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jamman

Improve Safety?: Front End/Steering/Lighting

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Situation: Beginning a new job soon with 145 mile daily commute on hilly, curvy roads. Limited snow and ice. Truck still has play in steering, poor OEM lights, and mileage is sadly around 12mpg the last time I calculated it. Steering was some improved after addition of Luke's Link, but at highway speeds of 70mph the truck required me to keep 2 hands on the wheel to make sure I had control at all times.

Truck: ’99 Quad Cab w/8 ft bed. Installed lower(?) balls joints on both sides a couple years ago, er...had installed. Installed Luke’s Link on OEM track bar Aug 2015 as I put on new tires and it could be aligned due to slop in the front end.

Goal: 1st is safety. That means I have to see when I’m in the dark. It also means that I have to be able to keep the truck on the road with all the curves. I want to do what I can, within reason, beyond just keeping the foot off the pedal to improve the fuel economy (I know I’m not going to get huge increases, but even 2-3mpg would be great).

Plan of Action: 1st, I’m going to crawl under the truck and make sure the Luke’s Link is still tight and see if any other components are loose. I’m no front suspension expert, so any pointers or directing me to specific threads would be great. There is almost TOO much info to sift through sometimes.

2nd, I have spoken with Daniel Stern about lighting. I’m going to install a 12ga harness for the lights to give them the full amperage they deserve. I’m also going to replace the OEM bulbs with Phillips improved 9004’s. When I get the money, I will then replace the OEM light housing with the OEM Sport Housing. Daniel convinced me to stick with the engineered components for longevity and reliability. I’m toying with the idea of adding some of further lighting like Mike did, but only after I have everything up and running the way it ought to be. Btw, my stock lights are about as hazed as can be. I know it isn’t great, but may try and sand them for a temporary minor improvement while I wait to get the money to order my sport housings.

Question: What more do I need to do to get safe for all the hills and curves right now? Am I needing to replace track bar with HD version and that will improve steering/handling? I know I need a fuel pump ASAP and gauges, but those aren’t safety issues. I need them soon, as this truck has over 150k on the original VP44. But the front end and steering are what really has me a bit concerned. I know we all have lots of irons in the fire, but with everyone’s experience I hoped to save some time by at least having you point me to “go that way” rather than learning all aspects of the front end on a short time frame.

Thanks for the help!!

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Front steering you might want to pull the stock sagnaw steering box and do a adjustment or rebuild if leaking. There is two adjustments on the steering box and one of then has to be done outside the vehicle. It would be a good suggest to invest the $35 to $40 bucks in a seal kit rebuild it and readjust the box and you would have tight box once again with the huge cost of Redhead or other names.

Edited by Mopar1973Man

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Your signature shows a six inch factory lift.   What is that?  

I'd say you can look at components with a pry bar and with someone in the cab rocking the wheel back and forth. Ball joints I'd jack the truck up and really yank on the edge of the tire to see if it moves.  If you do joints replace the hubs as well.  

Lukes link isn't a guaranteed fix for the track bar either.  

Edited by CSM

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Thanks for the quick help. I look forward to even more suggestions.

 

Yes, I am running 2 stroke. I forgot to mention that. Started that back some time ago after reading it here.

 

Stock saganaw box rebuild- I will have to go look and see if it is leaking. Is your suggestion to do this only IF it is leaking, or I'd be better off to do it anyway? And you mean without the huge cost of Redhead?

 

6" factory lift- I am the 2nd owner. The first was a lady that ordered her truck from the factory and had a number of options. Tow package was one. The 6" lift was another. I forget where it is now, but I took the VIN way back when and emailed Dodge or somehow got the printout of what was in the truck. Those were things that came back on it. I did not lift it. I don't know where that list is now or exactly how I came by it. By hubs, do you mean pull the wheel and do the seals in there on the 4wd axle? I'm a bit hazy on this.

 

Lighting - Well, on that one I've decided to stick with the engineered route. I did enjoy the article and there are some very neat aspects to it. I spent some time communicating with Daniel Stern and he made some rather cogent arguments why to stay with the OEM sport housings and bulbs. On this one, I've decided not to go the DIY route on my main headlights. But I really appreciate the thought!

 

So, if I am understanding the thinking..... $35 to rebuild my steering box to eliminate it and upgrade it. Jack up the truck and yank/crank around on everything and observe while someone else turns wheel in cab. That should tell me things. Basically, everything should be tight and not move unless it is told to move from the cab?

Edited by jamman

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Care to go into details on what he said?  

 

as for the lift I am assuming you have the same 6" blocks in the rear that we all have.  Have any pictures?

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1 minute ago, jamman said:

Basically, everything should be tight and not move unless it is told to move from the cab?

Correct.

2 minutes ago, jamman said:

Lighting - Well, on that one I've decided to stick with the engineered route.

I added larger watts fog lamps to spread more light about. The stock headlight are well "stock" rather limited unless you engineer something better like Me78569 did with his headlights.

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If you're going to restore your oe lights check this video Mike posted 

 

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look into your fuels system also. If you are still stock you will want an upgrade. Hate to see you fix all the other just to be stranded somewhere with a failed lift or injector pump or both. 12mpg is low unless you are running 4:10 gears.

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I absolutely want to put in the FASS system. But funds have been very limited and as much as I hate to be stranded on the side of the road, I'm more concerned with flying OFF the side of the road, LOL. Seriously, lots of curves. But will be able to do that in a reasonable amount of time once I start the job.

CAM03128.jpg.6e5098a8339f4d819686b7703c1

CAM03129.jpg.f5fe06773acb967a6545d7f798e

^This is driver side, from the rear looking forward.

