2016 RAM 1500- Dual Identity
Installing a 7-inch CST Lift Kit on a ’16 RAM 1500
Trucks are truly utilitarian vehicles. They can take the shape of whatever you want them to be. Too often, however, potential truck buyers and truck owners consider their rigs to be a unitasker. It’s either a work truck that gets beaten with tools and heavy boots, or a tow rig that puts in long hours pulling heavy loads. There are even setups that take a truck so far into one realm that it becomes useless outside of its element. Lifting a truck sky high and fitting it with dedicated off-road tires can degrade its handling on the streets. Likewise, lowering a truck until it sits flat on the ground takes away any dreams of hitting the dirt with lots of throttle and dominating the trails.
We wanted to take a new truck and give it a little bit of the best from both worlds. A truck that has plenty of clearance to handle off-road trails and have fun in the dirt, but not lifted so high that it loses its on-road prowess. This 2016 Ram was destined to be a daily driver. But that commute would take its owner near some decent off-road hotspots, and we wanted to be able to get dirty on the weekends. We talked to CST Suspension in Moreno Valley, California, to hook us up with the right combo, and they answered the call perfectly. A 7-inch Front Suspension Lift with new steering spindles and coilsprings would be teamed up with upper uniball arms, while the rear would benefit from coilspacers and a panhard bar extension.
For this complex install, we went to the talented team over at Industrial Motoring in Anaheim, California. Together with the front and rear lift, we were adding a 3-inch stainless steel dual-exit exhaust system from Magnaflow, a set of AMP Research PowerSteps, and an AMP BedStep retractable step that would fit under the rear bumper and above the exhaust. The steps made getting in and out of the cab easier and hopping into the bed a breeze. The exhaust made the truck just sound mean. We added the perfect combo of 17x8.5 Fuel D572 wheels with General Grabber 35x12.50R17LTs to provide a dirt-capable tire that offers plenty of traction on the pavement.
Follow along as the Industrial Motoring staff and Truckin spend a couple days in the shop getting this ’16 RAM a height adjustment, easier access to the cab and bed, and a badass exhaust note.
Our ’16 RAM 1500 Crew Cab was plenty capable out on the streets in its stock form, but we wanted our new workhorse to have a dual identity. A truck that could look and sound better on the streets and have a definite advantage once we take it off-road.
Our CST lift is actually the combination of three different kits. The 4-inch Front Suspension Kit comes complete with new lift spindles, new coilsprings, and 1-inch coilspacers. We will also be using a set of CST Pro Series fully boxed upper arms with 1-inch uniballs. The rear lift will be achieved with a CST 3-Inch Kit with rear coilspacers and a panhard bar extension. To fully equip our RAM, we also ordered four trick new CST adjustable shocks.
Our first step was to remove all four wheels, as we’ll be replacing them with the Fuels and Generals. Next, we unbolted the steering arm from the spindle and buzzed the nut off in no time. A quick hit from a hammer freed the steering arm.
We removed the brake caliper bolts and took off the disc in preparation to remove the spindle itself.
The CST 4-Inch Front Lift Kit came with new spindles, so the old spindles were next to be removed. Once the upper and lower ball joint nuts were loosened, we struck them with a hammer and they separated. We unscrewed the upper and lower nuts and removed the spindle. We also removed the swaybar endlinks and rotated the sway bar up.
We loosened the lower control arm bolts to enable the arm to swing free and allow us remove the coilspring. We loosened and removed the upper and lower shock bolts and slid the shock out.
With the jack still in place, we removed the spring by dropping the lower arm with the jack. CST recommends removing the rubber isolators and transferring them to the ones included in the kit, so we did that, too.
The new springs were fit into the stock location, and we topped them with the coilspacer included in the kit. With the jack, we easily pushed the coil into the bucket, and kept it there while we installed the new CST adjustable shocks. They are available separately, but work in tandem with a kit like this.
To install the new CST upper arms from the kit, we had to loosen and remove the mounting bolts for the stock arms. Our installer made short work of the task, and with the rest of the front suspension out of the way, the arms slid out with ease. We dumped them in the scrap pile.
