Best Ram 1500 Upgrades of 2021 – Complete Review

| Last Updated: June 25, 2021

The Ram 1500 is a well-oiled machine with the excellent capability and a sporty look. But that doesn’t mean owners can’t take this beast to the next level.

With an array of performance and aesthetic upgrades, your Ram 1500 can quickly become a head-turner and become the envy of every other Ram 1500 owner.

Here’s a glance at some of the top upgrades available for the Ram 1500.

Comparison of the Best Ram 1500 Upgrades

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • 180 degrees outswing option for easy access
  • Very easy to install in the bed of the vehicle
  • Lid can be locked for improved security
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  • Prevents fast dropping of tailgate on truck
  • Made with a heavy-duty construction
  • Simple Installation
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  • Best for the Money
  • Made with durable materials to last longer
  • Very easy to install on you vehicle
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  • Best Tires For Ram 1500
  • Uses Coreguard technology for improved safety options
  • Protruding sidewall rubber blocks for improved traction
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  • Best Brake Pads For Dodge Ram 1500
  • Designed to provide increased stopping power
  • Noise-free design with new design method
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  • Best Tonneau Cover For Ram 1500
  • Easily fits on 2009 up to 2018 classic dodge Ram models
  • Easy roll-up cover for quick and easy access to bed
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  • Best Leveling Kit For Ram 1500
  • Very easy to understand instruction for easy installation
  • Made from durable and rugged materials to last longer
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Can You Really Find Quality Ram 1500 Upgrades That Are Affordable?

Price and quality are two of the biggest factors when deciding what performance upgrades to buy for your Ram 1500. However, a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily equate to quality while a lower price doesn’t always mean poor quality. In some cases, reputable manufacturers can charge a premium price based on name alone, and those trying to break into the industry may not get the recognition they deserve.

The good news is that quality, affordable Ram 1500 upgrades aren’t too difficult to find, despite common misconceptions due to price. However, you should also weigh some other aspects. In general, OEM parts are more expensive, but they also have fewer issues concerning function and fitment.

Aftermarket parts from companies other than the OEM span a wide array of prices and levels of quality. Because of this, research is essential. Reading reviews on forums and online enthusiast groups can position you to find the perfect part. Furthermore, you should always look at the company website to gather more information. Aftermarket parts may be a great addition to your Ram 1500. Just make sure to do your due diligence.

Finally, you should always take a glance at the warranty. While some companies offer a 1 million-mile warranty and fully stand behind their product, others may provide only 30- or 60-day warranties. Furthermore, if a price seems too good to be true—like other facets of life—it probably is.

Review of the Best Ram 1500 Upgrades

From under the hood to the rear exhaust, the Ram 1500 has plenty of upgrade options. So whether you’re searching for more horsepower, a sleek tonneau cover, or more stopping power, you can find just what you need in the reviews below.

Best Overall:
Undercover SwingCase Truck Bed Storage Box

Undercover SwingCase Truck Bed Storage Box | SC300D | Fits 2002 - 2018 Dodge Ram 1500-3500 Drivers Side

PROS

  • Holds up to 75 pounds
  • Quick and simple to install
  • Lockable lid for extra security
  • Swings 180 degrees for easy accessibility
  • Fits over wheel well in truck bed for maximum space efficiency

CONS

  • Quality and durability issues in some cases
  • Requires drilling holes in the bed of the truck

What Recent Buyers Report

Overall, buyers report that the Undercover SwingCase Truck Bed Storage Box is one of the best bed rear cargo containers for the Ram 1500. Unlike boxes that fit right behind the cab, these boxes provide excellent accessibility without having to stand on the wheels or hop into the bed to retrieve items. However, some buyers also report that the hinges and pivots sheer if you put anywhere close to 75 pounds in the box. In addition, the plastic can crack from UV rays if the truck isn’t garaged or if it doesn’t have a tonneau cover.

Why it Stands Out to Us

For rear storage boxes, this product has a wealth of features designed for easy access, quick installation, and increased durability. It also has several trays that are perfect for storing small drill bits, as well as a larger box for tools and other gear. And while a one-year warranty isn’t at the top of the industry, it’s still a little peace of mind.

