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1998 ram 1500 brake upgrade

Discussion in 'Ram, pickups, new Wagoneer, commercial trucks' started by Ernest Dvorak, Oct 31, 2019.

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  1. 68RT

    68RT Well-Known Member

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    FYI. I have been involved in cases such as I described. Not my person but my company and we received no help from the manufacturer that designed a less than adequate product and I have been known to load way passed the max but slowed down so that things like brakes were not over stressed. My 75 Duster /6 pulled a Winnebago trailer at least 2 thousand miles and never had brake issues. But I descended in lower gears and kept brakes cool.
     
  2. Ernest Dvorak

    Ernest Dvorak New Member

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    Not an answer to the question I asked. I asked if 1998 Ram 1500 could be upgraded to use 2005 brakes. I am only looking for info on the very specific question thay I asked.
     
  3. LouJC

    LouJC Active Member

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    I can’t say if a Dodge truck of your model range can be fitted with larger brake rotors and calipers. That may be answered by an off road fab shop that does modifications.However you make one very concerning statement that is 100% wrong ...that trailer brakes are not needed. Well go back and read your Dodge owners manual and report back here what Chrysler said about trailer towing and trailer brakes. I bet you will find out that any trailer over 1500-2000 lbs must have brakes.

    I had a similar concern with towing with our 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, same small 11” disc brake issue. It stops ok with no trailer. Tried towing our boat (4000 lbs) with no brakes on the trailer once, could hardly stop it. Had a new axle made for the trailer with brake flanged and added surge brakes. Night and day difference. Towing a loaded trailer without trailer brakes is very dangerous and is against the manufacturer recommendations.
     
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  4. LouJC

    LouJC Active Member

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    Furthermore if an accident occurred and there were injuries, a lawyer for the plaintiffs will have a field day assigning negligence to someone who elected to go against both the manufacturers recommendations and applicable state laws for trailer brakes. In most states trailers over 3,000 lbs must have brakes, but if you know that the factory braking system on your vehicle was marginal then common sense dictates that you install them for a trailer whose weight approaches the max payload of the truck. Go and look at the trailers at U-Haul's website, the trailers that approach that weight in terms of capacity all have hydraulic or surge brakes like they have on boat trailers. You can use electric brakes on a cargo trailer with an electric brake controller that will provide even better control.
    And if you come back with "I can't afford trailer brakes" well are you insured enough to not be wiped out by a negligence judgement?

    And beyond that the concern about making modifications to a brake system has nothing to do with a warrantee on a 20 year old truck it has everything to do with LIABILITY if something bad happens. If you elect to do a brake modification and the brakes fail guess what you become the manufacturer, and are liable just like they would be. This is why no regular mechanic will do such a thing only fab shops that have designed and TESTED such modifications for safe use. You can find big brake kits for Jeep Wranglers, Cherokees and Grand Cherokees since these also came with marginal 11" brake rotors and with the standard 28" tires they stop fine. You add 32" tires with more weight and mass and they don't stop so fine. So there was a market for this product in the Jeep aftermarket. Not sure if a similar thing exists for the Ram of that era but you still need trailer brakes to be safe and LEGAL.
     
    #44 LouJC, Dec 23, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
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  5. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    Works for some, not for others.
    I drove a rental car up and down Pike's Peak in 1986. About 1/3 of the way down, rangers motion you to stop, and they feel the wheel temperature. If it's too hot, you are required to stop and let them cool for 1/2 hour or so. I came down from the top using 1st and occasionally 2nd gear on an automatic, kept it to 20 mph. The ranger pulled his hand away quickly and ordered me to rest. I was surprised and skeptical, so I quickly tapped one knuckle against the wheel, and my skin immediately sizzled and blistered. Yet I felt that braking power was still OK when I was driving - it wasn't.
    This guy needs trailer brakes, and if he doesn't get them, he's endangering himself and everyone.
     
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  6. LouJC

    LouJC Active Member

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    I've debated this on boating bulletin boards all the time. South Florida guys, in warm salt water, get sick of fooling with trailer brakes and think that, because they have a mighty F250 or whatever they are OK. Meanwhile they happily spend a kings ransom on the latest overpriced outboard, electronics, etc but are too cheap to take the most basic safety precautions that are part of state law. I can install a single axle drum brake system for approx. 400 as long as the axle has flanges. That's a surge system that you need to buy a surge actuator for, (for boat trailers that go in the water) an electric brake system (which is all you need for a cargo trailer) would be cheaper and work even better since you can set the level of braking needed from the cab. Now if you have a boat trailer and are always putting the boat in and taking it out of salt water then you need the best, full stainless disc surge brakes. Those are more expensive but a drop in the bucket in the boating world. As you can see from this photo, every time you launch and retrieve, the brakes get wet. So they need more maintenance than vehicle brakes.

    This boat is kept on a salt water mooring all season so the brakes don't have to go in the salt very much, at most 4 times a season. If I were a trailer boater and launched and retrieved the boat every time I used it then I'd have the most expensive full stainless disc brakes. For my use the drums are fine.

