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Old 02-14-2020, 07:38 PM   #1
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Default Rear springs weak on 97 Dodge 3500 LTV

Newbie here, lurked a lot however. I bought this 97 Dodge 3500 LTV over a year ago, 130,000 miles, however spent lots of $ in rebuilding the whole front end, all new brakes and new fuel pump. Also put a steering gearbox stabilizer on. However have not had a chance to use it much because of medical issues.

The issue I have is the rear of this van sits so low that without inflating the air bags to 80# it will drag the rear (fiberglass exterior) bumper when going off the road & up a slight incline. A issue I see is that IF i had a flat on the rear, is that I could not even get under enough to put a jack under the axle (not enough crawl space even when normally parked). And a bumper jack is not possible because of the FG bumper cover.

This rig has no overload springs at all, just an airbag. I have taken it to a good RV repair shop locally and they recommended helper springs, BUT no manufacturer makes one for this model any more.

Have recently taken it to a good RV/truck alignment shop & they are thinking to have the original springs re-arched along with more leaves to help as overloads.

I measured & it appears I need to raise the rear 3 1/2".

Has anyone else ran into this issue?
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:17 PM   #2
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Actually, my 1997 Dodge Roadtrek 190 doesn't seem to have this issue at all. The rear suspension consists only of the original leaf springs, and carry the full load of the RV and full tanks, etc., very well. Perhaps you could look into getting the same springs that Roadtrek used. I know that the front axle that Roadtrek installed is extra heavy duty, and not the stock axle for the Ram 3500, so the same probably is true for the rear axle of the Roadtrek.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:19 PM   #3
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Check to see if the air bag brand you have offers air bag spacers. Air lift does: https://www.airliftcompany.com/shop/52420/

That's probably the least expensive solution if available.


Another link: https://www.airliftcompany.com/works...t-lift-spacer/
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Old 02-15-2020, 03:34 AM   #4
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So here's the problem with some people and a LOT of shops. Unless it is a current model they assume that no parts are available.

HUSKY SPRING LP4 Load Plus Leaf Helper Kit; Kit includes a Helper Leaf For Each Side & Hardware Info
Rear; 1000lb Per Kit Capacity

OR

DAYTON 5052510 2500lb Rating; Progressive; Leaf Overload Kit Info
Rear

Both in stock @ https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/...r+spring,15009

Re-arching your springs and adding isn't a bad idea either but I wanted you to be aware that there are options.
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Old 02-17-2020, 06:59 PM   #5
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How exactly did you determine the van was riding 3.5" low? Is that based on specific factory ride height measurements?

I have a 1998 LTV on a '97 dodge B3500. I also have completed a total overhaul of the front suspension as well as replacing the rear shocks and air bags, and replacing most brake components.

I assume my rear leaf springs are sagging a little (it's not obvious visually), but I have been unable to find ride height specs for my van. My rear ground clearance isn't great, but it sounds like it's better than yours. I hit my trailer hitch before I hit the bumper. In fact, it just occurred to me that my hitch has 2 pieces of angle iron pointing downwards in order to prevent the bumper and storage bin from making ground contact. They are both bent from previous encounters.

I would also like to replace all the leaf spring and shackle bushings. It is handling very well (for a mid-90s class B) at this point with just a little bit of wander remaining.
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Old 02-18-2020, 05:35 PM   #6
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I have 9 1/2" of clearance on the rear bumper with no air in the bags. How I determined the needed 3 1/2" of height was to park it on my level driveway and jack up the bumper until the rear window was level. It looked like it was normal, BUT not that scientific ???

I also have those underbody angle iron protectors very bent.

What I found is that in order to get these rear springs off, you will need to SawsAll the spring retainer bolts as most of them are installed from the inside BEFORE the underbody tanks & insulation was installed. Then replace these bolts from the outside.

I found a spring company 100 miles away that specializes in this sort of thing & I (at age 83 & blind in one eye) do not like to drive in big cities, so am waiting until my son has some business near there & we will take the van down for them to inspect in order to make a decision on what to do.

Before we go I am going to weigh both front and rear to maybe give them more to go on (fully loaded with water and gas).
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Old Yesterday, 03:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Machinist View Post
What I found is that in order to get these rear springs off, you will need to SawsAll the spring retainer bolts as most of them are installed from the inside BEFORE the underbody tanks & insulation was installed. Then replace these bolts from the outside.
No.

No No No No No No No No No.

Doing the above is likely to kill you if the springs have any tension in them.
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Old Yesterday, 07:14 PM   #8
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"No No No No No No No No No.

Doing the above is likely to kill you if the springs have any tension in them."

That's certainly a good safety tip. However, if there is no way to access the bolts, it may be the only option when replacing the bushings. I think it could be done safely with careful placement of multiple jack stands and floor jack(s). Also, it should be possible to unload (or mostly unload) the springs by supporting the frame/uni-body and allowing the axle to hang. Then you could jack up the diff a little and guestimate when the springs are unloaded.

Another option for accessing the bolt might be to drill a hole through the obstruction big enough for a socket to fit.

Machinist, Regarding your 9.5" measurement. I'll measure my clearance next time I'm on a flat slab. I'm running LT245/75-16 load E tires. I think it originally had slightly smaller tires. I think I have 7 leafs in my spring pack, but I'll double check.

How many leafs are in yours?
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Old Today, 05:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98LeisureTravelDodge View Post
Another option for accessing the bolt might be to drill a hole through the obstruction big enough for a socket to fit.
This is how a shop would do it, even if they ended up welding over the holes that they made.
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