Bottom Line

With a proprietary design, simple installation, and a swinging function that no other storage boxes have, the Undercover SwingCase Truck Bed Storage Box is a solid overall buy. But those that use heavy tools or need more security over a basic locking lid may want to look elsewhere.

Runner-up:
DEE ZEE Truck Tailgate Lift/Lower Assist

DEE ZEE DZ43301 Truck Tailgate Assist

PROS

  • Three-year warranty
  • Detailed instructions included
  • Quick, easy, no-drill installation
  • Custom designed to specifically fit the Ram 1500
  • Controls the drop rate of the tailgate for safety and little chance of damage

CONS

  • Hardware provided in the kit is questionable
  • Unresponsive customer service for warranty and product information

What Recent Buyers Report

The DEE ZEE Truck Tailgate Lift/Lower Assist receives generally positive reviews across the board from buyers. These users praise the no-drill installation, instructions with pictures, and the shock that prevents both the tailgate from falling or slamming upon closure. But other buyers report that the included tools don’t work, as well as the hardware bending after just a short amount of time.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With only a limited number of tailgate life/lower assists on the market, this product stands out as one of the best due to its many features. This includes excellent fitment, simple installation, and even a three-year warranty. For a low price, Ram 1500 owners can preserve the integrity and functionality of the tailgate.

Bottom Line

Simple in use but a fine addition to any Ram 1500, the DEE ZEE Truck Tailgate Lift/Lower Assist works as advertised. And for just a small expenditure, owners will be satisfied with their purchase.

Best for the Money:
Wagner Brake OEX1084 Brake Disc Brake Pads

Wagner Brake OEX1084 Brake Disc Pad

PROS

  • Excellent stopping power
  • Less brake dust than other types of pads
  • Great heat resistance for those long downhills
  • Quiet operation with little-to-no sound during when stopping
  • Ceramic construction for long-lasting durability over semi-metallic or organic brake pads

CONS

  • Some squealing reported from buyers but likely due to installation error

What Recent Buyers Report

For the price, buyers report that Wagner Brake OEX1084 Brake Disc Brake Pads soard far beyond their expectations. Installation is easy, braking power is top-notch, and brake dust and the residue is almost nonexistent. But while many buyers state that the brakes have seemingly no noise, others report that the brakes squeal and can pulsate even after bedding.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Thanks to the ceramic construction, these brake pads are almost noiseless, as well as providing excellent stopping power. In addition, the low amounts of brake dust allow owners to skip weekly cleaning of the wheels.

Bottom Line

With quality ceramic construction, Wagner Brake OEX1084 Brake Disc Brake Pads provide less brake dust than alternatives, along with precision braking. Nevertheless, Ram 1500 owners that frequently tow or haul heavy payloads may find the braking power isn’t up to their needs. In this case, you may want to look at semi-metallic brake pads.

Best Tires For Ram 1500:
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Radial Tire

BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Radial Tire -LT265/70R17/E 121/118S

PROS

  • Specially formulated rubber treads
  • Sidewall traction bars for more grip in all conditions
  • Advanced tire footprint shape for smoother driving off-road
  • Deflection-designed to push rocks and debris away from the sidewalls
  • Uses proprietary CoreGard Technology for better performance and durability

CONS

  • Some report a rougher ride than stock tires or equivalent stock tires

What Recent Buyers Report

BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Radial Tires are some of the top-rated all-terrain tires available for the Ram 1500. With excellent grip both off-road and on the pavement, a decently smooth ride, and excellent aesthetics, these tires provide an excellent trifecta of benefits. However, some users report that these tires aren’t suited for heavy towing or hauling, as the treads wear out fairly quickly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With 150 years in the industry, few other companies know tires like BFGoodrich. These tires in particular stand out though due to loads of added features such as CoreGard Technology. This proprietary technology provides tougher sidewalls, increased rubber thickness throughout, and added deflection design, which adds up to longer, better-performing tires.

