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#958149 - 03/24/11 10:27 PM How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup
Kevin I Offline
super stock

Registered: 09/13/10
Posts: 718
Loc: Nunnelly, TN
I decided to write up a how-to for lowering the front of a 1972-1993 Dodge half ton pickup. I found tons of misinformation on the internet concerning this topic and decided to put all the correct information in one place. It wasn't until last year that I found out about the van lower control arms. The intention of this is to provide information that I found hard to find. If I made a mistake, please let me know, so I can get it corrected.

Nobody makes much in the way of aftermarket parts for 1972-1993 Dodge trucks. Parts for lowering your Dodge pickup are not offered by the major aftermarket companies like Belltech or Eibach. There is one small manufacturer that makes some very expensive lower control arms, but I've had no luck getting in contact with them. What can you do if you want to lower your pickup? You can go the cheap route by cutting your coil springs. This may cause your spring rates to change or cause camber problems. You could go the expensive route by modifying a pair of lowering spindles made for a 1st generation Dakota. I've heard this works, but there are a few issues with this and it takes a lot of trouble to get them to work.

There is another option that is very simple, engineered by the factory, and is cost effective. Go to the junkyard and find a 1972-1993 Dodge B-series van and unbolt the lower control arms. Just swapping the van's lower control arms onto your 1972-1993 Dodge half ton truck lowers it roughly 3" due to the fact that the van lower control arms have a spring pocket that allows the coil springs to sit lower than they do in the truck's stock lower control arms. No shock or spring change is needed. It doesn't matter if it is a 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, or 1 ton van. The van lower control arms are the same. I purchased a pair from a mid 80's B350 for $40 plus tax at my local Pull-A-Part.

I had trouble separating the steering knuckle from the lower control arm at the ball joint. In fact, I gave up and left the junkyard. I asked around and found out that the steering knuckle is a two-piece design. There are two 15/16 bolts/nuts that you will have to unbolt in order to separate the top piece from the bottom piece. You will have to take the brake caliper and rotor off to gain access to the bolts. Remove those steering knuckle bolts, take out the shock absorber, unbolt the control arm pivot bolt, remove the strut rod from the lower control arms, and separate the steering tie rod from the lower steering knuckle piece and you're done. The only parts you will need are the lower control arms and the control arm pivot bolts/nuts. Once you get the lower control arms home, take a large hammer and remove the lower steering knuckle piece from the ball joint and then knock the ball joint out. You cannot reuse the ball joints from the one ton van because they are larger in diameter than the ones on your truck. I do not know if the 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton ball joints are the same or not. New ball joints are $30 at NAPA, so you might as well replace them anyway.

There are a couple modifications you will need to make to the lower control arms and your truck. First, completely remove the steering stops. They are not needed and the arms will look cleaner without them. Next, you will need to drill two 1/2" holes in each arm for the strut rods. I pulled a stringline from the center of the ball joint to the center of the pivot bushing and found the holes in the truck arms are equal distance from the centerline of the arm. Measure the distance from the ball joint to the strut rod holes on the truck arms. Now, you can transfer this information onto the van arms, mark your holes, and drill. There is one modification you will need to make to the lower control arm pivot holes on your truck's frame. The truck's factory lower control arm bolts are 5/8" in diameter. The van's are 3/4" in diameter. You will need to drill these holes larger for the van's bolts to fit the truck. I was thinking that maybe I would be able to slide the sleeve from the truck arms into the sleeve on the van arms so I wouldn't have to drill the pivot holes. The truck sleeve is too large in diameter to fit inside the van's sleeve,so that will not work. From this point, you may be able to just bolt the van arms on your truck. I had a little problem with mine. I tried to install my driver's side arm and the holes wouldn't begin to line up. I found that the metal around the pivot bushing on the arm was up against the pivot bracket on the truck. Before you paint your lower control arms, you may want to grind a little off the arms around the pivot bushing.

When I put the wheels back on and dropped the truck onto the ground, I measured 1/2" between the bottom of the fender and top of the tire. Before the drop, I measured 3.5". I'm very pleased with that. To my surprise, the camber wasn't off too bad, however, the wheels were pointed in different directions. I also had to cut the bump stop brackets off because they were hitting the lower control arms. Another thing, any time you perform work like this to your vehicle, a front end alignment is necessary.


The steering knuckle is a two piece design on the truck and van. You will need a 15/16" socket for these.

Van arms with van lower steering knuckle

Van arms with steering bump stops and ball joint removed

Side by side comparison of the truck arm and van arm. Blue arrows point to the strut rod bolt holes that you need to drill.

