You finally bought your dream truck, a muscle-bound, full size Ram. It has enough torque to carve the sequel to the Grand Canyon, and room enough to protect your entire family from the definitely impending zombie apocalypse. It’s an awesome tribute to American ingenuity, a monument to getting dirt under your fingernails and working hard enough to work out while working. But there’s always room for improvement. So we put together a list of some of our favorite Dodge Ram 1500 mods and upgrades, many of which you can install yourself, right in your garage or driveway. We get it: You have to budget for parts. Since they’re not made out of cardboard and corn starch, they tend to cost a little more than your average giant barrel of cheese poofs, which is okay, since they last longer and are more nutritious. So we organized these parts by price, from lowest to highest, so you can map out your own path for your Ram upgrades.
For our example truck, we picked one of the most popular Ram configurations out there: A 1500 Express Crew Cab with a 5.7 Hemi and a 5’7″ bed. If your truck differs from this, even a little, these parts might not fit. We probably do have parts that fit your truck, though, so if you’re not sure what you need, drop your question in the comments section below, or give us a call at 877.787.8989 and one of our expert, local techs will make sure you get the right parts.
Keep in mind, too, that these are the listed prices as of January 2018 and are subject to change in the future. To make sure your part pricing is up to date, click the links below to the parts directly on Streetside.
Ram 1500 Mods: $15-$250
Topline Wheel Installation Kit
Thieves are the worst. They basically look at the fact that you work hard for your money, and instead of being inspired to do the same, they just take the stuff you worked to buy. The stuff you need, like the wheels on your truck. But you can help prevent them from getting away with anything, and all it takes is a few simple parts, like this Topline Wheel Installation Kit. Don’t let the name complicate things. The kit includes a complete set of lug nuts, chrome-sleeved valve stems, and a key socket to install and remove the lug nuts. But these aren’t plain old lug nuts. They’re spline-type lug nuts, which means you can only turn them with the key. Some automakers will include one locking lug per wheel, but thieves have found ways around these by now. This Topline kit has a full set of lug nuts for every wheel, and once thieves see how much work it will be to get around that, they’ll probably decide it’s not worth it and move on.
Pacer Tailgate Seal
A truck bed is a bit of an in-betweener. Both inside and outside the vehicle, it lets you carry tons of cargo, but not necessarily out of the weather. Even if you have a cap or a tonneau (more on that below), water and dust can still get in through the space around your tailgate. This is good, because if you don’t have your bed covered, rainwater gets in, and it needs a place to go. But if you do have a tonneau or cap, this Pacer Tailgate Seal can finish the job. The thick, durable, outdoor foam seal locks water and dust out, so you can keep your cargo separate from the elements. Easy to install, it just needs a quick peel of the adhesive backing, a stick onto the clean surface of your truck, and a trim to get rid of any excess. You can install it in 5 minutes.
Anzo’s LED Truck Bed Lighting System
Speaking of your truck bed, sometimes it can get a bit dark, especially if you have a tonneau. Civilization has the technology to overcome this, but apparently vehicle manufacturers don’t. Not a problem. Anzo’s LED truck bed lighting system has it more than covered. LEDs are just the greatest, aren’t they? Bright, efficient, and practically eternal, they’re just about the final word in low maintenance, close range lighting. Anzo took advantage of this tech and arranged 18 super bright LEDs in a strip, paired them with another strip, and hooked up a switch. They mount via adhesive under your bed rails (or wherever you like), and illuminate your work space. They wire directly into your truck’s electrical system, so you never have to worry about replacing any batteries. They’re even weatherproof, so you don’t have to worry about shorting.
