Q&A How-to: Answers to Dodge/Ram Truck and Trailer Towing
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Axle Rebuilding and Ring-and-Pinion Gear Changeouts!
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 3:26 PM
To: 4WD Mechanix Magazine
Subject: Ref: past article on AAM 9.25" beam front axle!
Found your site and the wonderful writeup on the AAM 11.5 rear axle. Noted at bottom of article ref to the 9.25
front axle! Can't seem to find it. Anyway to get a link/zip of the article??
Also have any articles on a 48RE trans or Dodge 3rd gen diesel main seal replacemant/etc..
tuned! I’m in the process of doing the front axle. (Ran in 2WD over the summer; time constrained, I
split the job up.) I will have a home page blurb when the 9.25” work is in place. Likely, I’ll do that
piece in HD video for the 4WD Mechanix Video Network's "4WD Mechanix Tech How-to Channel", as there is
considerable overlap between the 11.5” and 9.25” axle builds.
Thanks for your
comments on the 11.5” AAM axle work,
I thought the topic deserved this level of attention and detail. There’s a lot of misinformation floating
around the internet...Techs and builders deserve better!
See my article on
the RH/RE upgrades in the "Automatic Transmission
Workshop" section. The Sonnax upgrades solve a lot of
Trailering a Jeep 4x4 to the
trailhead requires the right tow vehicle and equipment. Safety equipment like an equalizing hitch helps
assure trailer stability and control.
Dodge Ram 'Leveling
Lift' and New Noises
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2012 5:32 PM
To: 4WD Mechanix Magazine
Subject: 2007 ram track bar issue
I have an '07 ram with
cummins. I recently added a 2 inch leveling
run 305-70-17 bfg mud
tires.I have new ball joints and tie rod ends. I have new moog
bushings in the track bar. I
am still getting movement in the track
bar and a knocking feeling when going over small bumps and when I make slight turns at highway speeds.
Last night I watched as my wife
rapidly moved the steering wheel back and forth. I could see movement at both bushings,
and I could feel a pop type movement in
every steering bar and tie rod. I could see
the frame move
The truck has 71K on
it. Do you have
any suggestions? I have never had the death wobble
symptoms, just this knocking
feeling coming through the steering wheel.
On Jul 28,
2012, at 9:45 PM, Moses Ludel at "4WD Q & A" replied:
Rick...Are the bushing bolt bracket holes
elongated? Clucking can range from steering gear backlash (heard with very slight back-and-forth
movement of the steering wheel, prior to
applying pressure to the tie-rods or track bar) to a loose or misaligned/binding track bar.
Check all tie-rod clamps for
proper tightening torque. Watch as your wife moves the steering wheel right and left in slightly wider arcs each
time. See if the cluck is at the track
bar frame bracket or elsewhere.
It is common to see the frame
move if the axle is stationary, and you're turning the wheels. The track bar will compress and shift the frame
laterally. This can also occur with a
misaligned track bar, which could be causing the bind and noise you hear.
Make sure the track bar is
aligned and not binding. If you "lifted" the truck with front springs or spacers without relocating or "dropping" the track bar
end, the axle will want to pull or push
the frame sideways. Normally, the track
bar maintains an arc that holds the axle on center as the springs stretch and compress.
If you installed a front
suspension lift without track bar relocation, the bar could be binding as the springs and axle rise and set. Most lift kits provide
pieces for relocating or dropping the track bar. The relocation bracket keeps the axle movement on a centered, non-binding
Let me know what you
find...Sounds track bar related. 71K should be too few miles for other issues.
Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2012
To: 4WD Q &
Subject: Re: 2007 ram track
Do you have any suggestions
or recommendations for a track bar relocation bracket?
Rick, if that's the issue, there
may be an adjustable track bar available. Check with the aftermarket suspension kits, the goal is to have the
axles tracking properly and centered when the vehicle stands in a static position.
My guess is that the front axle
is being tugged sideways now, due to the longer front springs. Whether you relocate a track bar end or
substitute a track bar with the proper length, the goal is to have the front and rear axles tracking parallel
and centered at static height of the truck.
Does this sound consistent with
your problem? A quick test is to raise the front of the truck, set the frame on jack stands, and allow
the front axle to drop down under spring tension to maximum drop. See if the axle pulls off
to one side, a sign of the track bar being too short...This could cause bind when the truck's front springs are
Whether you use an adjustable
track bar or drop bracket, be certain there is no binding or interference between steering linkage, the track
bar, the frame and other pieces. Check clearance over the full range of travel and the lock-to-lock steering
angles for the front axle.
From: Rick O.
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2012 5:36 PM
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: 2007 ram track bar issue
Moses, I have an update for you. My issue is now
fixed. The intermediate steering shaft has been a long time issue in General motors and Dodge pickups. The upper
joint (looks like a drive shaft u joint) had loosened up on one side. It appears that one side is steel and the
other is aluminum. The aluminum side was loose. This was causing the knocking noise as I went over bumps. When I
was turning at hi-way speeds it appears slight road bumps or the force trying to keep 2 large tires parallel was
causing feed back and knocking of this shaft. All this time I could feel this feed back through the steering
wheel. I can remember similar feed back in a Suburban I used to own. The feed back was not enough to warrant
concern at that time. I was running stock tires and no lift.