CAM03130.jpg.5fff9a0c4c1e9e4632f201d82b7

^This is driver side, from the rear, looking at passenger rear wheel.

CAM03131.jpg.90992c2ced1ce51fd7064d091a4

^This is the front passenger side to show the track bar. Am I correct in thinking I have the HD set up already?

CAM03133.jpg.416f3d851707bd9aeab65c95478

^This is midline, at the adjustment.

CAM03135.jpg.611c09e64f4013f7c116ce95e38

^The Luke's Link. You can tell I hit it well with the grease when I filled it.

CAM03134.jpg.9680209832eebe143ea0fa96d76CAM03136.jpg.633654433457df9b142fca00b13

^ Some poor shots of what I take to be the steering box we were talking about. Hard to tell if it is leaking. The puke tube has puked all over it.

CAM03138.jpg.5def3152c843f746a44236eeba4CAM03139.jpg.91e79333d8278ffac8fe8a1c378

^And my truck

CAM03132.jpg

CAM03137.jpg

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You already have the HD setup on your truck.

 

I think your truck is just stock height.  My blocks in the rear are the same height.

 

i'd take the truck to someplace that have a power washer and clean off all the oil on the engine.  Drive it for a day then climb back under and try to source the leak location.  

  • Like 2

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9 minutes ago, Me78569 said:

You already have the HD setup on your truck.

 

I think your truck is just stock height.  My blocks in the rear are the same height.

 

i'd take the truck to someplace that have a power washer and clean off all the oil on the engine.  Drive it for a day then climb back under and try to source the leak location.  

I agree with all of the above. 

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I would say that you need to power wash the underside and get it dried up and the paint the underside with a good quality paint. Wow! The rust is horrid under that truck.

As for rear blocks those are stock height. I've got the same ones.

Edited by Me78569

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Don't forget power steering pump. You can rebuild the steering gear box and still have slop in the wheel if your pump is leaking or not producing enough pressure. 

From the looks of it you need new sway bar end links and sway bar bushings too. New shocks wouldn't hurt either

 

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Ok, thanks for the input on the lift. That is what the spec sheet said back when. I wish I remember how I found that. It was on one of the forums, said to contact Dodge or someplace with the VIN, then you'd get a spec sheet returned. I did, and that was listed that way.

 

Yes, the previous owner had been further north during the earlier stages of some of the windmill farm construction. So it was not a southern truck and the rust has taken its toll. It is bad enough that it has made me wonder at times if I should put the energy into this truck or just look for another.

 

By good quality paint, do you mean a rust preventative type or just a good black spray paint? It

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If you clean it up good and seal with paint is better than leaving exposed and rusting. I'm also northern truck but to this day I've kept the rust at bay for 13 years heading for 14 years. Power washing and a Rustoleum or spray paint design for rust should aid in keeping it in good shape. Nothing last forever so its will require attention and touch up now and then.

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I've been using a different type of rust proofing for years on most of my cars that's very easy and works quite well. I just simply don't fix most of the leaks that way you get a fresh layer of undercoating every time you drive it.

But seriously I've replaced all the steering in my truck and the two best driveability improvements I've made are a new set of shocks to keep you from bouncing all over the place through corners and maxing out the caster.

If the caster adjusters have never been touched there's a good chance it's seized up, so you might be better off working the adjuster bolts out and antisiezing everything. This is also a good time to inspect the control arm bushings. 

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Buzz.... I understand the one statement about replacing shocks. But I don't follow on the comments about the caster. I don't know enough about it to even know what I'm missing.

Could you expand on it?

Thanks

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On the rear attachment points of your control arms there are cams.  They look like offset circles.  They can be rotated to set the caster of the front axle. 

They are usually quite stiff as they haven't been adjusted in years.  Some guys like as much caster as they can get.  I haven't messed with mine, but will eventually.

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I have condensed all the suggestions into a list. I would LOVE to have input into what would be a suggested order in which to attack them. Also, if you have a good, comprehensive link to point at, I’ll add that to the list. If you have a good idea of cost, please feel free to mention it and I’ll add it. I’ll make a master list and will plan on making it a different comprehensive post and try to keep it updated with photos, facts and links as I step through this.

 

So far, here is our list:

 

1)      2 stroke oil. 1 oz per gal is what I’ve been adding.

2)      Rebuild steering box - $40  http://www.dieseltrucksite.com/showthread.php?t=1116 http://www.fourwheeler.com/how-to/transmission-drivetrain/129-0801-saginaw-steering-box-rebuild/

3)      Rebuild power steering pump - $??  http://articles.mopar1973man.com/2nd-generation-12v-dodge-cummins/70-steering-and-suspension/502-hotrod-ps-pump

4)      New ball joints - $??

5)      Hubs (new seals on the front axles?) - $??

6)      Shocks - $120?

7)      Sway bar ends/ Sway bar bushings - $??

Other items

1)      Powerwash/spray paint

2)      Fuel pressure system, FASS? Fuel Boss? - $600-$1,000

3)      Gauges(EGT, Fuel pressure, transmission temp, ??) - $??

4)      Bumper (Thinking CPP or make a similar one myself) - $700

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I have a 99 4x4 also ,also had an 03 dually , the difference they steer is night and day , even with the 99 track bar fixed , best thing  ever did was put on a Delphi 600 steering box  and a borgeson shaft , the action is progressive so it stays centered , and dosent wander  , has less turns lock to lock , also add a pitman arm steering box brace

Edited by dieseled

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