Truck pivot bolt (5/8") on top and van pivot bolt (3/4") on bottom

Drilling the truck's pivot bolt bracket from 5/8" to 3/4"

Grind in the unpainted area shown by the arrows. The holes in the lower control arms would not line up with the ones on the truck's pivot bracket due to this area touching the pivot bracket.

Finished product

Before

After


Edited by Kevin I (04/28/11 10:39 PM)
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Kevin I

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#958150 - 03/24/11 11:28 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: Kevin I]
tmef Offline
mopar

Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 624
Loc: Independence, KS
Nice job! Great info.

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#958151 - 03/25/11 12:10 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: tmef]
76dodgeboy Offline
master

Registered: 08/19/06
Posts: 8063
Loc: Iowa
They are diff otherwise they wouldnt list 2 diff part #s.
You must have got the 3600lb axle setup. They have a 3800-4000lb balljoint that Im sure is a bigger diameter.
But great info otherwise.
76 B300
RAYBESTOS Part # 5051013B Service Grade
Front ; Lower; 3600 Lb Front Axle; Vehicles With 4" Inner Tie Rod Ends; Press In Type With Wear Indicator

$12.87
Add to Cart
RAYBESTOS Part # 5051008B Service Grade
Front ; Lower; Vehicles With 14" Inner Tie Rod Ends; 3800 Lb Front Axle

$13.44

94 B350

RAYBESTOS Part # 5051013B Service Grade
Front ; Lower; 3600 Lb Front Axle; Press In Type With Wear Indicator

$12.87
Add to Cart
RAYBESTOS Part # 5051008B Service Grade
Front ; Lower; 4000 Lb Axle

$13.44

Also on the dakota Spindles its Dropped spindels that you use and its not that big of a deal to use them.
http://board.moparts.org/ubbthreads/show...part=1&vc=1
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#958152 - 03/25/11 05:37 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: 76dodgeboy]
1moparman Offline
super stock

Registered: 06/12/04
Posts: 705
Loc: lakeside ca
spot on keven I !!!
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#958153 - 03/25/11 07:16 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: 76dodgeboy]
Kevin I Offline
super stock

Registered: 09/13/10
Posts: 718
Loc: Nunnelly, TN
Quote:

They are diff otherwise they wouldnt list 2 diff part #s.
You must have got the 3600lb axle setup. They have a 3800-4000lb balljoint that Im sure is a bigger diameter.
But great info otherwise.




I guess I am misunderstanding you. I know that the 1 ton van ball joints are bigger than the ones on my D150. Are you saying the 3/4 ton and 1/2 ton van ball joints are the same as the truck ball joints?
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#958154 - 03/25/11 07:22 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: 76dodgeboy]
Kevin I Offline
super stock

Registered: 09/13/10
Posts: 718
Loc: Nunnelly, TN
Quote:

Also on the dakota Spindles its Dropped spindels that you use and its not that big of a deal to use them.
http://board.moparts.org/ubbthreads/show...part=1&vc=1





If someone wrote a how-to similar to mine, it might clear a few things up on the Dakota drop spindles. I've read conflicting information on other forums about the swap. Even in that thread, you have to sift through several posts to find the answer. I thought at one time that I was going to do the Dakota dropped spindles, but confusion kept me from dropping the cash on them.
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#958155 - 03/25/11 11:23 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: Kevin I]
76dodgeboy Offline
master

Registered: 08/19/06
Posts: 8063
Loc: Iowa
Quote:

Quote:

They are diff otherwise they wouldnt list 2 diff part #s.
You must have got the 3600lb axle setup. They have a 3800-4000lb balljoint that Im sure is a bigger diameter.
But great info otherwise.




I guess I am misunderstanding you. I know that the 1 ton van ball joints are bigger than the ones on my D150. Are you saying the 3/4 ton and 1/2 ton van ball joints are the same as the truck ball joints?



I stated that 1tons balljoints are Diff and you said no. Now you went back on it and yes 1/2-3/4 ton 3600lb balljoints are the same for truck and van and also several cars back to the 50s.
The only issue with the Dakota Drop spindles is figuring out what tire rods and sleeve is needed. Whats so hard about that? I believe Rumblebee states exactly what he needed to do. Also he was working on his truck as he was posting the info.
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#958156 - 03/25/11 01:38 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: 76dodgeboy]
Kevin I Offline
super stock

Registered: 09/13/10
Posts: 718
Loc: Nunnelly, TN
Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

They are diff otherwise they wouldnt list 2 diff part #s.
You must have got the 3600lb axle setup. They have a 3800-4000lb balljoint that Im sure is a bigger diameter.
But great info otherwise.




