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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One June 18 we had Off Highway Van install their 3-inch lift into our Promaster 3500 (Roadtrek Simplicity). Over the next 5 weeks we drove the van about 2500 miles of which 5 miles were on a well maintained dirt road. Then disaster struck. I took the van to a the silver city area to attend a 3 day first aid class planning to boondock in the area. While selecting a campsite I backed the van up and heard a very loud clunk. I got out to look around to see if I had hit something. It did not look like I had not hit anything, so I got in and pulled forward and backed up again. Again, I heard a loud clunk/bang. So, I moved forward to look more carefully. While looking I found two bearing races which were very hot: obviously from the vehicle. The vehicle was obviously broken so I called for a tow truck which came out the next day and towed me to las cruces.

The tow truck driver looked at the vehicle and noticed that the right side CV Axle was disconnected/broken.

There was no abuse of the vehicle or any driving that the unmodified vehicle could not have handled easily.

Thoughts on how failure might have occurred? OHV claims that they have heard of this CV Axle failure caused by the axle not being properly seated but I could not find any mention of this googling the web. It seems to me that their separating the of the body from the chassis could cause this. The lift is probably the maximum they think could be supported by the vehicle so they must separate the body and chassis by a little more to install the spacers. If they did not check the CV Axle seating to verify it is still properly installed, then I could have had this problem.

So was this caused by the lift? The vehicle is a 2018 ram promaster 3500 built up as a simplicity by roadtrek with less than 18,000 miles. Basically in new condition.

Off Highway Van refused to accept responsibility.

What do you all think? Was this caused by the lift? Should this be covered under warranty? The van is still in the warranty period since it was purchased as a new may
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Don't have any experience with spacer lifts on a ProMaster, but have lots of experience with these modifications on older Subarus. Both are unibody (i.e. unified body and chassis), and if leaving the engine and transaxle on their stock mounts, about the most you can shim the struts (i.e. spacer lift) is about 30-40mm. More than that and axle joints get hyperextended and often the steering linkage is compromised as well.

Beyond 30-40mm, the engine and transaxle need to be lowered to restore the geometry. There are kits to permit this with older Subarus, but I don't have any familiarity with the method used to lift your van. It sure seems like after the lift you began running the axles with the joints fully (or almost fully) extended, and also at an extreme angle, and that will lead to the demise of the axle joints. Imagine running full torque through the axle joints in the middle of the tightest turn imaginable...except all the time.

Edit - I just downloaded and checked out the instruction for that lift kit from the suppliers Web site. A 3" strut spacer and no other modification? Oh my...
 

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I've also heard lift kits can sometimes compromise front drive axles and CV joints by over-extending them and/or putting them at bad angles. Since it's been modified, I highly doubt Chrysler will cover this under warranty. They will just blame OHV. At best, they may be able to confirm that much lift is likely to cause trouble. I suspect OHV is your only recourse. Have you talked to any other Promaster owners with this lift kit?

If you end up paying for it, depending on what got damaged, the parts may not be all that expensive. CVJ-axle assemblies usually aren't too bad. I'd have serious second thoughts about keeping the lift though.
 

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Of course the vehicle will drive and move with 3" strut spacers (and nothing else done up front), but you'll have to plan on axle joints wearing out much more frequently than stock.

I've pondered that only one single sensible modification for increasing ground clearance is really needed on a ProMaster, and that would be an upward curved or offset rear axle beam replacement.
 

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2019 159 EXT HR (3500) in WA
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It is better to look good than to work good - - and a lifted ProMaster looks marvelous!

Super bummer on the broken CV joint. I agree with the other posters, I would not put it back the same way.

I guess there is some chance that the folks put it together wrong and that after the repair it would last a long time . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It is better to look good than to work good - - and a lifted ProMaster looks marvelous!

Super bummer on the broken CV joint. I agree with the other posters, I would not put it back the same way.

