(approx) 3 Hours
Light to Moderate mechanical skill required.
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Hey, guys. Adam here with americantrucks.com. Today we're taking a closer look at and installing the ReadyLIFT 2.5-inch front leveling kit with upper control arms fitting all '06 to '18 four wheel drive RAM 1500 without air ride. You should be checking this kit out if you're looking to accomplish 3 things: reduce factory rake, fitting larger wheels and tires on your truck up to 35 inches, and getting additional ground clearance upfront for some help in some light off-road situations. This kit not only accomplishes those things, but it also comes with upgraded upper control arms that have greater wheel articulation and limit excessive downward suspension travel.First and foremost, fitting larger wheels and tires on your RAM really isn't that hard. Off the factory line, this generation RAM comes with anywhere from 30-inch to 33-inch all-season tires. Ours is factory 33s. Now, if you're looking to fit up to 35s comfortably, then you'll need a leveling kit like this, 2.5 inches is the perfect front end amount to give you enough room to fit 35-inch tires without modification. Now, with some of the more aggressive mud terrain tires, you may experience slight rubbing at full turn depending on your wheel offset, but fitting up to 35s is absolutely doable, as you can see on our '14 RAM here. When it comes to leveling out your truck's appearance by reducing the factory rake, a 2.5-inch leveling kit like this from ReadyLIFT makes it super easy. If you're not familiar with the term rake, just know that it's referring to your truck's front end sitting lower than the rear in order to help with towing and hauling applications.Now, a lot of truck owners out there want a more even stance, in which case 2.5 inches is a really common leveling kit size to get that job done. Getting additional ground clearance is easily attainable with a leveling kit as well. Naturally by bringing your front end up a couple of inches, you'll be able to drive over some of those smaller obstacles that you otherwise would have come in contact with at the front end. The stock front bumper and lip sits pretty low, so any additional height can make a difference with those smaller hazards on and off-road. This particular kit from ReadyLIFT is a laser cut high quality steel that has a black powder coated finish on top to help with corrosion and rust resistance. Keep in mind that the physical spacer here measures in at about 1.75 inches, but with the changes in suspension geometry and spring compression, you'll achieve the final lift height of 2.5 inches. If you've got some front end accessories that'll weigh down the front, like an off-road winch bumper, you may want to consider bumping up to a 3-inch leveling kit just to offset some of that added weight to achieve the same lift height.The price for this kit comes in right around 550 bucks. It's a great way to make a big difference to appearance and fitment for your truck while upgrading some suspension components to accommodate the added height. Whenever you lift your truck, you're inevitably changing that suspension geometry, 2.5 inches isn't a lot of lift, but it can put more stress in your factory upper control arms and ball joints over time. ReadyLIFT takes some preventative measures with this kit by adding in upgraded tubular upper control arms that are stronger and have greater wheel articulation in the ball joint. The ball joint here is made for lifted applications, and with the included bump stops, your downward suspension travel will be limited so you won't overextend the ball joints at full droop.The installation for this leveling kit comes in right around two out of three wrenches on our difficulty meter. You won't need any specialty tools with this kit like a spring compressor because your new spacer is going to sit right at the top of your factory strut without needing to disassemble it. It'll take you about two, maybe three hours from start to finish to knock out both sides. Keep in mind, you want to get an alignment done once everything is said and done. And you want to make sure you're torquing down everything back to factory spec if you're tackling it yourself. I'm gonna walk you through the whole process. Let's get started.Tools used in this install include an impact gun, an air impact gun, ratchet, 15, 16, and 18-millimeter deep sockets, 18-millimeter short socket recommended, 19-millimeter deep socket, 21, 22, and 15/16ths deep socket, swivel socket's recommended, 15-millimeter wrench and ratcheting wrench, hammer and pry bar, flathead screwdriver, 21 and 15/16ths wrenches.All right. To kick things off, I'm gonna show you guys how to uninstall your factory strut here on our front driver side. Of course you want to get your wheel out of the way, that's step number one. We're supported on a lift, but if you're working on the floor, make sure you have a floor jack properly supporting the weight of the vehicle. Moving on from there, we'll have to disconnect the ABS lines from the knuckle and from the brake line itself just to make sure that when the knuckle drops down out of the upper control arm, we're not putting too much stress on those brake lines.All right, so for this ABS line, just follow it