The Ram 1500 is a solid and powerful vehicle—there’s no doubt about that.
Owners of this truck are usually sold with the overall driving experience. But the Ram 1500 appears to be raised at the rear. This unique design feature is called a rake, which refers to the height difference between the front and the rear.
The rake is there to prevent sagging when carrying a bunch of weight in the truck bed or when hauling.
You will need a Ram 1500 leveling kit to remove the rake if you don’t want it. But doing so, you could encounter several Ram 1500 leveling kit problems after installation.
Continue reading to know what these issues are and what you can do about them.
What Is a Ram 1500 Leveling Kit?
You’ve probably noticed that the front of your Ram 1500 sits a little bit lower when you compare it to the rear.
The manufacturer purposefully integrated this subtle difference (2.5 to 3 inches) to compensate for the compression of the suspension when the truck bed is carrying a load.
The imbalance created by a heavy load in the truck bed is called a rake, which can cause sagging, bottom out, and even premature wear of the suspension parts.
A Ram 1500 leveling kit is a kit that is uniquely designed to raise the front of the Ram to even out the imbalance. It’s a nifty tool for people who rarely load their Ram 1500 or haul a heavy trailer.
In addition to eliminating the imbalance, a leveling kit also adds ground clearance. Overall, the kit helps your truck look more aggressive and taller.
Different Types of Leveling Kits for Ram 1500
Here are the three most popular types of leveling kits:
Spacer Leveling Kit
A spacer leveling kit is exactly what it sounds like. This kit is made up of spacers or pucks that install on top of your truck stock coil assembly to add additional ride height to your truck.
The best spacer leveling kits are made of aircraft-grade material, which is great because this gives them superior compressive resistance compared to steel.
There are several spacer thicknesses to choose from, including 1.5-inch, 2-inch, 2.5-inch, and 3-inch. Spacer leveling kits are reasonably priced, simple to install, and reliable. This makes them a top choice if you want to get extra tire clearance but you’re working with a tight budget.
The only downside to spacers is that they do not do much else besides leveling. So, if you are looking for performance improvement or superior ride quality for your truck’s suspension, spacers may not be the best choice.
These are among the best leveling kits on the market. Unlike spacer leveling kits, leveled struts replace at least part of the truck’s coilover assembly and are a great way to get some extra front ride height out of your truck while improving handling performance and ride quality both off- and on-road.
The main downside is the cost, especially when you compare them to spacers kits. Leveled struts assemblies also have much more complex installation than spacers kits.
Coilovers are similar to leveled struts, but they include the entire aftermarket shock and spring already assembled. They also have the option to adjust the height of the front end later on, which not all leveling struts let you do.
They are stronger and more off-road capable. Installation of aftermarket coilovers is a bit easier compared to leveled struts. This is so because it only requires you to remove and replace the factory coilovers.
Like leveled struts, any manufacturer that makes aftermarket coilovers will also make matching rear shocks.
Common Ram 1500 Leveling Kit Problems
Here are the most common problems you are likely to experience with Ram 1500 leveling kits:
1. Wrong Angle
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to buy a poorly designed leveling kit, which could seriously cause problems over time.
Poor positioning and wrong angle are common problems with cheap kits. Your truck is likely to shake at high speeds.
2. Improper Alignment
The second common problem Ram 1500 owners experience when they level their trucks is improper alignment of the kit.
You are likely to experience this problem if you don’t get the alignment done correctly after installing the kit. Every manufacturer of leveling kits urges truck owners to do an alignment after installing a front-end lifting kit.
Failing to do an alignment after installing a kit to correct a rake could lead to some serious issues.
The first issue you may come across is vibration. Your truck will vibrate to the extent that drivability is affected. If you fail to adjust your casters after installing a leveling, you may experience vibrations. Your tires will suffer the long-term effect because of all these alignment problems.
3. Headlights Pointing in People’s Eyes
Before leveling the front end, the truck is usually in a nosedive position. What’s going to happen with the headlights when you level the truck?
