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Jeep Wrangler (1992)

Owner: Megatron

Added: 27 September 2013 - 08:56 AM


Dodge Ram 3500 (2006)

Owner: Megatron

Added: 25 September 2013 - 07:37 AM

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Jeep XJ Cherokee 4WD Sport 4-door (1999)

Owner: Moses Ludel

Added: 15 September 2013 - 01:16 PM


Dodge Dakota (1988)

Owner: biggman100

Added: 22 September 2013 - 05:22 PM

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Dodge Ram 3500 Cummins Quad-Cab 4x4 S...

Owner: Moses Ludel

Added: 15 September 2013 - 08:42 AM

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#41 New Jeep CJ-8 Owner-Member!

Posted by RareCJ8 on 09 April 2013 - 09:46 PM

Name is Mark, and I live at Reno.  Wheeling since 1976, like 4x4s, ATVs, dirt bikes and my beloved, and sometimes hated, 1981 CJ8 Scrambler.  Interested in all things Jeep!



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#343 Importance of Caster Angle and Other Front End Questions

Posted by Moses Ludel on 27 July 2013 - 01:16 PM

All good points, Megatron, each deserves an explanation, so here we go...I'll begin by sharing that I ran a four-wheel alignment rack at a GMC truck dealership in the mid-'80s, the era of both beam front axle 4x4s and IFS 2WD and 4WD front ends.  For fifteen years prior to that, I had been doing alignment with far less equipment than that new Hunter four-wheel, electronic light beam rack.  Fifteen years after the dealership stint, I taught wheel alignment at the adult vocational training level and merged my varied equipment experiences, which reflect in what I'm now sharing.

It's great to use precision four-wheel alignment equipment.  However, "computer" alignment equipment is also limited in many ways.  For example, you describe aftermarket wheels, suspension and tires, and you're right, of the three (assuming the suspension kit is as adjustable as yours), the wheel offset is the most critical modification.  Because your truck falls outside the OEM guidelines built into the software for modern alignment equipment, many shops will avoid doing your truck's alignment.
Reasons for refusal include "liability", "unpredictable results" and "possibility of abnormal tire wear"—regardless of the alignment procedure.  In many cases, the shop simply doesn't know what they can do to address or compensate for your modifications...After all, this is the era of plug-and-play.  Follow the flow charts or stare at the computer screen or scanner.  Wait long enough, and maybe an answer will materialize...That's not going to happen here!
For now, let's suspend judgment about why your truck and millions of other 4x4s are in this predicament.  You've installed all of this hardware, and it's time to make the vehicle track as safely as possible—and for the tires to last.
As for front axle lateral alignment, your adjustable track bar is a real asset.  Alignment does reference from the rear axle, and for good reason.  The term "thrust" is just what it sounds like: The rear axle on a RWD vehicle is the traction point, pushing the frame and the entire vehicle forward from the rear.  Unless you're driving backward, your rear-drive truck requires the front axle to align squarely under thrust.  (Thus the term "thrust alignment"!)  The axles must be square, in any case.
To illustrate, draw a line forward and perpendicular to the centerline of the rear axle.  This follows the driveline in approximate terms—unless the driveline is offset like with a side-drive transfer case.  This line of force, aimed forward and perpendicular to the rear axle, becomes the reference point for the front axle's position.  The front axle ends up parallel to the rear axle, which is simple to visualize on beam axle trucks like our Ram 3500 models.  The front axle must also align sideways or laterally, the reason for your adjustable track bar.
Whether the frame is perfectly square or not, if the front axle is parallel to the rear axle (plane view from the top), and if the axles center laterally with each other, you can align the truck's front end.  The frame should be square, though, because an out-of-square frame would place the springs, suspension arms and steering linkage at odd angles with the axles.
So, let's start with a square frame, no collision damage, and a rear axle that sets squarely in the truck.  It's much easier with our leaf sprung, beam rear axle:  The centering points for the rear axle are simply the leaf spring center bolts and the axle's spring perch holes—plus any spacer block alignment holes or pins.
Rear axle in place, you can use the string-in-diamond method for setting the beam front axle's position for both parallel to the rear axle and laterally on center.  I used the string method for two illustrated how-to articles at the magazine: my Jeep XJ Cherokee 6-inch long arm installation at the "Jeep XJ Cherokee & MJ Comanche 4WD Workshop" (see the left panel menu) and also the Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon Full-Traction Ultimate 4-inch lift.  The XJ Cherokee is similar to our Dodge Ram trucks with link-and-coil front suspension and leaf springs at the rear.  Both Jeep vehicles have beam axles front and rear.
Critical to a string-in-diamond beam axle alignment is finding precise reference points at each of the axles.  You must have a reference point at each side of the front axle that is truly equal distance from the axle's centerline.  The rear axle on our trucks is simple:  Use the leaf spring center bolts as the rear reference points.  On a Jeep TJ or JK Wrangler, there are matching suspension points that are equidistant from the rear axle's centerline.
The front axle should align with equal string lengths to the rear axle, measured in cross or "diamond".  This means measuring from the front axle's left side reference point to the right rear spring center bolt, then from the front axle's right side reference point to the rear axle left side spring center bolt.
This measurement must be very accurate.  Even 1/16"-1/8" variance can make a difference.  If there are obstacles under the chassis that prevent an accurate measurement, you may need to relocate your reference points or even make "extensions" from the reference points to below the obstacles...For these measurements, you can have the axles suspended to full drop, which may help the string lines clear the transfer case skid plate, the exhaust or any other objects in the way.
Be creative.  It's crucial that your four reference points reflect equal distances from the center of each beam axle outward to each axle's reference points.  Strings then measure in cross between the front and rear axle reference points.
Again, the end game here is to have the axles parallel and tracking in line with each other.  When the front axle is offset laterally, one way or the other, we call this "dog tracking".
Note: Don't be confused if one axle's track width is actually slightly wider than the other axle with the wheels in place.  Some trucks (G.M. beam axle 4x4s come to mind) were designed this way, typically with the front axle slightly wider than the rear.  I won't digress into "why" this was the design, simply know that if your reference points match side to side on each axle, and if you run the string lines in cross to matching points at the opposite axle, you will determine both the square and lateral alignment of the two axles.
Checking for square with two strings-in-cross is a simple function of geometry.  If anyone is having difficulty understanding the principle, draw a perfect square on a piece of paper; now draw an "X" from opposite corners, intersecting at the middle.  Measure the length of each "X" line.  It will be equal.  If you now use a rectangle instead of a square, the results will also be two equal length, intersecting lines.  Play with this, and then transfer the "X" lines to your truck's chassis:  On your long wheelbase Dodge Ram 3500 truck, the beam axles represent the short ends of a rectangle.
The most elaborate "4-wheel" alignment machine will not produce any more accurate results than doing a string line test properly.  Once you get the axles square, you can concentrate on a front wheel alignment.  This, as you say, is not rocket science, and it's even easier with a beam front axle.
Camber, in particular, is factory pre-set on a beam axle.  Camber measurement indicates the degree to which the axle beams, steering knuckles and ball joints are in alignment.  As you mention, you can make camber corrections with off-set ball joints, or eccentric ball-joint seats, and a source for such parts is Specialty Products Company.
Caution: I am against "bending" beam axles to correct slight camber issues unless a racing, weld-on truss is part of the straightening process.  (Be aware, too, that welding on a truss is a good way to warp an axle and alter camber!)  Consider the axle tube and center section materials plus the original stress that caused the axle to bend.  There are metallurgical changes that take place with cold or hot bending.  If you need to correct for a slightly bent or out-of-spec axle beam, use offset ball-joints or eccentric ball-joint seats.  Make sure the bend did not stress-fracture the axle pieces.  Toss out the axle housing if in doubt—you can transfer internal pieces and add-on goodies to a new housing.  (See the magazine's many axle rebuilding articles and the HD videos on axle setup.)
Be aware that beam front axles come from the factory with +/- camber often slightly beyond the factory recommended camber degree range.  I have seen this on Dana Jeep front axles, typically at the short beam side with more factory welding. An extra 1/8 to 1/4-degree camber at one side is not earthshattering and likely was acceptable during OEM axle assembly and installation.  This will not impair vehicle handling and has negligible effect on tire wear if you rotate your tires on time.  If you are adjusting caster and camber with offset ball-joints or eccentric ball-joint seats, bring both the caster and camber within their recommended degree ranges.
To answer your questions about "do-it-yourself" alignment, go no further than these three features that I've done at the magazine.  They each get brisk traffic, addressing alignment goals with inexpensive solutions for doing your own alignment work.
First is the ‘DIY’ feature on a beam front axle wheel alignment.  This is a useful article for understanding the principles of front wheel alignment as well as a 'how-to' on using an affordable SPC Off-Road Fastrax 91025 gauge kit designed for tires to 44" diameter.  Click here to see this DIY how-to and equipment article.