CST fabricates these MIG welded, fully boxed, stainless steel upper uniball arms in-house and provides these two-piece spacers to slide into the Heim joints. The spacers just slip in, so we were careful not drop them while installing the arms. We mounted them up to the factory location, and using the provided hardware, installed them loosely for now, to be tightened up later.
To install the new spindle from the kit, we stripped the stock ones from the hub. They were destined for the scrapheap, but we saved some of the hardware. The CST spindles differ greatly from the stockers and some of the lift is achieved with their relocated hub mount. We reinstalled the stock hub on the CST spindles using two bolts from the provided hardware in the lower locations and a stock bolt in the upper.
We slipped the now completed hub onto the lower A-arm ball joint, and loosely threaded its bolt on to hold it in place, and we dropped the upper arm into location on the spindle and loosely bolted it, as well. With all the new CST components forming a sturdy unit, this lift should be plenty strong for years to come.
Now that all the suspension parts were tightened down, we set the brake rotor back on and bolted the brake caliper back into place. We reinstalled the steering arm and buzzed the swaybar endlinks back up. Because our RAM would sit a little higher, we ordered a set of extended brake lines from CST and installed those, too.
The second half of our lift raised the rear 3 inches with a panhard bar extension bracket and spacers for the rear coils. We removed the wheelwell liners and supported the rear axle with jacks before unbolting and removing the rear shocks. With the shocks out of the way, we lowered the rear axle and removed the coilsprings.
Unlike the front springs where the coilspacer simply rests on the control arm before installation, the rear spacer had to be bolted into position. We used a few drops of Loctite on the threads and placed the spacer plates from the kit on top of the coil mount. Being careful not to over tighten, we bolted the coilspacer into place and reinstalled the coil itself.
It was time to disconnect the panhard bar from the frame to prepare for the extension bracket. But first, we slid a crush sleeve into the stock mounting location. We placed the extension bracket over the outside of the frame, and solidly mounted it into place with the supplied hardware solidly mounted it into place. Finally, we bolted up the bar itself into its new location using the stock bolt.
With the coilspacer and the panhard bar installed our lift was nearly completed. All we had left to do was install the new CST adjustable rear shocks. Just like the front shocks, they were not part of the kit, but work in tandem with the rest of the new rear lift kit components, and come highly recommended.
Now that we had adjusted the height of the truck, we wanted to make the entrance and exit from the cab that much more convenient and that is where the AMP Research PowerSteps came in. These AMP powered retractable steps are flush with the body line when all the doors are closed, and when the door opens fold down in a flash. Also pictured is an adjustable AMP BedStep that we will be installing under the rear bumper.
This reinforcement plate had to be mounted to the forwardmost mounting position on the inner sill, right below the drain hole. This location happens to be on the passenger side. The plate will be tucked inside through the drain hole to provide a mounting point for the rivet nuts, which will in turn provide a mounting point for the step linkage.
Once the plate was placed correctly, we popped in two rivet nuts on either side and drilled a 1/8-inch hole in the middle. We tucked the reinforcement plate into the drain hole, and holding it snug to the body, shot in a pop rivet to hold it in place with the provided installation tool.
Our next step was to drill in two holes in the pinch weld to provide a secondary mounting point for the step linkage. With the holes drilled, we were ready to mount the linkage into the body, setting it onto two bolts to align it. We threaded the bolts down almost all the way, moved to the outside, and screwed the provided Torx bolts into the linkage to tighten everything down. All four mounting points were installed in the same manner. The only difference was that the powered linkages go in the front mounting points.
We routed the PowerStep control box (shown) behind the battery and zip-tied it down to the existing harness. The control box has a set of power leads that need to be mounted to the positive battery terminal and to the fender to be grounded. We routed the trigger wires that will plug into the OBDII port through a rubber boot in the firewall and made the connection.
The control box has two wire harness legs that are routed to the linkage motors in the front of either step. Here, we are routing the longer harness to the passenger side, all the while, zip tying it to the pinch weld above the firewall. The driver side just drops down. We pried the wheelwell liner away just far enough to route the harnesses to their intended locations.
