Jeff Ault’s Daily-Driven SEMA Build
A SEMA truck that actually performs the way it should? Say it ain’t so! Yes, fortunately not all vehicle builds you see at the iconic Las Vegas automotive trade show are strictly built for show. Before bringing his ’13 Ram 2500 to the 2019 SEMA Show, Jeff Ault built it exactly the way he wanted to—with functionality being at the top of his list. His pre-runner fourth-gen Mega Cab commutes daily, tows on the weekends, and even sees its fair share of hang-time when the pavement ends. “I call it the Average Joe’s SEMA build,” Jeff told us. “I can pull a gooseneck trailer if I need to, or take it out to the desert.”
With a 370-hp and 800 lb-ft version of the 6.7L Cummins under the hood, there was no reason to get crazy with the truck’s horsepower. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. Luckily for Jeff, as the head of Production and Support for Stealth Performance Products, one of its emissions-friendly power modules made its way onto the Cummins, effectively adding 70hp and 160 lb-ft to its rear-wheel total. The only other engine mods entail a CAT fuel filter adapter from Black Market Performance and a Mishimoto silicone radiator hose kit.
After being forced to deal with 37-inch tires and the added heft of the lift, bumper, and other accessories, the pump in the original 68RFE transmission took a nap in early 2020. Turning to Nixon Transmissions—a small but highly reputable shop in Jackson, California—the six-speed automatic was torn down and appropriately upgraded to stand up to the truck’s above-stock power level, as well as the off-road abuse it might see. One of the key components making it into the rebuild was a billet valve body, which eliminated cross leaks at higher line pressure.
To better accommodate the 37-inch Mickey Thompsons and the truck’s increased curb weight, Jeff pulled the factory ring and pinion sets out of the front AAM 9.25 and rear AAM 11.50 in favor of 4.30:1 ratio replacements. Both sets were sourced from Nitro Gear and Axle, along with one of the company’s helical worm gear limited slip differentials for the AAM 9.25. The 33-spline, torque-sensitive limited slip engages automatically and smoothly when any wheel slip is encountered. At each end of the front and rear axles, drilled and slotted rotors (along with pads) from CQUENCE are employed.
Work and Play Suspension
A big part of the truck’s multi-functional personality lies in its suspension. Up front, a Carli Suspension 3-inch leveling system offers 50-percent more travel than the truck had stock, while one of Carli’s torsion sway bars permits the front suspension to move freely without surrendering any control. Carli Suspension’s stainless steel steering stabilizer and a steering box brace from Synergy Manufacturing offer superb damping and sector shaft reinforcement. Carli’s progressive leaf springs can be found in the rear, along with its long-travel air bags. A Fox 2.0 series, non-reservoir shock exists at each corner.
Daily-Driven And Put To Work
Perhaps the best part about Jeff’s SEMA build is that it serves as his daily driver—just as it did when he bought it slightly used in 2016. On top of that, it’s a tow-rig, recently lugging a 28-foot camper and side-by-side 4,800 miles to Alaska while relocating for the Air Force. Put simply, the truck doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It’s not a show queen that looks like it could venture off-road—it’s a truck that has actually spent time pre-running in the desert—and given Jeff’s recent move, will now likely be exploring America’s last frontier.