For those on a shoestring budget, a single gauge kit will do.  You can even improvise on the need for turn plates.  SPC suggests using plastic sheeting beneath the front tires for a slip surface.  On a beam axle, you can unload the weight slightly with the use of two floor jacks, raising the weighted axle evenly and just enough to take the heavy load off the front wheels and tires.  This provides easier wheel turning.


There is also a photo closer to home, my Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 alignment after installing the Mopar lift kit.  Here, I purchased inexpensive front turn plates ($100 for the pair!) from Gil Smith Racing at New York.  Gil is a personable family guy, and these plates do the job despite the massive front end weight of the Cummins engine, 9.25" beam axle and 500 pounds of Warn bumper with M12000 winch and stainless wire. 


For the Dodge Ram alignment, I added a second Fastrax 91025 alignment gauge kit from SPC to make toe setting easier and quicker.  This way, you can use the winged braces and separate gauges at each side of the truck during the alignment procedure.  This eliminates the need to swap a single gauge set from one side to the other. 


Last, but surely not least, is the HD video walk-through of alignment on a Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon.  You'll like this for both a visual orientation and added quips about the process.  In this HD video, I do use the double alignment gauge sets from SPC and the Gil Smith turn plates.  You’ll see how this speeds up the process.

Some additional pointers on doing your own alignment at this level:  1) make sure the floor is flat in both directions or compensate when taking the measurements with the bubble gauges, 2) make sure the turn plates are thin (like the Gil Smith type) or if you spring for more commercial type turn plates (available from several sources, do a Google search under "wheel alignment turn plates"), make sure you raise the rear of the truck to compensate for the turn plate height at the front.  Even with a 140.5" or longer wheelbase, a sloping or leaning truck will throw off your camber and caster readings with the SPC 91025 bubble gauges...If you want to add a touch of professionalism, purchase a pair of rear slip plates from Gil Smith Racing that will enhance the work and raise the truck's back end to match the front turn plates.


