Lowered 2002 Dakota riding rough - Dakota Durango Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 04-12-2019, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Dakota
Modifications: 2/3 Belltech drop, Gibson Headers, Gibson Cat-back exhaust
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Lowered 2002 Dakota riding rough

Hey All! I have a single cab 2002 Dodge Dakota SXT with a mild 2/3" drop on the stock 16" wheels. This is my first dropped truck, so I'm not really sure if the ride is correct, as it rides more harsh than I expected. The setup consists of the following:

- Front - Belltech 2" Drop Springs (Part #4766 )
- Front - Belltech Street Performance Drop shocks (Part #101011 )
- Rear - Belltech 4" Hangar Kit (Part #6574 )
- Rear - Airbagit Lifting Shackles (Part #X2-SHA-DK9704 )
- Rear - Belltech Nitro Drop 2 Drop Shocks (Part #8006 )

Now before you rip me for putting Lifting Shackles on a drop, hear me out. After adding the Hangar kit with the stock shackles, there was roughly an inch of gap between the tire and wheel well, and roughly an inch between the bumpstop and frame. The ride was horrible, plus it was lower in the rear than in the front. So I added a lifting shackle to level the truck out. The truck is now level, but the ride is still harsh.

Now the issue as I mentioned, the rear is super harsh. There is pretty much no give in the rear suspension and any bumps or cracks in the road are felt big time. Plus there are now a lot of creaks and noises coming from the bed, as if everything is loose underneath. As this is my first lowered truck, is the ride supposed to be this harsh? Are all the noises coming from the bed normal? I went with the hangar kit and stock leafs because I read that it still gives you a descent ride. Could the leaf springs be going out?

The truck was purchased used a couple years ago, and I already knew it wasn't in the best shape. But the engine and transmission are good, and the rest I thought I could fix moving forward. In the rear, I also have a Gibson cat-back exhaust and have added Belltech Front and Rear anti-sway bars. Not sure if the bars effect the ride in the rear?

Any help is greatly appreciated as I'm getting tired of the harshness!
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post #2 of 3 Old 04-14-2019, 04:19 AM
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Alright, heres the deal. Besides that slammed look, the original purpose of any lowered suspension was to improve handling performance. My experience with lowered suspension systems has been that they tend to ride firm or some would describe it as being "rough". The reason is two-fold;

First, the springs that are offered by companies like Belltech tend to have a higher rate, meaning that if it took about 100 lbs to compress a factory spring one inch, but it took 150lbs to compress an aftermarket spring one inch, that aftermarket spring will ride firmer.

Second when you lower a suspension, the overall wheel travel is also reduced. This means that if you hit a bump at speed, a factory suspension may have enough travel to soak up the bump, but a lowered suspension, may run out of wheel travel causing the suspension to either top-out or bottom-out against one of the bumpstops.

For a truck intended to handle at it's best, the lowered suspension and firmer ride would allow the truck to carve corners and accelerate with little squat, or have minimal nose dive under hard braking, on a closed course. But for a daily driven truck driven on a typical road that could contain, potholes, speed bumps, or over cobble stones, well things get a lot more complicated and you'll have to make a few compromises and maybe live with the short comings of such mods.

To soften up the ride a bit, you may have to replace the front springs with softer or lower rate springs. This wouldn't solve the shorter wheel travel as the suspension would still hit the bumpstops, but it would reduce your ability to tell which side of a coin was up when you ran over it.

The rear springs are a bit of a mystery to me as the factory leaf springs are naturally soft and all you've changed were the hanger location and shackle length. Unless you have some sort of suspension bind, for example two suspension elements are working against each other, the ride shouldn't change. It could be that the shocks are too stiff or don't allow much travel or it's bound up, meaning the shocks are topping or bottoming before the springs do. See if you can cycle the rear suspension. Try removing elements and cycle the suspension with a floor jack (Remove shocks, then cycle. Remove the sway bar and cycle again) If it turns out that the springs are just too stiff, you could soften them a bit by removing individual leaves from each spring pack. BTW make sure the driveshaft isn't bottomed out. Keep in mind the same applies to the rear in terms of wheel travel. Little wheel travel means the axle will hit the bumpstops more often…You could create a bit more travel by shaving the bumpstops a bit.

One final thing, run a tiny bit less air pressure in the tires. I'll assume you have some larger rims with low pro tires. If you're running full pressure, the tires will be too stiff, and transmit that to the suspension. Of course you can't run much lower pressure as the rim could contact the road and become damaged, so try making small pressure changes and see if that helps.


6BT, 3200GSK, M&H#3, W/A IC, 5X.012, AirDog100, HE351.
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post #3 of 3 Old 04-29-2019, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Dakota
Modifications: 2/3 Belltech drop, Gibson Headers, Gibson Cat-back exhaust
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Thanks so much for the info. I actually ended up removing the Belltech rear anti-sway bar I had installed. Apparently it was keeping the axle from traveling correctly, and when it would bottom out, the bar would actually hit the frame so the bump stops were never a factor. Now it rides just as I was expecting and it's so much smoother. Once I get new rims and tires, I'm going to take it down another inch all around. Thanks again for the help!
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