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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My '04 Dodge Ram (5.7, 4x4, half-ton) is almost at 150,000 miles and it towed my boat (5,000#'s w/ the trailer) a good 15% of that time. In that time my rear springs and shocks have taken a beating and now, judging by the creaking i'm getting even when I get in the truck (let alone when I load the boat up), it sounds like it's time for some fixin'.

So from my friends at df.com, it sounds like air bags are the way to go with new bilsteins all around. It would roughly run about $550 or so for the parts (you're talking to the labor) and that would be new bilsteins at all 4 corners, and new firestone bags for the rear with no compressor. The 550's pretty much out of reach but I gotta make it happen.

My questions to my friends who tow would be:

Do you use air bags? How do you like them? Which ones did you go with and what truck/vehicle did you put em on?

What should I look for in a GOOD and REASONABLY priced shock?

If I go with the bags, do I need to replace my springs? They look fine.

Do I need to worry about the air bags if I do some off-roading (to and from fishing and hunting campsites)?

Thanks in advance peoples!
 

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My 02 F150 started creaking real bad @ 115K turns out it the spacers between the leaf's were shot John R spring replaced them for $100 and it's been fine since. Good Luck
 

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Bilsteins are good shocks. You should be able to pick up a set of 4 for about $300. No experience with air bags, but I can't imagine that you would need them only towing 5K.
 

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QUOTE(270 Crown @ Jul 7 2009, 01:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Bilsteins are good shocks. You should be able to pick up a set of 4 for about $300. No experience with air bags, but I can't imagine that you would need them only towing 5K.

Nor would I waste money on air bags.

Check the spacers and do the shocks like mentioned.
 

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Just buy a new truck
Sell yourself on the streets for a couple months while the weather is still warm. Bammmo....Dollas!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
QUOTE(makowish @ Jul 7 2009, 12:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Just buy a new truck
Sell yourself on the streets for a couple months while the weather is still warm. Bammmo....Dollas!

Buying a new truck would be nice... But i'm sure by "buy" you mean LEASE a new truck you leasing bastage! Neither are an option for this broke camel. Besides, my truck is still sexy to me, and I want to roll 1,000,000 miles on her. I sell myself only for party money.

I'm going to look at the spacers and maybe a new set of shocks. I'm still going to take a serious look at the bags cause I will one day also be pulling a 5th wheel/camper and i'd rather do all this once.
 

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Just get yourself a Big Dick. The ladies will love you and the guys will all think you look cool.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
QUOTE(Jager Dave @ Jul 7 2009, 01:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Just get yourself a Big Dick. The ladies will love you and the guys will all think you look cool.

Guess that's just another day for some of us brother
 

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Stock is always a safe bet. Unless you're having other issues, this sounds like your best bet. Even if you're not happy afterword, you'd have still needed clamps or whatever anyway to get rid of your noise.

QUOTE(supercrew @ Jul 7 2009, 12:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>My 02 F150 started creaking real bad @ 115K turns out it the spacers between the leaf's were shot John R spring replaced them for $100 and it's been fine since. Good Luck
 

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Airbags with bilstiens. My navigator has bags on the back from the factory (air in front too) and it's awesome. I can load up the boat (7100 lbs, about 500-600 on the ball) and put four people in it and it sits level.

Bilstiens on the back of my navigator are great. I just wish I could get them for the front and retain the air ride up there, but my only option is factory, and those shocks felt blown out when they were new, compared to the bilstiens.
 

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Personally, I would stay away from bags. I would replace all the rubber bushings with poly, maybe add another spring and put new shocks on it. If you have the extra $$, then I would do a suspension lift kit. Nothing extreme. Maybe 4 - 6". Pro-Comp has been the best for many years. I put a pro-comp kit on a 91 silverado and it was awesome looking. Of course I upgraded the wheels and tires to 33" BFG A/T's. The bags that come in most cars are self leveling. Aftermarket bags you have to blow up and deflate the bags manually and if you want automatic, them you pay more $$.

http://www.explorerprocomp.com/
 

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Come on. If you want to tow and you want it to last, do NOT put poly bushings in. Go with OEM rubber bushings. If you want to tow, do not put a lift kit on it.

For the best reliability and the longest life, and a little better handling and towing ability, go with stock everything all the way around, except new bilstien shocks, with helper bags in the rear. I don't have any experience with anything but OEM bags, but I would suggest that some kind of auto-load leveling feature would be better than just bags with no compressor. If you just want some extra capacity, look for a 2 stage spring setup.

If you want a lift, stick with 2-3" and moderate size tires. If you don't need the extra clearance for where you're going, don't lift it. It makes it harder to get into a garage to fix it, harder to get into parking garages, and compromises handling on the street. And I don't care who built it, if it's a kit, it's NOT as good as OEM.

