How to lower the front of your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup - DodgeTalk : Dodge Car Forums, Dodge Truck Forums and Ram Forums
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SS/Tennessee
 
  How to lower the front of your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup - Posted: 03-19-2011, 06:06 PM
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Post #1

Nobody makes much in the way of aftermarket parts for 1972-1993 Dodge trucks. Parts for lowering your Dodge pickup are not offered by the major aftermarket companies like Belltech or Eibach. There is one small manufacturer that makes some very expensive lower control arms, but I've had no luck getting in contact with them. What can you do if you want to lower your pickup? You can go the cheap route by cutting your coil springs. This may cause your spring rates to change or cause camber problems. You could go the expensive route by modifying a pair of lowering spindles made for a 1st generation Dakota. I've heard this works, but there are a few issues with this and it takes a lot of trouble to get them to work.

There is another option that is very simple, engineered by the factory, and is cost effective. Go to the junkyard and find a 1972-1993 Dodge B-series van and unbolt the lower control arms. Just swapping the van's lower control arms onto your 1972-1993 Dodge half ton truck lowers it roughly 3" due to the fact that the van lower control arms have a spring pocket that allows the coil springs to sit lower than they do in the truck's stock lower control arms. No shock or spring change is needed. It doesn't matter if it is a 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, or 1 ton van. The van lower control arms are the same. I purchased a pair from a mid 80's B350 for $40 plus tax at my local Pull-A-Part.

I had trouble separating the steering knuckle from the lower control arm at the ball joint. In fact, I gave up and left the junkyard. I asked around and found out that the steering knuckle is a two-piece design. There are two 15/16 bolts/nuts that you will have to unbolt in order to separate the top piece from the bottom piece. You will have to take the brake caliper and rotor off to gain access to the bolts. Remove those steering knuckle bolts, take out the shock absorber, unbolt the control arm pivot bolt, remove the strut rod from the lower control arms, and separate the steering tie rod from the lower steering knuckle piece and you're done. The only parts you will need are the lower control arms and the control arm pivot bolts/nuts. Once you get the lower control arms home, take a large hammer and remove the lower steering knuckle piece from the ball joint and then knock the ball joint out. You cannot reuse the ball joints from the one ton van because they are larger in diameter than the ones on your truck. I do not know if the 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton ball joints are the same or not. New ball joints are $30 at NAPA, so you might as well replace them anyway.

There are a couple modifications you will need to make to the lower control arms and your truck. First, completely remove the steering stops. They are not needed and the arms will look cleaner without them. Next, you will need to drill two 1/2" holes in each arm for the strut rods. I pulled a stringline from the center of the ball joint to the center of the pivot bushing and found the holes in the truck arms are equal distance from the centerline of the arm. Measure the distance from the ball joint to the strut rod holes on the truck arms. Now, you can transfer this information onto the van arms, mark your holes, and drill. There is one modification you will need to make to the lower control arm pivot holes on your truck's frame. The truck's factory lower control arm bolts are 5/8" in diameter. The van's are 3/4" in diameter. You will need to drill these holes larger for the van's bolts to fit the truck. I was thinking that maybe I would be able to slide the sleeve from the truck arms into the sleeve on the van arms so I wouldn't have to drill the pivot holes. The truck sleeve is too large in diameter to fit inside the van's sleeve,so that will not work. From this point, you may be able to just bolt the van arms on your truck. I had a little problem with mine. I tried to install my driver's side arm and the holes wouldn't begin to line up. I found that the metal around the pivot bushing on the arm was up against the pivot bracket on the truck. Before you paint your lower control arms, you may want to grind a little off the arms around the pivot bushing.

When I put the wheels back on and dropped the truck onto the ground, I measured 1/2" between the bottom of the fender and top of the tire. Before the drop, I measured 3.5". I'm very pleased with that. To my surprise, the camber wasn't off too bad, however, the wheels were pointed in different directions. I also had to cut the bump stop brackets off because they were hitting the lower control arms. Another thing, any time you perform work like this to your vehicle, a front end alignment is necessary.


