Engine & Performance
Wheels & Tires
1994 DODGE RAM 2500 AND 3500: THE TRUCK THAT STARTED IT ALL
1994 was the start of a new era in diesels. No longer were diesels only used for towing a fifth wheel or hauling a load of hay. With the release of the P7100 injection pump powered 12 Valve Cummins, it was quickly determined how easy it was to vastly improve the power of these trucks with some tweaks to the pump and a handful of parts in order to trump the factory rated 175 horsepower for NV4500 5 speed manual transmission and 160 for 47RH automatic transmissions equipped trucks. With some adjustments to the AFC (Air Fuel Control) Spring and sliding, grinding, or removal of the factory fuel plate, adding another 60-100 rear wheel horsepower was almost too easy. Then some home-brewed cold air intake systems were developed that didn’t equate to much more than installing a large pleated air filter from larger displacement diesel applications onto the factory intake hose. And if you were ready to get serious, swapping out the factory Holset HX35 turbo for an HX40 was all the rage.
1998.5-2002 DODGE RAM WITH A CUMMINS: A BLACK EYE OR THE TRUE BEGINNING?
In mid-model year 1998, the VP44 injection pump powered Cummins 24 Valve was unleashed to the public. Up until this point, everyone had become very familiar with both the VE and P7100 mechanical injection pumps, but this new VP had a circuit board screwed to the top of the pump, which brought about considerable speculation. Unfortunately, as the years went by and countless pump failures reared their ugly heads, it was deemed that the VP44 was a failure on the part of Bosch, the OEM supplier for the fuel systems. But was the injection pump really the cause for concern, or was it the lack of fuel supply from the subpar low pressure pump? Either way, the rumor has always been that the VP44 was merely a stepping stone while Bosch was ironing out the kinks for their next big thing, common rail injection. For those familiar with the 1998.5-2002 trucks, the first rule of thumb is to just make sure you have good supply pressure from a quality lift pump and install a fuel pressure gauge and you can drive it ‘til the wheels fall off.
2ND GEN RAM WITH A CUMMINS PARTS THAT PERFORM
In terms of adding performance, the two engine series will have varying approaches. Being that the 12 Valves are mechanically injected, the way you add power is via mechanical means. Items such as a BD-Power Fuel Plate, Dynomite Diesel higher displacement injectors, and BD-Power AFC Spring are how you get the job done in terms of fueling. For the 24 valves, you have the option to add via a performance chip or a set of performance injectors (or both!). Now, specifically talking about increasing fueling levels via a chip, in contrast to the newer common rail powered Cummins engines, this is only accomplished via a chip that “taps” into the circuit board on the VP44. Sure, programmers that plug into the OBDII connector under the dash, or chips that only plug into the MAP sensor and Data Link Connector, can add around 60-70 horsepower. But in order to physically tell the injection pump to shove more fueling into the injectors, it requires such “chips” as an Edge Comp Box or TST PowerMax. That said, one of the most popular things to do on a 1998.5-2002 truck is to “stack” a chip, such as an Edge Comp Box, with a programmer, such as a Smarty S03, to realize gains that can only be had in doing so.
1994-2002 DODGE RAM SUSPENSION AND STEERING
The next big change that began in 1994 were front coil springs. While Chevy was still boasting their IFS (Independent Front Suspension) and Ford was still riding on coil springs at all four corners, Ram jumped into coils in the front, with the axle kept in place via upper and lower control arms and a track bar. For anyone that had any seat time in a 1st Gen, we’d all agree that the 2nd Gens deliver an astounding improvement in ride quality. That said, as age sets in and comparing to the newer trucks, these trucks can feel harsh, accompanied by a loose steering. And in some cases, the dreaded Death Wobble can even occur. Does this mean its just how it is? Absolutely not, as there is an endless list of upgrades to enhance the ride quality and get you a tight steering. One of our most popular upgrades are to ditch the gear box in favor of a Red-Head branded steering gear. These are not just your local parts store replacement, not even close. And for those of us that would prefer a better ride in rough terrain, brands such as Carli Suspension and Synergy Manufacturing deliver the goods.
Many products in this section will work on all 1994-02 trucks. However, some are designated for 94-98 12 valves while others are designated for 98.5-02 24 valves.
