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Front End Geometry


This is a discussion on Front End Geometry within the Lowered forums, part of the 3rd Gen : 2002 - 2008 category!
Now that the visual mods are getting wrapped up on the truck, it's time to address a problem that I ...


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Old 03-29-2016, 09:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Front End Geometry
Now that the visual mods are getting wrapped up on the truck, it's time to address a problem that I have with my truck. That problem is the front end geometry with the 5" drop up front. There are some serious geometry problems when lowering a ram this far and absolutely nothing is really right which can cause some erratic handling on rough roads.

So I'm coming up with a plan to fix it and get everything lined up as good as possible so that the truck not only handles correctly, but will likely ride a lot better as well.

1. Upper Control Arms - As many people have seen, the upper control arms on a seriously lowered truck are sitting at a very unnatural angle which screws things up. There are 2 problems that I have identified that need to be addressed with the upper control arms. The first is the inner mounting location. In my case, raising the upper mounting location 3" will put the control arm at level again. After doing some math, it will introduce another issue though, which is camber adjustment. It seems that leveling out the control arms may make the camber more severe than the stock adjustments will allow. The only fix for this is a longer upper control arm. It doesn't have to be much longer, but anything helps keep the geometry correct.

Doing some research, this means that I need to order these two parts in order to correct the situation:

02-05 / 06+ Dodge Ram Raised Upper Control Arm Brackets

02-05 Ram 1500

I think that will fix quite a bit of issues, but there's still 2 more things that I want to address, neither will be as expensive as fixing the upper control arm geometry:

2. Tie Rod angle/bump steer. Contrary to what most people think, bump steer works a bit different than you would think. Bumpsteer is actually a severe change in the toe in as the suspension travels. If the geometry is correct, the toe should change very little, but on a seriously lowered Ram, there is a huge change in toe throughout the travel. I have not measured it yet as I don't personally own a bumpsteer gauge, but I have a few friends that road race who own them, so it may be possible for me to actually measure how much bumpsteer I get on a 5" drop in the front. By changing the mounting location and adding spacers in order to get the steering rack as flat as possible, you can typically get bumpsteer to acceptable levels.

There is this kit available, but I am looking at other option using raw parts and a local machinist buddy in order to make my own. It all depends on the cost vs. trouble which way I go, but this is one option:

02-05 Dodge Ram Bumpsteer Kit

3. The next thing that I am going to address is the severe swaybar angle on the truck that's lowered as far as mine. The problem is that as you lower the truck, you also get an odd angle between the sway bar and the mounting hole for the sway bar endlink. Based on some other members here, I've decided that the best option is to order 2009 Lincoln Navigator endlinks, which has a joint on both sides to allow for the odd angle and they're also 3" shorter than the stockers, which should allow the swaybar to return to a more natural angle which should allow it to work more like it did in the stock location. These are available on Rockauto for around $15 each.

I know that in a perfect world, there would be a way to fix the geometry of the lower control arm as well, but in order to do that, I'm going to get into a lot of custom (expensive) work for not as much benefit as these 3 things.

Thoughts? Anything that I missed?
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Old 03-30-2016, 08:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Ever thought about Z'ing your front frame to go even lower? I was reading about it on another forum where the guy who owns Michigan Metal Works did it to his while he was installing his custom raised UCA bracket doo dads.


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Old 03-30-2016, 11:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by usaf2006 View Post
Ever thought about Z'ing your front frame to go even lower? I was reading about it on another forum where the guy who owns Michigan Metal Works did it to his while he was installing his custom raised UCA bracket doo dads.
Nah, I don't really want it any lower. I just want it to ride and handle decently without premature parts wear. I'm pretty happy with the 5/8 drop.
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Old 04-01-2016, 04:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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i was in the same boat with my 5/8 drop and did basically what you want to do.

1. The MMW kit will solve all your problems as far as caster/camber/ angle issues. The kit requires you to remove the stock mounts entirely and mount the new brackets there. I had the ability to make my own setup and essentially mount the brackets over the stock ones. either way you do it, youll eliminate the alignment issues and the truck will ride a lot better after.