I've beaten the piss out of a lot of cars. Off-roaded everything from a 2wd S10 with a fat guy in the bed for traction, to a '78 Chevy with 35's, to my '02 Navigator. I've run the 24 hours of lemons. I can tell you from experience, that stock is the most reliable you can get, and it'll get you just about as far off-road as something with a lift, at least in MI. In MI we don't have much rocks to crawl on, so the only thing you really need clearance and tires for is ruts. Hunting trails can be done in a stock SUV. Off-road trails require 44's or better because you know some a**hole has been through there with 44's in 2wd digging the ruts out. There's really no point in anything in between.

Reliability is inversely proportional to the number of bolts f'ed with. 2 24 hour beater endurance races have reinforced this theory, as well as several destroyed beaters. see www.caintmakit.com for a partial resume.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
All very AWESOME input everyone. I need the different perspectives.

Sleeper, I gotta admit I LOL'd when I read "24 hours of lemons"
I did it again but I totally know it was a typo. Just was a funny one.

My thing is , I went from looking at new shocks, maybe bags for the rear with NO compressor and I can't even afford to do all that now. So a lift kit, while in my wish list for future mods to the truck (and AFTER I get another vehicle) is really out of the question right now. I'm going to do that at like 250k, so I got another 3-4 years by my guesstimations. Neither is a compressor run system. I've got like 3-400 bucks to work with so i'm trying to make it happen for about that.

I do want BETTER than whatever came on the truck if I can afford and find it. I know bilsteins are better than the stock ones that are made by monroe (and I believe are monotubes) So i'm pretty sure i'm gonna go with those.. I do like maintaining stock items on a vehicle, but I'm sure some aftermarket products are just better than oem.

So i'll start there and see what happens. I'm looking at $269 bucks for a full set of the Bilsteins online. I'll change all 4 and go from there. If I feel they aren't cutting it on their own, you bet your buns i'm going to be putting in some bags.
 

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Not a typo... www.24hoursoflemons.com


Some aftermarket products are certainly better than OEM, no doubt. But OEM durability requirements are far tougher than what the aftermarket has to meet. If you keep a vehicle stock and don't mess with it too much, you'd be surprised how hard you can beat it before it finally cries uncle.

Some aftermarket products are also widely used as OEM, such as bilstien shocks, and those will generally be as durable or moreso than typical OEM replacements.

If you're short on cash, just replace whatever bushings are bad (if it ain't broke, don't fix it!), put new shocks on it, and if necessary get it aligned. I recommend a lifetime alignment at firestone... for $150 they'll align it as many times as you want as long as you own the truck. Good to have with MI roads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Good news for mopar owners. We can get Rancho shocks from the dealer! Just called Sterling Heights dodge and after dodge employee savings I can get a pair for the rear for less than 150. It was a $20/shock difference to go from the Mopar line to the Rancho shocks. In case other guys happen to be in my shoes.
 

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QUOTE(fish n chicks @ Jul 10 2009, 11:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>All very AWESOME input everyone. I need the different perspectives.

Sleeper, I gotta admit I LOL'd when I read "24 hours of lemons"
I did it again but I totally know it was a typo. Just was a funny one.

My thing is , I went from looking at new shocks, maybe bags for the rear with NO compressor and I can't even afford to do all that now. So a lift kit, while in my wish list for future mods to the truck (and AFTER I get another vehicle) is really out of the question right now. I'm going to do that at like 250k, so I got another 3-4 years by my guesstimations. Neither is a compressor run system. I've got like 3-400 bucks to work with so i'm trying to make it happen for about that.

I do want BETTER than whatever came on the truck if I can afford and find it. I know bilsteins are better than the stock ones that are made by monroe (and I believe are monotubes) So i'm pretty sure i'm gonna go with those.. I do like maintaining stock items on a vehicle, but I'm sure some aftermarket products are just better than oem.

So i'll start there and see what happens. I'm looking at $269 bucks for a full set of the Bilsteins online. I'll change all 4 and go from there. If I feel they aren't cutting it on their own, you bet your buns i'm going to be putting in some bags.

Jon, you're just obsessed with Fun Bags
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Just wanted to throw out there what I went with. After looking for Bilsteins locally, I found pretty much none of the chains carry them in stock, and the specialists are rapists. The price of the bils I wanted were up there anyway, so I had to economize. So I did some research and decided I'd give the monroe sensatrack shocks with self load adjusting capabilities, good for another 1200#'s on the tongue with a normal ride height. I picked them up from pep boys for $105 for the pair, and they had to be ground shipped (3 days). Oh well.

Got em a few days later, and put em on the next day.

The verdict:

INSTANT SATISFACTION!! Unfortunately I haven't towed with em yet, but normal driving has greatly improved. I only installed em on the back, but you can tell when going over crap roads, dirt roads, or RR tracks that they aren't stock cause your tires are planted on the pavement instead of doing a jig across metro pkwy. I can't wait to get them on the front now so I can get total control back. I also can't wait to try towing with em. We're going camping and boating for a week, so I'm gonna see how they handle a bed of firewood and gear, AND the Welly.

Should be good for over 1000 miles of road testing next week so we'll see how she does!
 
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