Lifted 3rd Gen Cummins Dually – Before you read on, throw everything you think you know about basic physics out the window—seriously. “There’s no way a truck that big could sink that deep.” Those were the words we told ourselves when our portly (7, 400lb), solid-axle, 1996 Dodge Dually Cummins 4×4 swallowed a stretch of road that would have caused any other vehicle to skid, crash, and lose the driver. some teeth. Mystified though we were instant fanboys. Yes, it works really well. We were ready to enter Baja 1000. Where do we sign up?
There is no doubt that the second and third generation Dodge Ram Cummins trucks are growing in popularity. That said, we had a truly unique truck on our hands, and our requirements for updating the suspension were equally unique. Our twin question already had a shock and the previous owner had installed a very clear eBay special leveling kit. Steering feel was also sluggish and numb with 185,000 miles on the clock, so the truck was also due for a new track bar. Honestly, we appreciated the current ride height. However, it drove like a UPS delivery truck and drove like an oil tanker. It had a decent rig setup with traditional looks and high-tech suspension that could handle any concrete trek through the woods, get toys to the lake, and play confidently on any rough fire road. Of course, we weren’t even looking to break the bank.
Lifted 3rd Gen Cummins Dually
Starting with removing the wheels and tires, suspension tech guru Chris Hrezo of Alternative Offroad began by disassembling the front sway bar components. Fortunately, Carly Suspension supplies all new extended sway bar links. That said, we won’t need any factory sway bar hardware.
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Deciding we could meet all four of our needs, we called on the experts at Carly Suspension in Corona, California. When it comes to high-performance solid-axle suspension systems, nobody does it better than Carly. Prioritizing overall drivability, Carly sales manager Dan Turino suggested the Carly Commuter 2.0 kit. “The Commuter 2.0 system is designed for people looking for the best on-road ride quality on a budget,” Turino says. It includes new front coils, unique shock tower spacers, custom-length upper and lower control arms, and extended and adjustable sway bars. Bar links. “Using front and rear Fox 2.0 internal reservoir shocks, we developed a Carly signature shock tune that provides all the comfort and ride quality designed for on-road, city, highway, and towing and hauling,” says Turino of Deaver’s Five for the rear. A progressive add-a-pack of leaves is also included. Of course, all necessary hardware, U-bolts and instructions for a complete experience.
We completed the setup with a polished set of 16×6 Ultra Modular Dually wheels, which we wrapped in P315/75/R16 Falken Wildpeak A//T3W rubber for an aggressive and utilitarian attitude. We headed to Alternative Offroad in Chatsworth California for a complete installation, which we installed in one afternoon with simple bolt-on tools. Watch this truck go from stalker to shocker. Besides, when have you ever seen a second-generation Cummins Dodge with a Carly kit on it? It is the ultimate in classic looks combined with modern looks and performance.
With the inner wheelwell liner removed for easy access, the Hrezo has a front shock. Using a wrench, we removed the upper shock nut.
Next, we removed the nut that fastened the factory track bar (21mm). Fortunately, they were freed easily. In our case, the Dodge was also in dire need of a new track bar. The factory units were dilapidated and sluggish. It was good timing on our end, so we were able to essentially remove and replace with all new parts, which we’ll address later in the installation.
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Hrezo removed the stock coil from the front-end housing perch and top bucket. Thankfully, we won’t be needing these tired springs and the recyclers they go to!
As more access becomes available, we can continue to draw. Here, we removed the factory hardware that fastens the shock tower and let the eBay leveling kit out as well. What’s more, the Carly Commuter kit still uses these factory shock towers. That said, we’ll put some paint on it before reinstalling it.
With most of the factory suspension removed, we could proceed to install the major components of the Carly Commuter kit, which included these custom, aluminum Carly shock tower spacers. We closed both sides easily using simple hand tools. You’ll notice we took some time to spray the suspension with a few coats of black spray paint to give it an updated look.
Moving on, we landed on the brand new multi-rate Carly front coil. Carly coils come in different height increments for commuter kits. However, ours accommodates the extra weight of the Cummins, which still allows for 3 inches of extra height.
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Carli multi-rate springs are manufactured with coils spaced apart to achieve a variable spring rate. In short, the more the coil is compressed, the stiffer it becomes. Thus, the more force is applied, the more the spring will stretch. This allows for a better than stock ride on most surfaces as well as increased coil control for maximum performance on the road or in harsh conditions. Whether added to a complete kit or purchased separately, the coils are penned and pre-set from the factory for lifetime durability.
When lifting the front end of a straight-axle truck, it is important to note that the position of the front end housing may change. According to Carley, “with only 3 inches of additional lift up front, the front-end housing will move 3/4 inch toward the driver’s side and 1/2 inch toward the cab.” To avoid any irregular geometry with the suspension, Carly also recommends its Extended Carly Control Arms. With the old arms out, we used the factory hardware and bolted the new extended Carly arms into position.
The beauty of the commuter kit is obviously the Fox 2.0 shock, developed with the Carly signature tune that provides all round comfort and ride quality. Essentially, they give the truck excellent on-road and off-road performance in a single shock package. Each Fox 2.0 shock is fully rebuildable and built with clock bushings. Each also features aluminum construction and clear anodizing for corrosion resistance. We bolted the new shocks to the factory shock towers and Carly coil spacers.
Just a few hours later, Hrezo had extended control arms with new Carly coils, spacers, and Fox 2.0 shock locks. Now, we can focus on the rear.
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Carly keeps the bar high with their extended control arms. Arms are 1/2-inch longer than factory units and feature box tubing construction. Box tubing allows for reduced control arm width, while offset positioning allows for added tire clearance.
The arms also have ball joints that allow for servicing. Rounded joints eliminate kinetic chatter caused by rubber-bushing style setups, creating a smoother ride. Carly control arms are finished with a satin black powdercoat for long-term protection against rust.
Carly offers its own upgradeable steering system. However, this kit is for third generation and up Dodge trucks and requires additional fabrication. In our case, we were looking for a bolt-in solution and decided on the DTS Pro Fab Track Bar as a replacement. It comes with a heavy-duty drop bracket, 4130 heavy-wall tubing with 7/8-inch chromoly spherical rod ends. It also includes the necessary brackets and hardware along with instructions to boot!
Moving to the rear, Harezo made quick work of the old shocks and U-bolts. We put the factory shock hardware to use for the new installation. However, since Carly supplies all new, we removed the factory U-bolt and nut.
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Once the U-bolts were removed, Hrezo began disassembling the rear leaf packs. Since the new Commuter Kit includes the 5-Leaf Deaver Pack, we can remove the factory overload and replace it with the supplied U-bolts and hardware.
It’s clear that Carly has thought of everything. Extended sway bar links are manufactured from 17-4 stainless steel. Links come with FK bearings and chromoly rod-ends. We installed the new extended links on the factory sway bar with the factory position and back.
With a traditional concept in mind, we went the extra mile to ensure that we could definitely achieve it. Using a timeless wheel design with ultra modular dually wheels, we captured our 16×6-inch in a polished finish. As for the rubber, we knew daily driving was on the menu with some back-road blazing. That said, we went with a set of Falken Wildpeak A//T3W in P315/75/R16. Doing the conversion, it’s a 35-inch tire. Yes, they are huge! Packed full of technology, these tires will combine great performance on the road and also excel with confidence when the dirt is loose! Honestly, we don’t think Dodge could look any better.
To say we were impressed would be an understatement. Just no
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