2018 Ram Diesel Lifted Carli Style

    Multitalented Diesel Suspension

    Jay KopycinskiPhotographer, Writer

    Carli Suspension isn’t just something you stab under your truck’s framerails to fit bigger tires and look cool rolling into the mall. Carli actually engineers its suspension systems, with specially designed applications for Dodge, Ram, and Ford trucks that ride killer, increase wheel travel, and retain on-road drivability and hauling capability without sacrificing off-road performance.

    When it came time for the owner of this 2018 Ram 3500 Cummins with the Aisin six-speed transmission to improve the suspension, Carli offered a topnotch lift system to meet its needs. The plan was to build a crawler-hauler-daily-driver-working truck that can go reasonably fast in the desert, crawl rocks, and serve as a recovery and trailer-hauling rig. It’s a tall order, a pickup that can do it all.

    Carli offers four 3-inch suspension systems: Leveling, Commuter, Backcountry, and Pintop. For this truck the Backcountry system was used since it improves not only off-road performance but also highway ride. New coil springs and full-replacement Deaver rear leaf packs, along with application-tuned Fox shocks with remote reservoirs, make for a complete package.

    To retain good front suspension geometry with the added lift, Carli provides new brackets for the frame to drop the rear attachment point of the radius arms. The plan was to go from the stock 34-inch-tall tires to 37-inch ones. As such, we also used a set of Carli radius arms that are much beefier than stock, use a spherical joint at the frame end, and are angled inward on each side to allow for greater tire clearance at full steering lock.

    The Cummins-powered trucks come with a fat torsion bar from the factory that severely limits front axle articulation. It can be retained with the Carli lifts, but we opted to use Carli’s torsion sway bar because it’s tuned to allow the axle to move more freely from the chassis, improving ride quality and trail flex. The lift kit also includes an adjustable front track bar, plus bumpstops and limit straps to protect the Fox 2.0 reservoir shocks under full bottoming and droop conditions. In addition, we added a Carli high-mount steering stabilizer to supplement the stock unit. The radius arms and track bar come preassembled with spherical joints, and Carli provides detailed instructions for the kit build.

    The lift was installed at Lamb Fab in Gilbert, Arizona. With two guys working with the truck on a lift, the install was completed in one day. In general, only common mechanic tools were needed, with the exception of a right-angle drill for making some of the holes in the frame. Two limit strap brackets do require welding at the frame. We estimate the lift could be installed in a home driveway over a weekend with two people, given the amount of work needed and the weight of some of the parts.

    With the rise in height and fender clearance, it was time to mount some new rubber to the Ram. The truck now turns 37X13.50R17LT Toyo Open Country R/T tires. These are an aggressive all-terrain-type tire designed to provide solid off-road traction combined with comfortable highway ride and handling. The 37-inch tire is a D-rated tread with a load rating of 3,195 pounds at 50 psi.

    The new suspension felt firm at first, but after some trailering and a good trail run the springs set in and softened. After a month they keep getting better. With the lift and larger tires, the approach angle was improved by about 8 degrees and departure angle by about 4 degrees. Axle ground clearance went up 1 1/2 inches due to the increase in tire height. The truck rides well both on the highway and off-road. The suspension feels like it wants to roll fast through whoops, and soaks them up cleanly. The truck still tows well while also flexing better in the dirt. The Toyo R/T tires turned out to be a great fit for this project. They are very quiet on the highway, feel stable, and still provide solid traction under most trail conditions we should encounter. Overall, the choice of lift combined with upgraded tires greatly improved the performance of this diesel Ram.

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