- 12 valve years covered in this section 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
- 24 valve years covered in this section 1998.5, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
If you're having trouble determining what's best for you, then give us a call. That's what we're here for...we love this stuff!
Diesel Power Products is not affiliated with Cummins or any of its subsidiaries or related companies. Unless a product is specifically identified as a Genuine Cummins product that has not been remanufactured, modified, or refurbished, Cummins makes no representation or warranty about the product and has not authorized, tested, or approved the parts for use in genuine Cummins brand products.
Q: I've heard you can use a T-Style Steering from a 3rd Gen on a 2nd Gen. Is that right?
A: From the factory, nearly all Rams from 1994-2008 came from the factory with a steering linkage known as "Y-Style." What this refers to is the drag link and center link (also called the tie rod) and their correlation to one another and how they mount on the vehicle. A Y-Style steering has the drag link going from the pitman arm on one end and connecting to the passenger side knuckle on the other end. The center link then attaches to the drag link about 1/4 of the way up from the knuckle and then attaches to the drivers side knuckle. This inevitably creates a pivot point between the two wheels at this connection of the drag link and center link, which many would attribute to whats called "Death Wobble." In mid-model year 2008, Ram switched up this configuration to what is referred to as "T-Style." This has the center link connecting directly to each knuckle, and the drag link connecting to the center link just inboard of the passenger side knuckle. This change in configuration eliminates the pivot point between the two knuckles. Its worth noting that 1999 model years actually had this configuration from the factory and why Ram opted to abandon it is still a mystery. Now, back to the original question and whether you can use the factory T-Style steering from a 2008.5-2013 truck (Mopar part number 52122362AL) on a 2nd Gen. The first thought that comes to most is there's no way since the two trucks have completely different frames and axles, so there's no way. That said, surprisingly, it does "sort of" fit. Basically, the center link drops right in and the tapers of the tie rod ends are a match for the pitman arm and steering knuckles. However, the placement of the gearbox is different making the drag link too long. At that point, you have two options, drive with your steering wheel at 90 degrees, or shorten the tie rod end at the pitman arm. Does it work? Yes, but its not really recommended since the steering linkage is such a critical part of your truck and it requires cutting a tie rod end. A better fix for those wanting to upgrade to a T-Style steering would be to opt for one of Synergy's Heavy Duty Steering Kits that are purpose built for both the 1994-1999 and 2000-2002 trucks.
Q: I see you offer direct replacement track bars and track bars with a conversion bracket. What's the difference and why would you need to add a conversion bracket?
A: Proper steering and suspension geometry necessitates the track bar and the drag link being parallel to one another. From the factory, the orientation of the track bar on 2nd Gens makes the two not parallel and the track bar is shorter than it needs to be. By installing a conversion bracket, it both lowers the upper mounting point, as well as moves it further outboard of the frame, allowing the use of a longer, 3rd Gen style of track bar. This helps to improve steering and suspension movement. That said, for those that would prefer to keep the original orientation, but reduce deflection or simply still improve on the factory design, we offer several options that are a "drop-in" and are even adjustable to allow you to recenter the front axle after lifting or leveling the vehicle.
Q: What is a KDP?
A: KDP refers to "Killer Dowel Pin," which is the name that's been given to a dowel pin located behind the timing cover that can work its way loose and drop into the timing gears, causing extensive damage from a tiny little dowel. The issue is most notorious on 12 valves, but still a concern on 24 valves, so numerous companies offer "KDP Repair Kits" that alleviate the issue and are highly recommended on any 2nd Gen Cummins.
Q: I've heard horror stories about failing VP44 injection pumps. What's wrong with them?