I guess there is some chance that the folks put it together wrong and that after the repair it would last a long time . . .
The reason I had the lift installed is the break-over angle of the long promaster 3500 is terrible and RoadTrek placed the fresh, grey and black water tanks and the propane tank underneath the vehicle. All of these items hang below the original vehicle's body but are above the rear axle. I already had to replace the step and all the fairings on the driver's side are demolished on very mild dirt roads. I have babied the thing. The vehicle also has the 2nd alternator installed which is exposed beneath the front bumper and easily hit even with parking curbs. There are several reports of people hitting the 2nd alternator and moving its belt a few millimeters which then cuts the radiator hose.

Sadly the vehicle is useless to me without the lift and I suspect dangerous with the lift. I suspect I will have to have the lift removed and the vehicle repaired to sell it off. It is fine is for staying in RV parks if you are careful parking it, it is basically useless is you want to boondock in the forest, even the gentlest road is a challenge. I have scraped the bottom just pulling off the pavement onto a dirt lot.

I am wondering who I can get to remove the lift. I am not paying OHV another dime. Can a local repair shop, suspension shop, off road vehicle shop do the work without information from OHV? OHV has a very few authorized installers the nearest of which is in Dallas. Should I ship the vehicle there to have the work done?
 

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2019 159 EXT HR (3500) in WA
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I would imagine any independent shop that would be willing to work on it could remove the lift kit.

It is a bummer that OHV is not willing to take any responsibility for it. If it had failed after 25,000 miles - - okay maby you abused it. But this has been such a short amount of time it is pretty hard to believe that there wasn't some kind of with the lift kit or the installation of the lift kit.

That being said, the possibility exists that it was some kind of an installation error that caused it to fail. Maybe something as dumb as the clip ring at the end of the half shaft not engaged or something.

I can understand your desire to get it lifted for more clearance. Even a stock ProMaster sits pretty low. By the time the upfitters add all of the stuff on the under the chassis it's definitely got clearance problems in it's future.

Hopefully you can find a solution to this sorry situation :-(
 

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From looking at your photos, I was sure the force of the hyper-extended axles simply broke the retaining clip of the inside DOJ (double offset joint), and the thing just pulled apart. That would be the best scenario for the repair job (i.e. you did not wreck the differential assembly). It is funny how much grease was slung all around, because that would seem to indicate you were driving with a broken rubber boot on that axle for some time before it let loose.

But good luck with the repairs. Any competent mechanic could back up your claim that it was the poorly conceived "lift kit" that caused your problem, but then the legal wrangling that might be involved will be no picnic. And definitely lose that 3" spacer on the front struts. There are several 1.5", 30mm, and 40mm spacers available that should work fine if you want to retain a higher stance.
 

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Seems like all the premature wear on CV joint I seen on FB group or this forum is from the lift itself. When I used to drive VW Vanagon, that is a issue with CV when it lifted pass 1.5". Their solution was to use a Porsche high angle CV joint but I don't think there is any high angle design CV joint for the Promaster. Do you think skid plate might help with your clearance issue?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
From looking at your photos, I was sure the force of the hyper-extended axles simply broke the retaining clip of the inside DOJ (double offset joint), and the thing just pulled apart. That would be the best scenario for the repair job (i.e. you did not wreck the differential assembly). It is funny how much grease was slung all around, because that would seem to indicate you were driving with a broken rubber boot on that axle for some time before it let loose.

But good luck with the repairs. Any competent mechanic could back up your claim that it was the poorly conceived "lift kit" that caused your problem, but then the legal wrangling that might be involved will be no picnic. And definitely lose that 3" spacer on the front struts. There are several 1.5", 30mm, and 40mm spacers available that should work fine if you want to retain a higher stance.
I tried several times to move the vehicle moving back and forth. I think the grease spray was from that. I initially thought I had backed into a rock and did not know what was really wrong until the tow truck driver took a look at it. I knew something was terribly wrong when I found the bearing. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Seems like all the premature wear on CV joint I seen on FB group or this forum is from the lift itself. When I used to drive VW Vanagon, that is a issue with CV when it lifted pass 1.5". Their solution was to use a Porsche high angle CV joint but I don't think there is any high angle design CV joint for the Promaster. Do you think skid plate might help with your clearance issue?
I have the 3rd party skid plate installed to protect the 2nd alternator. I took it off to look around and take the pictures. Of course the skid plate actually lowers the front clearance a little and sadly the the documentation for the skid plate says it is not robust enough to hold the vehicle. I think of it as more of an early warning system.
 