I guess I am misunderstanding you. I know that the 1 ton van ball joints are bigger than the ones on my D150. Are you saying the 3/4 ton and 1/2 ton van ball joints are the same as the truck ball joints?



I stated that 1tons balljoints are Diff and you said no. Now you went back on it and yes 1/2-3/4 ton 3600lb balljoints are the same for truck and van and also several cars back to the 50s.
The only issue with the Dakota Drop spindles is figuring out what tire rods and sleeve is needed. Whats so hard about that? I believe Rumblebee states exactly what he needed to do. Also he was working on his truck as he was posting the info.




When did I go back on anything? I stated in the write-up that the van ball joint (mine came from a B350-1 ton) was bigger than the ones on my D150. I know that to be a fact. You came in with your comment and I asked you if the 1 ton van ball joints are different than the 1/2 ton and 3/4 van ball joints. I never said "yes" (or no for that matter) about the 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton ball joints being the same as or different than the 1 ton ball joints because I don't know if they are or not. I assumed they were all the same since I have been told so before. If they aren't, then I will make a note of that in the write-up. I did't "go back" on anything. There's really no reason to get hot under the collar about it and start accusing me of stuff.

As for the Dakota drop spindles, I have read conflicting information on various message forums. I haven't read through the guy's thread because I haven't had the time, but usually, several pages in a thread means a lot of sifting through the posts to get the information. Nothing is hard about changing a tie rod sleeve or reaming out a hole in the spindle. The hard part is determining which information is correct. Either way, it seems like a lot of trouble to go through when the van lower control arms are so easy.

As I stated in the opening paragraph of my write-up, the intention of it was to put all the correct information in one place. I did not intend to stir up trouble, step on anybody's toes, or get into a pissing match. If I have written something that is incorrect, please let me know. Here is what I said in the first paragraph of the write-up: "If I made a mistake, please let me know, so I can get it corrected." Just don't be rude about it if you are going to make a correction.
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#958157 - 03/25/11 01:44 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: 76dodgeboy]
coronet1966d Offline
master

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 2682
Loc: Clinton Twp. Michigan
Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

They are diff otherwise they wouldnt list 2 diff part #s.
You must have got the 3600lb axle setup. They have a 3800-4000lb balljoint that Im sure is a bigger diameter.
But great info otherwise.




I guess I am misunderstanding you. I know that the 1 ton van ball joints are bigger than the ones on my D150. Are you saying the 3/4 ton and 1/2 ton van ball joints are the same as the truck ball joints?



I stated that 1tons balljoints are Diff and you said no. Now you went back on it and yes 1/2-3/4 ton 3600lb balljoints are the same for truck and van and also several cars back to the 50s.
The only issue with the Dakota Drop spindles is figuring out what tire rods and sleeve is needed. Whats so hard about that? I believe Rumblebee states exactly what he needed to do. Also he was working on his truck as he was posting the info.




thats moparts for ya, post a usefull well written guide that answers a popular question around here andyou get flamed for it
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#958158 - 03/25/11 02:25 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: coronet1966d]
koak Offline
mopar

Registered: 07/06/03
Posts: 534
Loc: Pa
Hey Kevin (I'm Kevin too) Thanks for the post and info. I'm going to keep this in mind if I decide to drop my front.

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#958159 - 03/25/11 02:34 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: coronet1966d]
superbyrd Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/19/08
Posts: 388
Loc: kentucky
yes,as with other sections of moparts, you can't post anything ,unless you clear it with the moparts truck guru/experts/all knowing masters.
great write up ,will be useful,cost effective info for others down the line. look on the bright side,after you have put together a handful of these old dodge pickups,you might be an "expert" too......

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#958160 - 03/25/11 02:47 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: superbyrd]
Kevin I Offline
super stock

Registered: 09/13/10
Posts: 718
Loc: Nunnelly, TN
I made a few corrections to the write-up.

Quote:

look on the bright side,after you have put together a handful of these old dodge pickups,you might be an "expert" too......




