Part 1: How to Turn a Ram 1500 into a Ram Runner

Part 1: How to Turn a Ram 1500 into a Ram Runner

If you’ve considered buying a turnkey Ford F-150 SVT Raptor prerunner but can’t afford its $41,000 starting price, or if you want to hammer something different through the dirt and air, Chrysler’s Mopar parts division has a solution. The hardcore Ram Runner kit is now available to turn almost any 2009-2012 Ram 1500 4x4 into a hardened off-road racer all at once or piece-by-piece, at your own pace and budget. Either way, here’s how it’s done.

Veteran Baja racer and suspension development guru Kent Kroeker engineered the Ram Runner conversion package, which was inspired by his own race experience. Kroeker worked on the kit for over three years with his staff at Kroeker Off Road Engineering, aka KORE, outside San Diego.

With the Ram Runner conversion kit landing at Mopar-authorized Chrysler dealers, Kroeker has completed the detailed instruction guide they’ll use. In this case, it’s for the Stage 2 kit (Part No. P5155662, $13,270). It comes with custom-tuned three-inch Fox internal bypass shocks with remote reservoirs front and rear, custom shock mounting brackets, custom 4130 chromoly upper and lower control arms, rebuildable high-angle ball joints, special high-angle “930” Porsche-style CV axles, and forged-steel high-angle tie rods for the steering. The Stage 2 kit provides 14-inches of front and rear suspension travel and up to four-inches of lift over a stock Ram 1500.

The Ram Runner kit can transform almost any 2009-2012 Ram 1500 to help meet your budget.

Kroeker showed us how the kit is installed on a used 2009 Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4x4 that KORE purchased with only 10,000 miles on the odometer. The truck was a base model in good shape and came with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. It cost only $21,000 from a dealer in Las Vegas, saving the expense of buying an all-new pickup.

Here’s the first part of the build, which we’ve simplified for the purposes of this overview.

Step 1: Remove Front Wheels, Tires and Brakes

Removing the Ram's original CV axle end nut

After this step shouldn’t be any doubt about how deep the Ram Runner makeover is. It requires removing the front wheels and tires and disconnecting the brakes from the Ram’s steering setup and front suspension.

Step 2: Disconnect Front Suspension and Factory Steering

Sliding the outer CV joint out of the bearing hub on the spindle. The upper control arm has been removed and the lower factory arm is pictured.

The factory shocks are removed along with the upper and lower control arms and steering system tie rods and CV joints leaving the truck lacking front controls, suspension and rolling stock.

Step 3: Replace Front Shock Towers

After cutting off the tops of the front stock shock towers, a new bucket cut template will be welded onto the backside of the coilover bucket.

The factory front shock towers, where the tops of the original dampers were bolted to the frame, are cut with a plasma torch or cut-off-wheel and new, taller, stronger shock towers are welded in place to provide room for the massive Fox Shocks and coilover springs. The job is made easy because the kit includes a steel template to indicate exactly where to cut the stock shock tower.

A large, removable strut tower brace is installed that connects and reinforces the new shock towers through the engine compartment. This unit ties both sides of the frame together, eliminating independent flexing of the shock mounts, increasing strength 300%, according to Kroeker.

The strut tower brace is installed through the top of the engine bay to provide suspension and frame reinforcement for off-roading.

Step 4: Install New Front Suspension and Steering Hardware

Newly installed front Fox three-inch internal bypass reservoir coilover shock. You can also see the new CV joint (lower right), tie rod and lower control arm.

All new upper and lower control arms, new steering tie rods and CV joints and Fox coilovers are bolted in place. The Trophy Truck style arms use factory-style bushings to provide articulation and long service-life. They’re also hardened against road chemicals and corrosion.

Bulletproof steering is one of Kroeker’s primary goals when designing race trucks. The unique tie rods are tensile tested (pull tested) and said to be 200 percent stronger than stock. Compression testing revealed them to be over 500% stronger than stock, according to Kroeker.

The Fox coilovers scream custom gear. The first of their kind, these monsters were specifically designed for the Ram Runner application. In fact every steering and suspension components is much more robust than the factory parts, especially when you lay them side-by-side with the original equipment for comparison.

Step 5: New Front Wheels and Tires Installed

Once you install the Stage 2 kit, you’re also committed to adding all new wheels and tires that aren’t included.

New wheels and tires are mandatory because the smaller stock wheels and tires will rub on the Ram Runner’s control arms and other components.