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From looking at your photos, I was sure the force of the hyper-extended axles simply broke the retaining clip of the inside DOJ (double offset joint), and the thing just pulled apart. That would be the best scenario for the repair job (i.e. you did not wreck the differential assembly). It is funny how much grease was slung all around, because that would seem to indicate you were driving with a broken rubber boot on that axle for some time before it let loose.

But good luck with the repairs. Any competent mechanic could back up your claim that it was the poorly conceived "lift kit" that caused your problem, but then the legal wrangling that might be involved will be no picnic. And definitely lose that 3" spacer on the front struts. There are several 1.5", 30mm, and 40mm spacers available that should work fine if you want to retain a higher stance.
I drove for 3 YEARS with a bad cv joint on a VW Passat, at its worst point the vehicle vibrated heavily, but it never broke. I once shattered the oil pan in the dark, dead of winter too, and fearing freezing to death, I drove it home an hour away.
The vehicle ran well for another 2 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
From looking at your photos, I was sure the force of the hyper-extended axles simply broke the retaining clip of the inside DOJ (double offset joint), and the thing just pulled apart. That would be the best scenario for the repair job (i.e. you did not wreck the differential assembly). It is funny how much grease was slung all around, because that would seem to indicate you were driving with a broken rubber boot on that axle for some time before it let loose.

But good luck with the repairs. Any competent mechanic could back up your claim that it was the poorly conceived "lift kit" that caused your problem, but then the legal wrangling that might be involved will be no picnic. And definitely lose that 3" spacer on the front struts. There are several 1.5", 30mm, and 40mm spacers available that should work fine if you want to retain a higher stance.
I tried talking to a lawyers. They are uninterested because no one was injured therefor the settlements would not be large enough to justify their time. They did point me to small claims court which actually might be appropriate depending on how much repairs cost. The towing bill was $1300 and I will have to spend another $800 to tow it to a RAM dealer that will work on a promaster 3500 or try to find an independent shop that I can trust who can/will work on it. OHV charged $1000 for the install in addition to the $1800 for the lift parts, I expect to pay at least that much to have it removed. So if nothing more than the CV axle needs repaired I might be under Utah's small claims court $11,000 limit. But then I live in NM and would have to travel to Utah to attend court. If the differential is damaged I suspect I will be over the $11,000 limit and then the lawyers might be interested again. I have never dealt with lawyers before and I am trying to figure this out too.

I also filed a report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration so there is a permanent record and if this happens to others the NHTSA can force a recall.
 

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Good luck with everything. Your best small claims angle might be to get a signed statement from FCA that such a modification would exclude you from warranty coverage for repairs related to their modification. Since they are marketing the modification as a product, they would have to inform you of that in writing before selling you anything.

It's shame, but there are just a lot of products for sale everywhere that are just not well conceived or properly designed. Strut spacers are not rocket science, but they are not simple either. The upper and lower surfaces of spacers have to be machined at the correct angles to preserve caster, camber & toe at the new static position. And there are limits to the spacer thickness before damage starts to occur.

I remember in the 1970s JC Whitney used to sell a kind of oil filter cartridge that was supposed to save money by allowing a person to use a roll of toilet paper as the filter element. Unbelievable really.
 