What are you talking about? I'm already an expert. I'm used to the "experts". I've spent the last 16 years fooling with 2.2 turbo cars and that community is full of them. I like the guys who have never owned a running turbo Mopar that tell me I've done it all wrong. Never mind I have a car that runs low 12's on a very mild boost level. If I had the time to really tune the car and crank up the boost, I'm sure I'd really be doing it wrong.
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#958161 - 03/26/11 10:21 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: Kevin I]
Twostick Offline
master

Registered: 05/20/03
Posts: 4981
Loc: Downtown Roebuck Ont
Any bump steer issues with this? That would be the only downside I could see for what appears to be a low $$ idea that actually works.

Kevin

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#958162 - 03/26/11 10:56 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: Twostick]
76dodgeboy Offline
master

Registered: 08/19/06
Posts: 8063
Loc: Iowa
Im just saying they are diff. Im guessing it was a diff post but I said the 1 tons were diff and Kevin said No. I was just clarifying they are. Its a great how to and I never said I was an expert. Trying to help save headaches if a 1ton was purchased. I have a pr of the aftermarket control arms and plan to try some Dakota Drop spindels with them and Ill be getting Van ones when the funds are available.
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#958163 - 03/26/11 12:47 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: Twostick]
1moparman Offline
super stock

Registered: 06/12/04
Posts: 705
Loc: lakeside ca
Quote:

Any bump steer issues with this? That would be the only downside I could see for what appears to be a low $$ idea that actually works.

Kevin



I used the van lca and cut about 1/2 coil off I have a little bump steer nothing too bad but the angles on the tie rods are definetly not ideal..... my that being said I drive my truck everyday and have had no problems ball joint and tie rod wise... but I'm not completly done yet I want to cut the bump stop bracket down and re-weld it back up. I want to mount my strut rods on the bottom of the control arms by making a hole through the lower control arms(others have made a block and mounted it below). I also still want to notch the drivers side upper c.arm for the steering shaft. if I hit a big dip going to fast theres contact(not ideal). again this is only things I have noticed and my
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#958164 - 03/26/11 02:16 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: 1moparman]
superbyrd Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/19/08
Posts: 388
Loc: kentucky
i am going with just the van LCA in the front and flip in the rear. on my 84 step-side,a 79,XXX mile truck,no lean to either side,my truck sits 3 3/4 inches higher in the rear than the front. it's currently stock 318/auto,and near future will only be packing an aluminum headed 340/NV3500 5-speed. should sit level when done.

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#958165 - 03/26/11 08:54 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: superbyrd]
Mopargnome Offline
super stock

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 770
Loc: Central Utah
I did the Dakota spindle swap on my Ramcharger and its not that big of a deal. I got cut coils on the truck control arms but want to swap for the van ones. Thanks for the info!


Attachments
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#958166 - 03/26/11 11:43 PM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: Mopargnome]
Golden-Arm Offline


Registered: 04/18/10
Posts: 10544
Loc: omotive Engineer.
looks like decent info. good pics and pointers help as well. i'll keep it in mind, for lowering my next one. last time, i did it the other way, and lifted it 6 inches.
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#958167 - 03/27/11 10:59 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: Mopargnome]
11secdart Offline
master

Registered: 08/22/03
Posts: 4087
Loc: new jersey usa
I really did mine the cheap way although its only the rear. My 92 D150 always sat high in the rear, I had add a leafs and air shocks because I used to tow with it. I no longer use it for towing so I took out the add a leafs and the air shocks, put in the B body Ranchos I had in my Dart with the S/S springs and just bought a set of long shackles and it lowered it about 2-3 inches, I also clamped all the leafs in the front section and installed a set of $20 swap meet traction bars which helped with traction as I race it occasionaly.


Attachments
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Edited by 11secdart (03/27/11 11:05 AM)
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08 1500 Quad Cab Hemi 4x4
92 D150 5.2 (318) 2WD,shortbed,original owner, multiple time Trophy Class Winner @ Mopar Meets
68 Dart 408 ci, R3, Indy Heads, pump gas, 904, 3,150 lbs, footbrake, mid 11's
2013 Island Dragway Street Eliminator Points Champion
2014 Raceway Park ( R.I.P. 2018 ) 11.50 Index Points Champion

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#958168 - 03/27/11 11:18 AM Re: How to Lower Your 1972-1993 Dodge Pickup [Re: Mopargnome]
RodStRace Offline
I Live Here

Registered: 09/21/05
Posts: 12389
Loc: Chino Valley
Quote:

I did the Dakota spindle swap on my Ramcharger and its not that big of a deal. I got cut coils on the truck control arms but want to swap for the van ones. Thanks for the info!



Dave, if you lower that thing another 3 inches with the van LCAs, you are going to have to put rubbing blocks on the bottom!!!


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