down to the back of your knuckle here, that's connected with a plastic clip. Just gonna wiggle that back and forth till it pops up. Now, you want to follow that guy up to the top here, that's connected to your brake line, that you're just gonna pull apart just like that. All right, so now we have no slack here and a little bit of less slack here.Next up, grab a 16-millimeter deep socket and we're going to remove the factory nut off of our sway bar end link. All right, set that aside. All right, next up, we're going to disconnect our tie rod end. Now, before we get started, you want to know that this is a 21-millimeter nut. Now, in some cases, if you use an impact gun on this, the entire stud will spin in that ball joint. You may need a 10-millimeter socket and a 21-millimeter wrench to get the nut off while holding that stud steady. For our first time I'm going to use our 21-millimeter deep socket and my air gun to get this guy off. All right, so, ours didn't give us any trouble, but that is still worth noting. Now, before I take this guy out, I'm actually going to leave it in and just put that nut a couple of threads on just to keep the entire hub assembly from rotating while tackling the upper control arm.All right, so next we're going to do the upper control arm to the knuckle. Now, RAM uses a castle nut here which has these open gaps all the way around, and through one of the gaps going through the stud itself is a metal retaining pin. We're going to use needle nose pliers to pull that pin straight out. All right, set that aside. Now, for this, I'm going to use an 18-millimeter ratcheting wrench. I highly recommend picking up a set of ratcheting wrenches for this install. There's a lot of different aspects of this that ratcheting wrenches will be a lot easier to use.All right, so, once we broke that loose, I can back this off with my hand. Now, big thing to remember is we have to dislodge the ball joint from the knuckle. You can see this stud didn't break free with that. So I'm going to leave this nut on a couple of threads, we're going to grab our hammer, and we're going to swing and tap against here to dislodge that. And then we'll use a pry bar to pull it down and take our nut off. Now, for this, you want to grab a ball-peen hammer and we're going to tap right up against the side here of the knuckle.All right, with that dislodged, you'll see that the upper control arm moves freely in there. Let's take our nut off and it comes with that larger spacer. Once you have the castle nut and spacer out, set those aside. All right, so from here we can go back to the tie rod end, take that nut off, lift the tie rod end out. I like to hang it up over that sway bar end link and then put our nut back on the stud just so we don't lose it. Here we can lift the upper control arm out of the knuckle. There we go. And what I like to do is just grab the upper control arm castle nut and thread it right back on again so we don't lose it just like the tie rod end.All right. Next up, we're going to tackle the bottom strut bolt holding it to the lower control arm. Now, the nut here, I'm going to use a 15/16ths deep socket on my impact gun. And I'm going to use a 21-millimeter wrench to hold the bolt head on the inside. At this point, you can grab a ball-peen hammer and just tap the end of that to pop it through. Some cases you may be able to pull it straight out, if not, you can grab a flathead screwdriver and just stick it in there and hammer the back end of that.All right. So, now we can focus on the top three strut tower nuts. Grab a 15-millimeter wrench and I'm going to use, again, the 15-millimeter ratcheting wrench. Again, this really comes in handy. We're going to loosen up these three top nuts. All right. So, now our strut is free. I'm gonna use a pry bar here between the lower control arm and the strut body at the bottom to pry this guy out of position.All right. So, next up, we want to assemble our spacer to the top of our factory strut. To do that, you're basically going to drop this guy right on to the factory studs. It only goes on one way, so if you're having trouble lining it up, just keep rotating it until it drops on. Now, you want to grab the three factory nuts. The factory nuts are going to hold the strut to the new strut spacer. The new nuts included in the kit will hold the entire assembly into the truck. So, from here, what you're gonna do is lift up and drop the nut on. All right, there isn't really enough room to just stick it in there, so you have to lift up on the spacer first and drop all three nuts into place. Now, you can grab a 15 wrench and tighten these guys down. All right. So, now we're ready to throw this in the truck.All right. Now, this is going to be pretty simple. Basically I'm going to take one nut and I'm going to place it on the top of our upper control arm for safe and easy keeping. Then you're going to take your strut assembly, line it up to the holes in the strut tower, and place it through. Once it goes all the way through, grab that one nut, it's really all you need just to hold it in place, and thread that guy all the way down. So, now the strut is in place, and we can reassemble everything else.All right. Now, before we put everything back together, it may be helpful to take the top of the sway bar end link