The Dodge Ram might not be the most popular of the full-sized trucks, but it has a loyal following among drivers and fleets. While the basic alignment procedure on this generation of the Ram 1500 is straightforward, the additions of stability control, electric power steering and air ride can make for a complicated alignment.
The front suspension on the Ram 1500 comes in two flavors: 2WD and 4WD. The 2WD front suspension uses a conventional knuckle, stamped steel lower control arm. The 4WD model has a forged aluminum lower control arm and a taller knuckle to accommodate the axle and hub. Both suspensions used a welded and stamped upper control arm.
4WD models with the aluminum lower control arm and knuckle use torque-to-yield studs on the ball joints and the tie rod’s stud. If you do not use the proper torque procedure that involves setting an initial torque setting and turning the nut a specific amount, you could damage the suspension. The best-case scenario with this is that the loose nut causes the stud to move in the taper, damaging the stud and knuckle. The worst-case scenario is the stud snaps and causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Either way, it is a very expensive mistake.
The lower ball joint nut has a torque specification 37.5 ft/lbs and an additional 90 degrees of rotation. The upper ball joint has a torque specification of 40 ft/lbs and an additional 200 degrees of rotation. The outer tie-rod stud has a torque specification of 45 ft/lbs and an additional 90 degrees of rotation.
Front Suspension Adjustments
The Ram 1500 comes with cam adjusters on the lower control arms at the subframe. If you need more camber or caster on a lifted or lowered truck, you can install an offset ball joint in the upper control arm. This modification can yield ±2.25 degrees of camber or caster. You should perform the final adjustments with the factory cams.
Moving the front or rear position of the lower control arm in or out will change the caster angle and camber angle significantly. To maintain the camber angle while adjusting caster, move one pivot bolt of the lower control arm in or out. Then move the other pivot bolt of the lower control arm in the opposite direction.
To increase positive caster angle, move the rear position of the lower control arm inward (toward the engine). Move the front of the lower control arm outward (away from the engine) slightly until the desired camber angle is obtained.
Move both pivot bolts of the lower control arm together in or out. This will change the camber angle significantly and have little effect on the caster angle. After the adjustment is made, tighten the lower control arm nuts to proper torque specification.
For 2009, Dodge introduced a multilink coil spring rear suspension. This live-axle setup weighs 40 pounds less than a leaf-spring configuration. Nothing is adjustable. When inspecting the rear suspension, pay special attention to the sway bar links and the bushings for the track bar.
For 2013, an air suspension system was an option. The system is tuned by the driver and computer for optimal ride and aerodynamic performance. The system has a load-leveling capability, which detects if there is a trailer attached.
The air suspension system features five height settings that operate automatically or can be controlled manually using controls on the console or key fob.
- Normal Ride Height (NRH): 220.9 mm (8.7 inches) of clearance (measured from the base of the door sill) is the default load-leveled ride height. This is the mode that should be active when performing an alignment.
- Aero Mode: Lowers the vehicle 27.9 mm (1.1 inches) from NRH. Aero Mode improves fuel efficiency by up to 1% and is activated by vehicle speed, adjusting for optimal performance and fuel economy
- Off-road 1: Lifts the vehicle 30.4 mm (1.2 inches) from NRH.
- Off-road 2: This mode increases ground clearance by 50.8 mm (2 inches over NRH).
- Park Mode: Lowers the vehicle 50.8 mm (2 inches) from NRH for easy entry/exit and cargo loading.
In 2012, Electric Power Steering (EPS) was made standard. The system provides variable assist for steering maneuvers using several sensor inputs. The Steering Angle Sensor (SAS) measures the position of the steering wheel and the rate of movement. The vehicle’s speed input comes from the anti-lock brake system. EPS steering gear has a torque sensor. These pieces of data are processed by the EPS module that is on the CAN network.
No components of the EPS system can be serviced separately. If any component of the EPS requires service, the entire steering gear must be replaced. The only serviceable parts are inner and outer tie rods and tie rod bellows.
The SAS is “self-calibrating” according to Chrysler. To reset the SAS, perform the following procedure:
- Turn the ignition on and turn the steering wheel all the way to the left until lock is reached
- Turn the steering wheel all the way to the right until full lock is reached
- Return the steering wheel to center
- Cycle the ignition
Even after this procedure is performed, the ESP light might still be on. Go for a short test drive to allow the system to use the yaw and lateral accelerometers to carry out the final calibrations. The other option is to use a scan tool to verify the readings from the SAS and clear the codes.