How We Installed a Simple Lift Kit Onto a Ram 1500
For those who like to customize their 4X4 trucks, adding a lift kit is an essential part of any build. Of course, where you live in the U.S. can determine how high you can go, so transforming your street-driven truck into a skyscraper isn’t an option for everyone. In the case of our 2013 RAM 1500, one of our main objectives was to find a lift kit that improved its off-road capabilities while maintaining on-road drivability to really emphasize the “work hard, play hard” attitude. In this article, we’re covering the process of installing the front half of our lift kit.
Our RAM 1500 originally came equipped with a factory air suspension option, with a bag over axle setup in the back and bags in the front where the shocks or coilovers would be on a non-air ride truck. Instead of deleting the air ride system, we decided to keep it intact due to the high ride quality on the street and the ability to raise our ride height up to 2 inches for off-roading.
The kit that we found was a BDS four-inch high-clearance suspension system specifically designed for air suspension-equipped RAM 1500s between 2013 and 2015. This kit adds four inches of lift to our truck while maintaining all the functionality of the original air ride setup. It gave us clearance to add up to 35×12.50 tires, plus the included raised cross members and front differential skid plate will ensure we won’t have to worry too much about any underbelly obstacles whenever we take this thing off the blacktop.
The most important thing about installing a lift kit on any truck is to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions that come with it.
If you’re the kind of builder who thinks they ‘don’t need instructions,’ don’t be surprised if you encounter problems and end up taking longer than necessary to complete the job.
Of course, installing a kit like this requires more than just bolting a bunch of new parts in. During the initial teardown, we installed the extended brake lines provided by BDS to prevent a mess of brake fluid from disconnected lines while we removed the front suspension. Then, we moved on to disconnecting the front airbags and removing all components forward of the transfer case like the driveshaft, cross members, axles, and front differential.
The next step in teardown required us to make some modifications. Using the measurements provided in the instructions, we trimmed the crossmember mounts so the new high-clearance crossmembers could be bolted in. Be sure to always disconnect the battery whenever you are doing any cutting or welding. With the disassembly finally complete, we could begin the fun part… reassembly.
Installing The Lift Kit
Since everything was already torn apart and we want to make sure this truck won’t have any problems once it’s back together, we added some new Duralast control arms and wheel bearing assemblies. These will ensure that we won’t have any issues on or off-road from our ball joints and wheel hubs. From there, we reinstalled the remainder of the truck’s suspension components, starting with the air spring spacers followed by the springs themselves. After that came the extra beefy new steering knuckles, front differential with drop brackets, driveshaft and spacer, and the new crossmembers.
Because the mounting point on the new knuckle was higher than before, we had to slice about 5/8″ off the inner tie rods before installing the new tie rod ends and bolting them on. From there, the factory sway bar links were reused with an extension that came with our lift kit. To put a bow on this install, we torqued everything down based on the kit manufacturer’s specifications. We also installed a PowerStop Z36 Truck & Tow brake upgrade kit that featured drilled and slotted rotors for better heat dissipation, and low dust carbon-fiber ceramic brake pads which offer better strength and stopping power than standard ceramic pads.
Once we finished adding the extra inches, our RAM 1500 was ready to be roughed on a ride through the murky mudholes out on some mountain trails!