On Tuesday we upped the boost and the fuel delivery to give our 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 plenty of power. Today we’re going to take the same approach with our lift, braking, and towing setup: more is better.
There’s a vast bank of Dodge Ram parts to choose from when upgrading your truck, but few are more popular than a good lift kit. You have some options here. There’s a common belief that you can’t add a conventional lift kit and a set of load-leveling air springs, but that’s a filthy lie. You can have the low cost and easy installation of a fixed lift kitand the variable adjustability of air springs. We’ll start with a Readylift SST 3″ lift. It’s not the only Ram lift kit you can get, but it might be the simplest, safest, and easiest to install.
Readylift spacers bolt in above the coils, effectively dropping the front spring seats by three inches to raise up the rest of the truck. In the back, a pair of blocks fit between the axles and the leaf springs, raising the springs, and therefore the rear of the truck, by two inches. The kit also includes longer bump stops, sway bar drops, and shock extenders for the front, and longer U-bolts for the back, along with all needed hardware. This setup allows you to retain your factory driving dynamics while giving you more clearance for bigger tires or deeper mud. Or both.
So why just 2″ in the back if it’s 3″ up front? Most of the weight in a truck rests on the front, where you’ll find the engine. Raise the front, and the rear will “follow” it, allowing for an even look. But what if the rear becomes heavier than the front? Will the truck stay level? After all, there’s a bed that will fit stuff. Heavy stuff. Then there’s towing, already an issue with a lifted truck. The hazards of driving an unlevel truck abound. If the nose is too far down, you could hurt your stability and fuel efficiency, but if it’s too far up, you need to start worrying about braking and steering.
Thankfully, Air Lift has the solution. Their rear Loadlifter leveling kit is fully adjustable for the times when you’re towing or hauling heavy loads. It’s everything you need to hook up a pair of air bags between the axle and the frame. If you need more ride height, just pump some air into the bags, and you’re up. Once you’re done towing or hauling, just release the air to let your truck ride at normal height again. You can do this all from inside or outside the truck with Air Lift’s WirelessAIR leveling compressor control system. The kit comes with a compressor, tubing, a control module, the wiring harness to hook it all up, and all the hardware you need. So when you need to pump up, just punch a button and the compressor will kick in, pumping up the bags. Punch another button to let the air back out. Since the control module is wireless, you can even take it outside the truck to get a visual lock on how level the truck is. It can even be programmed with two different pressure settings, so if you have two different trailers to haul, it’s even easier.
As mentioned, these air bags stretch from the axles to the frame, but what about our lift kit? The rear blocks sit between the axle and the leaf springs. This creates a greater overall distance between the axle and the frame, and the air bags, as they are, no longer fit. So Air Lift developed their Lock-N-Lift air bag spacers. These lock onto the bases of your air springs and bridge the gap between the springs and the axle. Each spacer fills a 2″ gap, so one on each side will be enough for our uses, but the spacers are stackable, so they work just as well for higher lifts, too.
These air springs do not act as dampers. They cushion your ride, but aren’t designed to replace the outward motion of your shocks. That’s why we’re recommending a set of Bilstein shocks, both front and rear. Bilstein’s work is legendary, and their Dodge Ram shocks are no exception.
So about that towing job. What if it’s big? What if it’s gooseneck big? Thanks to the tuning we implemented the other day, the power and torque are there, ready to haul the trailer. Now all we need is somewhere to hook it up. B&W hitches has us taken care of with their Turnoverball system. It’s pretty much the coolest thing in gooseneck hitches. Like any gooseneck hitch, it bolts up under your truck bed. But that leaves the annoying hitch ball in the middle of your bed, an obstacle to whatever you want to put in there while your trailer is off. With the Turnoverball, you can unlock the ball, turn it over, and drop it back down into the socket for a smooth surface.
Any time you hitch anything to the center of the bed, be it with a gooseneck ball hitch or a fifth wheel, you’ll need to relocate your trailer hookup wiring harness. This is not a big deal if you have the right parts. Like this adapter from Tow Ready. It just plugs into your existing trailer socket, snakes up to the bed, and ends in another socket to plug in your gooseneck trailer.
But the most important part of any towing rig isn’t the hitch. It’s the brakes. Towing with inadequate brakes can be extremely dangerous, and chances are, your gooseneck has brakes of its own. You need a controller on board to let that gooseneck know when to apply its own brakes, a sortof liaison between the truck and the trailer. Tekonsha’s P3 brake controller fits the bill. Some brake controllers are timed, which means they adjust the trailer brakes based on when you hit your truck brakes; but the P3 is a proportionalcontroller, which means it adjusts the trailer brakes for how much you mash that pedal. It will give you the safest, most accurate stopping experience. You’ll need this wiring harness to hook it up.
Yet for all that trailer-mounted stopping power, it’s also important to be able to stop all the tonnage that is your truck. Remember, we’re running alot of extra power, so brakes should be able to step up should the need arise. We’re opting for Stoptech elements all around. Their rotors, front-right, front-left, rear-right, and rear-left, are all different parts. Why? Because the stock rotors, front to back, are different sizes. Furthermore, all rotors are slotted. They have notches cut out of the discs to sweep away brake dust and create a better stopping surface. And the slots have different directions. We’re also going to add some of Stoptech’s Posi Quiet pads at all four corners, both front and rear. Posi Quiet, as the name suggests, are designed to provide extreme stopping power quietly, and they’re designed for heavy duty use. Like our tow rig.
So yes, between power and protection, lifting and bumpers, and towing and stopping, we’ve just built the perfect mad diesel Dodge. Now go mod your own. Click any of the links above to shop for your own Dodge Ram accessories! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or chat with us at StreetsideAuto.com. Our friendly, American techs are standing by to equip you with the knowledge you need to mod your truck right.
Don’t forget, we chose this truck because a reader suggested it in the comments section, and we sent him a $100 StreetsideAuto.com gift card because we picked it! We need your suggestions for what to AutoMod next, so drop them in the comments, and you’ll be entered to win your own $100 gift card. We’ll announce this month’s winner next Friday, April 24th at noon, so get cracking!
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.