The steering knuckle is a two piece design on the truck and van. You will need a 15/16" socket for these.

Van arms with van lower steering knuckle

Van arms with bump stops and ball joint removed

Side by side comparison of the truck arm and van arm. Blue arrows point to the strut rod bolt holes that you need to drill.

Truck pivot bolt (5/8") on top and van pivot bolt (3/4") on bottom

Drilling the truck's pivot bolt bracket from 5/8" to 3/4"

Grind in the unpainted area shown by the arrows. The holes in the lower control arms would not line up with the ones on the truck's pivot bracket due to this area touching the pivot bracket.

Finished product

Before

After
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Last edited by SS/Tennessee : 04-28-2011 at 10:42 PM. Reason: Fixed a few mistakes
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earlp8
 
 Posted: 03-19-2011, 07:13 PM
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Post #2

great writeup
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duval67
 
 Posted: 03-19-2011, 10:42 PM
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Post #3

Nice and detailed. I'll likely never use it, but it's nice to have the knowledge now!
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aaron7
 
 Posted: 03-20-2011, 07:20 PM
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Post #4

Awesome! Since this piece can come from the 1500/2500/3500 does this mod work for the D250 and D350? Everything for lowering is for the D150... I want to drop this thing!
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SS/Tennessee
 
 Posted: 03-20-2011, 07:32 PM
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Post #5

I was told to get the LCA's from a 3/4 ton or 1 ton van. When I went to the junkyard, I noticed that the 1/2 ton LCA's are the same as the 3/4 ton and 1 ton versions. I do not know if this mod will work for a 3/4 ton or 1 ton truck. I've been told that the 1 ton truck has the same LCA's as the vans. I had a D350 and never paid attention to the LCA's on it.
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sovablunt
 
 Posted: 03-20-2011, 10:58 PM
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Post #6

I'm trying to search for a picture right now, but no joy. Anyone have their 3/4 or 1 ton torn apart that can show us?
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SS/Tennessee
 
 Posted: 03-25-2011, 02:37 PM
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Post #7

I fixed a few mistakes and cleared up a couple items.
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Danton88
 
 Posted: 03-27-2011, 09:44 AM
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Post #8

questions answered
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317over60
 
 Posted: 03-28-2011, 11:16 PM
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Post #9

Kevin,
Thank you for great write up & photos! Super look on yours when finished. After I get trans & shifter in my 85. Going to lower the front end, like yours.
Thanks again for the information!!
Bruce
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mtdrydock
 
 Posted: 03-29-2011, 05:28 PM
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Post #10

Awesome!
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oldblue82
 
 Posted: 03-30-2011, 09:56 AM
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Post #11

What size rims and tires?
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SS/Tennessee
 
 Posted: 03-30-2011, 05:33 PM
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Post #12

235/70/15 on the front and 255/70/15 on the rear. I have a set of 17" Ansen Sprints for the truck, but haven't bought tires yet. I'm thinking about 255/60/17 (f) and 275/60/17 (r).
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HotRodJohnny
 
  Excellent Write Up , Need help, input and information. - Posted: 04-03-2011, 11:13 PM
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Post #13

Hey Kevin,
This is a great post.
Currently I am working on a 36 Ford 1.5 Ton dually. I am building this as my daily driver and tool truck. It will look like the half ton version, same length with the half ton bed on it. But, It will be a dually rear end with 8 lug (I believe the 1972 Dodge 1 Ton is 8 lug? please correct me if Im wrong, cant remember).

I have a 1972 Dodge d300 1 Ton. Since I want Independent front suspension, power brakes and steering, heavy chassis, etc... I have decided to use this chassis and move the body/sheet metal of my 36 over to the Dodge Chassis.

The two problems that present themselves are the following.
  1. Track Width of the 36 Ford is around 64 inches. The Dodge is around 70 Inches.[List =2]
    Ride Height

It seems you have solved the ride height problem for theses trucks as this is excellent info. Its very important to consider the weights, purpose of your truck and its very difficult to find info for these bigger trucks.

