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2019 Ram PM 3500 High Top 159" WB EXT
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Are there any preventative measures I can take on a new van, or anything I can do to make it better before I start my camper conversion? For example sealing up any areas which are known for leaking, or strengthening any known weak points. For instance in my 2003 dodge ram the grab handles are a known weak point, same with the dash, wish I would have known about them before they broke.

My van is a 2019 Ram Promaster 3500 159" WB EXT, though I imagine the same issues would exist on all models/trims.

I flew to pick it up and drove it home about 1300 miles and let's just say it was not a fun drive - was aching in several places the whole way - but I will probably make another thread on that topic, this thread is mainly for keeping the van in tip-top mechanical/physical shape for as long as possible (I run my vehicles into the ground before buying a new one, I'm still driving my 03 truck).
 

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2019 Ram PM 3500 High Top 159" WB EXT
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I did notice some rust just inside the rear door on the floor that looks like it came from fallen metal shavings, looks like it hasn't eaten into the paint yet. I will pull off my wood composite floor asap and make sure to clean up the entire floor of debris.
 

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The triangle shaped plastic covers at the floor/wall transition.
Remove them, wait until dark, put a flashlight inside and face it toward the rear wheel.
Go outside and see where the light comes through.
Seal that inside and out (I used silicone. Don't know how long it will last. I'll likely clean and redo the exterior with something heavier duty).
As the rear tire rotates in wet weather, it flings water at this area. It collects on the small lip and runs into the opening. The van is raked forward and there is no drain at the front. Water will build up in there if you have enough wet days in a row.
Seal it up now before you build your floor and walls.
 

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If you have the overhead storage, cover the metal edge with something in the area between the seats. It will save save you a few swear words, and if you happen to be bald like me it might even prevent some blood loss.
 

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Oh, speaking of overhead storage,
if you have the high roof and plan to remove the headliner up there to insulate,......I suggest doing that before you build a shower in front of half of it.
Now if I want to insulate it, I'll need to lose 30 pounds and become a contortionist
 

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The triangle shaped plastic covers at the floor/wall transition.
Remove them, wait until dark, put a flashlight inside and face it toward the rear wheel.
Go outside and see where the light comes through.
Seal that inside and out (I used silicone. Don't know how long it will last. I'll likely clean and redo the exterior with something heavier duty).
As the rear tire rotates in wet weather, it flings water at this area. It collects on the small lip and runs into the opening. The van is raked forward and there is no drain at the front. Water will build up in there if you have enough wet days in a row.
Seal it up now before you build your floor and walls.
No! Those are the drainage holes you don’t want to seal or insulate there at all.
 

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No! Those are the drainage holes you don’t want to seal or insulate there at all.
Perhaps you're thinking of something else(?).
I spent a lot of time looking at this on my van and spent even more time talking about it and posting pics.
The holes I'm talking about sealing are not drainage holes. It's a gap where 2 panels come together that sometimes don't get sealed with the undercoating goop.
When they dip the body in the primer coating bath, it drains out through the series of round holes along the bottom. The ones they plug with rubber plugs after the paint drains and dries. Of you want to drive through 2-3 feet of water, I suggest pulling those plugs so that area can drain.
If that small gap at the back end is in fact intended to be a drain, it's not well thought out.
1- because the van rakes forward and water comes in there, not out. People have even posted pics of and inch of water sitting in there and they can hear is sloshing around.
2- why would you put a hole in something where water can get in,.....and then say that hole is so the water can get out?
That makes as much sense as drilling a hole in a boat and saying it's so water can drain out.
Even if if you dumped out a 5 gal bucket of water on the floor it would run out at the back and sliding doors before it would end up in that area.
I'm not convinced it's to catch condensation from the walls either. Simply because there's never enough condensation on the inside of the walls in any circumstance that would have water pouring down the walls.
And if it did, there are so many obstructions on the walls, water would channel everywhere and most of it would end up on the floor.
I took a good long healthy look at this and it's simply not designed to drain water from inside the van.
The only way water ever enters that cavity it from being thrown off the back tire.
So,...seal it and then there's no water to drain.
Don't insulate it. But it would be silly to simply have water and dirt constantly thrown in there by the tires after you built your walls and covered it.
Obviously, do what you want.
I had a little water and dirt in there when the van was new. I cleaned it, sealed it, drove it through a wet fall, a winter and wet spring and it's bone dry.
 

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I'll see if I still have the pics.
Probably easier than me explaining it with my stupid thumbs
 

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I see I thought you were referring to the triangular holes at the bottom of the walls.
 

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Cowl has many leak points into engine compartment. (See Water Drainage in the Engine Compartment thread) Recommend replacing the tiny tubes (left and right side) with 3/8 clear tubing. Also caulk the divide, I used clear gutter caulk for that. Finally use black caulk where the cowl meets the window, use more at the very ends.
 

