How Does Component Play And Flex Affect Steering?
Handling issues can come from a variety of sources. As soon as your truck rolls off the assembly line, the clock is ticking for every moving component. The thing to remember is all component play is compounded throughout the suspension assembly. A deflection of 1/16 of an inch movement in the track bar bushing can compound through component connection, resulting into handling problems for your truck.
The 2003-2013 Dodge Ram Trucks have rubber/soft bushings and exaggerated bends on the trackbar stock from the factory. In our opinion, your track bar is a mandatory upgrade simply due to its poor design. The 2 piece design bushing immediately starts to break down. If the factory choice was a solid unit it does not account for the flexion in the OEM track bar shape or material.
- How Does Component Play And Flex Affect Steering?
- What Is A Track Bar And Why Is It Important?
- Myth: Solid Track Bar Joints Will Make Steering Rough
- Centering The Front Axle After A 2-3" Lift
- Track Bar Info Regarding Lifts Taller Than 3"
- 2013+ Radius Arm Suspension, And This Tricky New Platform
- 2013+ Ram "Radius Arm Platform" Track Bar Notes
- Research And Development For The Radius Arm Platform
- Aftermarket Differential Covers And The Thuren Track Bar
- The Final Word
OEM Track Bar Vs Thuren Fabrication Track Bar
What Is A Track Bar And Why Is It Important?
Death Wobble in its simplest definition is a violent and rapid oscillation of a truck's steering components that ultimately makes your steering wheel whip from side to side. What do track bars have to do with Death Wobble? The track bar is the key component for tracking your steering components. Keeping them in line and under control is its main function.
Because the track bar is the only supporting component for your steering assembly it plays a major role and without it you wouldn’t make it out of your driveway. As you steer left the track bar is compressed and vice versa steer to the right and the track bar is stretched.
With a flexible track bar or worn-out components i.e. bushings, bearings, hardware, etc death wobble or oscillation is possible. When this happens, gripping your steering wheel tighter can actually make the situation worse and in some cases, the only remedy is to slowly and safely pull to the side of the road and assess.
A rigid track bar design is the mechanical remedy taking into consideration other components that might be a contributing factor. Replacing the flimsy stock unit with a Thuren Fabrication Track Bar, the input you apply to the steering wheel will directly translate to the wheels.
Myth: Solid Track Bar Joints Will Make Steering Rough
As we addressed above, the track bar needs to be solid in design to truly translate input into reaction at the wheels. Vibration absorbing bushings are required for control arms and various components but when it comes to steering components it should be as tight a setup as possible and in this regard, the track bar could arguably be defined as a steering component. Its flexion or rigidity directly affects the performance of the steering assembly.
Centering The Front Axle After A 2-3" Lift
The idea of centering your axle is just that...an idea. In reality, a perfectly centered front axle is a pipe dream. To bridge the gap, our track bar has been through hours of real-world research and development to achieve as close to perfect as possible. To achieve closer to center front axle position, our track bar would need to be longer. Metal to metal contact with attaching components and hardware as the suspension is bottomed out will be a result. This is an undesired and unfavorable result therefore the TF track bar length is set to achieve maximum performance and durability.
With a 3 inch lift installed on your truck, the maximum allowable track bar length you can have is 39 ⅛ inches. This is the straight-line measurement, center-to-center of the rod ends. A track bar that is longer would cause damage to attaching components and hardware. Understand that the axle assembly is not perfectly centered at this measurement and will handle great!
Track Bar Info Regarding Lifts Taller Than 3"
Lift kits larger than 3 inches will come with a track bar drop bracket more often than not. The Thuren Fabrication Trackbar will usually fit these drop brackets. If supplied with your lift kit, the drop bracket must be used. If your lift kit is between 4-6 inches, expect the drop bracket to be roughly 3 inches in length.
We do not recommend modifying the lift kit you have ordered but we also understand that some might choose to do so. If this is the case we do have some recommendations to retain fit, form, and most importantly function.
We do not recommend a larger than 4-inch bias in track bar drop from the factory mounting point in relation to lift height. Our track bar can work with and up to a 4-inch lift but we do not suggest this procedure for clear safety reasons.
2013+ Radius Arm Suspension, And This Tricky New Platform
Due to the nature of this new platform in comparison to the previous generation, it is exceedingly difficult to design products that stand up to the abuse of hard off-roading. At Thuren Fabrication, we have successfully achieved our goal of being able to supply the customer with products that we ourselves would run on our trucks with confidence.
*the below information is in regard to Thuren Fabrication parts only. This platform is especially finicky when you start to upgrade the suspension and steering components.
2013+ Ram "Radius Arm Platform" Track Bar Notes
The factory OEM settings for the track bar received extra attention for this platform but in our opinion, it still needs some improvement. OEM relaxed the track bar bends to reduce flexion and installed standard torsion bushings to mitigate deflection. We’ll give credit where credit is due but we also would have pushed the R&D a bit farther...and we have!
During the R&D phase of production, we have determined that approximately 20,000 miles after rolling off the factory floor it will be a requirement to replace the factory track bar. With or without TF components installed the life span for the factory track bar is limited.
Research And Development For The Radius Arm Platform
During the research phase of designing our products, we started with the coil spring rates. The desired spring rate we wanted was between 350-390 lb/inch all while providing 2.5-3 inches of lift without coil binding. Additionally, we were looking for 10 inches of travel and the durability to last for years without sagging. With spring seats that were designed at an angle, it was increasingly difficult to maintain a coil that would ride straight through the entire range of motion.
We are proud to say that we have achieved our goal with unrestricted bump travel without coil binding. A total of 10.5 inches of travel availability and a spring rate of 380-390 lb/inch. For reference, our 2003-2012 (2-3 inch) coils are set to 370 lb/inch and are a crowd favorite. The short 4-link allows the radius arm to perform more efficiently with slightly stiffer coil springs.
Power Wagon Note
For reference, The Power Wagon OEM front track bar runs ¼ inch longer than the 2500 OEM track bar. We suggest the same 20,000-mile odometer reading track bar replacement for the Power Wagon as well as the 2500 Dodge Ram.
Aftermarket Differential Covers And The Thuren Track Bar
Very few aftermarket differential covers are more than a dress item. Some manufacturers have performed the R&D to improve cooling for differential fluids but most look real nice. However, it comes down to performance here at Thuren Fabrication and we will 100% of the time choose function and safety before style.
Our trackbar will not work with most aftermarket differential covers due to the engineering specifications we have developed. The design of our track bar is to ensure rigidity, durability, and performance.
The Final Word
With our components installed, and the full suspension travel being available, this is why drop brackets are not required. Adding 3 inches of down travel to the factory setup is where we achieve this all while avoiding more lift, bump stops or multi-rate coils. The final ingredient to this recipe was our concern for driveline vibration.
As you move further away from OEM specifications this is always a possibility but the end result is fitting 37-inch tires with 10 inches of travel and roughly 2.75 inches of lift and zero driveline vibe. We are exceptionally happy with what we have achieved.
For all your track bar concerns or questions, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help.