Project Dodge Mega Cab: Low COG 37s

Aug. 03, 2011 By Jaime Hernandez
Project Dodge Mega Cab with 37-inch BFG All-Terrain tires and Mopar 17x8 wheels.

Ever since Chrysler re-designed the Dodge Ram in 1994 (2nd Gen.), large wheel wells have been graciously accommodating big off-road tires. Our 3rd Gen. Dodge Ram 2500 is no different. 

We knew our Ram 4x4 had room for something bigger than the stock LT265/70 R17s it came with from the factory. The real question was how big could we go before having to run a 4- to 6-inch lift.

Ideally, we wanted to stay as close to the ground as possible, yet have enough clearance to roam the desert and mountain trails without dragging axles. We are big fans of low COG (Center of Gravity) setups. The “big tires with minimal lift” approach keeps a low center of gravity and makes for a much more stable and better handling off-road vehicle.

Dodge Ram Heavy Duty 2500 Power Wagon concept with 40-inch tires and minimal lift. Photo by Josh Burns

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After some digging and consulting with Dodge Ram Heavy Duty suspension experts like KORE, Carli and Thuren, we discovered that running 35- to 37-inch tires with front leveling springs would do the job. Anything bigger would require a larger lift and possibly fiberglass fenders.

One of the first things we did on our project Mega Cab was upgrade the suspension with a KORE Performance HP Leveling kit. The new springs yielded about 2.5 inches up front.

We narrowed our tire choice to BFG All-Terrain T/A KO 37x12.50 R17. This would be the second set of BFGs we ran on the Dodge Ram. We really like how versatile they are and the longevity of the thread wear. We had logged over 15,000 miles on a current set of 285/70R17 BFG All-Terrains with no issues or flats. We wanted to repeat that experience with our new set.

Here are some key benefits of BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires:
• Dual-compound tread and ShoulderLock technology with 40% wider shoulder grooves provide increased traction and control in aired-down driving situations
• Aggressive, high-void all-terrain tread design.
• Three-ply polyester tire delivers stiffer tread area for more precise steering response, better cornering control, excellent puncture an exceptional bruise resistance.
• Built to improve stress distribution, tread life and resistance to irregular wear.

To be able to run 37-inch tires with minimal lift, we needed to work with a wheel that kept a similar backspacing to the factory wheel. This was a work-around to getting fiberglass fenders up front. The wheels and tires need to tuck inside the factory wheel well for our low COG setup to work. The best choice was Mopar eight-lug wheels found on Dodge Ram 2500/3500 2003-07 trucks. They have a 6.25-inch backspacing and 43.18mm (1.700-inch) positive offset.  We sourced a set of 17x8.0 Mopar alloy wheels on Craigslist.

Our new BFG All-Terrain KO tires were mounted and balanced at Off Road Warehouse (ORW) in Escondido, CA. ORW is one of the largest BFG dealers in San Diego County and are also experts at getting these tires dialed in. Doug Ebba, ORW technician, can attest to that. 

While getting our BFG All-Terrain KO and Mopar wheels in sync, we learned from Doug that lead weights are no longer used for balancing. In fact they are illegal thanks to the EPA. Instead, steel and zinc-alloy stick-ons are used to balance in 3- and 6-ounce increments. The wheels and tires are balanced using a dynamic/static balancer that can do up to 42-inch tires. 

Back at the ranch, we swapped out the smaller 285s with our new 37-inch BFGs. The difference is dramatic. We have more sidewall and a larger footprint. Using air power to swap out a total of 36 lug nuts, we finished off the job with a Snap-On torque wrench, set at 150 ft-lbs of torque.

Before getting back on the road, we used our Superchips power programmer to set the new tire diameter. This will help with transmission shift points, power, torque and MPG.

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We really like the new tires. The truck actually rides a lot smoother and handles surprisingly well for this big of rubber.

Towing and hauling has also been fine. We were a little reluctant at first since we weren’t sure if the D vs. E load rating would inhibit our truck’s ability to haul/tow, or handle the heavier diesel engine weight up front. When we compared the actual max weight capacity, the BFG 37s can carry 3,525lbs. @ 50psi compared to the stock 265s rated for 3,195lbs. @ 80psi. 

We’re way ahead from a load-carrying standpoint — 1,320 lbs. with all four. For serious towing, the E-rated construction is still a better choice. In our case, the D-rated tire gives us a happy medium between off-road performance and the ability to haul our Lance camper and 18-foot trailer.

Although the BFG is only a D-rated tire, we’re confident that with its three polyester, two steel, one nylon and TriGuard three-ply sidewall it will be more than enough for our needs.

We’ll come back with a long-term update to let you know how they do. Stay tuned for more project Dodge Ram Mega Cab.

BF Goodrich Tire

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