As you mention, always save the toe-in setting for last.  Camber and caster angle must be right, with the vehicle setting at static (curb) height on the ground, before setting toe.  I use factory toe-in and caster angle settings, and the Dodge Ram handles very well.  And, yes, caster is important, this and steering axis inclination (SAI) are what return the front wheels to center after coming out of a corner.
The surest sign of too little caster angle is a vehicle that requires turning the steering wheel back to center after a turn.  I'm at 4-degrees positive caster on the Dodge Ram 3500, closer to 7-degees positive on the XJ Cherokee.  More can sometimes be better for off-pavement turning radius; however, factory specs are the best for normal tire wear and handling in general.
I mentioned another specification that is of concern during alignment:  steering axis inclination (SAI).  We can go into this if you want, but the important thing to note for DIY alignment purposes is that strange caster and camber angle readings over the full turning arcs (illustrated in the XJ Cherokee alignment how-to article and shown in the TJ Wrangler HD video coverage) are an indication of a bent steering knuckle on a later beam axle 4x4 or a bent spindle on 2WD and vintage 4WD vehicles.
On alignment equipment that will identify SAI error, if all measurements are correct and SAI is off, we inspect the steering knuckle, spindle or unit bearing hub for damage.  Make sure any strange readings are not from bad steering knuckle ball joints or worn wheel/hub bearings!  Better yet, inspect for ball joint, wheel bearing and unit hub bearing wear before attempting the alignment.  Check steering linkage for loose joints, too.
This is ground school, we can go from here.  As a light- and medium-duty truck fleet mechanic in the late 'sixties, I began aligning my own beam axle Jeep CJ3A and vintage '55 Ford F100 at home.  On these vehicles, toe-in could be set with nothing more than a tape measure.  If you do wheel alignment with turn plates, the steering linkage and suspension will be unloaded, and the measurements will be that much more accurate.  Add rear wheel slip plates and Fastrax gauges, and you can emulate a "pro" alignment!
Even on the vintage 2WD and 4WD fleet trucks with beam axles, I did quick, rough-in beam axle wheel alignments with nothing more than a tape measure or a portable, adjustable "toe bar".  Floor jacks were placed evenly under the axle at each side.  I would lift the axle beam just enough to "unload" the wheels and tires.  Before setting toe, I made sure the wheel bearings and kingpin bushings or bearings were in good shape and adjusted properly.


Tape measure alignments on the trail are often necessary when someone bows a tie-rod on a tall rock or snaps a tie-rod in half.  A Ready Welder tie-rod repair at Moab's Rose Garden is just one place where your tape measure alignment skills would be popular.  This can get a vehicle home from the trail and tracking down the road safely to a wheel alignment shop.  When using just a tape measure for toe-set, make sure you follow the tread pattern closely at the front and rear midline of the tires.

When using turn plates to unload and center up the steering linkage and suspension, it helps to bounce the front end.  Push down on the front bumper a few times—the bumper is conveniently located at waist height on your Mega Cab!
If necessary, use a pair of floor jacks under the beam front axle to take weight off the wheels and tires, then lightly rock the steering wheel at its center position before setting the front tires and steering wheel to straight ahead.  This will unload the steering linkage for more accurate alignment settings.
When using a tape measure only (not the Fastrax 91025's wing arms), always measure matching tread points.  Measure as close to the midline (3 and 9 o'clock) of the tires as possible.   Avoiding obstacles is sometimes difficult, but midline of the tires is preferred.  Always set toe-in, followed by centering up the steering wheel.  You center the steering wheel by adjusting the steering linkage sleeves—never by removing the steering wheel and repositioning it!
Caution:  The steering wheel spokes are factory set to align with the center or “high” point of the steering gear in the straight ahead steering position. Bring the front wheels into alignment with the centered steering gear and steering wheel—not the other way around!  If the steering wheel has been repositioned from factory, find the precise center point of the steering gear.  Position the steering wheel there before aligning the front wheels to straight ahead.  This also applies when making fine steering wheel position changes after an alignment:  Adjust the steering linkage sleeves, do not reposition the steering wheel!  Always check toe-in again when you center the steering wheel.
To illustrate how well you can do a 4-wheel alignment with strings, a tape measure, a common spirit level and a protractor, I installed the Full-Traction Ultimate lift kit on the Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon in just that way!  The job began with the vehicle on my hoist and as level/parallel to the ground as possible.
I placed a pair of adjustable tripod stands beneath each axle and raised the vehicle straight up, just enough to install the lift kit.  The axles remained on the stands with cables and other chassis attachments still in place.
After installing the kit, including a bevy of adjustable link arms and a unique rear tri-mount suspension system, I used the string method to square the axles.  The rear axle location, fortunately, was fixed by the kit’s design, so this became the reference for making everything square with the frame.  The approach was similar to the rear leaf springs and center bolts on our Dodge Ram 3500 trucks.  In our case, the rear springs and axle spring perches locate the rear axle squarely at the frame.
I set the caster with a quality bubble level and a 180-degree, indexed protractor.  I set toe-in with vehicle weight on the axles and tripod stands, using a tape measure fore and aft (as close to 3 and 9 o'clock as practical) at the front tire midlines, keeping the tape as level and parallel to the floor as possible.  In my view, this was all just a preliminary, rough adjustment.
The next stop was a friend's shop with a $40K alignment rack capable of 4-wheel "thrust" alignment.  On the alignment rack, to everyone's surprise, the entire suspension system took only one-half turn of one threaded link arm tube to be fully square!  Caster was on, camber (non-adjustable on a solid beam axle) was okay, toe-in and centering of the steering wheel were just routine, slight adjustments. 
Caster angle was within spec and did, as you describe, provide an acceptable angle for the front/pinion U-joint flange.  With a double-Cardan (CV) joint at the transfer case, there is some leeway on this front axle pinion joint angle, and the compromise is between caster angle and U-joint angle.  Like you comment, caster usually wins if you want the vehicle to steer correctly!
For modified trucks with suspension lifts and oversized wheels and tires, there are two very important considerations for handling.  First, the aftermarket wheels' offset and the tire diameter must provide the right intersect point with the ground.  This is the “scrub radius”. 
Visualize the front wheels pointed straight ahead.  Draw a line through the ball-joint stud centerlines and observe where that line intersects the tire tread at the ground.  This point must be similar to the OEM wheel/tire intersection point, or you will swing the tire on an odd arc during turns, resulting in strange handling and premature tire wear.  Scrub radius impacts tire wear as well as handling.
Secondly, consider the arc of radius and caster angle changes as the front suspension (link arms in your case) rise and set.  Arc of radius is why we do long-arm kits for dramatic lift.  When we increase suspension travel, short arms exaggerate the caster angle changes as the suspension extends and compresses.
Long link arms are the solution for increased suspension travel.  Longer arms will create less caster angle change over the suspension and axle’s arc of travel—or radius.  Simply put, you can set the caster at static/curb weighted chassis height, and the caster angle does not vary excessively as the link arms move up and down with the axle.
When buying an aftermarket suspension lift kit or bigger/wider wheels and tires, consider these issues.  In looking at your Mega Cab components, I really like the stamina and quality of the aftermarket joints, link arms and drop brackets!  What you want at the end of the day is suspension that behaves as well as or better than OEM engineering—yet with the lift and tires you desire.  Going beyond “looks”, the goal is to understand the demands and dynamics of vehicle suspension and handling.  Doing your own wheel alignment is a good start.
As for the rear axle, the usual concern is pinion and driveline angles for U-joint survival.  Within reason, you can rotate the axle housing for pinion angle change without affecting vehicle handling, as the rear drive axle’s shafts are not sensitive to caster.  (If we were talking about a front wheel drive car or an IRS/AWD car, there would likely be provision for adjusting rear wheel caster, camber and even toe-set.)  For our trucks, tall lift blocks at the rear leaf springs can create some issues, mainly traction and spring windup related.
So, you might skip the visit to the local 4-wheel alignment shop and the brief Car and Driver  read—likely just long enough for the tech to discover that specifications for your lifted and modified '06 Dodge Ram 4x4 Mega Cab are nowhere to be found in the alignment machine's software program.  As an option, consider the SPC Off-Road 91025 alignment equipment...Two kits work even better than one!
Used properly, this accurate, portable SPC setup can help you dial your front end alignment for both safety and good tire life.  Bubble caster and camber gauges were an automotive industry standard for at least sixty years prior to light beam, infrared, RF and laser alignment equipment. 


