
Overall, the owner is really happy with the truck. He loves the way it rides (he claims the ride is smoother than stock) and the way it looks, and he reports that the fuel mileage didn’t change much, if at all. He also tells us that complete strangers often walk up to talk to him about his truck. Two separate individuals even offered to buy the AEV front bumper from him on the spot. Sorry, no sale.

The AEV front bumper doesn’t work with the 2016-up forward parking assist. The sensor’s field of view is too wide. It picks up the tow hook/D-ring protrusions in the bumper as an obstacle, which constantly throws the alarm. The fix is to replace the factory collision module with one from a Jeep WK module, allowing the forward parking-assist system to be deactivated without throwing a light in the dash. The computer can be purchased from OC Motorsports or your local dealer. It plugs right in place of the factory Ram unit.

The AMP Research PowerSteps allow for much easier entry without sacrificing ground clearance. When the doors close, they automatically tuck up neatly under the body. They are a smart addition for those who need a step up in both lifted and stock vehicles. Steps are available for many different vehicles.

The factory tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) was initially throwing a fit over the lower pressures we were running in the 37x12.50R17 General Grabber tires, but AEV has cracked the Ram code so the ProCal unit can correct the issue now. Apparently it was not a problem on the 2015 and older trucks. Now you can upload the flash just like normal to drop the TPMS monitor down from the 70 psi it wants to see. We reset this truck to 35 psi to match the Load Range D tires. The one caveat is that it is not a driveway plug-and-play, at least not completely. We loaded the 35 psi threshold in, and that’s what showed on the dash display. However, to get the system to turn off the warning lamp and not display the tire pressure screen every time you turn on the vehicle, you need to call or visit the Ram dealership and get your vehicle’s four-digit PIN. The local dealer had no trouble resetting the TPMS threshold and was able to turn off the warning light on our truck.

Sources

General Tire
Charlotte, NC 28288
800-847-3349
www.generaltire.com
Amp Research
Tustin, CA 92780
800-309-6823
www.amp-research.com
Royal Purple
Porter, TX 77365
888-382-6300
www.royalpurple.com
AEV
Commerce Township, MI 48390
248-926-0256
http://www.aev-conversions.com
OC Motorsports
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
888-699-8333
www.ocmotorsports.com

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