The new tires should be 33 to 35 inches tall by 11.5 to 12.5 inches wide. The recommended wheel size is 17 inches by 8 to 8.5 inches. Both are common sizes for the aftermarket. For proper clearance and scrub radius, a wheel spacing of 5 to 5.5 inches is critical.

For this build, Kroeker went with 35 by 12.5 by 17 inch General Grabber tires.

A critical functional benefit of the new wheels and tires (and control arms) increase track width for improved stability off-road. The suspension, tires, and Fiberglass fenders make the Ram Runner much wider than stock. Track, measured from the center point of the tire, is 76.5 inches at the front and 74.5 inches at the rear, compared with 73.6 inches on a Raptor, which is in turn more than 6 inches wider than a standard F-150. That extra width translates into stability in corners and high-speed turns.

For this build, Kroeker went with 35 by 12.5 by 17 inch General Grabber tires. It’s the DOT-legal version of the General Grabber Competition race tire Kroeker has won many Baja races on.

“We used this tire on a black, 17 by 8 inch Procomp wheel with 5.5 inch backspace. The fit was perfect and the General Grabber tires, though quiet, added an even more aggressive “murder” look to the truck,” Kroeker said.

Next Week: Rear Suspension Disassembly and Final Build-up


Very nice set-up!

Still, can not beat the price and simplicity (turn-key) of a Ford F-150 S.V.T. Raptor. Offer the Ram Runner from the factory, at a competitive price to the Raptor, and Ram would have a winner!

Go factory performance trucks!

I still say install this kit on a reg cab 4x4, Express, you don't need power windows,(maybe locks) and the stock 3.92 limt slp diff. would bde just fine. weight under 5,000lbs. with Hemi power, prob. even under 4,800lbs!, still take out the heavy factory seats, carpeting, or even go with the tradesman package, (vinyl floors!), lighter bumpers, remove tailgate, ect:::: or get a nice used low miles sample and save even more $$, but with rebates you might not save that much anyhow.

If you buy a turnkey trucks, whether it be a Raptor or a Ram Runner, you are not a real off-roader! You will get laughed off the trails.

What is the ground clearance on this thing?

It does not look like it has the proper ground clearance. It looks like it will sink and get hung up on the baja trails.

If you want the best in off-roading buy a Tacoma and build it up yourself.

Tacoma has more running ground clearance and is lighter weight so it doesn't sink.

In the last pic you can see these trucks lack proper ground clearance for off-roading.

It is best to keep them on the pavement where they belong!

In that case save your money.

Buy a Tacoma.

Please stop trolling. One of these days we'll do a Tacoma off-road story and I'm sure you wouldn't want someone to troll that post with Raptor or Ram Runner comments. They are significantly different trucks.

And I'd love to see video of a stock Tacoma TRD doing 60 to 80 mph off-road on a rutted trail. From my experience, the Tacoma's factory suspension would be in trouble.

I'm off for the rest of the day in a Raptor SuperCrew. Headed to Hungry Valley. Happy 4th, y'all.

I bet this kit would be much cheeper if you went to KORE racing directly.

this kind of truck is only a dream

Happy Independence Day, Mike L. (you lucky bast'd) and to the rest of the, crew!

I feel so embarrassed when I show up at a trail head with my turn-key; Jeep Wrangler Rubicon or my Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon. I can hear all of the laughing from the "REAL" Off-Roaders.

What I do to get over it is; as they are taking inventory of all the spare parts they carry and making sure that they brought their tools, because they are driving pieced together jalopies that are breaking parts on a regular basis, I just leave them behind. I have piece of mind that my factory built off-road vehicles will go everywhere that I choose to go. Factory engineering, with a factory warranty, is a good thing in my book. After All, I would not be buying a Dodge or a Jeep if I felt that they needed to be improved upon. I guess Tacomas need a lot of upgrades to the factory platform in order to be off-road worthy.


Check the ground clearance on the Raptor while you're out there and report back on the all important ground clearance numbers.

tacoboy::: ground clearence is a non issue at high speeds, get it through you head will ya. You need ground clearance for high speed off road or on road work like you need holes in you taco frame. Thank you Mike L. happy 4th everyone!

Hey you need a hug? Sounds like you're insecure about something.

Yeah Tacoboy, Bob's are an embarrassment to gm fan boys and you certainly are one for toiletodor. Get a life!!

Great idea !! Buy a 2009 used RAM and slowly build it up to a Ram Runner..Nobody will laugh at you because here ,there are tons of Dodge/Ford/GM trucks in the trails and they out power smaller trucks in the hills and mud !!