I entered the service and repair industry when we were still called "mechanics", and breaker point ignitions were the norm.  Smaller shops used floating caster/camber bubble gauges that fit magnetically to the end of front wheel hubs!  Professionally, I've spun wrenches all the way into the contemporary electronic fuel-and-spark management "technician" era.  Electronic, beam four-wheel alignment equipment has been in vogue for more than three decades now...I find it advantageous to have walked in both worlds.
Beyond alignment, make sure that the wheel offset and tire diameter add up to a safe and tolerable "scrub radius”.  As an alternative to Car and Driver, sift through this Wiki info about scrub radius and SAI.  When you widen the wheel rims, you can only go inward so far.  (Rotors, calipers and hubs limit the inward wheel position.)  For that reason, wide rims almost always offset to the "negative" direction or outward.  If there are wheel backspacing choices, match up the wheel width, backspacing and tire diameter wisely!  The concern here is the scrub radius.
We lift our vehicles and mount oversize wheels and tires for a variety of reasons.  In the end, we get to make the handling and safety corrections that these modifications require.  Routine tire rotation is always essential, even more so when scrub radius and arc of radius get compromised.  Once you dial the front end alignment to the best point possible, watch for ball-joint wear, wheel bearing or hub bearing wear and any tire issues.  This can sometimes be the price for a lift and oversized tires.  We can, however, reduce, minimize or even eliminate that risk and expense!


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#2872 Member Photo Gallery: Dodge Ram 2500 TRX4 Crew Cab (2006)

Posted by Hendogg on 18 December 2014 - 12:00 PM

Name: Dodge Ram 2500 TRX4 Crew Cab (2006)
Date Added: 18 December 2014 - 02:00 PM
Owner: Hendogg
Short Description: 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Crew Cab Short bed TRX4 with a 8 inch lift and 35's has a 5.7 Hemi auto Trans, Has had a Western Hauler flat bed on it since it was new, Has on board air and tank and sports a set of air bags on the rear of the truck.. Has a full Top Gun bumper replacement on it as well


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#2554 Driving Your Dodge Ram Cummins for Fuel Efficiency!

Posted by Moses Ludel on 13 November 2014 - 09:55 AM

Wow, very low mileage on this one, KeriOkie!  For a Cummins Ram truck, this is a great find, barely broken-in!  I looked at the pics.  Other than color, you have essentially the same truck we bought new as an '05 model ten years ago. 


If the truck is bone stock and you're after mileage, your "new" Ram 3500 is in the best form it will ever be.  With the 48RE automatic and 3.73 axle gearing, if you run the engine between 1600 and 1900 rpm, you will gain maximum fuel efficiency.  As others like Megatron note, don't do heavy throttle dead starts or hold the transmission in lower gears under high rpm sprints.  Running empty, using mild throttle at this rpm range can yield 23-24 mpg if that's your aim.   


I have recommended engine tune reprogramming for modified and weightier models that have already gone over the cliff with fuel efficiency losses.  For stone stock gearing, stock tire size, no lift or colossal add-ons, Chrysler had this truck dialed for fuel efficiency in stock form.  Yes, the Hypertech 'Max Energy' programmer bumps up horsepower and torque but at a higher rpm (2100 rpm torque peak instead of 1600).  If you experiment with this approach, there is a high, mild and stock performance setting.  Megatron talks about a programmer that has push-button settings, which would be handier than the software "reprogramming" necessary to change modes with the Hypertech setup.


Try driving the truck as-is and enjoy it for a bit before considering any modifications or changes.  Assuming it has stock engine programming now, you're in business for power and fuel efficiency within the 1600-1900 rpm range.  For fuel efficiency, the closer to 1600 rpm, the better!  My very best mileage when stone stock without a load was 25 mpg, done over a 500-plus mile test (Reno, Nevada to Portland, Oregon) with varied road and load conditions, driving mostly between 1600-1800 rpm.