The two front step linkages were now ready to receive their motors. We made short work of installing them using the provided hex hardware from the kit and torqued it to 3ft-lbs. With the motors ready to go, we routed the wiring looms down the outside of the frame, placing zip ties where we could, leaving them loose. We still had to plug in the connectors to the motors and route the rest of the wiring to the LEDs, which will soon be installed.
We plugged in the electrical connectors to the linkage motors and tested them to see if they work by opening and closing the door. They work as intended, and we zipped down the ties for the front portion of the electrical loom.
We decided to mount the step itself at this point and slid the T-nut of the linkage into position, matching the mounting holes, and screwed in the mounting nuts loosely. We shifted the step forward a bit, so the end cap of the step nests into the linkage lower mount about 1/2 inch. After everything was screwed in securely, we drilled two holes apiece in the top of the four linkages and placed two rivets for extra bracing.
For the LED lights, we drilled a duo of 9/32-inch holes on each side on the pinch weld above the steps, 22 inches back from the front door line and 64 inches back to the LED wires. Each hole received a grommet and the wire slipped in to be attached to the main harness. The lamps themselves were affixed to the rocker panel with double-sided tape from the kit. We also had an AMP Research BedStep to install, but decided to wait till after we installed the exhaust because it was for the driver’s side.
Magnaflow supplied us with this very slick 3-inch stainless steel dual-exit exhaust system that featured High Temperature Satin Black coating on the pipes with a stainless muffler. Featuring a flow-through design and mandrel-bent tubing, we could not wait to get this beefy system mounted up and hear that smooth and deep Magnaflow exhaust note!
We started from the rear and removed the tailpipe and muffler assemblies from either side of the truck by loosening the clamps and removing the pipes from their slip-fit, being careful not to damage the rubber hangers.
The factory muffler was a bit more tricky as it was supported by two large welded hangers that would not release as easily as the tailpipe. We eventually removed it from the hangers using lots of silicone spray and a larger removal tool.
The Magnaflow cat was new and shiny, but more importantly, will allow our RAM to breathe a little easier, thanks to its 3-inch inlet and twin 2.5-inch outlet pipes. Our installer made short work of fitting it to the hangers due to all the leftover silicone spay.
As easy as it was to install the muffler, the mid pipes went in just as simply. We included the clamps, but did not tighten them. There would be a good amount of adjustment before we could lock everything down. As you can see the slip-fit ends did not receive a coating of Satin Black, which allowed us to slip the end on without worrying about scratching anything.
After the tailpipes went on, we could see this exhaust starting to take shape. We started to tighten everything, but quickly remembered an AMP BedStep still needed to be fit on.
Our AMP BedStep came pretty much preassembled. All we had to do was attach the step portion with two bolts, and the retractable step was ready to go. The step assembly resembled the linkage that was used for the PowerSteps and the thick metal construction and hinges gave us confidence we could jump on this thing with no hesitation.
We removed the factory Y-shaped bumper bracket before starting the exhaust install. All it took was three bolts to remove it.
Our bed step came preinstalled with a bracket of its own, and we fit the two bolts into it before sliding it into position. It bolted in with no problems. With that piece of the puzzle added, we were able to adjust the exhaust and tighten it all down.
With our install nearing a close, all we had left to do was mount up our 17x8.5 Fuel D572 wheels with their 5x5.5 bolt pattern to our General Grabber 35x12.50R17LT tires. It’s a good thing Industrial Motoring was set up for that and knocked it out in no time.
Our choice of wheels and tires were spot on. The combination was the right kind of mean coming from the wheel design and tread pattern, with a whole lot of sidewall to swallow up the deepest ruts off-road.
This two-day haul of an install really paid off. With just the right amount of lift from our CST kits, the side and bed steps worked like a charm, our exhaust put out a healthy note that made the neighbors check us out, and our wheel and tire combo brought us a few more inches of lift and a whole lot of cool factor. With this CST lift and wheel and tire combo, We’ll be confident to take this 1500 out anytime and hit the off-road trails.
General TireCharlotte, NC 28288
Amp ResearchTustin, CA 92780
MagnaFlow Performance ExhaustRancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
Industrial MotoringAnaheim, CA 92806
CST SuspensionMoreno Valley, CA 92553
Fuel Offroad WheelsRancho Dominguez, CA 90221