Dodge Ram Cummins 30 month oil change interval

 

Changing the oil in my fourth generation Ram/Cummins trucks (and Toyota 4Runner) is so easy with the NoSpill Systems drain plug kit; I love them. The gallon freezer bag trick also works great to capture the oil filter, which is easily accessed through the wheel well on manual transmission fourth generation Rams.

This Chevron Delo 400 5W-40 oil had been in the engine of this 2014 Ram 2500 for 14,700 miles, many miles but not excessive based on the guidelines for the platform. However, it took 30 months to accumulate those miles because we have a few vehicles, and I work from home and don’t have a daily commute. Should I have changed it sooner? Maybe.

I’m well aware that Cummins and Ram recommend an oil change interval of six months on these trucks if the mileage recommendation is not met before. This has always seemed excessive and I’ve preferred one year as a general guide. Of course, if one is concerned about meeting warranty standards they probably want to follow the manufacturers’ rules.

Anyone want to bet against me, and take the position that the oil was excessively deteriorated, contaminated, and in bad condition because of the time-in-service? Even if someone was willing, my morals wouldn’t let me take their money. While the results are pending, based on past experiences and testing, I’m confident all will be fine. We shall see.

Oil samples submitted for analysis from both my late-model Ram/Cummins (2014 & 2017) and a 2006 Toyota V8, and other rigs I no longer own, have shown that time is not the old bugaboo that many still fear. At least not for my uses and practices.

Data from some recent samples have shown that theoretically excessive time-in-service did not damage the oil in my applications. Of course duty-cycle does matter, and if one rarely gets engines up to full operating temperature, or makes repeated, excessively-short trips, total time might be a concern. Your environment may matter too. You’ll have to be your own judge.

Stay tuned, the results from this most recent analysis, and those from previous tests, will interest many and might dispel myths.

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James Langan, December 2020

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

Resources:

NoSpill Systems (Original and BEST, Made in Canada with U.S. materials! Not the knock-off.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toyo Open Country C/T 10,000 Mile Review

Toyo C/T 10,000 mile report

When the Toyo Open Country C/T was initially introduced it was only available in Canada. A few years ago, when that changed, it moved to the top of my must try list. Commercial traction or hybrid designs are my favorite type of tread, and the C/T might be the best, slowest-wearing design I’ve used on any truck in several years; maybe ever.

The Toyo C/T has the severe snow, mountain snowflake rating.

Mount, balance, and tracking

Because the Open Country C/T is an on/off-road commercial-grade tire, there are fewer sizes offered than other Toyos like the Toyo A/ T II. However, there are still six 16-inch, seven 17-inch, five 18-inch, and seven 20-inch sizes available.

For this evaluation I mounted 35×12.50R17 on forged aluminum OEM Ram Power Wagon wheels. They required very little weight to balance, typical for Toyos, and ran smoothly down the highway at all speeds.

104-pounds on OEM 17″ forged aluminum Power Wagon wheel, needing only 1.25 ounces for a static balance.

Initially mounted my 2014 crew cab, which has an SPC offset right ball joint to counteract treads that pull to the right, the C/T would drift just slightly to the left after a few seconds with no hands on the steering wheel, depending on the road crown. (To be perfectly clear, this is because of the offset ball joint and caster settings, not a characteristic of the tires, the C/T does not appear to pull right or left, they are neutral.) On the 2017 Ram 2500 regular cab with Hallmark flatbed camper, the C/T track perfectly straight for several seconds on flat roadways. They were a great match for the outfit, and where I decided to keep them for this evaluation.

Almost all the miles logged have been with this 2017 Ram 2500 Hallmark flatbed camper outfit.

General traction and performance

The C/Ts saw a little of most terrains, including snow, packed dirt, gravel, rock and plenty of pavement. Deep off-highway mud, snow, and deep sand were not experienced; a 10,000-pound camper outfit is less happy on these surfaces, so I only drive on them when necessary. However, with the good void-ratio and siping this tread offers, I’m confident the C/T would perform as well or better than similar commercial-traction designs.

Many modern tires perform well in moderate on-highway or off-highway snow, and this was true with the C/T. However, the mountain snowflake severe winter rating provides extra assurance in wet conditions, and I would pick the C/T over many hybrid or all-terrain designs for winter service. Obviously they are unlikely to perform as well as a dedicated winter tire, but those designs are less versatile on heavily-loaded trucks and rarely offered in larger sizes.

Toyo C/T in a few inches of snow, pulling out of my shop.