All of us need to keep in mind that extracting latent horsepower and torque from a turbo-diesel like the ISB Cummins comes at a price:  heat and fuel consumption.  If we boost horsepower or torque and stay in the throttle to realize these gains under severe loads, the result is engine-killing heat and huge losses in fuel efficiency. If you intend to push an ISB Cummins diesel, I heartily recommend a pyrometer, installed pre-turbo in the exhaust manifold (without leaving drill or tap debris in the manifold!) to monitor maximum exhaust manifold temperatures!  Apply less right foot pressure to lower temperatures.


Keep us posted on this gem of a find!



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#224 Driving Your Dodge Ram Cummins for Fuel Efficiency!

Posted by Moses Ludel on 28 June 2013 - 05:26 PM

Thanks for catching this post...It's among my favorite subjects, as you might have guessed...


Once the axle gearing is correct, the other factors that drop fuel mileage on your '06 Ram 3500 Cummins would be 1) the increased vehicle height (kiss off aerodynamics of any kind!) and 2) the vehicle's weight over stock.  I wound up in a similar situation with a 4" lift, 35" tires and a carload of "cool" accessories!  Not sure of your accessories, I added approximately 1,350 pounds to my over-the-road, "unloaded" weight...kind of like perpetually pulling a well equipped tent trailer! 

Ram for Web (16).jpg Ram for Web (5).jpg Ram for Web (8).jpg

Hey, we all like the "look" and utility of a lifted and accessorized Ram 3500 4x4! Here, the truck we purchased new in October 2004 is undergoing a metamorphosis in 2011, getting ready for show time at the BFGoodrich Tires booth, Off-Road Expo at Pomona, CA! Let's see now, the lift, wheels and 35" tires, we'll add a utility fuel tank that takes us to Moab, Utah and back from the Reno, Nevada area...and that M12000 Warn winch will be a dandy when needed! Oops, there went the 25 mpg. Time for a 4.56:1 axle gear change out!

(Can't see the photos? Join our free forums and get the full benefits of membership!)


Most have no idea how quickly the upgrades and accessory weight add up: Try oversized American Eagle wheels and BFG tires for at least 150# over stock including the spare; a Mopar lift kit after swapping out OEM parts for an added 50 pounds; a Warn M12000 winch for 140# (bare winch wound with wire rope); front and rear HD bumpers for an extra 300#; a Transfer Flow cross bed fuel tank with additional fuel on board: 75 gallons @ 7.1 lb/gallon for Low Sulphur diesel = 532.5 pounds when full plus the aluminized steel tank's weight!  Oh, and I do like the three Bestop Treksteps for 60 pounds plus.


I'll comment on your gearing projections, just did the math...If your tire's revolutions per mile are around 560 (Toyo rating for several popular 37" diameter tires, confirm your exact revs per mile), then here are your engine speeds at practical road speeds in overdrive (0.69:1):


4.88 gears @ 70 mph = 2200 engine rpm

4.88 gears @ 65 mph = 2043 engine rpm

4.88 gears @ 55 mph = 1728 engine rpm


4.56 gears @ 70 mph = 2056 engine rpm 

4.56 gears @ 65 mph = 1909 engine rpm

4.56 gears @ 55 mph = 1615 engine rpm


According to Cummins, you should use the 4.88:1 gears for a truck under 10000# GVWR and intended for 70 mph cruise.  In my experience, though, if fuel mileage were your sole aim without carrying cargo or trailer pulling, I would suggest the 4.56 gearing.  This would keep you "in the window" for maximum fuel economy.  However, even a light travel trailer would immediately tip the scale toward taxing the engine, which could impact both fuel efficiency and engine life—plus overload the transmission (clutch if manual) and driveline.


Actually, with your 37" tires, the 4.56:1 ratio would be much like your 3.73:1 gears with the Ram 3500's stock tire size.  (That was also before accessory add-ons and the lift, too!)  In overdrive, that off-the-showroom floor truck fell well below Cummins' recommended 2,150 rpm at 65 mph baseline for fuel efficiency and commercial hauling.  I'd again emphasize that 23-25 mpg highway was readily achievable with the stock tires, 3.73 gearing and no load at 65-69 mph (approximately 1800-1950 rpm).


If you pull a trailer very seldom and your add-on accessories weight is modest, fuel efficiency would be good between 55 and 70 mph with 4.56:1 gearing and 37" tires.  If the add-ons are like mine, however, your truck has a load before you stack on cargo!  The 4.56:1 gearing would not be low enough, you'd be better off with the 4.88:1 gears.


Note: This is why I opted for 4.56:1 with the 35" tires, rather than fiddle with 4.10:1, which would have been the direct correction for the bigger tires.  We plan to pull a trailer on occasion—without destroying the powertrain.  Also, as I've shared, between the lift height and added accessories weight, this is not the stock truck any more.


Your decision comes down to load and intended cruising speed.  Considering the height and weight of your Ram 3500 Mega Cab, you'd likely be "happier", performance wise, with 4.88 gears.  When you want fuel efficiency, hold the speed to 65 mph.  If that's too slow and you want to "cruise" at 70-plus mph yet get the best fuel efficiency for that rate of speed, consider 4.56:1 axle gearing.  You can see by the calculations that the engine would be in Cummins' recommended zone of 2100-2400 rpm when cruising at 72 mph (2114 engine rpm) with 4.56:1 gears in overdrive.  With 4.88:1 gears at 72 mph in overdrive, the engine would spin 2263 rpm and eat up fuel.


Cruise speeds above 65 mph will eat fuel, regardless...Moving as much mass as our trucks at speeds above 65 mph requires increasingly more fuel.  Base your choice on what cruise speed you find acceptable on the highway—the faster you go, the more fuel the engine will use...guaranteed!


The acceleration might be marginally better with 4.88:1 gears.  In terms of gear stamina with a given ring gear size (11.5" and 9.25" in our case), the 4.56 gears are actually stronger due to the larger pinion gear head size.  (This is slightly offset by the 4.88:1 additional gear reduction, which helps reduce load a bit.)  Given our Ram 3500 ring gear sizes, the stamina distinction is not as severe—nothing like sticking 4.88:1 gears in a Dana 35 Jeep rear axle with a 7.625" diameter ring gear!