If people are worried about ground clearance ,you can raise the truck higher.

Plus,Ram Runner's are built to go 80 mph and do a huge jump and drive straight afterwards,in the desert you dont need huge ground clearance,look at the professional Baja racing trucks they dont sit 40 feet off the ground !

When I used to off road,my RamCharger got me through any trail smaller 4x's could go through.I never had a major issue with ground clearance.If you really are worried a full size cant fit through a trail,buy a dirt bike thats what they were made for !!

I wonder if Ford will offer similar factory kit to change a 150 into a Raptor.


Tacoma's are too big for off road,a Dakota is even smaller than the huge Tacoma !!

With your logic,the best off roader would be a FORD RANGER ! they are narrower and alot smaller than a HUGE Tacoma !!

Mike, it would be nice to see some pics of the finished product.


Definitely don't see any TRD Tacoma's doing this:

@MMP: Wait for part 2! :-)

this is a nice truck. I know it"d be pointless but I'd like to see a laramie longhorn ramrunner

instead of doin all this why dont dodge just make tese truck stock like this,then the power wagon would have a little but faster brother to pick on the raptor with
Power Wagon-work horse

Ram Runner-faster then a bullet


@ Ram Ram Runner = Dead On Delivery Go Easy, for is the best, the raptor is 10 times better, and who came out with it first.


@ hauling,

I would not be bragging that the Ford Raptor is better......The Raptor is more like a Toyota serious problems !!


Actually Dodge had the first 4 wheel drive off road truck !! in the 1930's they made the tough as nails Power Wagon decades before the frame bending Raptor !!!!!!!!

@Don Knotts

To bad Dodge has always been number 3 of the big 3. Yep...Everytime you drive a Dodge you're taking home the bronze medal. They are number 3 for a reason to...Years of crappy transmissions and low quailty vehicles takes a toll on ones reputation.

Andy... hou mush have never driven or owned one

You must***

Holy crap over $13,000 to get 35's and 14 inches of wheel travel?

I can do better than that and have a huge weight advantage with my Tacoma over the tank of a full-size...

Heck I will do better than a Ram-Runner with just 33 inch tall tires due to my weight advantage...

I like the focus on full-size, it's over 15 years too late though! They should have done this when the Trophy Trucks class first debuted and not wait until the crash of 2008 and higher fuel prices...

Anybody that has raced down in Baja has always known how to build trucks up, why did it take so long? I know, society is too stupid to think on their own or ever heard of Baja racing in the first place, they only know Nascar, how could they open their minds...

@Don Knotts,

I have driven Toyota pickups for over 20 years and raced down in Baja with them, I have never seen Toyota frame problems...

This is just made up shyt because the big 3 can no longer compete in the compact/mid-size category so they throw fabrications of a few to make it look like they all have problems...


"If people are worried about ground clearance ,you can raise the truck higher."

That's not how it works!

Yeah you can get better ground clearance with new front struts or a-arms up front, for most of you with the old torsion bars, you can crank them up...

The real method of obtaining ground clearance is by larger tire size, lift does not do anything to get your axles and other low hanging parts up higher, only tire size can do that...

I love driving next to these full-size pickups jacked up higher than my Tacoma yet I have more running ground clearance and proper skid plates for protection underneath...

If I see a jacked up pickup (mainly these full-size ones), first think I look for is going underneath and looking for skid plates and proper bumpers or even a spare tire...

I rarely see them and I call them posers!

If you do not have basic skid plates underneth or even a spare tire for those large meats, your a poser simple as that, heck most do not even have proper bumpers or retrieval points on their pickups...

They just jacked it up for the looks, no real function for off-roading...

This is awesome. Ford and Ram have nice setup.

Kroeker should manufacturer kits for all trucks....EXCEPT THE TACOMA.



The next, first time, you have the rare opportunity to peek under a Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon, check out the skid plates. From the steering stabilizer skid plate, the transfer case/transmission skid plate, the fuel tank skid plate...oh and all of the cross-bars in between. It resembles a Hummer H1. The weight of all of the skid plates alone is probably half the weight of a Tacoma? Do not under estimate this competition crushing pickup from Dodge/Ram.

@Mike Levine,

You lucky GUY! Total envy.

I hope you had a GREAT 4th OF JULY!

Which trails did you hit this weekend?