nut off along with the bushing and bracket there or the spacer, we're just going to set that aside, it will give us more articulation in the lower control arm. All right. So, at this point, I'm just going to lift that tie rod end out of the way so you can see, we basically need to get this fork on the bottom of the strut over the lower control arm to seat where those open holes are. I recommend using a pry bar, I think it's going to be one of your easier ways to get this done. You're basically just going to lift up and pry down so that it seats correctly on the lower control arm.All right. So, next part is to get the factory bolt back through the bottom of the strut. Bolt head is going to be on the inside facing out like that. This gets to be pretty tricky getting the bolt holes to line up, so you might want to grab a smaller pry bar, and you're basically going to lift up until the hole on the inside lines up so you can get that bolt through. So, I got a helping hand here, we're going to put the bolt in the opposite way it came out to help line it up. Grab a hammer and tap it through.All right. Now, I know getting that bolt back in is a lot of a problem, it can give you a little bit of a headache here trying to get it back in the same way it came out. So, if you need to, you can flip the bolt around and put the bolt head on the front of the vehicle side going into the inside of the lower control arm. There's no problem doing that, doesn't make a difference. So, that's what we did there just to get it to line up better. Grab your hammer and tap it all the way through. Now we can put the nut on the other side and tighten that bolt down. All right. So, now we can put our nut back on the other side here. Grab your 15/16ths wrench for the nut and your 21 socket for the bolt head and tighten them down.All right. Now, this step is a little bit more difficult to see because the inner wheel well liner is here, but you want to make sure you're putting all three nuts on all three studs, we already had one on the front, we just got to hit those back two. And from here you're gonna grab a 17 socket or ratchet and tighten these 3 down. For these, I like to use a ratcheting wrench, I find it to be easier because this one's a little bit longer, I get a little bit more leverage. All right. There you have it.All right, let's reconnect our tie rod end. So, I'm gonna take off that factory nut that I put on there for safekeeping, lift up your knuckle, and drop that guy into place. Thread the factory nut back on. All right. Grab your 21 socket and tighten down that nut.All right. So, while we're down here, we have our sway bar end link back through the sway bar, drop your bushing back on and the spacer followed up with the 16 nut. Grab your socket set, grab your 16 socket, and tighten that down. Again, I'm using a swivel to make it easier.All right. Now that we have everything else out of the way, the last step here is to focus on swapping our upper control arm. Getting the old one out of the way is extremely easy. There's one bolt holding each of the sides onto the frame here. I'm going to use my 18 short socket this time along with the swivel on my impact gun. I'm basically going to go into this wheel well, it is an awkward angle but you can get this guy out. And I'm just going to gun this guy off. The nut itself has a plate welded to it, so it should catch on the frame, so you don't need a ratchet or a wrench to hold the nut on the other side. There you go. Disconnect that from my gun. Pull this guy out. Now, this bolt should just slip out.This side is a little bit trickier, you have a couple of wires in the way. I pushed the wheel well liner back in. I'm using the same socket and swivel but you have to get a little creative how you get that on. Now, the nut can't really back out all the way into the strut tower, so you got to pull it a certain way and basically feed the bolt off of that nut. So you can slide that out. A little yoga around the wires, pull your upper control arm out.All right. So, quickly, I just want to go through the similarities and differences between our factory upper control arm I have in my right hand and our new ReadyLIFT tubular upper control arm in my left. Now, visually, there's not a ton to talk about. Your factory upper control arm is a little bit thinner or smaller in diameter when it comes to the tubing than your new one, your new one is a lot thicker, it looks sturdier, it looks stronger. And that's something definitely worth noting. The bushings themselves on the new one are obviously refreshed. The factory bushings are looking in pretty good condition for how many years our RAM has been on the road. But at the end of the day, upgrading to the new poly bushings from the ReadyLIFT upper control arms will go a long way.Now, the biggest difference, and again, not really visually impactful, it's more of a functional thing, is the ball joint on your new upper control arm from ReadyLIFT is going to have a better articulation. You get more wheel articulation and ball joint articulation in general with the new ReadyLIFT than you did with the factory one, which is a little bit more limited. Keep in mind, your new ReadyLIFT will have bump stop brackets installed, which we'll get to in just a little bit, to help limit downward wheel