We can kick this around more, Megatron.  Cummins recommends spinning the engine for "efficiency" and, at least commercially, does not want to "lug" the engine below 1900 rpm at highway cruising speeds.  Note that a truck under 10000# GVWR with an H.O. 5.9L Cummins ISB engine is less susceptible to lugging than a Cummins ISB engine in a medium-duty truck.


If you're running an aftermarket performance module or "chip", or have done any other tuning or engine modifications, we need to discuss those variables, too...That could change the rpm scale for maximum performance and fuel efficiency, in turn shifting the rpm band for the gearing.



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#1349 Harbor Freight 1000# Motorcycle Lift—Best Buy on the Planet?

Posted by elinamaria on 12 February 2014 - 02:37 AM

i bought a few products from garageworkshop.com.au -- it also provides best services :)  in australia ..

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#1286 Rebuilding a Jeep CJ-7 Dana 300 Transfer Case

Posted by forman on 04 February 2014 - 07:55 PM

Hey I enjoyed the compressor story!
Today I was able to start disassembling the transfer case I followed your procedure and took some photos.
The impact driver worked great on the yoke nuts and to be honest most of what I disassembled today was very easily done. I have to admit once I learned the new to me transfer case nomenclature it went very well, I'm having fun.  


I noticed that the intermediate shaft had some wear, I could feel where the gears rode on the shaft. The gear teeth that I can see so far aren't showing any sign of wear I hope some of the photos will show.


In the first photo the bushing on the left looks rough on the outside.

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#4253 1990 Jeep YJ Wrangler 2.5L Choking Down and Starting Problems

Posted by Moses Ludel on Today, 09:45 AM

mtJeep82...MAT or MAP, or any other relevant sensor, could be at stake here.  Manifold temp or any of the vacuum related sensors are worth pursuing...I'm still leaning toward something that affects performance as vacuum or throttle position changes—especially the throttle valve returning to idle position.


If you're referring to the intake air temp sensor (IAT), here is the OEM Mopar part number:  33002382 SENSOR, Intake Air Temperature (Quantity 1). 


I did some research and came up with this source.  Could be NOS, it's pricy at $53:




To broaden your search, the part number also pops up for "1984-92 Dodge Monaco".


Frankly, I'd visit your local Pick 'N Pull resource.  These devices either work or not.  A used one that reads correctly (take your ohmmeter to test the part before pulling) would suffice. 



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#4251 Upgrading the Steering Gear on '03-'08 Dodge Ram Trucks

Posted by Moses Ludel on Yesterday, 06:15 PM

Chris...Thanks for reeling this topic back in line.  We tend to stray at times and should start new topics...


This could be steering gear or pump related if you're experiencing a "notchy" feel or momentary lack of assist.  On a rotary power gear this can be a valve problem, too little pump pressure or binding created by internal steering gear parts.  In ranking order, I would first try to rule out pump pressure issues.  Here are the "factory" symptoms and prospects:


Attached File  3rd Gen Dodge Ram Steering Gear Troubleshooting.pdf   34.84KB   5 downloads


I would not dismiss the possibility of internal gear bind, especially with the suspect history of this gear in our Ram models.  The symptoms you describe are often accompanied by play and looseness.  Is the gear "original"?  Has anyone attempted to adjust out play?  Adjustment can lead to bind or notchy feel when either 1) done improperly or 2) trying to compensate for excessive wear.  If there is worm bearing play, sector tooth wear, over-tight adjustment in the over-center position or any other cause of bind, this can feed back to the pressure system in the gear and create the symptoms you describe.


If you have oversized tires and this symptom occurs when the vehicle is stationary, you could have a struggling pump.  Each of these prospects has specific troubleshooting tests, including pump or gear fluid pressure checks.  I would emphasize that any attempt to compensate for loose worm bearings, sector bearings or excessive clearances within the gear can result in the kind of symptoms you're experiencing.  What is the history, if known, of service work related to the steering system and the steering gear in particular?


A longer shot is binding axle shaft steering knuckle joints.  If these joints either bind or present a counter-force across the front axle, you could have notchy or resistant steering.  Make sure the joints and front axle shafts have correct float end-wise when turning off the center position.  If the axle shaft binds as the joint turns, that could cause the symptom you describe.  An automatic locker in the front differential, without free-wheeling hubs, can be a distinct cause for steering notchy feel or actual binding when on pavement or hard surfaces.  Worn out or binding front axle shaft U-joints can, by themselves, cause the symptoms you describe.  Have these joints been replaced?  Is there a binding front axle shaft U-joint (perhaps a roller dislodged and crushed during assembly)? 


I, too, am doubtful of a damper error unless there is clear misalignment of the tie-rod ends or the tie rods rotate to a binding position during turns.  It's possible for gas-charged damper shocks to rotate the tie-rod(s) with force and create steering linkage bind.  Make sure your tie-rod ball studs are properly aligned and centered up with joint.  Each tie-rod end should have its ball-stud perpendicular to the joint socket when the steering is static and in the straight ahead position.  If joints are cocked, they can bind.  This is a basic rule for alignment rack techs, I did a lot of service work in that capacity.


Let us know what you find, Chris...I have other data if you need it.



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#4241 1990 Jeep YJ Wrangler 2.5L Choking Down and Starting Problems

Posted by Moses Ludel on 29 August 2015 - 06:02 PM

Hi, mtjeep82!  So, you're making headway, the symptoms have narrowed to stumbling between shifts and the start-up problem/return to idle quirk.  Some thoughts...