Bottom Line

If you’re a true off-road enthusiast, your Ram 1500 needs these tires. Extra durable and stellar grip translates to full-on off-roading without any concerns for blowing a tire. Ram 1500 owners who tow frequently or only drive on pavement may not be able to justify such an expense, even though these tires perform diligently on the road.

Best Brake Pads For Dodge Ram 1500:
Hawk Performance HPS Performance Ceramic Brake Pad

Hawk Performance HB559F.695 HPS Performance Ceramic Brake Pad

PROS

  • Easy on the rotors
  • Noise-free operation
  • Works well across a range of temperatures
  • Less brake dust than semi-metallic alternatives
  • High performance street compound improves stopping power

CONS

  • Some claim the ‘bite’ isn’t as good as it should be

What Recent Buyers Report

Hawk Performance HPS Performance Ceramic Brake Pads get top reviews with many buyers praising the noise-free operation, little-to-no brake dust, and stopping power over all types of terrain and speeds. Conversely, some buyers state that installation can be an arduous task, although this isn’t the overarching experience with most buyers.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With one of the only limited lifetime warranties for brake pads, this product gives drivers confidence in its abilities. Noise-free operation after bedding is another added perk, especially with the added weight of the Ram 1500. And with an operation that’s easy on the rotors, your braking system will withstand the test of time.

Bottom Line

For everyday driving, few other brake pads can compete with the Hawk Performance HPS Performance Ceramic Brake Pads. Furthermore, the low amounts of noise and brake dust provide hassle-free and stress-free driving and maintenance. However, Ram 1500 owners that tow frequently may want to look at semi-metallic brake pads.

Best Tonneau Cover For Ram 1500:
Lund Genesis Elite Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

Lund Genesis Elite Roll Up, Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover | 96864 | Fits 2009 - 2018, 19/20 Classic Dodge Ram 1500 6' 6' Bed (78')

PROS

  • Fits all Ram 1500 bed lengths
  • Easy removal takes only seconds
  • Water- and UV-resistant material
  • Added seals to keep moisture outside the bed
  • Installs in 30 minutes without the need for drilling or special tools

CONS

  • Some buyers report fitment issues
  • Latching system doesn’t pull cover tight for some

What Recent Buyers Report

The Lund Genesis Elite Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover is highly touted by buyers for its ease of installation, quick folding mechanism, and living up to its waterproof claims. But other buyers report that the latching and locking system can seize up or stop working altogether.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Lund is one of the most well-known names in tonneau covers and with good reason. Made from durable, premium matte canvas, this tonneau cover provides excellent bed protection, as well as a sleek aesthetic. Plus, the product comes pre-assembled, contains all the hardware, is custom fit to each type of Ram 1500 trim and bed length.

Bottom Line

When you need a tonneau cover that’s easy to remove, has a low-profile design, and stands up to dirt, moisture, and the sun, the Lund Genesis Elite Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover is a premium option for the Ram 1500. And with a low price tag, it’s easy on the wallet to boot.

Best Leveling Kit For Ram 1500:
Air Lift LoadLifter 5000 Air Spring Kit

Air Lift 57365 LoadLifter 5000 Air Spring Kit

PROS

  • All hardware and springs included
  • Prevents bottoming out and sagging
  • Improves the ride when towing or hauling
  • Added clearance to accommodate larger tires
  • Raises the rear end to match the rear height, eliminating the nose-up effect

CONS

  • Difficult to install

What Recent Buyers Report

Overall, buyers report that the Air Lift LoadLifter 5000 Air Spring Kit is an excellent choice to prevent the sagging and bottoming out associated with hauling heavy loads. It also fixes alignment issues when hauling, making it an excellent all-around choice. The only perceived downside is the installation process, which is an arduous task for newbies and novice DIYers.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Leveling kits come in several style types, but this product relies on airbags instead of shocks, which improves the overall ride and solves most bottoming out and alignment issues. Plus they rest on the axle housing, providing better safety compared to air shocks that ride on the bottom shock mount.

Bottom Line

As far as leveling kits go, the Air Lift LoadLifter 5000 Air Spring Kit is an excellent all-around solution for those that get tired of bottoming out and haul often. To add to this benefit, the kit also provides an aggressive look that appeals to many Ram 1500 owners.