articulation. But at the end of the day, this guy here is just going to outperform your factory one time and time again. So, at this point, I want to throw this guy in. We're going to use our factory bolts to get it attached to our frame, and then we'll focus on installing our bump stop.All right. So, now we're gonna install the upper control arm. Keep in mind, guys, they are side specific, so you want to make sure you're grabbing the side that you're starting on, I'm on the driver side. I'm going to put the factory nut just in there just for safekeeping at the moment, we're going to basically feed this guy into the factory perch locations where it bolts up, squeeze it in there. They are new bushing, so it might be a little tight at first. The factory bolt, I'm basically just feed it through, just like that. Let that droop down, take the factory nut and I'm basically just going to thread it on a couple of threads until it's gripping. Put that up against the frame so that when I tighten it down, it's easier. Before I tighten this guy down, I want to put the other bolt in, so I know that they're lined up properly. So, before this gets tight and makes it hard to move, let's line that guy up first.All right. So, for the left one, again, just make sure you're lining things up here. Put the bolt in through the same way it came out. All right. Now, remember, the nut has a really tight spot, so you got to make sure the bolt is not fully in in order to get the nut to slide in. All right, just rotate that bolt a couple of times to get it to catch the threads. Once you know it's on there, good to move on.So, next up, we're focusing on our bump stop bracket that will limit downward suspension travel. We do have to install the bump stop separately to the top. The stud comes through the inside here. This is going to be facing the outside of the vehicle. And we have a flat washer and a nylon lock nut. So you want to flip it upside down, drop that washer onto the stud, follow it up with the nylon lock nut. Now, it's a tight space, so it can kind of be a little bit awkward to get your fingers in there. But you just want to get it on a couple of threads. Once you do have it on a couple of threads, grab a 13 socket, deep socket, and tighten that guy down. Now, before I get it all the way tight, just keep in mind, the stud on the bump stop is offset toward one side, so when you rotate it, it actually moves around the top plate. So you want to make sure that you're favoring the front of the bump stop where the open slot is. Once you have it in that position, fully tighten down that stud. Perfect. Now we can start installing it on the frame.All right. So, the next part can be a little tough to see, but the bump stop is going to basically go right into this oval hole on the right side of our driver side upper control arm. So, it's gonna go right there. Now, there's another plate, this flat plate which is going to go on the inside of the frame, you got to wrap your arm around the back to put this through there. And then this long golden bolt is gonna go right through. All right. So, at this point, you kind of got to feel with your hands on the backside, put that bolt plate through it, it'll line up with the oval hole on the other side, of course, follow that up with the lock washer and the nut. All right. So now I'm putting the nylon lock nut on the backside. Put that as far in as you can by hand, we're gonna grab our socket, and you might have to use a wrench or a socket or whatever you can find that works in this tight space behind the frame and tighten these two down. All right. So, once you like the alignment there, grab an 18 socket for both sides and tighten it down.The next step here is to attach the upper control arm to the knuckle here. Now, I'm going to do that before I tighten down the bushings on the frame just because we have really easy articulation up and down, and it's going to make our lives a whole lot easier getting this on. Remove the castle nut that comes pre-installed, drop the upper control arm into place. All right, just like that. There's a thicker spacer or washer here that you want to put on first under that followed up with the castle nut. I'm just going to back that all the way up by hand. Now you can grab your socket and tighten that down. Now you need a 19 socket to get this nut tightened. I got my swivel on there. Let's tighten this guy down.Now, when it comes to installing your new retainer pin, you just want to make sure the holes align with the holes in the castle nut. So, if it's not aligned, you can't find that hole, you may need to either tighten or crack loose a little bit on that nut just to get that to align. But once it's aligned, it should easily go in. Last steps, let's tighten up the upper control arm bolts. Of course we're going to push the wheel well liner in a little bit, switch over to our 18 short socket and tighten it down.That's gonna wrap this one up, guys. If you're looking to pick up the ReadyLIFT 2.5-inch leveling kit with the upper control arms, you can do so right here at americantrucks.com
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(approx) 3 Hours
Light to Moderate mechanical skill required.
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Not for use with factory air ride suspension