Your fuel pressure is actually slightly on the high side (normal is 14-15 PS), but this is unlikely to cause the symptoms you describe.  You might readjust the pressure unless you suspect test gauge error...Given what you have done (plenty and good approaches!) and the remaining symptoms, I would adjust the Idle Speed Actuator Motor to factory spec.  This adjustment is often out of specification because someone tries to set the idle speed, mistaking this adjustment for an idle speed stop—it's not.  (There is no idle speed screw, that function is ECU controlled.)  An out of adjustment ISA motor would create the symptoms you're experiencing.


Here is the factory ISA motor adjustment procedure.  Use great care when running the engine speed up.  Stay away from the engine's cooling fan!  (One way to eliminate risk of fan injury during this adjustment would be to temporarily remove the serpentine drive belt.): 


Attached File  2.5L TBI ISA Motor Adjustment.pdf   700.1KB   5 downloads


Read these additional details on Closed Throttle (Idle) Switch testing in conjunction with the ISA motor and adjustments before performing ISA motor adjustment and tests:


Attached File  Closed Throttle Idle Switch & ISA Testing.pdf   2.34MB   2 downloads


If this is not the cure, I'd look to the EGR valve or solenoid, or the MAP sensor, issues related to vacuum and vacuum changes.  Be certain you have strong manifold vacuum and no vacuum leaks.  A sticky EGR or out of spec MAP sensor could create issues under deceleration—like when shifting...One step at a time.  You need to take calculated steps.  There will be a clear solution to this specific and symptomatic problem...The ISA motor adjustment would be my first step.



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#4199 1978 Jeep CJ7 4x4 Barn Find!

Posted by Moses Ludel on 23 August 2015 - 06:39 AM

Hi, TejasCJ7...If the exhaust manifold ports are away from the cylinder head exhaust ports, plugging is okay.  Never leave air injection tube inserts within the head/exhaust port.  Without air injection pump air flow, these stainless tubes can melt and raise real havoc with the exhaust ports and the exhaust system.  Did any air injection tubes enter the exhaust manifold itself?  Or did the air injection tube manifold fit strictly outboard of the iron manifold?


Rebuilding the original carburetor is the best bet, you have correct jetting and staging...As for the steering gear, if it's a manual recirculating ball-and-nut, Borgeson bought the tooling to produce OE style Saginaw gears.  You can buy a new gear for a reasonable cost...If a power unit, also Saginaw, there are many aftermarket suppliers of modified/upgrade gears, and rebuilding the OE unit is most often possible.  I plan to offer a Saginaw (Jeep application, which fits many other vehicle applications as well)  step-by-step rebuild how-to video shortly at the 4WD Mechanix Vimeo On Demand rental library...If enough demand exists, I'll get that done.  Cast your vote here!



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#4185 1990 Jeep YJ Wrangler 2.5L Choking Down and Starting Problems

Posted by Moses Ludel on 19 August 2015 - 07:11 PM

Just had a discussion about the idle air actuator.  Here's the post and reply: http://forums.4wdmec...le-speed-issue/.  Your symptoms could involve the idle air actuator, though I would try other possibilities first.


I would extract trouble codes from the ECU if any have been stored.  This is early OBD and not as useful or thorough as OBD-II.  There still are functions and device checks.  The oxygen sensor would be a concern.  Vacuum related devices, too.


Have you actually tested the fuel flow to the regulator for volume?  Pressure is not enough, you could have a clogged screen at the fuel pump pickup in the tank that's restricting actual fuel volume flow.  This could create all the symptoms you describe.  This is not an ultra-high pressure pump, and a clogged pickup screen would thwart flow.  Put a "T" on your pressure regulator test hoses and run the extra (open) leg into a safe pan or can away from any heat source.  Note the volume of fuel that pumps through, not just the pressure.



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#4179 1990 Jeep YJ Wrangler 2.5L Choking Down and Starting Problems

Posted by Moses Ludel on 18 August 2015 - 05:46 PM

mtjeep82...Welcome to the forums!  Please check out the lengthy discussion on tuning and troubleshooting the 2.5L TBI system, the information is available here in the Wrangler forum and also at the magazine (www.4WDmechanix.com).  Please take the time to review the wealth of discussion that has taken place, others have similar issues and troubles.


When you share that your engine's behavior is like "flooding", confirm whether the issue is too much or too little available fuel.  A quick check of the spark plugs would be sensible.  Look for wet or sooty carbon fouling.  If the plugs do not show this kind of rich mixture when the troubles occur, I would check the fuel pressure at the regulator (pressure port testing).  This requires a fuel pressure testing tool (gauge and hoses with correct fittings). 


We discuss this at length in the 2.5L trouble discussion here at the forums.  If your pressure at the test port is beyond 15 PSI, there is too much pressure and possibly excessive fuel flow.  If pressure is normal and the fuel flow is obviously erratic (starving for fuel) or excessive (fouling/enriched spark plugs), the injector could be clogged or at fault.


Since you've done the common, simpler repairs and maintenance, you need to start your troubleshooting by confirming whether you're getting adequate fuel or too much fuel.  From there, the discussion at the forums covers a broad range of repairs.  I cover 2.5L troubleshooting as a whole at the magazine, enter "2.5L" (without quotes) in the search box at the magazine home page or the search box at any other landing page of the magazine.


Let us know what your spark plugs and pressures turn up...Read through the forums and magazine coverage/discussion of the 2.5L TBI troubles.  Here to help further.



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#4046 Just a bit of concern yesterday! Happy ending, after all!

Posted by Rocket Doctor on 03 August 2015 - 09:52 AM

The wife and I headed up on a road trip yesterday, pulling off US 93, and heading up over a trail that includes a long, steep grade on not much more than an old mining trail, (Cherry Creek Rd) reaching an elevation around 8950 ft. over Antelope Pass, and then dropping into Copper Basin and the head waters of the Big Lost River.

The day was 'around' 85-90 deg, zero wind, zero clouds.  Absolutely gorgeous.  

