I decided to put a little effort into a detailed write-up about how I chose to correct a very annoying ‘clunk’ from the front end of my truck. All vehicle manufacturers have their strengths and weaknesses. My 2006 Dodge Ram Mega cab, with the Cummins Diesel is no exception. While I love the cab, solid axles and Cummins powerplant, I dearly miss manual hubs and the Dana manufactured axles.
One of the significant issues common with the 3rd generation Ram trucks is the ‘clunk’ that comes from what most call the ‘track bar’. This appears to be a common problem, as there are aftermarket bushing replacement kits (that retain the OE bar), as well as several other companies that replace the bar itself, with a new one, new joints, and even a bracket to help correct a certain design error. I tend to like the look of lifted 4 wheel drive trucks, with larger tires, but this problem is significant enough that it occurs on stock trucks as well. In my case, the noise was reproducible when I would turn and enter my driveway over the rounded curb, almost every time.
I enjoy forums of all kinds. While I believe it’s a good idea to remember that most forums are filled with opinions, they can be an excellent source of data and experiences, and a wonderful way to develop social relationships while helping other enthusiasts out. I did a search on one diesel forum that resulted in a thread with links to several aftermarket companies that offered solutions.
Unfortunately, I was not able to find a vendor that carried any of the brands I saw on the internet. But, after as much research as I could do with the computer, I decided on the DT products track bar. Here is the link: DT PRODUCTS
The kit comes in two sizes: 1) stock to 3.5” of lift, and 2) 4” and up
My truck has the leveling kit only, so I ordered the stock to 3.5” size. It was about $400 USD shipped to my door. This appeared to be the best option I saw available.
I called, in hopes to chat with them about it first, but it was a holiday week, and I did not get a person. I placed my order via computer and paypal, and the next day, I received a shipment confirmation. The box arrived on time, but there was a parts kit missing. I called, (no answer), but an e-mail was returned within minutes. To my great satisfaction, he went above and beyond to rush the missing parts to me. We all make errors from time to time, but I bring this detail up to highlight the great customer service I received.
Here is a pic of all of the parts in the complete kit:
All the parts are coated, with anodizing or powdercoating. The kit comes with a cutting template (you need to trim a small piece away to clear room for the path of travel for the new track bar.
The instructions are pretty good. They are easy to follow, with good pictures.
I chose to support the vehicle with jackstands on the axle, (so the suspension is weighted) which differed from the instructions.
I removed the tires, and the tie rod from the passenger side, and swung them out of the way.
I removed the old bar, put the trim template into place, and marked the area to be trimmed. I used an air recip saw to cut the steel. It worked well, required little effort, and just took a few minutes.
Next, I followed the directions of how to put the bracket in place for the new mounting location of the bar. I mounted it temporarily, and used the bracket as a drill template, like the instructions suggest. Worked great. Also, I strongly recommend a 90* air drill, it makes it easier.
Then, I finished tightening the bracket in place, but removed the large bolt that attaches the heim joint. I chose to use red threadlocker on these bolts.
Assemble the heim into the adapter tube, and tighten it really good. (I used threadlocker here too) Big wrench, big vise, eat your Wheaties.
Now its time to thread on the jam nuts all the way, and get ready to assemble the bar itself.
It functions like a turnbuckle, with LH threads on one end, and RH on the other. Twist the tube one way, and the bar lengthens, the other and it shortens. It starts out long, when you just get the threads started, and then you shorten it to your desired length. Like the directions explain, make sure you tighten each side equally for maximum strength. The directions list a measurement to get the bar shortened to based on the height of your truck. It gets you pretty close.
Slide the bushed axle end into the mounting pocket first, then raise the heim end (frame side) into position. I’d suggest putting the bolt for the axle side through the hole, but not tight yet. Then, you can now move the bar so the frame end will slide into its position. Twist the tube portion of the new track bar to get to the length you need for the upper bolt to slide into position.
Once both through-bolts are in their respective holes, tighten the nuts that hold them.
The kit comes with a cool little measureing-thinggy. The directions tell you to clamp it to your suspension arms, and measure from opposite points on the frame. Twist the tube on your new track bar to make the measurements equal, and this gets you super-duper close to where you need to be.
Set your jam nuts, reinstall your tie rod end to your knuckle (tighten appropriately). Reinstall your tires/wheels, lower your truck to the ground, and torque your lug nuts to the proper specs. Now, carefully take your truck for a gentle drive to determine if your steering wheel is lined up when you are driving straight. Loosen the jam nuts and twist your track bar tube to align the steering wheel to your path of travel.
I would never advise anyone to drive without the jamnuts being tight. It’s a loose condition, and I believe it to be unsafe. Make sure you follow the manufacturers’ specs on torque values for every nut, bolt and fastener you manipulate. The jamnuts on your trackbar tube are to be very tight. Big wrenches, and lots of Wheaties.
If in doubt, follow the DT instructions. This was not intended to substitute or advise against the manufacturer, but rather to share with you the steps involved, and what I did to correct a common problem.
So far, I am very happy with the results. It’s a nice kit, the product seems well-made, and easy to install. The customer service was very good as well. I would buy and install this again.