One of the things friends have often suggested about this truck is that I lower it. And I agreed, it did seem a bit aloof up in the air the way it was. It certainly looked a lot better with the custom wheels on it than it did when I first got it and it had the stock wheels.
Just as a refresher, and partly because I never posted this in this blog, here’s the truck on the day I bought it, stock wheels and all:
Not the greatest picture, but you get the point.
Let’s get on to lowering this thing. Time to transition to video blogging mode, I shot some video of the process of lowering the rear. Turns out it was very very simple to do, if I had realized that, I would have done it sooner!
That’s what I had to do to lower the back. The front was a case of cutting the springs. Strangely, I had to cut an extra 3/4 coils off the passenger side to get it down to the same height as the driver’s side. Which is really surprising given I only took 1.5 coils off to begin with. 50% more off the passenger side. I guess it’s just really non linear when you cut a spring. heh.
While I had it apart, I replace the steering rack (mine was getting a bit sloppy from having run without power steering assist for so long), the tie rod ends (might as well, ya know?), and I reconnected the power steering pump (turns out the pump is bad, it doesn’t work so well until it warms up). The stupid “Poly Bushings” brand polyurethane bushings that I put on the sway bar allowed the sway bar to shift so far to the passenger side that it was rubbing the lower control arm. I had to unbolt all of that and shift it back. That was annoying. And when I took the truck down for an alignment, somewhere between lowering it and there, one of my 30 year old strut bushings had failed. The rubber had delaminated from the plate that bolts to the car, so one of my struts was essentially bolted to nothing and just flopping around. So I took it all back apart again and replaced the strut bushings.
This truck had needed an alignment for a long time, but I’d always wanted to replace the steering rack first, so I kept putting it off. It’s AMAZING how much better it handles now that the suspension is fixed and the alignment is right. It accelerates in a straight line with no torque steer, and stops straight too, which it definitely didn’t do before. heh..
Ok, enough, let’s jump to the before and after pictures..
There we go. Got a good 2 1/2 drop all around. Not as much rake as it used to have, the front dropped less than the back, but I don’t want to push it with the front. The truck sits nearly level front-back now. The axles aren’t giving me any fits, and the struts aren’t bottoming out. If I tried to get another 1/2”+ drop in the front, I’m nearly certain the struts would begin to bottom out on hard bumps and the axles would be less happy than they are now. I’m really happy with how it turned out, it’s funny how things look wider when they’re lower. Oh, and the side exit exhaust still has a good 2.5” of clearance from the ground. I haven’t had any issues with it dragging. The ride is still great (the rear is stock ride, as the springs are unchanged).
And since I’m doing a blog post anyways, it’s worth mentioning that I replaced the tired 30 year old stock radiator. It had never really cooled well, just barely kept the engine from overheating on hot days. But lately, it had sprung a leak around the heater hose fitting:
As you can see the outside was a nice (nasty?) statue of liberty green, and you can see my attempt at JBWeld sealing up the leak. It worked well enough to get me to and from the last car show, but the radiator simply couldn’t keep the engine cool this summer.
As it turns out, Autozone has the best price on stock replacements, especially if you order online and manage to get a 20% off discount code! Hard to pass that up when their price was already lower than most other sites. eBay had them for like $250, Napa wanted some insane $600 or something, RockAuto wanted something like $250 as well (and I hate the way RockAuto rips you off for shipping). Autozone won the price war by a long shot.
Not much to see after it’s installed in the truck, but what you can see is certainly cleaner and shinier than the 30 year old stock unit. :)
Next car show is this weekend, it’s the big annual Mopar show that I took it to last year. Really looking forward to it. :)