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Dodge Revises Recommended Equipment Options for Snowplow Installation, Airbags

DODGE has revised its minimum recommended equipment and snowplow prep packages for 1998 model trucks, according to technical report T97-19 issued in December by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Information in T97-19 replaces an earlier technical report, T97-15 issued by the NTEA in October 1997. Contact Dodge Truck for more information.

Information in report T97-19 is provided by Dodge and covers trucks recommended for snowplow installation. The last section of the report covers modifications to trucks with New Generation airbag systems, which are certified to new federal regulations that allow less forceful airbags.

In report T97-15, recommended snowplow preparation packages and their equivalent components are listed for each vehicle. The normal warranty applies to Dodge Ram Trucks with aftermarket snowplows installed according to these guidelines. The 1998 Dodge 4x4 trucks available for snowplow installation include the 2500 model Club, Quad, and Regular cab models, and the 3500 Regular, Quad, and Cab chassis models. The engines available with these 4x4 models include the 5.9-liter, V-8 gasoline engine; the 5.9-liter I-6 diesel engine; and the 8.0-liter, V-10 gasoline engine.

The minimum engine requirement for a 2500 HD, 3500 Ram 4x4 pickup, and chassis cab models is a 5.9-liter, eight-cylinder gasoline engine. A 5.9-liter, six-cylinder diesel is available only on a 3500 4x4 regular cab chassis. In 2500 and 3500 regular cab 4x4 models, an 8-liter, 10-cylinder gasoline engine is available.

Besides engine requirements, the report lists maximum vehicle loading requirements. Installation of snowplows and mounting hardware can overload the front axle, cause braking problems, and exceed the front GAWR.

The weight of the snowplow and its permanently attached equipment should not exceed 743 lb. The following loading requirements are applicable to 1998 model year Dodge trucks equipped with snowplows:

The loaded vehicle must not exceed the GVW or the front or rear gross axle weight ratings (GAWRs) specified on the Safety Compliance Certification label located on the driver's side door opening. The weight of the loaded vehicle includes aftermarket accessories, the snowplow system, passengers, and cargo.

To comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 105 for brake certification, an empty truck with all permanently attached accessories and snowplow components must not exceed 62 percent of its total weight on the front axle. Permanently attached parts include the snowplow subframe, hydraulic pump, hydraulic lift cylinder, lamps, wiring, and snowplow controls.

If the weight on the front axle exceeds 62 percent of the total weight of the empty truck or the front GAWR, ballast compensating weight must be permanently attached to the rear of the truck so the GAWR of the front axle is not exceeded. Technical report T97-19 contains two load analysis equations and a chart to aid in estimating the ballast weight required to stay within a vehicle's load-carrying capacity.

Next Generation AirBags NTEA technical report T97-19 also lists recommendations for modifying Ram pickups and chassis cabs equipped with Next Generation airbags.

After vehicle modifications are complete, the modifier must confirm airbag readiness using the following procedure: When the ignition is turned on, the airbag lamp in the instrument cluster will illuminate for six to eight seconds, then turn off. If the airbag lamp fails to illuminate, cycles on and off, or does not turn off, the vehicle modifier must have repairs made by a Chrysler dealership before shipping.

As allowed by a recent rulemaking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a passenger airbag on/off switch with an indicator lamp is installed on the instrument panel of all 1998 Ram pickup trucks.

The passenger airbag on/off switch is operated with the vehicle ignition key, which must be removed from the switch immediately after deactivating the airbag. The passenger airbag on/off switch must remain intact and may not be used for any other purpose. Under no circumstances should the ignition key be left in the airbag on/off switch.

No modifications should be made to the tunnel sheet metal of the cab floor because this may affect the performance of the airbag system.

When other cab modifications are made, care must be taken not to disturb the airbag diagnostic module. The module is located below the instrument panel on the forward end of the transmission tunnel under plastic trim.

Airbag wiring must remain intact and may not be used for any other purpose.

Airbag components must remain in their original location and orientation. Removal or relocation of airbag components such as the diagnostic module or instrument panel wiring is prohibited because it may compromise airbag system performance.

Other integral parts of the airbag restraint system that may not be modified or removed are the lower steering column cover and glove box.

Known as "knee blockers," these trim pieces have energy-absorbing features. They may not be modified in any manner, including the attachment of auxiliary switches typically used to operate fog lamps or snowplows.

In a severe frontal impact, the steering column in 1998 Dodge trucks is designed to collapse axially under a compressive load.

To ensure proper performance of the steering column during a frontal impact, the column and its components including shrouds, upper support brackets, and toe-board attachment must not be modified. The axial path of the steering column and clearance gaps must remain unobstructed.

Because the airbag system has sensors connected to the front bumper, modifications or additions may not be made to the bumper, its brackets, or fascia. This original front bumper system must be unchanged on vehicles with a GVWR of 8,500 lb or less and an unloaded vehicle weight of 5,500 lb or less.

Removing or covering airbag warning labels is prohibited. If a sun visor is replaced, the new visor must be equipped with an equivalent warning label.

Any components added to the occupant compartment must not break loose during a 30-mph impact test.

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