The Dodge RAM ProMaster is a great van to build upon, with its box-style dimensions that make it the widest of all van platforms. As a FWD (Front Wheel Drive) setup, however, lifting one for more off highway or off road capabilities presents some challenges. It utilizes a suspension platform that’s more typically seen on a car versus a truck - which can see additional stress when lifted. We wanted to create a system that would provide a safe lift without adding additional stress to the overall drivetrain, but provide enough ground clearance for anything underneath that could be damaged on a trail.
In addressing these challenges, we set out two major engineering goals.
Lift the van enough to provide ample ground clearance for off road use
Lift the van without stressing the drivetrain
With the first goal - we determined that fitting a 245/75/16-inch size tire onto the van would provide enough traction and clearance for true off-road capabilities. Upgrading to a 245 tire also provides an extra half inch of ground clearance. From the factory, these vans are typically spec’d with a 225/75/16. While this doesn’t sound like much of a difference - it’s substantial - and allows for more aggressive tire treads that can take you further on the trail.
To achieve this tire size, we had to keep in mind the limits of the stock drivetrain and it’s MacPherson style strut. Adding a spacer above the strut is a typical way of lifting this type of suspension. We noticed, however, that doing this alone added undue stress on the standard axles - putting them at an angle that isn’t desirable for long term durability, let alone off-roading. Owner and founder of OHV, Aaron Pfadt saw an opportunity to make a lift that dropped the subframe of the engine, keeping the axles at a better angle in the lift that reduces stress on the drivetrain.
From the factory, the RAM ProMaster sits slightly nose heavy with the back end higher than the front end. In putting together a complete lift for both the front and rear suspension - we set the front lift at 3” total, and the rear at 2.25”, creating a more overall level van after installation. This again alleviates stress on the front axles and overall drivetrain.
With the rear lift, we opted for a spindle plate versus a more traditional lift block. Because of the FWD nature of this van, the rear axle is solid and simply putting a lift block above the axle wouldn’t raise the axle itself. You might gain tire clearance with a block system, but the axle remains low to the ground. A spindle plate, however, lifts the axles relative to the ground, while dropping the wheels relative to the axle. Again, this provides more clearance in the rear by lifting things out of the way of trail rocks and dirt.