2. im not a fan of the bump steer kits. the more I dug into it, especially with the srt guys, they were having problems with the heim joints failing and falling off. Not many people have shed light on tie rod flipping and reverse reaming the steering knuckles. I did it to mine and it was the best thing I did to the truck after the drop. you can get ahold of a balljoint/tie rod reamer online for $90-100. a little expensive but worth it having the peace of mind knowing you wont lose a tie rod at 70mph. the correct reamer you need is a 1.5 inch taper per foot. say goodbye to bump steer after flipping them over. at ride height the tie rods will be nearly level

3. the navigator links will help the sway bar if youre running djm arms. the problems I ran into with new England roads is they didn't last long. I removed the sway bar along with the links and haven't looked back. these trucks are heavy to begin with and setting it lower to the ground you wont notice a drastic difference
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Old 04-01-2016, 04:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by moparman View Post
i was in the same boat with my 5/8 drop and did basically what you want to do.

1. The MMW kit will solve all your problems as far as caster/camber/ angle issues. The kit requires you to remove the stock mounts entirely and mount the new brackets there. I had the ability to make my own setup and essentially mount the brackets over the stock ones. either way you do it, youll eliminate the alignment issues and the truck will ride a lot better after.

2. im not a fan of the bump steer kits. the more I dug into it, especially with the srt guys, they were having problems with the heim joints failing and falling off. Not many people have shed light on tie rod flipping and reverse reaming the steering knuckles. I did it to mine and it was the best thing I did to the truck after the drop. you can get ahold of a balljoint/tie rod reamer online for $90-100. a little expensive but worth it having the peace of mind knowing you wont lose a tie rod at 70mph. the correct reamer you need is a 1.5 inch taper per foot. say goodbye to bump steer after flipping them over. at ride height the tie rods will be nearly level

3. the navigator links will help the sway bar if youre running djm arms. the problems I ran into with new England roads is they didn't last long. I removed the sway bar along with the links and haven't looked back. these trucks are heavy to begin with and setting it lower to the ground you wont notice a drastic difference
I run a similar bumpsteer kit on my Mustang and we always ensured that the heim joint was captured in order to ensure that if it does fail, you don't completely lose steering and end up in a bad situation. I did some searching around and it seems that while most are worried about breaking the heim joint, there doesn't seem to be many actual instances of it happening.

I will definitely look into reverse reaming the mounting points instead. While the reamer is expensive, it still ends up being cheaper being able to run stock outer tie rod ends and eliminates any worry about the heim joint. I only worry about that because while the stock spindles are aluminum, my drop spindles are steel, so if the reamer couldn't handle doing the steel, it may end up being a waste and end up being an expensive exercise in futility.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am in the same boat right now and trying to figure out how to address all these same issues. I aligned it the other day and have run out of adjustment, and it's not quite in spec yet, according to factory specs. Though much better than before. I had over 2 degrees of camber at the LF wheel and now .6 at both left and right. Could use some more caster as well. I have some 1/4" plate to make some new UCA mounts.

The factory sway bar ends have been killed and are clicking due to the extreme angles. I'm going to see if I can use a normal universal end link from Prothane or Energy Suspension with some fabrication to the LCA.

The bumpsteer is the worst though. Moparman, that is a good idea with the reamer. I'm going to look into it. And these SRT guys and other failures were with the MMW kits? They advertise as having very high quality rod ends that won't fail as easily.

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Old 04-05-2016, 12:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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A normal swaybar endlink won't work, I thought about that as well but after doing the research and looking under the truck, I doubt you could even get them to line up and if you did, they would bend the first time you hit a bump.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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So I've started gathering the parts and through further advice and research, I've decided to take moparman's advice on the bumpsteer kit.

I've already ordered new inner and outer tie rods. I figure if I'm going to go through the trouble of all of this work, I'm going to replace everything while I'm in there. I also ordered new poly steering rack bushings while I'm in there.

The reamer will be ordered on Friday and that will give me all the steering parts. Then it'll be time to move on to the suspension parts. I've located 2 great shops here locally to do the welding, both of them are awesome, I just need to choose one.
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Old 04-15-2016, 02:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Cool, looking forward to seeing how things work out for you.

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Old 04-15-2016, 10:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I was reading somewhere, that heim joints are really light duty, and are not appropriate for suspension /steering for heavy vehicles. I was surprised because you see a lot of racers using them. Maybe they use like aircraft grade hems or something.
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