The Open Country C/T is quiet for the void it offers, and no louder than the Toyo R/T or A/T II Xtreme with which I am familiar in similar sizes. I’ve recommended the C/T to many of my readers, including a professional photographer and adventurer who lives in Jackson, Wyoming. He has been impressed with their snow capabilities. Another guy lives full-time in his heavy truck camper and uses them.

Wear close-ups 

You can see a small amount the feathering on the outer lug sipes. For nearly 6,000 miles without a rotation, this minor visible wear was impressive and not concerning. Appropriate rotations will true-up the tread.

Slow and even wear, 6,000 miles since the last rotation, most of it on highways.

Phenomenal Longevity

As my video assessment and testimonial enthusiastically shares, I am most impressed with the slow rate-of-wear on these Toyo Open Country C/T, better than any other tread in years, maybe ever.

17/32″ of tread depth remaining after 10,000 miles!

The 4,400 miles per 1/32 of depth is exceptional, particularly for such a heavily-loaded, diesel, truck camper outfit. Was the slow treadwear due to a higher than typical percentage of highway miles? Possibly, although my outfit is not a daily driver and routinely sees many more long-distance travel miles than city driving. Double the mileage of most tires I’ve run on diesel trucks, and still 50-percent more than other standouts is nothing short of phenomenal!

Absolutely love these Toyo C/T tires and would like to try them in a 295/65R20 size.

The C/Ts were removed from service only to begin another review, but I’d like to run them again soon, preferably in an 18-inch or 20-inch size with a higher load-index that’s better suited to my heavy camper. The 35×12.50R17 was chosen because I wanted a 35-inch size, and I already had the wheels. At the time I was adamantly against 20-inch tires because the shorter sidewalls offer less flex off-pavement. Though shorter, less flexible sidewalls can be a huge a positive for overall camper stability and handling. My opinion has softened, as long as the tire is tall enough that there’s adequate sidewall.

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James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

Resource: Toyo Tires

 

 

Auxiliary Springs

2017 Ram 2500 with Hallmark Nevada Flatbed Camper

Truck Camper Suspension Q & A

The questions and answers below were prompted by recent posts regarding auxiliary springs for my truck camper outfit.

Backgrounder

Iggy The Igloo asked about heavy-duty suspension setup and options. Iggy has a Fourth Generation Ram 3500 crew cab, long bed, with a flatbed Alaskan popup. His truck had Firestone air springs, including Daystar cradles to prevent limiting droop-travel, but he did not like how the airbags consumed inches of up-travel. His front axle has Thuren Fab 1.5-inch replacement coils.

Questions, Answers, and Comments

Q] Do you leave your camper mounted full-time?

A] The chassis is always loaded with my Hallmark flatbed camper, tools, and gear. I will remove the Hallmark occasionally to inspect things, but have not done so yet.

2014-and-newer Ram 2500s (like mine) have coils in the rear, so I couldn’t install extra leaf springs (add-a-leaf). My assessment from owning two coil-sprung, late-model Ram 2500s is that the OE rear coils work surprisingly well, even with maximum loads. However, for a big camper it seems nearly everyone (2500 & 3500, F250 & F350) wants or needs additional spring-rate for better all-around performance. Regardless of whether one uses air, rubber, or metal auxiliary springs, the goal is to support the load.

Excessive rear-overhang and tail-swing is popular these days… most of the camper is behind the rear axle. This nice FWC flatbed on a Ram 3500 was at Overland Expo West 2019.

F-350/3500 pickups are arguably superior to F-250/2500 series trucks for maximum loads, yet this Ram 3500 with a massive aftermarket rear leaf-spring pack still employs auxiliary air springs for support.

If new or additional springs were not desirable for big weight, then those who rarely fill their trucks to capacity would complain loudly about heavy-duty pickup ride-quality. New trucks generally offer a more comfortable and softer ride these days, both with and without a load, though sometimes this includes compromises for heavy-hauling.

These good Old Man Emu/ARB Dakar springs were obviously flattened by a FWC Raven slide-in camper on a 2011 Toyota Tundra. Auxiliary support was added.

Replacement springs? Add-ons? Both?

Q] Why did you choose Timbren springs instead of an add-a-leaf?

A] My 2017 Ram 2500 uses something similar to an add-a-leaf in the form of beefier aftermarket rear coils from TufTruck. They were helpful, though they’re only designed for an additional 500-pounds. This is not enough, and I’m trying to convince TufTruck to make new coils with substantially more capacity.

TufTruck TTC-1225 replacement Ram 2500 rear coil springs.

The latest single-convoluted Timbrens and my other modifications (aftermarket sway/body-roll bars, shocks, and stout tires) have helped my flatbed outfit drive and handle impressively well for its size, weight, and height.

