RANCHO LIFT & LEVELLING KIT
A hardworking Ram 3500 gets the suspension, wheels and tires it deserves
After Editor Mack shipped us out for “sensitivity training” for the 3rd (according to him) LAST time, we feel obliged/pressured to forewarn you of the following; we ARE going to make an example of some stereotypes and you may be offended. If you are unsure if you will be part of our heckling and shaming, please examine the following questions;
When looking for a new lift or leveling kit for your truck, is the colour of the components your primary concern? If you answered “yes”, you may want to turn the page.
Has the heaviest payload in your 1-ton truck been a full load of groceries? Costco runs excluded. Again, if your answer is
“yup” then you may want to dawn a flame proof suit.
And for any stragglers who have made it this far: ever looked into getting a beard extension? If so, this editorial may not be your cup of tea, err, pumpkin spice latte.
With that ugly bit of business out of the way, let's carry on. The focus of our inner thoughts and experiences this time is a work hardened 2016 Ram 3500. When the oil burning behemoth isn’t hammering down kilometres in Canada’s northwest work territory, it’s hauling around excavators and dump trailers in southern BC. The rig worked well, but needed some gnarlier tires for traversing the mud and muck filled worksites. For the heavy work this truck sees, we didn’t want to slam on a massive set of tires with a huge lift and then have to re-gear the truck to compensate. A simple leveling kit and a set of 35” tires was our solution.
There is a wide array of materials that the common leveling kit can be made with. We’ve seen and tried them all and our experience led us to a Rancho leveling kit. In general, we have a few things we keep an eye out for when looking for heavy duty suspension components. First thing we like are steel components and pieces. With a truck this big, and a motor as heavy as the 6.7l Cummins under the hood, urethane lift components just don’t sit right with us as we have seen them fail under extreme duress. We also like to see the re-use of as many factory components as we can if they are up to the task. The OEM’s spend millions on component testing and development so the simple parts like sway bar links and coil isolators should be retained if possible. Along with a good set of installation instructions and alignment numbers to take to a shop afterwards, we also keep an eye out for quality, plated hardware. If you see misshapen threads in your newly acquired kit, or bolts soft enough to deform with your fingernail, it’s time to go find the receipt and make a return.
Our leveling kit included a set of Rancho’s RS9000XL adjustable shocks. We don’t normally recommend an adjustable shock over one tuned specifically for your vehicle, but when loads change, your shocks need to as well. No need for multiple sets, or quadruple steering stabilizers, leave that for the mall crawlers on low profile tires. Rancho’s heavy duty RS9000XL’s are nine-way adjustable, and not just for rebound or compression separately, they are adjusted as a set so the entire feel of the ride changes accordingly with every “click”.
Along with the front RS9000XL shocks for the front, we ordered up a set of the same for the rear of the truck. Because we do not plan on lifting the back of the truck, the factory replacement size worked for us, however they are also available from Rancho for lifted applications. For custom applications, Rancho’s online catalogue has a section which outlays shock characteristics as well as collapsed and extended lengths.
Topping off our parts list here is our wheel and tire combination. We wanted an aggressive all-terrain (A/T) tire that could handle year-round use and still handle towing duties when called upon. For a rig that sees dirt and rocks off-road, we need a decent sidewall to provide some cushion, and to create a larger footprint when aired down off the tarmac. Not something you can do with 24" wheels and rubber bands for tires. To that end we scooped a set of AMP Terrain Gripper A/T G rubber in a 315-70/17. It fit our desired specs with a limited lifetime warranty, 60,000 kms tread life warranty, and the three-peak winter snowflake for four-season use.
As you can tell by seeing the tire size we chose, we needed a 17" wheel that could handle 1-ton duties. Amp recommended an 8" to 11" wide rim and we found AEV’s (American Expedition Vehicles) Ram Salta HD wheels. With a 4100-load rating when tested with a 40” tire, we’ll be hard-pressed to break one of these cast aluminum monsters. We really appreciate that the Salta has an offset of only 27mm and is designed to fit the Ram platform. This keeps the steering geometry within factory spec and we are assured that the 17" diameter will fit over our brakes with ease. The wheel will also fit in the spare tire location as well!
All the parts selected for the truck have been based on durability and longevity. Ya, we coughed up a few more bucks than if we had gone with cheaper components with the same “look”, but we expect this truck to last for a while and it must be dependable. With our parts in hand, yet again we headed off into our concrete happy place for the installation you will read about here. In addition, we had Editor Mack filming us as well. He called it “evidence” but you can judge for yourself here https://youtu. be/_xPmJAg2Dag or take a peek at 4WD Magazine on YouTube for all of our other off road related ventures.