    I'm in salt water and use the more expensive galvax coated brake drums and made some modifications to the drum wheel cylinders to keep out water, that is what cause them to fail (seize up). I have a few spare sets of backing plates in the garage that I can swap out in about an hr if I have a problem with a wheel cylinder or brake shoe (the newer cylinders use an o-ring seal and are not prone to seize up like the old style with the boot). Its nothing complicated but has to be done.
    end of season 2019 #1.jpg
     
    #46 LouJC, Dec 23, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
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  7. Doug D

    Doug D Virginia Gentleman

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    I just checked the owner's manual for my 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT.

    Concerning trailer brakes this is what was printed:

    "Trailer brakes are recommended for trailers over 1,000 lbs (454 kg) and required for trailers in excess of 2,000 lbs (907 kg)."

    "Caution - If the trailer weighs more than 1,000 lbs (454 kg) loaded, it should have its own brakes and the should be of adequate capacity. Failure to do this could lead to accelerated brake lining wear, higher brake pedal effort and longer stopping distances."


    I would imagine there is a similar statement (if not the same) in the owner's manual for a 1998 Dodge 1500 truck.

    I would think it would be way cheaper to add brakes to a trailer than to do what the OP has proposed (install 2005 era front knuckles, larger disc brakes).

    The fact that he states his brakes are fading due to overheating indicates the truck is overweight or if it is 'legally' within limits the load is too much for his truck's brakes (with no trailer brakes). Or he is not braking properly.

    We used a tour/bus service to ride to the summit of Pikes Peak in 1975. On the way down we stopped at the station you mentioned. Nearly every vehicle was motioned to pull over and let the brakes cool. Not many were allowed to continue on with allowing the brakes to cool.
     
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  8. Ernest Dvorak

    Ernest Dvorak New Member

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  9. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    Having vehicles stop and sit and wait for brake system cool down when descending on Pikes Peak road is a definite proactive safety precaution. DOT 3 brake fluid used in automotive systems is glycol based. As such it is hydroscopic and has a great affinity to absorb moisture from the air. Pure DOT 3 fluid with no absorbed water boils at 205 deg C / 401 deg F. But if moisture is present the boiling point drops dramatically to 140 deg C / 284 deg F. And most brake systems will have moisture in the brake fluid unless it was recently flushed and replaced. How many automobile owners put a brake flush on the vehicle preventative maintenance schedule???

    On a long, downhill journey where brakes are used frequently, overheated fluid can develop bubbles due to moisture boiling. When this happens you lose most if not all brake effectiveness because vapor in the fluid lines will compress. So you will become out of control with no braking action.
     
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  10. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    This ^ happened to me when I accidentally drove home from work one day in my 84 Daytona with the parking brake on at highway speed. Although the brake held well, the turbo was powerful enough to overcome it without me noticing. And it happened that the brake warning light had an intermittent connection in its socket, or I would have noticed the light immediately. I drove 12 miles before I smelled it. When I released it, I had zero braking ability - the pedal went to the floor. I planned my stop ahead of time and gradually slowed until I could get off the highway and coast into a parking lot and use the parking brake to stop.
    It took 45 minutes of waiting for it to cool enough to regain braking power.
    Shortly after that, a wheel cylinder leaked; a month later, the other side did.
    The car is off the road for a head gasket, and I'll be changing all the fluids.
     
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  11. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    I can't believe there's even a question about this. If the load of the trailer and what it's carrying exceeds what the manufacturer recommends for the braking capacity of the truck, then you need to put brakes on the trailer, sized for the load. Period. It's not just 40 years of engineering experience talking, it's common sense and it's physics. The load, with no brakes, will be pushing on the truck, exerting a force that could overcome the brakes of the truck. But it's more than that. The load will never be perfectly aligned along the center axis of the truck, the tire pressures will all never be exactly equal, the traction of all the tires will never be the same. Therefore, the trailer can and often does jackknife and fling out of control, which will then pull the truck out of control. When that happens, innocent people get hurt or killed. Do it right or not at all.
     
  12. LouJC

    LouJC Active Member

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    Honestly trailer brakes are simple, easy to install (if electric), will keep you safe and make your truck brakes last longer. I would not even consider not having them and mine are on a boat trailer that goes in salt water. Surge drum brakes that if maintained well (usually replace backing plates every 5-6 seasons) work very well. I actually prefer them to disc brakes because they can be adjusted not to drag, which is an issue with surge actuators. Going downhill they will be on all the time because of how surge actuators work. Electric on the other hand are driver adjustable, and superior for applications where you don't put them in salt water. I've used galvanized backing plates and brake shoes, stainless steel springs, and zinc coated brake drums. These all cost a bit more but the standard stuff will not last in salt water.

    When I first got this boat (2002) I tried towing it ONCE, without trailer brakes. Well the 11" discs on my '98 Grand Cherokee could barely stop it. The first thing I did was buy a new trailer axle with brake flanges, and install a surge drum brake system.
     
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  13. Doug D

    Doug D Virginia Gentleman

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    Maybe, just maybe, none of "us" needed to do what you were pursuing so we didn't have the knowledge you were looking for.

    Couldn't you have just posted you found the solution to your issue so others could benefit from it instead of chastising the board for not knowing. No, you are still mad no one here could help you. That happens sometimes.

    Glad you were able to find a solution to your issue.
     
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  14. Dave Z

    Dave Z It's me, Dave
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  15. page2171

    page2171 Well-Known Member

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