Best Running Boards For Ram 1500:
Tyger Auto Star Armor Running Board Kit

Tyger Auto TG-AM2D20078 Star Armor Kit for 2009-2018 Ram 1500 Crew Cab; 2010-2021 2500/3500; 2019-2021 Classic Crew Cab | Textured Black | Side Step | Nerf Bars | Running Boards

PROS

  • Five-year warranty
  • Holds up to 500 pounds
  • Powder-coated to prevent corrosion
  • Grooved step pads to prevent slippage
  • Easy installation with only minor drilling required

CONS

  • Frequent reports of missing hardware

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report that this product installs with minimal hassle and adds a sleek aesthetic to the Ram 1500. Durability and longevity are two other aspects highly praised by buyers with some claiming that they’ll never have to buy another pair of running boards as long as they own the vehicle. On the flip side, some buyers report fitment issues and trouble installing the kit due to missing hardware that you can’t find at auto parts stores.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Tyger Auto Star Armor Running Board Kit combines bold looks with the convenience and safety of a premium running board. In addition, the 500-pound weight limit on each side allows numerous people to enter the vehicle at once or to access the bed on each side. Plus, it adds some peace of mind in terms of durability.

Bottom Line

With extraordinary weight capacity, a powder-coated finish, and bolt-on installation, the Tyger Auto Star Armor Running Board Kit is a top choice for hoisting yourself into the cab of a Ram 1500.

Best Fender Flares For Ram 1500:
Monkey Autosports Fender Flares & Mud Flaps Bundle

Fender Flares With Mud Flaps Bundle for 2009-2018 Dodge Ram 1500. Factory/OE Design. Full Set of 4

PROS

  • Two-year warranty
  • Resistance to heat and cold
  • Paintable without any sanding
  • Textured surface for enhanced looks
  • Made with durable, lightweight plastic composite

CONS

  • Some fitment issues with other accessories

What Recent Buyers Report

The Monkey Autosports Fender Flares & Mud Flaps Bundle provides excellent protection from debris, rocks, and mud as reported by buyers. But others didn’t have as much luck in the installation department, citing that the holes don’t line up and that taking the wheels off is an easier way to approach the process. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Few products offer both mud flaps and fender flares, making this a one-two punch to push your Ram 1500 to heavyweight status. And although installation isn’t as easy as some other products, the affordable price tag and aesthetics still make it a bargain buy.

Bottom Line

With little-to-no drilling involved, a textured fender flare, and effective mud flaps, the Monkey Autosports Fender Flares & Mud Flaps Bundle is some of the best value you’ll find anywhere.

Best Cam for 5.7 Hemi Ram:
COMP Cams NSR HRT No Springs Required

Comp Cams 201-300-17 NSR HRT No Springs Required Stage 1 Cam for '09+ Dodge 5.7L HEMI

PROS

  • No springs required
  • Greatly improves power
  • Made and manufactured in the USA
  • Comes with a kit to help installation
  • Dyno-tested to showcase huge performance gains

CONS

  • Only for Hemi engines
  • Power claims not experienced by some drivers

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers report that the COMP Cams NSR HRT No Springs Required Cam provides huge boosts to overall performance. However, some report that the power wasn’t up to the claims of COMP. Also, installation is difficult, even for intermediate mechanics.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Without the need for additional springs and exceptional performance upgrades, this product is an excellent choice for horsepower and torque gains. COMP Cams is a respected name in the aftermarket camshaft market.

Bottom Line

If performance tuners, cold air intakes, or other aftermarket products aren’t providing the extra power you need, the COMP Cams NSR HRT No Springs Required Cam is a solid choice. However, newbies will need to find a competent shop to perform the installation.