Borgeson makes an upgraded shaft that sells in the
mid $200 range. This one part alone has completely gotten rid of the steering wheel feed back and knocking
Thanks again for your help
P.S.: The track bar still has some movement with
the new Moog bushings, but this is definitely a weak point in Dodge heavy duty pickups. This movement is not
causing an issues or noticeable effects at this time.
Rick, I am very pleased to hear that you found the cure. We were addressing the
linkage after the steering box and not between the steering wheel and box. This makes perfect sense. I would
imagine that you now find the steering more taut, less play and need for input when you're driving straight
ahead on the highway, less wander, too.
Thanks much for updating me on this upgrade and solution...
Picking a Suitable Tow Vehicle
From: Joe M.
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2012 9:13 AM
To: 4WD Mechanix Magazine
Subject: Dually / Jeep Trailer
I agree with you that if we get a large
camper, a dually is the way to go. However, I would rather not have the dually and would prefer the
maneuverability of a SRW. I also really don't relish the thought of being an 18,000-20,000 lbs, 45 foot long, 5
axle projectile going down the highway at 60mph!!
My current concern is if I trailer our Jeep
TJ Wrangler Rubicon along with the current camper (on the truck I currently have), I appear to be so close to
the max weight numbers that I am not comfortable with the thought!
Like you, I like the flat bed and do not
want a dovetail trailer! The Jeep is 13 feet long. I would think that a 16 foot trailer would be fine in view of
the wheelbase being less than 8 feet. The deck width (inside of the wheel wells) of the aluminum trailer I am
considering is 80" or 6.7 feet, and the Jeep with my 35" Toyos is no more than 72"
wide. The aluminum trailer is expensive but with proper
maintenance it should last me for as long as I need it!
Joe, I like a 140” or so wheelbase maximum and
a Dodge-Ram 3500 chassis for better brakes and other features. Single rear wheel is okay for conventional
trailering, always use an equalizing hitch and even a sway control brake if necessary. Often, an equalizing/load
distributing hitch takes care of most sway tendency without the need for a sway control
I do not like a lot of weight in the bed of a
truck, as this loads the springs, affects handling and reduces the tire reserve capacity. My preference is
tugging a conventional trailer with the right hitch arrangement. Some swear by the Hensley Arrow hitch
(http://hensleymfg.com/), and it has a great reputation.
I am fine with an SRW pickup and a
conventional, pull-type trailer. Ideally, a Hensley Arrow hitch would be the choice, although I have pulled
hefty trailers for over four decades with a common load distribution or "equalizing" hitch, electric trailer
brakes and a frictional sway control brake.
A fifth wheel trailer is another thing
altogether. There are pros and cons. Clearly, I would not pull a large fifth wheel with a SRW truck, a dually
would be a necessity. When I see a 12'-plus tall, fifth-wheel travel trailer, lurking above an SRW pickup truck
and racing toward me on a two-lane highway, I cringe. A rear tire blowout on that truck could be
If you could see yourself in a dually 4WD,
consider a fifth wheel, and that opens the option of a massive, custom floor plan “garage” equipped toy hauler.
Some of these fifth wheel trailers, with a modified floor plan, can accommodate a TJ Wrangler like yours. The
big issue is ramp capacity, garage width/length and load-bearing capacity at the garage in the trailer. The
models I’ve seen have total wall separation to the living space, much like a forward “apartment” with a garage
at the back!
Our Dodge Ram 3500 SRW 4WD was a wise choice
for gross capacity and added stamina in the chassis and drivetrain. I’m not a big cabover camper buff; they
throw off the center-of-gravity and roll center badly—and are more of a handful for a tire blowout than a
conventional pull-type trailer with a load distributing hitch.
I prefer leaving the truck weighted to the
normal hitch/tongue weight (let’s say a maximum of 500 lbs at the hitch for a heavy trailer), easily
accomplished when using an equalizing/load distributing hitch. This balance is enough tongue weight for ample
traction in all-season driving with 4WD. I’m assuming that, in any case, you will get a 4WD
Also, for highway use, even with the
ridiculous, unwarranted bump in diesel fuel cost, it’s cost-effective to have a diesel. Gale Banks swears by the
G.M. Duramax, I like the Ram Cummins; either way, you do have the diesel advantages if you intend to keep the
truck for over 200,000 miles…Otherwise, get the right axle gearing and do a hemi gasoline engine, not as
efficient as diesel but workable if you like gasoline engines.
Chrysler offers robust truck V-8s that can move
any GCWR trailer—if you order the right gearing. My preference, of course, is the new Ram 3500 truck with a 6.7L
Cummins diesel (no exhaust fluid requirement) and the latest automatic transmission.