My question is that I have to somehow makeup for approximatley 8 inches of difference in track widths. I need to narrow the Dodge trackwidth somehow. As I have been looking at my truck I have some thoughts and would like input before I start.

Looks as though I can get about 1 inch of offset if I stay with stock 16" Wheels... I am looking to change these anyways to a more modern wheel. So If I can get more? I see a little over 1 inch of clearance between the edge of the inside of the Rim and the upper control arm ball joint with stock rims.

I can pinch the frame further and section the crossmember approximatley 6 inches maybe more. However reduces my frame width for the Detroit Diesel I plan to run.... It will fit but it may be a little tight.

Custom make shortened upper and lower control arms. Looks as though 2 to 3 inches shorter may be it.

Increase the width of the Fenders by 4inches on each side and leave the chassis alone.

Appologies for ranting, and hopefully I didnt hyjack. however this is as close to finding any type of acceptable mods for this chassis. again, Kevin, great job and great write up.
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SS/Tennessee
 
 Posted: 04-28-2011, 10:44 PM
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Post #14

Thanks. Sorry, I don't have the answers to your questions.

I edited the first post. I had to cut the bump stop brackets off because they were hitting the lower control arms when I hit bumps in the road.
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redpig
 
  Awsome - Posted: 05-15-2011, 12:05 PM
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Post #15

Man this is great I was so worried that I was going to have to do a bunch of cutting and welding now my only problem is finding the lower units. Your truck looks great I have a 82 reg cab short box that I built a 440 and 727 with a 9 1/4 inch surgrip can't wait to see the finished product. I seen the pics on mopar turbo as well awesome. Completely obsessed with these trucks love them and it is a shame that no one makes aftermarket parts for our years anyways thanks for the excellent article
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B-300
 
 Posted: 05-15-2011, 03:02 PM
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Post #16

The freshly painted lower control arms pictured above ^^^^ are 1 ton HD type. They are used on GVWR of 8500# or more, 4000# front ends if they came off a van and were original to it.
The old dirty type is used on all other vans. (I believe trucks also had different LCA's with similar weight ratings.)
The different LCA also uses a different length shock absorber.
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SS/Tennessee
 
 Posted: 05-15-2011, 07:43 PM
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Post #17

The unpainted lower control arm above came off of my 1980 D150. My 1985 D100 has the same lower control arm. Every van I saw at Pull-A-Part had the same lower control arms like the painted one above. Most of the vans were 80's models. It didn't matter if it was a half ton, 3/4 ton, or 1 ton. I used to have a 1990 D350 and I can't recall which lower control arm it had. I've been told that only the 1 ton trucks had the pocket lower control arms like the painted one above.
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B-300
 
 Posted: 05-15-2011, 09:42 PM
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Post #18

The same is true with vans that only the 1 ton HD have the pocket type LCA.

My 71 B-300 (GVWR 7700#, axle capacity of 3600#) has the LD type LCA's which are the same as 1/2 and 3/4 ton 71-78 other than gussets at the bottom. My 78, 1/2 ton van uses the same type without gussets. (Both are non pocket type.)
The pocket type use different ball joints for future reference as well as the different bushing size and have the holes in different places for the strut-rod as you found out.
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SS/Tennessee
 
 Posted: 05-15-2011, 10:12 PM
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Post #19

Did they put the pocketed lower control arms on all vans after sometime in the early 80's? I saw the pocketed lower control arms on 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, and 1 tons 80's vans at Pull-A-Part. The only difference I saw was the ball joint.
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B-300
 
 Posted: 05-16-2011, 11:39 AM
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Post #20

Your seem to be correct. I just looked at old TRW parts catalogs and in 79 there appears to be a change to the pocket type LCA for all vans. (They all use longer springs than the non-HD 71-78 vans) and different lower ball joints and bushings on 1 ton as described above.
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