Carli King Performance 2.5 Dodge Ram Suspension Install
Smooth Sailing: Installing Carli Suspension’s King Performance Package on a Dodge Ram
Heavy-duty ¾- and 1-ton pickup trucks are intended to work efficiently, riding smooth as butter when carrying heaving payloads and trailers. However, when a burly rig sheds its load for the weekend and hits the dirt for a day of fun, the heavy-duty suspension acts like that of a covered wagon. As many ¾-ton truck owners can attest to, it’s an eyeball-rattling, jaw-jarring, back-wrenching wild ride that necessitates a kidney belt. Can there really be a middle ground that syncs on-road capabilities and off-road prowess without altering the fundamental vehicle design? Carli Suspension believes the answer is yes, and the company’s reputation backs up the statement.
We sourced a Carli Suspension King Performance 2.5 kit from our friends at Creative Fabworks and installed it on a 4x4 ’09 Dodge Ram 2500. With only a hair more than 50,000 miles on the ticker, the sturdy Cummins-equipped Dodge is a daily driver/weekend adventurer that sees occasional towing duty of a lightweight 7,000-pound trailer. We opted for the 3-inch lift version to keep a low center of gravity and allow passengers easy access. Carli provides custom progressive-rate front coil springs and custom-tuned King 2.5-inch-bodied shocks with the kit. We upgraded further to include the custom Deaver-made rear soft-ride leaf pack to help smooth out the very stiff rear end. The installation is rather straightforward, and the ride quality of the kit compared to stock is night and day, with off-road capabilities increased enough to let the truck shine in all situations. We feel this is the best setup for this rig and have not found a weakness yet.
1. The kit from Carli Suspension for our ’09 Dodge Ram 2500 is very complete and comes with everything needed for the install. We opted for the custom Deaver rear full leaf upgrade to maximize ride quality both on- and off-road. We started at the rear of the truck by getting it up on jackstands, with floor jacks supporting the rear end and pinion. We removed the spare tire and the shocks to make room for removing the springs.
2. We carefully followed the provided instructions, which stated the job is much easier when the opposite side’s U-bolts are loosened to allow the rear end freedom to move down toward the ground.
3. Side by side, the differences between the factory leaf springs and the Carli springs are quite apparent. The Carli springs have a much more progressive spring rate that utilizes an increased number of thinner leafs to provide their signature smooth ride quality. Take care moving them around, as they are very heavy.
4. Once they are bolted in place with the new zinc-plated hardware, torque to the specification listed in the instructions, being sure to use a cross pattern to keep the bolts centered and even.
5. The crown jewels to this high line kit are the King Performance 2.5-inch-bodied shocks with remote reservoirs for the front and piggyback reservoirs out back. With increased travel length and larger-diameter 7/8-inch shafts, these seem like no-brainers for a heavy off-road truck.
6. The rear shocks are mounted with the reservoir facing down, using the factory locations and hardware. This orientation still allows full functionality—even with a 35-inch spare tire in the stock location.
7. After a few hours of work, we stepped back and got our first look at the completed install for the rear of the truck.
8. After a short refueling break, we started on the front end by getting the truck up on jackstands and removing the wheels and wheelwells.
9. The front shock towers are removed for this application and are later replaced with the custom-fabricated Carli towers specific to the King shock package. Three bolts allow the tower and previously installed leveling block to come free. Once the bottom shock bolt is removed, the spring assembly and shock assembly can be removed and set aside.
10. Before any new parts can be installed, the track bar must be unbolted and removed. This allows full movement of the axle assembly to assist with getting the new springs and shocks in place.
11. Another key step that must be followed for the Cummins engine is the rotation of the compressor outlet hose clamp on the turbo. This provides necessary clearance for the new fabricated tower assemblies.
12. The three factory mounting holes in the spring pocket must be opened up to 9/16 inch to allow necessary room for the new ½-inch-diameter Grade 8 hardware to mount the Carli towers. This is a simple step and takes only a few minutes.
13. We found it quite difficult to install the new progressive coil springs in their pockets with the new Carli track bar installed as shown. The job is many times easier with the track bar left out until the coils are in place. With the new springs in place, we moved on to getting the Kings installed.
14. We discharged the nitrogen from the King reservoirs and got them into place with the lower mount bolted up. The towers simply slide over the reservoir and shock. They are bolted in place with the provided Grade 8 hardware. The reservoir hoses exit to the front of the tower. The reservoirs are routed to the framerails above the sway bar, and the wheelwell liner is trimmed for clearance. The reservoirs are bolted to the framerails with hose clamps and brackets supplied in the kit. This location keeps them out of the way and secure.
15. Once the front shocks are completely installed, they need to be filled with compressed nitrogen to the 225-psi specification provided by Carli. Running the shocks without the correct pressure can lead to significant damage and costly repairs.
16. Carli provides true heavy-duty, quad-layer limit straps to keep the front suspension from topping out and damaging the King shocks. The lower mount for this truck is custom and puts the limit strap and sway bar assembly in double shear to ensure it can take years of aggressive abuse. We chose to use the existing heimed end link setup with the new kit.
17. The top mount for the limit strap is located in the strengthening flange of the coil spring mount. With the suspension topped out, the strap was extended to the bucket, and the bolt hole was marked. A second mark 1½ inches up from the original was drilled and the strap was bolted up. This difference in length allows the limit strap to stretch when the suspension is cycled hard.