4 Wheel & Off Road - - CONTENTS - Jay Kopy­cin­ski ED­I­[email protected] PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JAY KOPY­CIN­SKI

The top-notch lift sys­tem this 2018 Ram 3500 Cummins needed.

CARLI SUS­PEN­SION ISN’T JUST some­thing you stab un­der your truck’s fram­erails to fit big­ger tires and look cool rolling into the mall. Carli ac­tu­ally en­gi­neers its sus­pen­sion sys­tems, with spe­cially de­signed ap­pli­ca­tions for Dodge, Ram, and Ford trucks that ride killer, in­crease wheel travel, and re­tain on-road driv­abil­ity and haul­ing ca­pa­bil­ity with­out sac­ri­fic­ing off-road per­for­mance.

When it came time for the owner of this 2018 Ram 3500 Cummins with the Aisin six-speed trans­mis­sion to im­prove the sus­pen­sion, Carli of­fered a top-notch lift sys­tem to meet its needs. The plan was to build a crawler/hauler/daily-driver/work truck that could go rea­son­ably fast in the desert, crawl rocks, and serve as a re­cov-

ery and trailer-haul­ing rig. It’s a tall or­der, a pickup that can do it all.

Carli of­fers four 3-inch sus­pen­sion sys­tems: Lev­el­ing, Com­muter, Back­coun­try, and Pin­top. For this truck the Back­coun­try sys­tem was used since it im­proves not only off-road per­for­mance but also high­way ride. New coil springs and full-re­place­ment Deaver rear leaf packs, along with ap­pli­ca­tion­tuned Fox shocks with re­mote reser­voirs, make for a com­plete pack­age.

To re­tain good front sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try with the added lift, Carli pro­vides new brack­ets for the frame to drop the rear at­tach­ment point of the ra­dius arms. The plan was to go from the stock 34-inch-tall tires to 37-inch ones. As such, we also used a set of Carli ra­dius arms that are much beefier than stock, use a spher­i­cal joint at the frame end, and are an­gled in­ward on each side to al­low for greater tire clear­ance at full steer­ing lock.

The Cummins-pow­ered trucks come with a fat tor­sion bar from the fac­tory that se­verely lim­its front axle ar­tic­u­la­tion. It can be re­tained with the Carli lifts, but we opted to use Carli’s tor­sion sway bar be­cause it’s tuned to al­low the axle to move more freely from the chas­sis, im­prov­ing ride qual­ity and trail flex. The lift kit also in­cludes an ad­justable front track bar, plus bump­stops and limit straps to pro­tect the Fox 2.0 reser­voir shocks un­der full bot­tom­ing and droop con­di­tions. In ad­di­tion, we added a Carli high-mount steer­ing sta­bi­lizer to sup­ple­ment the stock unit. The ra­dius arms and track bar come pre­assem­bled with spher­i­cal joints, and Carli pro­vides de­tailed in­struc­tions for the kit build.

The lift was in­stalled at Lamb Fab in Gil­bert, Ari­zona. With two guys work­ing with the truck on a lift, the in­stall was com­pleted in one day. In gen­eral, only com­mon me­chanic tools were needed, with the ex­cep­tion of a right-an­gle drill for mak­ing some of the holes in the frame. Two limit strap brack­ets do re­quire weld­ing at the frame. We es­ti­mate the lift could be in­stalled in a home drive­way over a weekend with two peo­ple, given the amount of work needed and the weight of some of the parts.

With the rise in height and fen­der clear­ance, it was time to mount some new rub­ber to the Ram. The truck now turns 37X13.50R17LT Toyo Open Coun­try R/T tires. These are an ag­gres­sive all-ter­rain-type tire de­signed to pro­vide solid off-road trac­tion com­bined with com­fort­able high­way ride and han­dling. The 37-inch tire is a D-rated tread with a load rat­ing of 3,195 pounds at 50 psi.

The new sus­pen­sion felt firm at first, but af­ter some trai­ler­ing and a good trail run the springs set in and soft­ened. Af­ter a month they keep get­ting bet­ter. With the lift and larger tires, the ap­proach an­gle was im­proved by about 8 de­grees and de­par­ture an­gle by about 4 de­grees. Axle ground clear­ance went up 11⁄2 inches due to the in­crease in tire height. The truck rides well both on the high­way and off-road. The sus­pen­sion feels like it wants to roll fast through whoops, and soaks them up cleanly. The truck still tows well while also flex­ing bet­ter in the dirt. The Toyo R/T tires turned out to be a great fit for this project. They are very quiet on the high­way, feel sta­ble, and still pro­vide solid trac­tion un­der most trail con­di­tions we should en­counter. Over­all, the choice of lift com­bined with up­graded tires greatly im­proved the per­for­mance of this diesel Ram.


Carli of­fers sev­eral dif­fer­ent kits for this ap­pli­ca­tion to ad­dress the needs of most driv­ers. In this case, the com­pany’s 3-inch Back­coun­try sys­tem sat­is­fied our use goals and made way for fit­ment of 37-inch tires.

2 With the truck up on a lift, dis­as­sem­bly of the front end be­gan with re­moval of the front sway bar com­po­nents, shocks, coil springs, and bump­stops. It pays to be thought­ful about where you place the lift pads or jack­stands be­cause you need ac­cess along the frame to in­stall the new ra­dius arm mounts.

3 Each fac­tory ra­dius arm was re­moved from the frame and the axle mount points. For the larger sus­pen­sion pieces, it helps to have a sec­ond per­son to move the parts in and out.

4 With the front axle drooped, it was a good time to pull off the fac­tory rub­ber bump­stops. It’s ne­c­es­sary to drill a hole in each frame mount to al­low in­stal­la­tion of the Carli drop mount. Here’s where that right-an­gle drill we men­tioned can come in handy.





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