Friday, August 11, 2017

Is there any good reason to lift a truck?

And yes, I'm serious.

I have a 2007 Dodge.  It's showed up here or on my other blogs in the background fairly frequently.

I've had my 2007 Dodge since 2007.

I love the truck.  It's had its problems, to be sure, but all in all its been a good one.  It has nearly 150,000 miles on it, but with a Cummins diesel engine, it'll last for a long time.  It's not rusting out, it still does good on the highway (although I'm noticing a slight wobble in my steering. . . probably need to get it aligned, it'll tow any kind of trailer with ease.  It's been a good one.

But there's one thing about it that's always been a problem. Every year, during elk season, if I have an elk license, I managed to scrape the undercarriage with a rock or something or I get it high centered.

Now, it's a long truck.


And that no doubt explains a lot of this.

My across the street neighbor has a truck of nearly the same vintage which is also a crew cab, but with a short box.  He's put a leveling kit on his and the next biggest set of tires (the biggest that will go on the truck's rims) and it truly looks like it has more clearance.  But then, it's not a long box.

And the factory Dodge Power Wagon (the ones they make now, not the old ones, which are a completely different deal) seem to come with that suspension from the factory, or something like it.

Recent model Power Wagon, with slightly higher suspension and larger tires.

I'm tempted, but is it a bad idea?

Some say go for it, but mostly, in the knowledgeable truck community, the opposite opinion seems to hold sway.  For one thing, larger tires change the gear ratio, by default, some.  For another, however, some warn that this contributes to the dreaded "Death Wobble", about which I know little, but which I wish to avoid.

And then there's the cost.



Rich said...

Years and years ago, I installed moderate suspension lifts on my older straight axle 4WD's (in the 2-3 in. range) and I always thought it improved them by allowing me to install bigger tires and it seemed to "balance" the front and rear suspensions (if that makes sense).

On my pickups, the factory front suspension always seems too soft compared to the rear suspensions so that when I fly down a rough road I always get that feeling like I'm going to tear the front end out while the rear end is too stiff and bouncing all over creating a sort of harmonic imbalance. Installing a stiffer front suspension made both front and rear work together better, although the bigger tires also helped with the ride.

I don't have any experience with Dodge pickups, but I did have an older Jeep Grand Cherokee that had basically the same suspension as the straight axle Dodges from about '94 until ?? (I'm not sure on the dates). I thought about putting a lift on it (but never did), and from what I remember, some of the death wobble issues had to do with the track bars and trailing arms being adjusted correctly and/or the bushings being worn. If your Dodge has the straight front axle, I would guess that it would be similar.

Unless you go crazy with your lift and tire size (8" lift and 37" tires), I would think that your gearing would be fine for a slightly bigger tire.

One of the downsides to a lift might be the higher hitch height if you pull a stock trailer or a fifth wheel trailer, although if it's just a leveling kit, that might not be much of an issue.

Pat, Marcus & Alexis said...

Thanks Rich, I was hoping you'd reply.

For the lift, what I was actually pondering was a leveling kit. That's what my neighbor did and that added about 1" in and of itself. His accommodated a trailer so that it won't sink low when a trailer is attached. He also put on the largest size tires that the stock rims will accommodate, which adds about another 1" to 1.5 Of course, that only gives me .5" to 1" additional for the differentials of the axles, which isn't much, which is one of the reasons I've held off. Oh his, which is a crew cab like mine, but with his being a short box, it looks substantial. Of course it isn't that which I'm high centering on, although I do occasionally hit the differentials with rocks and I've been worried about that. A little higher would be nice, but would it accomplish much?

I know some guys but on heavy steering dampers to counter the threat of the wobble, and perhaps I'd do that.

Of course, my natural cheapness deters me from doing anything.

Rich said...

Right now, I'm driving a Chevy Silverado 1500 4wd. After I tore the plastic spoiler halfway off of the front bumper while turning around in a pasture, I adjusted the front torsion bars to raise the front about 1.0-1.5" higher.

You'd be surprised at how much easier it is to do things like crawling under the truck to change the oil with that little bit of additional height. I'd be willing to bet that it might also be a little bit harder to get hung up on a rocky road.

I'd be tempted to jack up the frame to approximate the height after a leveling kit was installed and take a few before and after measurements.

Pat, Marcus & Alexis said...

Thanks Rich, that gives me some good ideas.

Pat, Marcus & Alexis said...

By the way, that top photo was taken on my way in elk hunting several years ago. That's the spot where I could no longer clear a rock in a narrow road.

I could now do that with my Jeep.

Of course, there were two of us, and a Jeep doesn't have enough room to carry one elk, let alone two, should a person be lucky enough to find one.

Rich said...

Back in my eat, sleep and everything else Jeep days, there was a company building off-road trailers that could be towed with Jeeps over some pretty rough terrain. They had about a 5 foot long bed, the same track width as a Jeep, tubing frames, the same tires and wheels as the tow vehicle, and longer tongues for better maneuverability.

I always thought a trailer like that would be a good setup to use for something like hunting in rougher country.

I don't know if they are still being built, but I still have some magazine articles saved somewhere so that I can possibly build a copy of one if I ever find myself with a Jeep again.

Of course, building or buying a trailer would probably cost much more than a modest suspension lift and some tires.

You could always throw a sledge hammer and a long prybar in the bed so that big rocks can be made into little rocks whenever they threaten to jump up and grab something. That solution could either be easier than expected, a Herculean task, or a shortcut to a bunch of pulled muscles.