Aftermarket air springs seem to be the most common heavy-duty suspension upgrade, likely due to their cost, adjustability, and ease of installation. I’ve used air before, though some negatives can include leaks, failure in extreme cold temperatures, and a bouncy ride. Some choose replacement leaf packs, but if the weight is removed the extreme-duty replacements can be too stiff for an unladen truck.

Butt Sag

Q] How have your Timbrens changed the sag? Did the springs put you back up to stock ride height with your load, or do you still have some sag?

A] Neither my 2014 crew cab, which used to carry a Hallmark slide-in, nor my 2017 regular cab flatbed, has ever had a sagging, negative-rake stance. This was largely because I didn’t lift or level the front first. This is the opposite approach of many these days.

For my ’17 Ram 2500, I added the Hallmark Nevada flatbed, gear and other heavy accessories, while experimenting with auxiliary rear suspension options. Lighter-duty Air Lift 1000 springs inside the rear coils were used initially, then TufTruck replacement springs, and now the rubber Timbrens.

Butt low, negative rake stance was avoided by sorting rear load support first. This is after adding TufTruck TTC-1224 HD front (lift) springs.

While I respect companies like Thuren Fab and think their products are great, their parts are focused on a softer ride and/or going fast over rough terrain. Softer springs don’t add load support, and that’s typically the wrong direction for heavy, overland-style, backcountry camper outfits. There are numerous examples online of folks choosing to use softer go-fast springs (particularly on the rear axle) who after installation needed them to be reengineered or replaced because they were inappropriate for their load.

To their credit, I called and talked to Thuren Fab several months ago when shopping for front coils; I shared my measured axle weights and application specifics. They were direct and honest, stating that their front springs would not give the listed lift due to the weight on my front axle (winch bumper, camper, etc.), and they did not try to talk me out of using the higher-rate TufTrucks I was considering. They agreed that firmer springs were a good idea. As mentioned above, in many cases I think the rear springs from the go-faster companies are even less desirable than the fronts for heavy-duty applications; they’re not intended for the load support that heavy outfits need.

Only using products that added spring rate to the rear suspension helped me retain some of the factory-positive rake with my camper. I dislike a butt-low, negative rake. The front remained lower than the rear until I changed the front springs.

TufTruck’s heavy-duty front coils were installed May 2019. The TufTruck TTC-1224 gave me about 2.75-inches of lift, essentially leveling the chassis. Since adding the TTC-1224 I have been playing with the ride height, keeping the chassis either slightly higher in the rear, or level, depending on how I choose to adjust the rear suspension.

TufTruck TTC-1224 HD front coils for Ram 2500/3500s were installed above the front axle, providing both load support and inches of lift.

Compression Travel Loses?

Q] Do you think the Timbren’s inhibit your up-travel more than an add-a-leaf?

A] I have not tried to measure or document up-travel loses; supporting the load and overall handing has been the priority, while not limiting droop-travel. Coil-sprung axles have inherently better droop-travel, but they are generally inferior to leaf springs at controlling body-roll.

Air Lift plastic spring spacer (for lifted rear) droop-travel failure on 2011 Toyota Tundra. This prompted me to use Timbren rubber springs instead of traditional air springs for the FWC load.

In addition to firmer springs, my aftermarket heavy-duty sway/roll-bars limit travel; their performance benefits far outweigh any losses. While I enjoy superior off-pavement performance, I’m realistic about my outfit’s capabilities in the dirt. An empty full-size pickup can do much more, easily and safely, than one with a higher center-of-gravity that’s carrying tons of payload.

As an aside, I am not critical of your adding lift/leveling blocks in the rear. Near the end of my 2011 Tundra project with a Four Wheel Campers slide-in, I placed two-inch blocks under the rear springs and it was fine, loaded and not. Taller or different blocks don’t always cause axle-wrap or other problems.

Small, two-inch block added to the rear of a 2011 Tundra. There was not one before.

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James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

Resources:

Air Lift Performance

Four Wheel Campers

Hallmark Truck Campers

Thuren Fab

Timbren

TufTruck

 

 

Ram 1500 heavy duty suspension options

White Pine County, Nevada. Moonlit.

Reader slangheld asked my opinion about Ram 1500 rear suspension options after seeing one of my Ram 2500 heavy-duty rear suspension post photos showing TufTruck, Timbren, and Air Lift aftermarket springs.

Question:

I’m confused, and I’ve considered all of these options for my 1500 (Ram). I’m leaning towards the Air Lift 1000 for the ease of install, maintaining unloaded ride quality, and price. Any opinions?

I asked:

Give me more info… what is your load?