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I tried talking to a lawyers. They are uninterested because no one was injured therefor the settlements would not be large enough to justify their time. They did point me to small claims court which actually might be appropriate depending on how much repairs cost. The towing bill was $1300 and I will have to spend another $800 to tow it to a RAM dealer that will work on a promaster 3500 or try to find an independent shop that I can trust who can/will work on it. OHV charged $1000 for the install in addition to the $1800 for the lift parts, I expect to pay at least that much to have it removed. So if nothing more than the CV axle needs repaired I might be under Utah's small claims court $11,000 limit. But then I live in NM and would have to travel to Utah to attend court. If the differential is damaged I suspect I will be over the $11,000 limit and then the lawyers might be interested again. I have never dealt with lawyers before and I am trying to figure this out too.

I also filed a report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration so there is a permanent record and if this happens to others the NHTSA can force a recall.
Get your rig fixed is foremost, then deal with your reimbursement nightmare.

I hate to say it but most of the time, vehicles are not worth modifying due to these type of problems you encountered. Maybe you need a 4x4 with proper ground clearance.

Other notes: I filed a report with NHTSA a couple years ago due to the ridiculous behavior of these vans "double downshifting" when going downhill. I've locked the front wheels up on icy roads because of this.

I did my part, hope others will too. Good luck.
 

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Good luck with everything. Your best small claims angle might be to get a signed statement from FCA that such a modification would exclude you from warranty coverage for repairs related to their modification. Since they are marketing the modification as a product, they would have to inform you of that in writing before selling you anything.

It's shame, but there are just a lot of products for sale everywhere that are just not well conceived or properly designed. Strut spacers are not rocket science, but they are not simple either. The upper and lower surfaces of spacers have to be machined at the correct angles to preserve caster, camber & toe at the new static position. And there are limits to the spacer thickness before damage starts to occur.

I remember in the 1970s JC Whitney used to sell a kind of oil filter cartridge that was supposed to save money by allowing a person to use a roll of toilet paper as the filter element. Unbelievable really.
Haha, JC Whitney was the biggest catalog of crap parts that fit any make, model, year. I remember, thanks.
 

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Too bad about that, which was obviously caused by the 3" lift. As others have said, that's 1.5" too much.

A couple of thoughts: If this rig is as heavily loaded as it seems to be, you might check into some stiffer front springs. If your non-lifted ride height is significantly lower than an empty Promaster, than a stiffer spring could at least get you back to what the max. front clearance should/could be. If you go that route, I'd spec a spring that was also 1 to 1.5" longer, to give you a bit of a lift above empty ride clearance. That could get you somewhat closer to what you have now.

And of course the rear lift is not a problem in itself, but whatever you do to the front will have to be considered for the rear.

This isn't very helpful, but one of the biggest advantages of a DIY van is the ability to control weight and ground clearance. My 2500 159 hi roof has been on some surprisingly rough terrain. But I don't have anything hanging low in the middle or out at the back, and the conversion weight is much less than what you have.

If you're back in the market again, consider weight, ground clearance and rear overhang carefully.
 

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All newly registered members MUST make an introductory post in the Introductory Post Forum as per forum rules https://www.promasterforum.com/forums/promasterforum-com-introduction-section.122/ Please be aware until you do make the required introductory
I had OffHighwayVans install a lift kit on my 2018 PleasureWay 1500 Promaster last month in Salt Lake City. Driving home to WA state on mainly freeways, my control of the vehicle was not great - uneven pavement, higher speed than 60 MPH, and passing semi’s all caused a lot of lurching and swaying. When I contacted OHV, they finally got back to me to suggest letting some air out of the tires to soften the ride.

I’m leaving on another extended road trip this week. Now I see this post, and I get a little worried that my vehicle isn’t safe. The lift kit provided some needed clearance, since my generator hangs down in the back. But maybe I should rethink the front end 3” lift.
 

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There’s also that couple with the blue and black Promaster (on YouTube and other sites) that had this same lift installed and experienced issues. I believe their front axles broke. Multiple times.
 

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Kinda suck that Off Highway Van advertised their 3" lift kit "Doesn't affect drivetrain durability" seems too be an issue me.
 
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