Covercraft UV Sun Shield
As we write this guide, it’s early October, and the colder months are on the way. Here in Kansas, what little sunlight coming into your truck’s windshield over the winter means welcome warmth. And the opposite is absolutely true, as well. In the summer, the high-octane sunlight in a truck cab will boil your marrow. It does not play. The UV radiation can also destroy the color of your dashboard, and the heat can make it crack. The happiest truck interior is a cool, shady truck interior. That’s why Covercraft made this top-rate UV sun shield. Unlike the ones you pick up at parts stores, it’s custom-fit for your Ram’s windshield, so no light can get through, and it won’t flop all over the place. Just unfold it, stick it in place, and fold your overhead sun visors down to hold it in place. It keeps your cab cool and shaded, and it’s even insulated with a foam core to insulate against every degree possible. The triple laminate construction is tough enough for a lifetime of use, even when it’s folded up and bouncing around in the back.
DU-HA underseat storage system
But if you have stuff you keep in the cab, and everyone does, why should it need to bounce around at all? You have a large, trunk-shaped space under the rear seats. Put it to use with this DU-HA underseat storage system. This clever bin fits exactly under your rear seats, fitting every contour of your Ram’s specific floor, and uses the rear seats as a lid. To access, just fold them back. The DU-HA can hold all the stuff you don’t want bouncing around, but you should probably keep with you on the road: tire irons and other roadside gear, tow straps, flashlights, first aid, road flares, your Covercraft sunshield, and your exhaustive Jethro Tull collection. But the DU-HA’s party piece is the notched gun storage insert array. Keep your shotguns and rifles from sliding around with these included brackets. Just slide them in and hang your guns on them, like a gun rack under the seat, or slide them out if you have bigger cargo. DU-HA’s and Streetside’s legal departments would like you to know that depending on your state laws, the DU-HA may not necessarily constitute legal gun transport, so check your state laws before use.
Now that we have all your stuff off the floor, let’s protect that floor from your feet. Even in low-moisture environments, foot traffic in a truck cab can destroy its carpet in no time. Grinding dirt into the fibers, the friction of climbing up into the cab… And we’re not even talking about spills. Spill one soda. That junk is never coming out. Spill a gallon of milk and you’ve pretty much ruined the carpet. So protect all your carpet in one move with these Husky Weatherbeaters floor mats. This kit includes liners for both the front and back rows, so you only have to make one purchase. Weatherbeaters are unquestionably the best floor mats on the market. They’re precisely designed for your Ram, to fit all the contours of your floor, without voids. They don’t slide around, the cleats on the bottom grabbing onto your carpet and not moving until you lift the liners out. They’re nigh indestructible and warrantied forever. And they hold a ton of liquid. We even tested once. When they get dirty, just pull them out and hose them off.
Fia Seat Covers
The floor isn’t the only thing inside your truck that needs protection from passengers. After a few years of use, your seats, especially your spill-sponge, kid-hauling rear seats, can get so bad you’ll just want to replace them. But that’s expensive. What’s not so expensive is a set of these seat covers from Fia. Custom cut for your Ram and seat type, the covers fit snugly over the seats, including the headrests, and protect them from spills and general wear. They’re made of soft, durable tweed, so they’re machine washable and breathable. They also resist stains, UV rays, and even fire. Fire resistant seats: the best thing to have when driving home from Taco Bell.
Ram 1500 Mods: $250-$500
K&N Cold Air Intake
Let’s move on to something fun, shall we? How about horsepower? That’s definitely more fun. But finding extra horsepower isn’t fun. Engineers spend years trying to squeeze a few more ponies out of an engine and keep it reliable. You don’t have to spend that kind of time. Just bolt up this K&N Cold Air Intake, and you’ll get 15 more horsepower. Though those engineers at Chrysler made this engine as powerful as possible, someone else limited the intake to eliminate the awesome noise and make it cheaper to produce. K&N made their own intake, bringing back said awesome noise and smoothing out the airflow. More air means more power. Key to this extra airflow is K&N’s included cone filter, which allows more air but less particulate through than the stock dry media filter. K&N’s filter is an oiled cotton gauze, which is great for the flow and your wallet, because you never have to change it. Yes, the last filter you’ll ever need for your Ram comes with this intake kit. Once you hit 100,000 miles with this filter, just take it out, wash it off, re-oil it, and put it back in. The filter’s even guaranteed for a million miles, as is the intake. The K&N Cold Air Intake is one of the easiest ways to get more power out of your truck.
