We bought the magazine's 2005 Ram 3500 4WD Quad Cab new in the fall of 2004. The Cummins 5.9L diesel, SRW, short box, 140.5" wheelbase truck has been a joy, maybe even our favorite vehicle ever! At 121K miles, it's just now broken-in, a "keeper" truck that will be in our stable for a long time to come!
These models are not without issues, however, among them shorter steering gear life. The change to oversized 35" tires, the weight of the Cummins inline six engine over the front axle, the wider 18" aftermarket wheel rims and a four-inch Mopar suspension lift have helped coax the steering gear to the end of its duty cycle. Actually, considering the history of these power steering gears, I'm feeling good about the mileage we did get from the OEM gear, especially a gear that wrestles with a weighty diesel engine and, from 90K miles onward, the addition of oversized tires!
At left is our 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 4WD truck in stock form at 90K miles. The pickup underwent a metamorphosis to its new "look", functionality and show appearance in time for 2011 Off-Road Expo display at the BFG Tires booth. (Click to enlarge photos. Cannot see the photos? Viewing is for members, please join us!)
Prior to this year's Moab Jeep Safari, I did a minor adjustment of the steering gear sector to correct for the first signs of wander. You should know that any adjustment other than very slight is always a sign of a fatigued steering gear. I followed the factory adjusting procedure to a good end: safe, controlled steering. A temporary remedy, I'm now getting serious about a long term solution for the steering gear issue...
There are a variety of approaches. Mopar has an upgrade steering gear for these models: Mopar Steering Box Upgrade Kit '03-'08 Ram HD, part number 68170214AA. This beefier, direct replacement steering gear box comes with a pitman arm, as the OEM arm will not fit the new, larger sector splines. In my case, this creates a dilemma: The 4" Mopar lift kit on the truck requires a dropped pitman arm. There is no dropped arm available for the upgrade steering gear and this '03-'08 Dodge Ram application.
In researching, I discovered that a steering linkage upgrade from Pure Performance works with the stock pitman arm on lifts in the 4"-6" realm. If I use the new Mopar upgrade steering gear, with the replacement (OEM fit) pitman arm, the Pure Performance heavy duty steering linkage will not only fit with the furnished pitman arm, it would also eliminate a second pre-2009 Ram truck issue: the "Y" steering linkage that can contribute to wander and bump steer.
I never experienced bump steer with the stock 2005 "Y" steering linkage; even after the 4" lift, which I carefully installed using front end gauges, I've never experienced bump steer. The more recent and slight "wander" has been related to sector play in the original steering gear.
There's a "plan" forming, and I want Dodge-Ram forum members to be aware of the inherent steering gear and linkage concerns on 2003-2008 HD 2500 and 3500 trucks...I'm starting this topic while still researching the right solution...I'll keep you posted!