Fred Williams

photography FRED WILLIAMS

IAST MONTH WE INTRODUCED

the '10 Dodge 3500 as our current trailer towing tractor/ backcountry cabin on wheels and dubbed it Project White Truck. This month it rolled into the local Dodge Ram dealership for some factory-backed upgrades.

Mopar, the performance, aftermarket, and parts division of Chrysler/Dodge/ Ram, offers assorted parts to upgrade your truck before it leaves the dealer's service bay. Because Mopar parts can be installed on your brand-new truck prior to your signing the dotted line, you could have these upgrades done at time of purchase and roll the cost into your monthly payment. How's that for convenient?

With 12,000 miles on the odometer after 2'/? months, we brought the White Truck to Glen E. Thomas Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Signal Hill, California. The goal of this 4x4 diesel is to be a daily driver, a tow master, a weekend camper, and a general do-anything vehicle, just what a truck should be. We started with the base model ST package in our Ram to keep overall price down without hindering usefulness, but wanted a handful of items to dial it in to our liking.

"Never buy a truck without floor mats"

IWe are dirtbags, often going from garage floor to truck seat as we rush to pick up parts, or rolling around on the trailer, or under a vehicle then inside the tow rig without brushing off all the dirt from our backs. We wanted to protect the vinyl seats for long-term use, and Mopar offers easy-to-install heavy canvas seat covers. Unfortunately Mopar doesn't yet have a cover for our rear bench, though it does for the 60/40 split rear benches.

"Never buy a truck without rubber floor mats" a friend once told us, and for good reason. Dirty boots are the official footwear of off-road guys, and although the vinyl floor is good. Mopar's thick rubber floor mats are better.

3 A short trail ride sent us home with a front bumper ding telling us there was a need for additional altitude. Rather than a full-blown lift kit, we went with Mopar's 2-inch leveling kit to clear taller tires and improve approach angle. Technician Corey Keitz from Glen E. Thomas started by pulling the front shocks, sway bar, and track bars to remove the coil springs.

4 The Mopar Leveling Kit is a metal spacer that is installed on top of the front coil springs. The original shocks can be retained, and the speedometer will need to be recalibrated for larger tires.

5 Longer bumpstops are also included with the leveling kit. These snap in place of the original stops.

6 We also picked a Mopar roadside assistance kit for the White Truck. The safety gear, jumper cables, warning triangle, and emergency blanket are good security for any vehicle.

7 The leveling kit cleared 35x12.50R17 BFGoodrich Mud Terrain KM2s on the stock 17-inch steel wheels with no problem. We even stuffed the 35-inch spare under the bed. We gained 3Vi-inches of height with the leveling kit and taller tires.

8 One final upgrade we picked was the Mopar Bluetooth for hands-free phone use. Driving, shifting gears, drinking coffee, and gesturing to rude drivers requires all our free limbs, so Keitz wired in the new control button and microphone.

9 In our view all new vehicles should be equipped with these hands-free devices, as they make driving much easier when Mom calls and wants to chat about the weather. Even though we ordered the base model interior package, the Bluetooth was an easy plug-in. O

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