A Shocking Discovery
When the Mighty Furd was having its front suspension rebuilt and new shock absorbers put on, all I looked at were the front shocks, which were easily seen. They’re black. I assumed that the rears were also black, since this set had to be ordered, and Ford won’t put on non-Ford parts that aren’t related to their OEM chain. They of course order a heap of parts from OEM vendors, most of which also sell aftermarket. But the original testing, evaluation and approvals of whatever they specify and order must run the gauntlet in order for Ford to be able to warranty them both as-delivered and as replacement parts. Dealers can of course install nearly anything the customer wants, but if they fail, you then only have recourse via the outfit that made the parts you wanted put on. Ford Motor won’t warranty them.
So here we have Ford-issued no-name shocks in front, and white Rancho shocks in the rear, and Ford Motor warranties them all for their usual two years. So the original black Ford-supplied rears are apparently out of production, and the Rancho-branded shocks are considered to be fully equivalent. This is not particularly surprising, since Ford now sells at least one pickup model wearing Rancho-branded shocks. As I wrote in an earlier post, the performance of this set feels equivalent to what the Mighty Furd was originally delivered with, unlike the Monroe Gas-Magnums that I later replaced them with.
Not being one to leave well enough alone, I was now curious as to what model of Ranchos these rear shocks are. After all, finding that out will in the future enable me to have them replaced with Ranchos all-’round, and more cheaply than having to go to Ford to get them. You can get any model of Rancho anywhere. So I emailed the “RanchoExtreme Team” to ask what the Ford dealer actually put on my rear axle. And, if they had any info on any OEM agreements for supplying the original (black) shocks to Ford in 2008-2010, so much the better. What might those shocks be? Young Jeff couldn’t or wouldn’t respond on the fronts, but told me that the rears were RS5000 models, valved for each specific application.
I had told them that they were performing up to par with the originals, but that the Mighty Furd was now running at its maximum 10,000-pound GVWR full time and often off-road. I also hinted that, for that task, there was a need for some extra oomph to control rocking caused by the Four Wheel camper in the bed. You can see the evidence of that in the recent video of descending down Woodchute Trail. It shows plainly at 3:08.
Ever helpful, young Jeff suggested an eventual upgrade to their model RS7000 MT, a bulkier shock designed for just this kind of situation, given the higher center of gravity and the off-road tires weighing twice what the originals weighed. This equates to one of those “if only I’d known” moments since, with a Rancho limited lifetime warranty, the Mighty Furdster is far enough along on its probable life cycle now that I won’t be able to freebie my way into oblivion. I would have needed to install the 7000s when the OEM shocks gave it up in 2015 at 81,000 miles. The RS5000s have a similar warranty, but only the rears are covered by it, the fronts being under Ford’s 2-year coverage. Any shock can make 2 years.
Ordinarily, I’d suck it up and save my pennies to replace shocks again when the heavy tires and off-roading eventually kills the decent shocks I have on now. But wait – there’s more! And that more has to do with the odd quirks of 2008-2010 Super Dutys. Also in 2015 at 72,000 miles, the side tank of the radiator broke, which cost $1,330 out the door. This was likely due to flexing stress at its mounting points, a known shortcoming of this particular series. That seems an oddity to me because the frame is fully boxed forward of the front axle in order to deal with the extra weight of snowplow blades. It shouldn’t be flexing much up there, but enough is all it takes. The good news is that the side tanks on replacement radiators are stronger in how they mount, but then again, this flex has been known to take out even all-aluminum aftermarket radiators in short order.
My concern is that a set of noticeably stiffer Rancho 7000s might increase front-end flex and therefore radiator support flex, and I’ve already got stiffer “snowplow package” springs up there already. A major culprit is the aluminum radiator support bar that runs across the top of the radiator set. The upper mounts of the main radiator attach to it, and when it flexes, it stresses the radiator. Mishimoto makes an all-steel replacement upper support bar that markedly improves rigidity to save the radiator, but that puppy costs $450 in the box. Installed, it’s probably less than half the cost of a radiator, however. It’s all in how you look at it. So, in my mind, the heartier Rancho shocks – assuming that the Furdster lives that long – shouldn’t be contemplated until the front sheet metal structure is stiffened up with a stronger upper support bar. I almost pulled the trigger on that this last winter, but time constraints and the front suspension rebuild pretty much stepped on that idea.
Needless to say, the trade-in values of 2008-2010 Super Dutys equipped with Navistar’s 6.4L diesel are, shall we say, not on a par with 3/4-ton and up GM and Dodge/Fiat diesel pickups of the same vintage. They have their problems too, of course, but the motor is the main blame factor here. So I find it ironic that the Mighty Furd’s engine has presented no significant issues and, going by the gauges and my leaving it unmolested, it’s happy as a clam. It’s the other stuff, all known issues in this series, that have surfaced. Like the limited-slip diff that goes gimpy early, the radiator support flex, the ball joints, and so on. Having done considerable research on what could possibly go wrong, all of these have surfaced with a “yeah, I know, I was afraid that would happen” response from me. There’s plenty left to keep an eye on, all of which have to do with the motor and emissions system, but at this point everything else seems to have run its course. In a roundabout way, that could be the good news. The tears of past tragedies now dry, maybe it’s ready for its second hundred-thousand miles. I sure hope so!