We took the 04 F250 with the Triton V10 on the trip, because it is SO comfortable.  Had the air conditioner on, crawling up the grade over that pass, and around 8000 ft, we got a check engine light, the temp gauge pegged, and the motor started running on perhaps 5 cylinders.  NO place to turn around, or for that matter, maneuver so that we could take advantage of the few up-canyon breezes.  Also, the "pucker factor" was up around 8.5-9, as a look out the passenger window revealed a drop, with nothing between there and the bottom of the draw, of around 1,000 feet!

Sooooo......we pulled off, made lunch, let the dogs chase ground squirrels, shot the "new" 10-22 a bit bit, and, after a short nap, and around an hour and a half wait, the temp came down, and we started up, and went on our way, though this time with the AC off, in a lower gear to keep the engine rpm's up, with less lugging, and to move a bit more air through the radiator.

Now, we've apparently "set a code".  The engine now runs as well as it ever has, with all the power it ever had, we just have a "full time" check engine light that we'll have to see about getting rid of.



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#3978 2008 Ford F350 4x4 Power Stroke Harley-Davidson Edition Ultimate Build-up

Posted by Moses Ludel on 23 July 2015 - 07:12 PM

This is absolutely phenomenal, Megatron! Ford Powerstroke 6.4 V-8 diesel fans, pay close attention here. Fantastic photos, thanks for the detail as usual, nobody does homework better! I'm anxious to see the performance gains and mileage!

Yes, removing the cab is easier, better for access and the orthodox approach on late Ford and GM trucks—for any work that would otherwise be "over-the-fenders"! Great job to this point, know you'll make this truck perform...

The parts involved are top drawer and really exciting. There's an enormous aftermarket for diesel technology and upgrades! Your details on choices and "why" are very helpful to other owners...


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#3957 1995 Jeep YJ Wrangler 4.0L Running Excessively Rich

Posted by dinko on 16 July 2015 - 08:38 PM

Well, #5and6 injectors not getting any signal from PCM. Fuel pressure perfect. All sensors working fine. Still coughing and sputtering.
Replacement PCM came in the mail today.
Installed it and now the engine purrs like a kitten.
Hated to have to take all the time to test everything, but now I know that everything is all good.
Haven't heard much good about the computer rebuild industry but hopefully the third time is a charm.
Thank you all the advice and now that I own a Jeep I'm sure I will talk to you again.
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#3945 1995 Jeep YJ Wrangler 4.0L Running Excessively Rich

Posted by Moses Ludel on 13 July 2015 - 10:17 PM

Dinko...On the distributor indexing, set precisely to factory guideline, including the cam position sensor.  Do you have the FSM instructions handy?  Did you follow this closely?  Keeping in mind that there is no centrifugal advance mechanism, there must be allowance for the electronic advance.  You can find that the rotor does not align "properly".  This allows for spark timing advance, although you're off quite a bit here.  Do you need the steps for installing/indexing the distributor?


The timing mark is only visible if you follow the factory procedure for checking base timing.  Check the manual, if you don't have that procedure, I can provide it.  Without the right wiring hookups during the test, timing will be way off the mark when the engine is running without a load.  This is not like conventional timing, the advance is electronic and governed by load conditions and emissions requirements.  Idle advance degrees can be considerable.


Do you need the resistance specs for the coolant temp sensor (CTS)?  Can provide...



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#3934 1990 Jeep Wrangler 2.5L Engine Bucks and Stumbles

Posted by bocephus on 11 July 2015 - 11:30 AM

thanks guys for the info ths other dicussions  were really helpful. the ool jeep jigger has 168,000 plus on it. stupid me hadn't even thought of changine the fuel filter but ive got ths stuff for a tuneup.let me get that done and ill let yall know if it helped or I know it cant hurt it. excuse my typing but I almost cut my index finger off and in a brace my typing and worth a flip to start with but anyhow  thanks guys Bo US ARMY retired

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#3932 1990 Jeep Wrangler 2.5L Engine Bucks and Stumbles

Posted by Moses Ludel on 11 July 2015 - 09:08 AM

Bocephus...You've got the 2.5L four, and that's a throttle body injected TBI system...We've shared considerable information on this engine and its tuning.  Read over the forum issues around 2.5L TBI, many concerns dovetail with yours.  A popular source of information is my article at the magazine on tuning and troubleshooting the 2.5L TBI engine:  http://www.4wdmechan...p-TBI-Four.html.


Some of the forum discussions worth reading would be at:




















There are more, scroll down the topics at the YJ Wrangler forum listing:




Trust this helps...



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#3931 1983 cj7 earlier xj motor transmission transfer case swap

Posted by Moses Ludel on 11 July 2015 - 08:48 AM

Your biggest obstacle is the transfer case drop side. The XJ Cherokee has a left side (driver's) output to the front axle. The Dana 300 in an '83 CJ drops to the right (passenger) side. You cannot use the NP231 with this layout in the CJ-7.

The AW4 coupled to the EFI 4.0L from an '89 XJ Cherokee would require all electronic interfaces. As Dustin shares, the engine electronics and ECU/PCM, plus all sensors, high pressure fuel pump and wiring harnesses for the engine, would be needed from the donor vehicle or aftermarket (like an inline high pressure fuel pump and high pressure fuel lines, fittings and hoses).

If you want to keep the original Dana 30 front axle with leaf springs, consider the 4.0L engine and AW4 mated to a Dana 300 with a clocking ring, parts available from Advance Adapters. Confirm AW4 output spline count match and Dana 300 adapter needs before going this route.

Another approach, which would enable use of the NP231 and all, would be changing the front axle to a left-side differential Dana 30 or 44. This could include the Dana 30 front leaf spring 1987-95 Jeep YJ Wrangler. Compare the spring perch locations, steering linkage layout and parts differences. The Wrangler uses longer, wider springs, which some swap to a CJ for improved ride quality. For now, you're interested in the spring perch spacing compared to your CJ-7's spring positions.

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