Best Tuner for 5.7 Hemi Ram:
Pedal Commander Throttle Response Controller with Bluetooth

Pedal Commander - PC31 for Dodge RAM pickup (2007-2018) 1500, 2500, and 3500 (3.0L 3.6L 5.7L 6.4L 6.7L Gas & Diesel) (Not compatible w/ 2011-2012 HO) | Throttle Response Controller

PROS

  • Two-year warranty
  • Plug-and-play installation
  • Up to 20% boost in acceleration
  • Bluetooth connectivity to easily customize modes
  • 36 different modes to choose from (including customizable modes)

CONS

  • Dashboard lights have come on for some users

What Recent Buyers Report

The Pedal Commander Throttle Response Controller with Bluetooth is widely praised for its customization and Bluetooth to the smartphone interface. Plus, with four set modes with nine calibrations and customizations on each, you have up to 36 different settings—a fact which most Ram 1500 drivers love.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With a 20% boost to acceleration, this throttle response controller is an efficient way to improve power without any need for complex installations. And with plug-and-play and Bluetooth, it’s the ideal choice for those without the technical know-how.

Bottom Line

The Pedal Commander Throttle Response Controller with Bluetooth is a simple solution for those searching for more power. And while a higher price tag can deter some buyers, it’s far cheaper than the numerous other aftermarket accessories needed to equalize the power boost from the Pedal Commander.

Best Exhaust System For Dodge Ram 1500 Hemi:
Flowmaster American Thunder Cat-back System 409S Dual Rear Exit

PROS

  • Easy bolt-on installation
  • Provides a noticeable boost in acceleration
  • Flashy aesthetics thanks to dual exhaust tips
  • Made of stainless steel for maximum durability
  • Improved fuel economy (0.5 to 1 mpg, best case)

CONS

  • No anti-corrosion resistance
  • Doesn’t provide the raw growl that some Ram 1500 drivers prefer

What Recent Buyers Report

With a vast majority of favorable reviews, the Flowmaster American Thunder Cat-back System 409S Dual Rear Exit Exhaust System receives accolades for its nice rumble that won’t wake the neighbors. Bolt-on installation with detailed instructions also provides a great entry for novice DIYers. That said, other buyers report that the system rusts in wet climates while some report fitment issues during installation.

Why it Stands Out to Us

By improving fuel economy, horsepower, and torque, this exhaust system does just what it’s supposed to and then some. With a deep, bassy note that still aligns with local and state noise ordinances, your Ram 1500 will get noticed, but not ticketed. And with little noise inside the cabin, you can still listen to the radio or have a conversation at normal volume levels.

Bottom Line

With a universal fit, this system will fit on every trim of the Ram 1500 with little need for modification and no fabrication. Once installed, the noticeable uptick in horsepower and torque will have drivers excited to get behind the wheel. However, the price can be a bit too high for many budget-conscious buyers.

How to Choose New Ram 1500 Upgrades

When choosing new Ram 1500 upgrades, don’t rest your laurels solely on a brand name or the highest price. You need to dig a bit deeper. Numerous features of aftermarket parts allow them to stand out. Here are just a few of the things you should consider before you buy Ram 1500 upgrades.

Warranty

Most aftermarket Ram 1500 upgrades have some sort of warranty. But you’ll want to investigate to see what it covers and for how long. Limited warranties—even limited lifetime warranties—have numerous caveats that can void the warranty. In addition, some lesser-known companies may fight you on the warranty or blame the buyer for the failure of the product. So always read the fine print and reviews to ensure the company provides a solid warranty.

Ease of Installation

Are you a veteran DIY mechanic or do you pop the hood and scratch your head? The answer to this question will help you decide on aftermarket parts. If you’ve installed parts before or made modifications, you may know necessary to install upgrades, even if you run into problems.

Novice DIYers, on the other hand, may want to opt for bolt-on or direct-fit options, as well as products that contain instructions and tout their ease of installation. Time is also a strong consideration, as installing these parts may take far longer than you anticipated, especially if it’s your first time. Furthermore, you may have to factor installation into your budget if you lack the confidence to install parts.

Expectations

If you’re expecting to turn your Ram 1500 into a hot rod with a few upgrades, you may want to adjust your mindset. Some upgrades, such as a cold air intake or an exhaust system may boost your horsepower and torque, but perhaps not to the effect you wanted. In addition, the manufacturer’s claims may fall short, leaving you disappointed with the results. Either way, you’ll need to keep your expectations realistic without deterring you from the purchase or upgrade you want.