Bestop EZ Fold Tonneau
Remember earlier when we were talking about the tonneau, and we mentioned that if you had one you’d need a tailgate seal and lights and stuff? The Bestop EZ Fold is that tonneau. Bestop has been the world’s best manufacturer of Jeep tops for about three centuries, so a simple, flat tonneau for a truck bed was cake. This doesn’t mean they put any less effort into it, though. The EZ Fold is built with all the quality and craftsmanship you can expect from Bestop. It’s both shrink and stretch resistant, so seasonal change won’t mess with the fit, and it carries a limited lifetime warranty. A soft tonneau, the EZ Fold sits on a lightweight but strong aluminum frame that folds away in three sections, so you can put taller cargo in as much or as little of your truck bed as you want. It’s a great way to keep your cargo out of the weather and dust, and away from prying eyes. You might remember how we feel about thieves.
Westin Wheel-to-Wheel Nerf Step Bars
It can sometimes be hard to find mods that improve both the look and the functionality of your truck. Unless you’re reading this right now, which makes it very easy. Because you can just get these sweet Westin Wheel-to-Wheel Nerf Step Bars. These sturdy bars bolt right up to existing mounting points in your Ram, so you don’t have to do any drilling. We don’t drill holes in our trucks like a bunch of cavemen. Once mounted, the nerf step bars provide a leg up into the cab of your truck, which is especially helpful if you have a lift (more on that below). And they also just look awesome. Here, have some extra muscle for the sides of your truck, in case any silly person was confused about its level of toughness. High grip step pads will keep your footing sure, a definite need in the more inclimate months. Now, you’ve probably seen all kids of side steps you could bolt up to your Ram, but not many like these. These run the full length of your cab and all the way back to the rear wheel, giving you a third step, so you can easily access the bed. It’s pretty much the ultimate in truck steps.
Yes, it’s 2015, and trucks still come from the factory with painted beds. Automakers still think that a layer of enamel is plenty of buffer between your truck bed and your cargo, or your truck bed and the elements. Because you’ll never need to put anything back there that could potentially scratch the paint, right? It’s silly, and you never see a pickup with more than a few months under its belt without its bed looking like a hockey rink right before the Zamboni shows up. But what if you could preserve that bed finish? That’s where BedRug’s BedTred comes in. The BedTred is a drop-in mat for your truck bed. It offers substantial padding for both the bed and whatever cargo you put in, but unlike other bed pads, it’s extremely durable. Pile in rocks or firewood and the BedTred will show up at the bottom of the pile without a scratch. Soak it in battery acid and you won’t see a change. It’s designed to hold up to whatever you can throw at it, weather or otherwise. The BedTred is also grippy, offering a rubberized surface so you won’t slip when you’re working in the bed of your truck, and most importantly, your cargo won’t slide around. It’s specifically conformed to the ridges in your Ram’s bed, too, so there are no messy voids. Best of all, when you remove it, your truck bed surface will be like new. This kit is designed for trucks without the Ram Box storage system.
Westin Contour Bull Bar
Now that we have the sides of your truck beefed up, let’s take a look out front. The stock Ram grille is awesome, but you can still add a little something extra and distinctive, like this Westin Contour bull bar. Made to be every bit as durable as your step bars, the Contour bolts into existing mounting points and then just starts looking awesome. But once again, it’s also functional. While we don’t recommend trying to run over any bulls with it (or with anything, really), it’s the perfect place to mount up some auxiliary lighting, as it has four light mounting points. Most bull bars only offer two. The entire piece is black powder coated for extra rust protection, with a glossy finish for a unique look. It comes with a 3 year limited warranty.
