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I have a 1991 Dodge D250 2WD equipped with a Cum­mins 5.9L diesel and au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. My fa­ther bought this truck new in 1992 and I’ve sort of in­her­ited it. Seems the 2WD trucks have a dif­fi­cult time with ball joints and other front sus­pen­sion com­po­nents. I see half-ton 2WDS in mag­a­zines with Cum­mins swaps that main­tain the stock sus­pen­sion de­signed for a much lighter gaso­line en­gine. I love this truck, but I don’t un­der­stand why the front sus­pen­sion com­po­nents are wear­ing out so quickly. Are there any af­ter­mar­ket sus­pen­sion com­po­nent man­u­fac­tur­ers of­fer­ing bet­ter parts? Can I per­form some other kind of con­ver­sion or swap to im­prove parts life?

Dave Wes­sel

Gil­lette, WY

The sus­pen­sion com­po­nents used by the first­gen­er­a­tion Dodge diesel two-wheel-drive pickup trucks (pro­duced from 1989 to 1993) were chal­lenged by the ex­tra weight of the 5.9L Cum­mins. Sag­ging coil springs and short balljoint life ap­pear to be the re­sult. For­tu­nately, the af­ter­mar­ket has de­vel­oped a range of sus­pen­sion parts that can help the first-gen Dodge diesel trucks. From what re­search we’ve done, the brand name MOOG comes up most

of­ten as the best fix for Dodge pickup trucks like yours. See http://www.moog-sus­pen­sion-parts. com/prod­ucts/dodge_w350_1992.

Fed­eral Mogul Cor­po­ra­tion (Fed­eral­ man­u­fac­tures its steer­ing and sus­pen­sion parts un­der the MOOG brand name. MOOG of­fers a range of heavy-duty sus­pen­sion and steer­ing re­place­ment parts that solve prob­lems for most Ford, Dodge and GM trucks. The coil springs you want are the MOOG Super Heavy Duty 7226S, which should solve your spring prob­lem for a few years at least. The 7226S coil spring is rated at

1,135 lb/in. Other first-gen own­ers have used the 5716S coils, which are rated at 1,430 lb/in and might be a bet­ter choice for a plow truck or those run­ning a heavy af­ter­mar­ket front bumper. If we were re­build­ing the front-end of your truck, we’d use all MOOG parts. The prob­lem peo­ple are hav­ing with short parts life is of­ten due to in­fe­rior im­ported parts, which don’t of­fer the qual­ity or dura­bil­ity re­quired by the early Dodge diesel pickups.

Once the new parts are in ser­vice, it’s crit­i­cal that you de­velop a main­te­nance pro­gram

that in­cludes fre­quent ser­vice for all re­lated grease fit­tings, as well as in­stalling new shock ab­sorbers and keep­ing your tires bal­anced. Let­ting rou­tine main­te­nance slide can cre­ate a cas­cade of prob­lems af­fect­ing all the re­lated front sus­pen­sion parts. In ad­di­tion, run­ning larger-than-stock tires and/or af­ter­mar­ket wheels with the wrong off­set can also shorten ball-joint and steer­ing com­po­nent life.

Re­gard­ing the half-ton diesel con­ver­sions you men­tioned, what you’re not hear­ing about is how the sus­pen­sions hold up af­ter a few years of use. A set of ball joints de­signed for the weight of a fac­tory-pro­duced half-ton truck will wear out sooner when sub­jected to the ex­tra weight of the Cum­mins. The ques­tion that hasn’t been an­swered is, “How much sooner?” For own­ers of most of th­ese con­ver­sions, com­po­nent life can prob­a­bly be de­fined as be­ing “long enough” be­cause th­ese trucks are not be­ing worked hard or driven like most fac­tory-pro­duced 2500/3500 diesel pickups.

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