Driving Style

Driving style is another crucial aspect of selecting an upgrade for your Ram 1500. If you’re an off-roader, a lift kit or larger all-terrain tires will provide a discernible difference when you drive off the pavement. Conversely, putting massive tires on your Ram 1500 may just be an unnecessary expenditure, unless you’re going for a purely aesthetic upgrade. The idea is to truly analyze your driving style. This will help you decide whether the upgrade is worth the expenditure.

Get the Most Out of Your Ram 1500

The Ram 1500 has plenty of upsides right off the assembly line. But if you’re a fan of stellar performance to your exact specifications, you won’t find a better option than adding a few upgrades. Not only will you have improved driving and monstrous power, but your truck will also become a unique extension of yourself. That’s something every Ram 1500 owner can get behind.

People Also Ask

You may have some additional questions about performance upgrades, especially if it’s your first time delving into customization. So to help you find the ideal mix of upgrades for your Ram 1500, here are some of the most common questions people also ask.

What Can I Do to Make My Ram 1500 Faster?

Numerous performance upgrades can make your Ram 1500 faster, or at least more powerful. This list includes:

  • Exhaust system

  • Performance chip

  • Cold air intake system

  • Reducing overall weight by replacing iron components with aluminum parts

  • Supercharger Kits

  • Turbocharger

Undercover SwingCase Truck Bed Storage Box

How Many Miles Can a Ram 1500 Last?

If properly maintained, Ram 1500 trucks have been known to last around 200,000 miles, with some going even further with some part replacements and upgrades.

Which Year Ram 1500 is the Best?

Although the idea of the “best” is highly subjective, some model years of the Ram 1500 have been praised by owners for design cues, style, power, durability, and toughness. This list includes:

  • 2009 Ram 1500 - Introduction of the Hemi engine option, new looks due to fourth generation debut
  • 2010 Ram 1500 - First year of iPod integration, trailer brake control, and enhanced fuel economy
  • 2011 Ram 1500 - First year of special editions and new trims, including the Laramie Longhorn and Outdoorsman, as well as a Garmin GPS
  • 2012 Ram 1500 - This model added surround sound and the Rambox for the first time
  • 2014 Ram 1500 - First year of the turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, which boasted 240 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque, and up to 25 mpg on the highway
  • 2018 Ram 1500 - This truck has the fewest amount of complaints and issues reported of any Ram 1500

Meet the Team!

Drive55

Who Chose These Products?

Our Product Expert

Steve has been maintaining and modifying vehicles for over ten years. He grew up like most of us did: progressing from Hot Wheels & Legos to racing games like Gran Turismo, eventually taking everything apart just to see what made it tick. His career path was pretty clear early on!

Steve is currently a Certified Auto Repair Technician who graduated top of his class; he's rebuilt engines, transmissions, suspension, and everything in between. Steve also runs his own Youtube production covering hot automotive topics called Cars Simplified. He currently terrorizes the streets of New England in an iconic American classic: the Pontiac GTO.

Who Wrote This Article?

Damaso Sig

Our Automotive Journalist

Damaso has been in the automotive world since he was 14 years old when his father bought an auto repair shop. Years later, his passion for electronics, computers, and automotive mechanics motivated him to graduate in Mechanical Engineering and venture into the sales of automotive equipment.

For years Damaso worked as a technical advisor assisting car dealerships, tire shops, and even the plants of Toyota and Mitsubishi that operate in his country. He has over 25 years of experience reporting on topics ranging from DIY jobs, technological analysis, automotive news, and more. He is a wealth of information and a valued member of our team.
@damasosanoja

An ex-salesman of industrial equipment, Shawn used to drive nearly 60K miles a year just commuting to clients. He also has a little project Miata build going on the side. Safe to say, Shawn has slain a few tires in his days. He knows all about horrid road-noise, hydroplaning risks, and how much damage a bad alignment can do to your wallet. He enjoys helping us out and Chris always values his opinion when designing something new for the website.