Bushwacker’s Pocket Style Fender Flares
Price: $499.99 matte black, $849.99 Color Match
In most states, if you run tires that are wider than the fenders of your truck, you could get pulled over. But this is a problem, because wider tires, scientifically, are more awesome than narrow tires. But it’s not actually a problem, because Bushwacker’s bestselling Pocket Style fender flares are available for the Ram. These super-tough flares provide you with additional width so you can legally fit those wider tires. Also, they look incredible, filling out the sides of your truck for a more muscular appearance. Along the outer edge, Bushwacker installed some simulation hardware pockets with stainless steel screws. This doesn’t mean you have to drill, though. All the actual mounting hardware is located up under the fender, and uses existing holes. Pocket Style flares come in an attractive matte black. But Bushwacker found that many customers were painting their flares to match their trucks, and you can, too, but it’s a bit of a handful. First, you have to find the right paint shade. Then there’s roughing, painting in a sterile environment, clearcoat… It can be a pain. So Bushwacker decided to make it easy. For their Color Match Pocket Style fender flares, they went to truck manufacturers and got the exact paint codes for your specific year, and then pre-painted the flares so you don’t have to. For the 2015 Ram, they’re available in Bright White, Black Clear Coat, Black Gold, Bright Silver Metallic, Granite Crystal, and Flame Red. Bushwacker’s flares have a limited lifetime warranty against breaks, cracks, or warping.
Ram 1500 Mods: $500-$1800
Rigid E-Series 20″ LED Light Bar
Price: $498 + FREE SHIPPING!
Off-road and auxiliary lighting has come a long way. Back in the day, off-road lights didn’t differ too much than the basic light bulbs in your house. Fragile, dim, and huge, they sorta did the job, but in the way that you can sorta paint your walls with a toothbrush. Today tech has improved greatly, and LEDs are smaller, brighter, and more durable than their halogen forebears. This Rigid E-Series 20″ LED light bar is built for extreme duty. With a flood light pattern and 9,200 raw lumens, it uses 40 LEDs to shine its beam for 390 meters, lighting up everything you’ll need to see in front of you. Nor do you need to worry about durability. The tough, polycarbonate lens fends off road-tossed gravel and debris, and it’s completely sealed against dust and water ingress. If you have experience with LEDs, you might wonder where the heat goes with a weather seal like that. LEDs produce a good deal of heat, and air inside the aluminum housing can expand. That’s why Rigid included a Gore pressure equalizing vent, which keeps the air pressure inside the housing exactly what it should be without letting in any moisture. This light bar will bolt right up to your Westin bull bar and will create a cool, modern look for your Ram that’s also extremely functional off-road or in inclimate conditions.
Dick Cepek Trail Country All-Terrain Tires
Price: $771.76, set
We’re almost done. But we haven’t addressed one of the most important parts of your Ram yet. No matter what vehicle you’re running, you need good tires. All the power, looks, and versatility in the world won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have a decent contact patch with the ground. If you want to get your Ram ready for some work in the gravel and mud without losing its roadability, check out these Trail Country all-terrain tires from Dick Cepek. They’re rated for both mud and snow, so they’re a perfect addition for the winter months. They’re also designed to offer supreme grip in off-road conditions without adding too much noise on the highway, so you can use them as your daily-driven tires. Tread elements are designed to prevent stone retention, and the channels push water and mud away from the center of the tire, where on-road grip matters most. They come with a 50,000 mile limited treadwear warranty, so you know they’re serious. These are the exact size of your stock tires, so you don’t have to switch out wheels if you don’t want to.
KMC XD Monster Wheels
Price: $1099.96, set
But let’s be real with each other. You definitely want to swap out those stock wheels. They’re not bad, but they look just like everyone else’s wheels. If you want some cool new rims but want to keep your stock wheel size, these XD Monster wheels from KMC will do the trick. With cast aluminum construction, they’re both strong and light. Hardware around the outer rim pays tribute to that champion of off-road sport, the beadlock. The center cap hides the lugs for a clean, uniform look, but KMC also designed them to look good without the center caps, if that’s you’re preference. You can even pop those caps off before you go off-road and slap them back on after your car wash. With a striking black and silver color scheme, the XD Monster will turn some heads and let you make a unique impression with your truck.