A few guys have commented on Raptor bent frames. You can take any machine that has been designed to absorb jumps and wreck it.
If you do not know how to jump you will wreck something.
I've seen guys wreck 10,000 dollar MX bikes because they didn't know how to ride. If you overjump and "flatland" or worse land into the face of another jump, you will bend things.
I don't see it as being the Raptor's fault but the driver's fault.
How many bent frames are out there on modified trucks??
Any truck has limits.
You can bend the RamRunner's frame too if driven incorrectly.

@Don Knotts,

Have you even bothered to see how people have abused their Raptors. Any truck would bend it's frame.

They have a fix for it already, its small and well worth it.

Case closed, but you can keep trolling!


Heck, you can bend the Golden Gate bridge with the right dolt behind the wheel.


Off road


Away from a smooth road; on rough terrain

(of a vehicle or bicycle) Designed for use over rough terrain.

You are really smart to say lifted trucks have no use for offroad.

You make me laugh, thanks for the great laughs.

If I were you, I would not post because nobody reads it.

Perhaps, you should just stick to your TACOS DE ASADA and we will stick to our TOUGH TRUCKS!

I know a guy who built and nice Tacoma.


Home Made 1999 Toyota Tacoma

B.B.C 454 (CHEVY)
Th350 Trans (CHEVY), 205 t-case,
14 Bolt, Dana60, 5.13 gears
44" Boggers on 16.5 D.I.Y weld on beadlocks

They figured the only way to make power is to add an American Powerplant. That's RIGHT!


Do you even know what off-roading is?

You sound like a child with your responses!

In Baja, all that the big V8's would do is get you to the rock that put you out of the race faster!

Hiding behind horsepower to cover your lack of driving ability shows what you are made of!

I off-road and I choose a 4-cylinder because I am a smarter driver, paying attention to the proper lines and angles and knowing how to use gearing and crawling to overcome obstacles!

man i don't know who's worse the toyota girls or the ford boys yack yack yack, either way good to see a kit for the ram now if gm will do something

I don't rock crawl. I mud bog!

I use the Quad for trails.

Your point!

How do you know lack driver ability. Please don't think you are a better driver than Mario Andretti.

Now, it's childish!

A chevy brat had to step in.


Please don't think you are a better driver than anyone here.

@ Oxi - there are multiple offroad environments and therefore multiple set ups for those environments. Your Tacoma won't work for me and it won't work for Frank, or 90% of the truck owners out there. Sales figures point out that fact.
I find it extremely funny that you would acuse someone else of a childish response.

The only thing the Raptor has over this truck is the fancy stickers. Anyone complaining about having to put the kit on themselves doesn't belong behind the wheel of a truck with this kit on it because they are probably driving it to the mall. If you are using this truck to its potential you will be turning wrenches and enjoying every minute of it.

@chd - not every guy is an ace back yard mechanic. I would tend to agree that a guy who wrenches on his own ride would be more likely to use it as he built it.
One advantage to the Raptor is factory warranty.

Tacoman aka Oxi, post whore "troll" it doesnt matter what you change your screen name to all your toyota cheerleading gives you away and nobody really holds what you say worth a grain of salt anyway.

Lou, if your gonna use it as its intended for you have to be able to wrench on it. Youd drain your account in a year if you took it somewhere to get fixed everytime something broke. If you wheel it will and can break no matter what the make is and how stong its parts are.

I'm a Jeep/Mopar guy. Always have been, always will. I enjoy coming to and reading about whatever truck related, from Dodge to Ford to Toyota to the Mahrindra(sp?), but I must say I hate reading these comments. Mainly because of you Oxi/Tacoman. I get so tired of reading the same thing over and over again from you. We understand you like your Toyota's. Your loyal to your brand and I'll respect that... but what does the Ram Pre-runner have to do with Toyota's??? Nothing! So please shut up and let us all enjoy reading and hearing about this new product without your constant bashing and Toyota glorifying.

Hey Mike, how about a- Rumble In The Desert, showdown with a Ford F-150 S.V.T. Raptor and a Ram 1500 Ram Runner?

I hope it came with limited slip. It's not a standard feature.

Wow...this article sure brought out the tiny-pecker-insecurity brigade. I mean (with a couple of exceptions), most of the posts on this site come off reinforcing every ignorant redneck stereotype out there, but you guys are really outdoing yourselves on this one.

superduty37 - true. You run offroad you'll break things. That is why I prefer quads and dirt bikes. I did my share of offroading in trucks. It can get pricy even if you do your own wrenching. The advantage to a factory truck is the warranty. As long as you follow maintenance intervals and don't do really stupid things with your truck, the manufacturer will fix it for you. Each to their own, but like I said earlier - not every guy is an ace back yard mechanic.

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