The headlights will be raised and pointing in people’s eyes. You can, however, adjust the headlights to get them down a little bit. It is simple to do. Just park your truck in front of a wall at night and make the necessary adjustments.
4. Additional Strain to the Suspension
It doesn’t matter which Ram 1500 leveling kit you get; you will still be adding extra strain to your truck’s suspension system. The modifications you introduce to your truck’s suspension could make suspension parts wear out faster than usual.
Things like ball joints, the tie rods of the steering rack, and CV joints are all engineered to work in exact specifications. In other words, exact static resting points when under normal weight or vehicle load. For instance, the tie rods of your truck are supposed to be level and straight when they come out of the rack. This process needs the rack parts to work with minimal effort.
When you add a leveling kit, you introduce an angle to the tie rods when they are in a static position. This puts a lot of stress on the inner tie rods and racks when turning.
The CV joints experience the same thing. They have an exact static operating angle. They are not to be operated at a constant angle that is introduced by a leveling kit.
5. Affects Your MPG
Let’s say you have a 2015 Ram 1500 and you decide to get it leveled with 3-inch Spacers in the front to even out the truck’s overall body. If your initial MPG ranged from 15 to 16 MPG, you are likely to notice an increase to about 17 MPG.
Here is the thing folks, any type of changes to the truck’s suspension system with the intent of correcting the imbalance will affect mileage.
Maybe the only way you can mess up with your Ram 1500 suspension and not affect mileage is by lowering the suspension.
The stock coilovers don’t usually give the most accurate MPG readings. So, adding a leveling kit will lead to incorrect readings.
6. Humming Noise
You could suddenly hear an alarming humming noise coming from the wheels. It is probably your actuator that is in conflict with your leveling kit.
When installing the leveling kit, you might push the CV joints inward and apply force to the lower control arm at one go. This poor installation technique could cause the actuator of your Ram to break.
7. Defective Driveshafts
Your leveling kit could force the driveshaft to wear out faster than usual.
You will know that the driveshaft of your Ram isn’t working properly when you hear a foul noise whenever your shift the Ram while driving down the road. Another common symptom of a malfunctioning driveshaft is unusual shaking from beneath the truck.
All these issues emerge when your leveling kit interferes with the angle of your driveshaft. A poorly positioned driveshaft could also lead to other problems.
8. Tie Rod Malfunction
A tie rod is a component that connects to both of your Ram’s front wheels. It is also what enables smooth steering. Healthy tie rods give responsive and smooth steering.
Poor installation of a leveling kit can wreak havoc on the tie rods. Malfunctioning tie rods may cause steering wheel free play and clunking sounds when turning the steering wheel.
You may also experience scraping and knocking sounds when driving on uneven roads and when accelerating or braking abruptly.
You can fix this problem by reinstalling the leveling kit as well as the tie rods.
9. Inaccurate Readings from HUD
A leveling kit could introduce some drastic changes to the tires of your truck. These changes could modify the outside parameters that determine the readings you get on the HUD.
10. Could Void the Warranty
Using a leveling kit on your Ram 1500 could void the truck’s warranty, especially the parts that are affected by a poor installation of a leveling kit. But this is not usually a problem for an older model of Ram 1500 that is beyond its warranty period.
How to Install Ram 1500 Leveling Kit the Right Way
What You Will Need
- Standard drive ratchets
- 8, 10, 13, 15, 16, 21, and 23 mm sockets
- 15, 16, 21, 23, and 24 mm wrenches
- A hammer
- A pry bar
- Impact gun
- Spray lubricant
Step By Step Instructions
Step 1: Disconnect the Sway Bar End Link
You need an 18-mm wrench to hold the nut in place and an 8-mm deep socket that will help spin the end of the end link. This helps you loosen it so you can easily access the other parts. Now that the sway bar end link is loose, you can also disengage the tie rod with the help of a 21-mm deep socket.
Step 2: Disconnect the Upper Ball Joint
You need a 21-mm wrench for this one and you also need a hammer. Tap on the boss of the knuckle to loosen it once you get that nut free.