Load and use details: 

I’m pulling a bumper-pull camper (trailer). Tongue weight is close to 900 pounds, and I figure my 1,471-pound payload is close to the maximum. I probably take six, two-to-four hour trips per year. The truck might get another six heavy loads each year doing stuff. The rest is street or highway driving.

Reply, HD Ram 1500 springs:

There’s nothing wrong with the Air Lift 1000 drop-in springs, and I agree that the ease of installation and low price, along with retaining the soft factory ride when unloaded are pluses. Possible negatives with air suspension can include leaks, and sometimes a bouncy ride, deepening on the rest of the chassis setup and suspension. Air Lift’s Universal 1000 springs were the first heavy-duty spring upgrade to the rear of both my 2014 and 2017 Ram 2500s, worked quite well, and it’s a simple and inexpensive place to start. The pair on my 2014 crew cab have remained leak-free, however I do have a leak somewhere on my 2017. That truck has had the springs installed and removed a couple times, where the 2014 has remained plumbed.

Air Lift 1000 Universal Kit #60927 was installed on both a 2014 and 2017 Ram 2500.

TufTruck rear coils for my 2500 are designed to add about 500 pounds of additional carrying capacity, which is really not that much. I would love it if they made an extra-heavy-duty set for my application. Looking at TufTruck’s site I was surprised to learn that they make four different rear coil options for the late model Ram 1500s. Their variable-rate TTC-1223V is presumably their softest-riding spring when unloaded. It’s nice to have choices, and they are all quite inexpensive, from $215 to $270. Rear coil spring installation is so much easier than leaf springs. Like the Timbrens below, the TufTruck coils are never going to leak and should be maintenance-free.

TufTruck TTC-1225 2014-up Ram 2500 rear coils.

The Timbren rubber auxiliary springs seem to work impressively well with my truck camper, both the DR2500D regular-duty set I installed June 2019, and the DRTT3500E severe service springs added six months later. With my heavy truck camper the Timbrens are constantly loaded, same as they were on my 2011 Toyota Tundra with a slide-in Four Wheel Camper. On trucks that only see occasional loading, Timbrens are set-up to only engage after a load is added. I’m considering putting the DR2500D springs on my 2014 crew cab that no longer hauls a truck camper, and sees more typical, mixed use. Installing the Timbrens is arguably even easier than the Air Lift 1000s. There are no airlines to run or leak, though they are more expensive and theoretically not as adjustable. Theoretically because it’s likely that you would simply inflate the Air Lift 1000 to their maximum 35 psi when loaded, and then reduce them to the minimum 5 psi when not hauling.

Timbren double-convoluted rubber spring from kit #DR2500D

If I owned a Ram 1500, depending on my loads, I am guessing that I would try a pair of TufTruck coils, which I’d possibly augment with either Timbren or Air Lift 1000 auxiliary springs.

There are a lot of good options and products, but it is sometimes a crapshoot of where to start or what will work best on your outfit for your needs. Often some tinkering is required to get things exactly where you want.

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James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

Resources:

Air Lift Performance

Timbren

TufTruck

 

Light switch caused dead batteries?

1) 15 mm deep-socket and thumb wheel worked nicely for the thin toggle nut.

2) Two terminals versus three on new switch was not a problem, but terminal size and design was. Looked, but found essentially the same thing at two additional auto parts stores.

3) My solution was trim the terminals into a narrower shape, and file the screw threads, thinning the spades.

4) VisionX 6.7 Light Cannons are working again.

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James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

Tire Puncture Plug Repair Overview

Tire puncture repair overview while traveling and attending the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I carry the tools, know how, and plugged the tire after the show in the convention center parking lot before a dinner meeting on Wednesday evening. Thanks to Extreme Outback Products (Ultimate Puncture Repair Kit and ExtremeAire Magnum 12V Portable Compressor), Wagan Tech (Brite-Nite Wayfinder LED Light), and Hallmark Campers (bright, side eyebrow lights), and the mild weather for making it an easy job.

Initially I thought the puncture was a rock from the rough road I traveled to my camp between days of the show. However, it was an inch-long, 1/4″ bolt that I probably picked up on Highway 95 heading to camp after the first day of the SEMA Show. I don’t blame Cooper Tires for the puncture. Some tires are more rugged than others, but road hazards are real, and all tires are just balloons that can be punctured.

James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

Resources:

Extreme Outback Products

Wagan

Hallmark Campers

Cooper Tire

 

 

Alignment After Lift

After installing TUFTRUCK front coil springs the caster and camber were still great. Toe needed adjustment. If you want your truck to drive well and your tires to last as long as possible, make sure alignment settings are optimal.

James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

Resource: TUFTRUCK