Moto Metal 20″ MO970 Wheels
Price: $875.96, set
So what if you do want to upgrade from your stock wheel and tire size? Bigger wheels and tires are always an improvement in looks and can increase functionality, too, as they help lift the truck and improve your leverage climbing over obstacles. We’ll start with these 20″ MO970 Wheels from Moto Metal. Like the KMC wheels above, they use simulated beadlock hardware for a hardcore look, and a striking two-tone gloss black and silver design. The lug nut-hiding center caps, too, are also held down with simulated hardware. They include a one year warranty on the finish. Strong enough for off-road use and gorgeous enough for city cruising, they’re the perfect platform on which to fit your big tires.
Mickey Thompson 35″ MTZ tires
Price: $1662.88, set
Now about those tires. There’s probably no bigger name in off-road tires anywhere than Mickey Thompson. In his day, Mickey pioneered tires for everything from off-road racing to land speed record cars, and he’s left a legacy of innovation that continues today. These 35″ Mickey Thompson MTZ tires are designed for all-terrain use, from mud to the highway. Huge tread blocks, scalloped shoulder lugs, and MT’s classic sidebiters grip the ground like fists, shoving you along, no matter what you’re rolling over. They’re strong, too, with a 3-ply sidewall and improved cut and chip protection. With your Moto Metal wheels, these tires will set your Ram apart as a superpower, both on-road and off. To run this setup, you will need to lift your truck, and we have you covered there, too.
Borla Cat-Back Exhaust System
But before we get to the lift kit, we have one major upgrade we need to handle. So far we’ve improved looks greatly, but we haven’t dealt with further sensory immersion. Now it’s time to deal with sound. When your truck comes out of the factory, its exhaust is designed to compromise between quietness and power. Generally, the more an exhaust is muffled, the harder the engine has to work to push those gasses out, and the more power you lose. But since many of the people who buy trucks act like they can’t wait to get back to the nursing home, the people at Chrysler have to keep the exhaust quiet. You, however, are not one of those lamewads. You’re healthy enough to actually enjoy the deep rumble of a V8, and that’s why this Borla Cat-Back exhaust system is perfect for your truck. Borla redesigned the Ram’s exhaust to offer you the smoothest flow, the most pleasing tone, and the most power possible, and they came up with a masterpiece. The aggressive note is completely drone free, so it won’t annoy you at any RPM, and the smooth flow will let your engine work more efficiently, opening up more power and torque. You can even install it yourself, and with a lift kit, you probably won’t even need to jack it up.
Fabtech Motorsports 6″ Basic Lift Kit
Price: $1793.93, all boxes
Yes, the lift kit. The crown jewel of any custom truck. Lifting your truck not only improves your off-road prowess, allowing you to clear bigger obstacles and fit bigger wheels and tires; it also gives you a better view on the road, so you can see potential hazards coming at you. Plus, it just looks epic. Don’t mind me, you say to yourself as you’re conquering the world, I’m just rolling to work in my monster truck. We recommend this 6″ basic lift kit from Fabtech Motorsports. Fabtech engineered this system to retain the current driving feel of your Ram, just 6 inches taller. All elements are painted, stainless, or powder-coated for maximum rust protection. Since lifting your truck 6 inches is no simple feat, this kit includes a gaggle of parts: extended length steering knuckles, 1/4″ thick steel lower control arm crossmembers, steel coilover shock spacers, performance rear coil springs, upper and lower link arms, and an integrated skid plate for the front diff. Fabtech’s performance shocks are also included, featuring 9-stage valving, twin tube hydraulic construction, 1 3/8″ OD pistons, closed cell foam inserts, and 9/16″ hardened chrome piston rods. Because this is so much stuff, Fabtech packages the kit in four different component boxes, with four different part numbers: Box 1, Box 2, Box 3, and the shocks box (you’ll need two of these).
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.