Fixing the severe front-to-rear rake is the easiest way to improve the look of your Ram 1500. Luckily, there are many leveling options available and they are easy to install.
Lifting vs Leveling
Lifting a involves raising an entire vehicle, both front and rear. There are many reasons for doing this, including appearance, but a lift can also provide increased ground clearance for improved off-road capability.
Leveling typically referres to lifting the front of the truck only. Leveling is done primarily for appearance purposes in order to reduce or remove a severe front-rear rake that gives the truck a “nosedive” appearance.
Before You Level
Any leveling kit will move the front suspension components out of their ideal range. For mild lifts this change will not have much of an impact, but, be aware that stress on suspension components goes up quickly as lift increases. This usually isn’t a problem for a simple leveling kit.
On the Ram 1500 the weak point is the upper control arm. The design of the arm means that any lift over 2-inches can cause the upper ball joint to pop out of the knuckle, creating a very dangerous situation. Therefore, before any lift it is vital to upgrade the upper control arms.
There are many manufacturers of upper arms, but Mevotech offers the most affordable upgraded upper control arm for the Ram 1500. For those who are looking for the maximum in strength and durability, TTX upper control arms are another option. Both arms use cast construction and improved geometry to allow for 2+” lifts. Some kits, like those from ReadyLIFT, already come with upgraded arms.
Shocks vs Spacers
There are two methods to increase front ride height: adding a metal spacer or upgrading the front strut with an adjustable unit.
Adding a spacer is the most cost effective, as most leveling kits can be had for under $200. Installation is also easier than replacing shocks. However, ride quality can be negatively affected and the ride height cannot be changed without purchasing an different lift kit.
Upgrading the front struts to an adjustable style provides two advantages over a spacer kit: ride quality and adjustability. We found the factory suspension to be both too soft and unable to handle any meaningful offroad conditions, so a shock upgrade is attractive to us anyway. Plus, if we don’t like the lift and want to go lower or higher, the shock can be adjusted without any additional purchses.
Chosing a Spacer Kit
Most spacer kits are compariable in their function. They sit between the body of your Ram and the top of the strut mount. Build quality is largely connected with price, and price can range between $50 and $150 dollars. High end kits will use machined aluminum spacers that are not vulnerable to rust. Ensure any hardware (bolts & nuts) are galvanized or they will corrode and fail quickly. Brands to look for include ReadyLIFT and Tuff Country.
Choosing an Adjustable Shock
Lift/leveling shocks change ride height by changing the postion of the lower spring seat. The lower spring seat sits on a collar that line up with a groove on the shock body. Which groove you set the spring seat collar to will determine ride height.
Most good quality shocks will use this system for their installation.
Our Top Pick for Ram 1500: Bilstein B8 5100 Series Shocks
In our testing and in discussions with other owners, the Bilstein B8 5100 gets the best reviews for ride quality, price and durability. They won’t break the bank and owners were especially happy with the ride both unloaded and when towing. Bilstein also comes with a Lifetime Warranty, which gave owners peace of mind even though we didn’t talk to anyone who had a failure.
Runner Up: Eibach PRO-TRUCK Adjustable Front Struts
Eibach made their name in racing and performance, so we were surprised to see so many positive reviews of the PRO-TRUCK series. The ride quality is harsher than the Bilstein product, but not so much that we found it uncomfortable. Some owners may actually prefer the Eibach stiffnness, and this stiffness makes the PRO-TRUCK line more suitable for off-road use.