A: Its true, there are countless 1998.5-2002 trucks whom have experienced a failed VP44 injection pump, no refuting that. While no one will officially say it, the rumor is that the VP44 was basically a temporary solution after the P7100 mechanical pumps while Bosch was finishing things up on common rail injection and they essentially stole the VP44 from their Ag side of the business. Maybe, but who knows for sure. Either way, in reality, the VP44 isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be. The real issue is the low pressure lift pump either completely failing or not supplying adequate fuel supply to the injection pump, eventually causing it to also fail. The lift pump is located right next to the engine block so its exposed to a ton of heat, as well as the fact that the pump itself is really designed to "push" fuel, but due to its placement, it has to do a lot more pulling than pushing. Back in the early days, a common fix was to either relocate the stock pump back on the frame rail or add a pusher pump in-line on the frame rail. As the years progressed, the factory part was superseded so that you could no longer purchase a direct replacement, instead, an in-tank option was released that put the pump inside of the fuel basket inside of the fuel tank. This was leaps and bounds better at supplying the injection pump, nearly eliminating pump failures, at least on stock power output trucks, but for anyone even with a mild chip, failures are still prevalent. The fix in these cases are to upgrade with an aftermarket, high output pump such as AirDog, FASS, Fleece, BD-Power, etc. Now that we've covered THAT reason for failures of the VP44, lets cover the OTHER reason, and that's "tapping the pump." There are a few ways to improve the power on these trucks and a very popular method is to add a performance chip. For those looking to add around 65-70 horsepower, you can accomplish this with chips such as an Edge EZ that merely tie into the MAP sensor and the data link connector. But, if you're looking for more, you'll be going with a chip such as an Edge Juice with Attitude that uses these two connections, but also has you tap into the injection pump to command the pump to deliver more fuel to the injectors. There are two methods for doing this, either tapping into the injection pump wire by means of a Scotch-Lock or T-Tap, or purchasing a new cover for the VP44 that adds a set screw which taps into the circuit board itself. Either of these methods gets the job done, but a common issue when you tap just the wire is you'll get corrosion or a loose tap, which then causes an electrical short and it fries the circuit board. We highly recommend using a replament cover, such as the Stealth Cover from BD to alleviate such issues. Overall, the VP44 isn't a bad pump, you just need to upgrade your lift pump, install a fuel pressure gauge to keep an eye on things, and if you're going to tap the pump, do it right.
Q: I have a 5 speed manual transmission (NV4500) and heard about upgrading the input shaft. Whats the difference and why do I need to do that?
A: In the 1994-2002 model years, Ram offered two manual transmission options: NV4500 5 speeds found in the Standard Output models and the NV5600 6 speeds in High Output versions released in 1999 model years. The NV4500 and many of the early NV5600's had a 1-1/4" input shaft where the later NV5600's received a 1-3/8" diameter shaft. Especially when upgrading to a dual disc, its a good move to upgrade to the larger input shaft to avoid the possibility of twisting or even snapping the factory shaft. Most aftermarket clutch companies' primary options in dual disc options will necessitate the 1-3/8" shaft as a preventative measure to transmission damage.
Q: Will this dual steering stabilizer fix my Death Wobble?
A: Maybe, but not really. There are many causes for the violent shaking in the front end, known as Death Wobble, but its most associated, in general, with loose front end parts such as ball joints, track bar, and your steering linkage. Dual steering stabilizers work to deliver a positive "push" to both sides of your steering, and by doing so, can basically remove some of the play in your bushings and tie rod ends, but in reality, it doesn't actually fix the underlying issue. As the factory steering parts continue to wear, Death Wobble is bound to return if it did fix it in the first place. Does this mean that dual steering stabilizers are a bad upgrade? Definitely not, but there are better fixes for Death Wobble, and the first thing to do is address which front end parts are worn and replace with upgraded components. Is there a single part that cures Death Wobble? No, but upgrading the steering stabilizer, track bar, steering linkage, ball joints, gear box, and adding a steering box brace is a proven "throw everything you can at it" approach that will also deliver the outcome of a tight steering system that's enjoyed every time you drive the truck.
Q: Can I run a High Output VP44 on my Standard Output truck?
A:You can, but you shouldn't. The SO and HO pumps are quite similar, but in comparison, the SO pump actually has larger plungers compared to the HO, yet the HO's electronics are programmed to tell the plungers to deliver more fuel compared to the SO version. Basically, running an HO pump really won't give you any benefits. How are many "Hot Rod VP44's" made? Combine an SO pump with HO electronics, simple as that so you get the best of both worlds!
Q: What are EGT's?
A: EGT stands for Exhaust Gas Temperature, which is the temperature of the exhaust leaving your engine. This measurement is typically measured before the turbo to ensure you are not overheating components. For most applications, we recommend not exceeding 1300 degrees.
If you've got a question about your 2nd Gen Cummins, feel free to give us a call at 888-99-DIESEL and we would be happy to assist.