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Throw away the shite stereo, replace it with something decent, replace the door speakers and tweeters and add a powered sub! It’s pretty easy and can be done cost effectively. You’ll be glad to have the tunes for your build (and all your vehicle info like tire psi, coolant temp, voltage, etc On your dash)
 

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Throw away the shite stereo, replace it with something decent, replace the door speakers and tweeters and add a powered sub! It’s pretty easy and can be done cost effectively. You’ll be glad to have the tunes for your build (and all your vehicle info like tire psi, coolant temp, voltage, etc On your dash)
If you have time, please start up a new thread to talk about the sound system upgrades you've done. I'm fine with the stock head unit. But I'm interested in speaker upgrades and powered subs.
 
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My first items with our van with 315 miles, was look for leaks. We had them in the engine compartment (cowling was warp, replaced under warranty and I added sealant). Had a less common leak at the back doors, high on the driver side. Took a couple tries to fix that. What work best was added some sealant around upper weather strip and used butyl tape to make a small rain diverter. Also had one cracked seam near back door I thought was leaking, so sealed it. My front clearance lights were full of water, tired sealant. That did better, but ended up replacing. Like the look a lot better and LED. Notice the rear clearance light had water droplets, clean and resealed them, seems ok. My taillights driver side was wet, dried, added butyl tape and stayed dry after the back door was fixed. The slider rain dips in badly when opening, added an awning track above door acts like a rain gutter. We made a big fly tarp that slides into it. Point is, make sure you have a dry van before you start the build. Next I went under the van and sprayed everything that moved with CRC Heavy Duty Corrosion Protection and everything that didn't move got sprayed with black undercoating (9 cans) and went back after any thru bolts were done. Our van seem like a submarine with screen doors to me at first. Now feel a little better. For the most part it's a simply design built in Mexico. The good news it isn't hard to take apart.

The speaker up grades was next, that was such an improvement, added rear speakers. The search feature on the site is great and is the first place to look. Most things you can think of has been done and there are some very knowable people with solid technical abilities posting here. Good luck.
 

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I can think of a few. Can provide more detail if this isnt clear:

put some grease on the 8 8mm intake manifold bolts. Water gets in those wells, and they rust.

since it’s new, cover the exhaust Y pipe bolts with anti-sieze or grease.

put a 1” strip of Gorilla tape along the plastic cowl where it meets the windshield. I agree about the two small drainage hoses.

All our vans have a wear point in the drivers footwell where the paint is scraped to the bare metal. I’m talking in the door area.
The spare tire winch has failed on all my vans. Currently we carry spares inside, but soon I will wratchet strap spares in place and just carry a knife. Single use only approach, since flats are rare.
Lug nut torque is excessive at the factory, and they seem to tighten over time. I anti-seize every lug bolt, and ask tire shops to let me torque them by hand (guns make them so tight you’ll never get them off). Carry a breaker bar and 21mm socket - the factory lug wrench is a joke.
 

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NZchill does not mention which tires were supplied, the Euro 'C' or USA 'E' load range... the Euro 'C's have a lot more variability in roundness and balance as provided to FCA (cheapest of the cheap)... On smooth pavement the ride should have ZERO hop/balance/wiggle...

No matter what is provided I'd invest in a good 3rd-party road force balance and record their weight readings they need to correct for, > 30 is usually condemning but most Dodge dealers will say its a commercial vehicle, that's as good as it gets - SO IF you have difficult or impossible to balance tires it is shop around dealers time for the tire warranty work they hate to provide. Tires must be on wheels and must be done within the first 12,000 miles.

Also get it aligned after 3000, 5000 or 7000 miles... take it in hot from highway driving so everything is where it will be when doing long drives and it should be good for another 50,000 miles easy. And the steering wheel is supposed to be square/level on forward driving, not perpetually twisted 1/8 of a turn, it's correctable on alignment though they may grumble.

If* one goes with anti-seize on the lug bolts they need to research 'wet torque versus dry torque' - the clamping action of the bolt occurs as it stretches the bolt and/or deforms the clamped piece, using anything on the threads (wet) is a reduction in designed friction so reaching the bolt/piece designed stretch-deformation happens earlier than a (dry) torque value will yield.

Wheel Mounting (Lug) Bolt Hex Size 21 mm
Wheel Mounting Stud Size M16 x 1.5 mm
Wheel Mounting (Lug ) Bolt 198 n-M 146 ft/lb

Interesting I just saw on a uHaul trailer they recommend anti-seize on their lugs - but specify torque at 50 ft/lbs versus 80, 90 or 95 that similar automotive wheels require with dry torque.
 

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I anti-seize every lug bolt, and ask tire shops to let me torque them by hand (guns make them so tight you’ll never get them off).
If you do anti seize the lug nuts, "do not" torque to factory torque setting. grease makes the bolt with less friction so if you torque it to the same factory spec, it will overtorque the bolts, possible damage the threads.
 

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2019 Ram PM 3500 High Top 159" WB EXT
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Discussion Starter #20
NZchill does not mention which tires were supplied, the Euro 'C' or USA 'E' load range... the Euro 'C's have a ...cut
My tires are the LT225/75R16E BSW All-Season Tires (yes I read this from the window sticker lol).
 
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