Differences Ram 2/3500 and 4/5500


Active member
The C Chanel frame height on the Ram Cab/Chassis frames start out very tall at over a foot (about 300mm) then taper to the smaller size referenced (I think he said 190mm). They hold that until they terminate at the aft end. They are about 3" wide at the top and bottom of each channel (75mm).

Rear end differences change year to year. From what I remember when I bought mine the 3500 was closer to the 4500 internally, but I believe they used the same sized carrier externally. We're talking ring/pinion/bearings/etc. The 4500 of course has the dual wheel setup for more capacity. Not sure what the difference was between the 4500/5500 other than springs at the time. It's probably hard to know for sure unless you get info year by year though as I believe this is a bit of a moving target. The info I had at the time may have been extrapolated from another year and totally wrong depending upon the source so take that with a grain of salt.

Its funny. Expedition Journal did a podcast with Dave Harrington and I believe he mentioned that up to 80% GVW was the sweet spot, but also said to subtract out due to tire height over stock, etc. Then when on to say that he'd done things with his Rams that were well beyond their design specs. when he was at a point in life where he didn't know better or funds necessitated it (paraphrasing here). In short, they have a lot of head room, but expect more headaches the harder you push them past their designed envelope. There is something to be said for how hard the operator pushes things too. I try to drive with mechanical sympathy so as to preserve the asset. This is not what we often see on the road though.

I think track width is going to be your biggest issue if going with the 4500 and above depending upon the trails you hit in Europe. You can get the track between front and read pretty darn close with super singles. The front offsets toward the inside, the rear toward the outside and this puts them near in line with each other (unless I got it backwards but you get the idea). The other thing to consider with super singles as the tires used which are appropriate for off-road use are speed limited to around 70mph. Wouldn't get on the Autobahn and wring its neck. The truck will do it, but the tires won't keep up...for long.


Western Dirt Rat
4500/5500 all day long. Wide track front axle and beefier axles/brakes alone is worth it. Just understand that the factory wheel size is very limited in choices and they are expensive. If you go above 225/70 19.5 you can really only step up to 245 with the factory rims. You get above that it's new rims and tires and spacers for the rear. X6 and it gets pricey, not too far off from a super single setup. I like 20 inch super single but I'm not crazy bout the 335 MPT81 (41 inches). They are very big, noisy, hard to balance and you'll have to lift/level/trim to get them to fit and they suck around town. Soft rubber, quick wear especially when it's hot . So at a minimum, spacers, trim, adjustable track bar and new shocks. You should really look at your steering too (ie ram assist).

I have the MPTs on my camper rig and it's been a mixed experience so I'm looking for solutions for my 2nd F450 work truck. Looking at 1st Attack Super Single rims with 20 inch 35s or 37s with minor triming and minimal lift. Should be easier to deal with and easier around town. I'll be taking it on stuff I don't want to bring the big dog on like the Maze/White Rim et al and it'll be nice to air down. The stock dually setup with these rigs is really geared towards commercial use. Pumpem up to 100psi and bounce around lots. Stand clear while you inflate and DO NOT air down. Quite the dilemma.
Last edited:


So a little update:

Ram 4/5500 is pretty much out of the question due to the fact, that they simply dont exist over here. Ford F-450 do exist, but are also super rare and often come with the Diesels os the the somewhat problematik era of ~2008-2014

Ram 2500 by far the most common. Coil springs are of course worse at carrying load, but on the other side the truck should articulate way better ofrroad right? (I mean the Power Wagon really is a letdown in terms of payload, but a Ram 2500 with 2 real axles and coils springs + a Diesel option is pretty damn unique)

What is interesting for me is how the Rams differ to the Ford Super duty in terms of hardware.

In the front the Ford seems to be the clear winner with the Dana Super 60, 10" ring gear and bigger tubes then Rams 9.25AAM. Also helps that it is used in the wieder version under the F-4-600 with up to 7500lbs axle capacity, where the AAM 9.25 stops at 6000lbs

In the rear it seems to be the other way around, even the 2500 features a bigger axle then The F-350, with 11.5" (here in the threat someone mentioned externally even 12") vs. Fords 10.8 (the one under the F-250 only has 10.5). Of course the heavy real 12" of the Ram 3500 would be king of the SRW axles, but i guess this one will again be had to find.

Framewise its still confusing how the RAM can compete with its 190x70x4mm vs. the Fords gigantic 240x90x4.5mm frame rail (both 50k PSI metal) the only thing that speaks in favor of the Ram here are that it seems to have more and bigger tube shaped crossmembers that are welded through and trough, but with this difference in frame rails size i would give this one to ford.
Last edited:


Active member
In my view, all the Ford and Ram frames and axles are perfectly capable of typical 2500/3500 tasks and I don't think either will limit your capability. Both sets of axles commonly run 37"-40" tires without catastrophe (although ball joints and death wobble may require more ongoing maintenance) and reports of frame failures are extremely rare. It's a 'distinction without a difference' in my opinion.

I'd focus on other big differences between the platforms, like wheelbase, turn radius, cab size, OEM lockers vs LSD, seat comfort, headlights, parts and service availability, etc that will have a bigger impact on your driving experience.


I think there is a point to that, but to be fair the other specs you mentioned are also very similiar as far as i can see. In terms of the axles the difference probably is not that big, but one thing to consider:

The Dana Super 60 is ised for the F-250 all up until the F-600. Yes of course the ones under the F-450-600 are wider, stronger and come with a higher axle load, but its the same 10" diff housing.

RAM is using the 9.25AAM for the 2/3500 (in the documents it is not clear with the 3500 Chassis Cap) only, the 4/5500 use the AAM 10.5 so an even bigger base then the heavy Fords.

And again with the frame the dimensions are way apart, maybe someone who has a recent RAM HD can check if the profile isnt actually bigger in the mid section because 190mm in height vs 240 is a LOT.


Well-known member
I don't know if you mentioned it and I never read it, but what is your specific use case for this truck?

I think the general consensus is that the Dana is a better axle than the AAM, but I don't think it's a crazy difference.

I have no doubt that a 45/5500 from either brand will be stronger overall than a 25/3500 from either brand. That said, unless you really need that weight carrying ability, it's probably going to be something that you regret. A 4500+ is going to ride a lot stiffer, a lot. It's suspension parts are going to be more expensive and aftermarket options more limited. Tire choices will be more limited unless you go aftermarket wheels to get out of commercial tires, and if you do your wheel options for a 10-lug will be vastly smaller than an 8-lug.

Overall, unless you're carrying a pretty heavy camper, a 4500+ is just way overkill for anything.


I agree with that part, the 4500 was just an example on the different approach in terms of front axles between the 2 companies.


Well-known member
I think that for most people the 9.25 AAM is a strong enough front axle to never render an issue. The only issues I see on the 9.25 is for guys that are really going hard off road. Either playing hard in the rocks, or high speed desert off-road runs. For those guys, Thuren, Carli, and maybe others, offer weld-on brace kits to supplement the front axle. If you bend a braced front 9.25 AAM then you're gonna bend/break any front axle.
  • Like
Reactions: mog

Forum statistics

Latest member