AEV Upgrades for 2016 Ram 2500, Part 1 - Big-Tire Ram Time
3-Inch AEV Lift and 37-Inch Tires Properly Fill the Fenders of a 2016 Ram 2500
Of all the current models of 3/4- and 1-ton trucks available, the 2014 and later Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickups have perhaps the most empty-looking wheelwells from the factory. These trucks are just screaming for bigger tires, both figuratively and in terms of engine speed. If you stepped into the Cummins diesel option with 3.73 or 4.10 axle gears, then you are well aware that the engine is revving up on high-speed unloaded freeway jaunts and chewing through fuel like a tugboat. You can quickly cure the empty-wheelwell and fuel-chomping challenges, not to mention increase the truck’s off-road prowess, by installing larger tires.
We wanted to maintain the relatively smooth ride of our coil-sprung, Cummins-powered 2016 Ram 2500 Mega Cab, so we opted for the American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) 3-inch DualSport Suspension System. Since these trucks come with something like a thousand different spring rates from the factory (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s a lot), AEV developed the use of a well-engineered spring relocation mount system to retain the factory spring rates while allowing plenty of room and wheel travel for better off-road performance with big tires. The kit retains the factory coil springs at all four corners and upgrades the suspension geometry to match the increased ride height. And the specifically valved Bilstein shocks completely blow away the ride quality of all but the Power Wagon factory suspension.
To have our truck assembled, we headed over to OC Motorsports in Costa Mesa, California, which just so happens to be one of the few authorized AEV dealers. OC Motorsports does a huge volume of Jeep and Ram builds, especially with the high-quality AEV components, so we knew we wouldn’t run into any install-related hiccups. Keep an eye out for the next installment where we’ll cover the installation of the beefier front bumper, functional steps that won’t decrease ground clearance, and more.
OC Motorsports tech, Jason Green, removed the factory coils so the offset AEV coil spring relocation mounts and lower track bar bracket could be installed on the front axle. The sway bar links are disconnected and saved for reuse once the sway bar is relocated with AEV brackets.
The lower passenger-side coil bucket needs to be trimmed for fitment of the spring relocation mount. Only a small bit is removed. A reciprocating saw, cutoff wheel, or plasma cutter makes quick work of the snip job.
The multipiece AEV track bar bracket keys into several places on the front axle for more strength. It raises the track bar mounting for proper steering and suspension geometry.
An AEV track bar replaces the factory piece. Green uses a ratchet strap to help center the axle and line up the track bar bolt holes prior to installation.
Proper steering geometry is maintained by flipping the draglink to the top of the steering knuckle. The knuckle is reamed out to accept the tapered AEV insert.
An adjustable heavy-duty AEV draglink replaces the factory part. Proper draglink and track bar modifications are extremely important for eliminating bumpsteer on lifted Ram trucks. The AEV track bar bracket, track bar, and draglink are all designed to work together.
Damping is handled by Bilstein 5100 Series shocks with AEV-spec valving. The front brake and ABS lines are rerouted using brackets and AEV steel replacement hard lines. The factory coil springs sit on top of the 3-inch-lift spring relocation mounts bolted to the axle.
Radius-arm drop brackets correct steering caster and move the front axle forward 1 inch. This relocation is said to provide a more neutral impact response while also allowing increased clearance for larger tires.
Since the AEV coil buckets move the front axle forward for tire clearance at the rear of the front fender openings, a 1-inch front driveshaft spacer is included with the system. It is keyed into place to ensure everything is lined up.
Out back, 2-inch coil spring relocation mounts are bolted to the Ram 2500’s frame. Ram 3500 trucks receive 2-inch leaf spring lift blocks and new U-bolts.
The factory Ram 2500 rear track bar is retained, but a hefty AEV track bar bracket raises the axle-side mounting to correct the suspension geometry. The bracket is attached to the axle in several places for increased strength and survivability.
The rear suspension also receives AEV-spec Bilstein 5100 Series shocks. Longer sway bar endlinks and bumpstop extensions complete the installation. Temporary removal of the plastic inner fenderwells allows for easier access to this area.
The AEV 3-inch DualSport Suspension System allows fitment of 37-inch tires with no rubbing at full suspension articulation. We had OC Motorsports wrap our 17x8.5 AEV Salta HD wheels with General’s new DOT-legal 37x12.50R17 Grabber tires. OC Motorsports uses a touchless tire machine, which eliminates the possibility of wheel or tire damage during mounting.
The General Grabbers are extremely durable. We consider them a high-survivability tire that can take a lot of punishment off-road. That strength does come at a cost, though. They are heavy tires and some of them required over 16 ounces to balance out. The worst offenders are installed on the rear of the truck. That said, they roll smooth and surprisingly quite on the road.
We capped our onyx-black AEV Salta HD wheels with optional bolt-on trim rings to cover the lug nuts. The wheels are also available in silver and flat black. The trim rings are only available with a dark gray satin finish.
The factory Ram 2500 tire pressure sensors are retained, allowing the TPS system to function just like stock. One of the features we really appreciate about the AEV Salta HD wheels is the built-in valve stem protection. The included AEV ProCal Module corrects the Ram speedometer for use with larger tires and wheels and makes it possible for new 2016 Rams to lower the TPMS threshold for use with D-load-range tires.