Step 3: Loosen the Lower Part of the Strut
To loosen the lower part of the strut, you will need a 21-mm socket as well as a 24-mm wrench.
Hold the wrench on one end and use the socket with an impact gun on the other end. Now, you can remove the strut by loosening the three nuts on top of the strut. You’ll need a 15-mm wrench this time.
Step 4: Install the Spacers
You can now install the spacers with the struts removed. But you first need to install the new studs, which go through the threaded holes. Use an Allen head socket to tie them down. With the studs in place, install the spacers on top of your truck’s strut and secure them.
Step 5: Install the Strut with Spacers
The struts with the spacers installed will be a little bit challenging to get back in space. You can make the process easier by pulling the caliper off the rotor.
You need a 13-mm deep socket to remove the two bolts that hold it in place. Gently insert the modified strut into position and mount the lower bolt with a nut. Go ahead and secure the modified strut on the top with 15-mm nuts. This step needs a 15-mm wrench.
Step 6: Insert the Tie Rod End
Go ahead and insert the tie rod end, and then reinstall the 21-mm nut and tighten it with a 21-mm socket. You may need a 10-mm deep socket and 21-mm wrench to hold the nut in place if the tie rod spins.
Step 7: Mount the Upper Ball Joint Into the Knuckle
Once you have inserted the tie rod end, you can mount the upper ball joint into the knuckle. You will need a pry bar to help you get the upper control arm in place to position the stud in a straight line with the boss on the knuckle and then get the nut into place. Tighten the nut properly.
Step 8: Reinstall the Caliper
Reinstall the caliper and tighten the nut on the axle. You may need to use the hammer a little bit to get the caliper into place. Then reinstall the hardware on the sway bar end link. Then tighten the bottom bolt and nut for the strut. Check if everything is okay before reinstalling the wheels.
Are Leveling Kits Bad for Ram 1500?
A premium quality leveling kit that is properly installed without interfering with other parts of the suspension system will not damage your truck.
It can even help your Ram 1500 handle off-road conditions better. But things can get messy with a mediocre installation, especially when you interfere with the positioning of the tie rods and CV joints.
Are There Any Unavoidable Problems With These Kits?
Regardless of how well you install a leveling kit on your Ram 1500, there are some problems that you just can’t avoid.
First, a leveling kit is likely to increase wear on your suspension parts over time. Second, a leveling kit tends to increase mileage. Third, you may void your truck’s warranty on parts that are directly affected by the installation of a leveling kit.
Do I Need New Shocks With a New Leveling Kit?
If the leveling kit will raise your Ram 1500 higher than three inches, then you will need to get new shock absorbers to compensate for the difference in distance between the bottom and top mounting points.
Most leveling kits on the market come equipped with new shock absorbers. You may also have to consider installing new shocks if you are planning to drive the Ram aggressively or take it off-road most of the time.
Must I Lift the Rear After Installing a Leveling Kit on My Ram?
The whole idea of a leveling kit is to correct the imbalance between the front and the rear of your Ram.
So, lifting the rear will most likely go against your intention of installing a leveling kit. But you may have to lift the rear a little bit if you want to transform your Ram into an off-road monster.
Can I Fit Big Tires with a Leveling Kit?
Most leveling kits on the market provide one to 2.5 inches of lift. So, this means the tire options may be limited. You may be able to fit tires that are one to two sizes larger compared to your stock.
So, What’s the Verdict?
We have gone through the various types of leveling kits you can install on your Ram and the different Ram 1500 leveling kit problems that most people experience.
Some problems may be unavoidable like too much mileage, suspension parts wearing out in the long run, and possible void of the truck’s warranty. Any other problems that may occur after investing in a leveling kit may be due to poor quality kit and mediocre installation.
Should you install a leveling kit? Yes! But if you still have doubts, visit a trusted mechanic or auto service center in town for professional advice on the issue.
Also, check out how to fix Ram 1500 sputtering and loss of power issues.