4x4 Answerman Answers Your Off-Road Truck and SUV Questions (Oct. 2010)

Oct. 14, 2010 By Jaime Hernandez
Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to [email protected]. Please include your name and location, vehicle year and make and be as detailed as possible about your questions.


4x4 AnswerMan,
I'm considering a new 2011 Dodge Power Wagon (PW). They have 456 gears and I would like to put 35-inch tires on it. I have read numerous articles on the PW and some have indicated that it rides 2 inches higher than a standard 2500. Certain suspension companies are saying that their leveling kits will allow 35-inch tires on a Dodge. Do you know whether the PW would still require a leveling kit to fit 35s, or should I consider a smaller tire; I'm looking at Toyo Open Country MTs? I would like to tame the gear ratio a little more than the stock 285 series tire does. Dodge dealers I've spoken to don't seem to know.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Hello Gerry,

We test drove the new Power Wagon in Moab this year and were very impressed. It is a very capable truck.

You certainly can put 35-inch Toyo Open Country MTs on the truck using the factory Alcoa wheels that come on the Power Wagon with out any additional lift. The front already comes lifted about 2.5 inches taller than a stock 2500/3500 4x4 Dodge Ram.

Make sure you check out our test drive of the new Dodge Power Wagon here on Off-Road.com.



4x4 AnswerMan,
When I'm in 2wd and start moving, my front axel will klunk and sometimes start a metallic clicking and will slow down a little bit and it will bounce out and drive fine. And it usually only does it when I reverse and then go and itís at speeds of 10 - 20 mph. I know the whole thing is vacuumed lines and stuff but I'm stumped and didnít wanna spend a lot of money when it could be a vacuum switch or something. Thanks.


Hi Rob,
Weíll give you some diagnostic ideas that will only cost you time. You want to isolate the problem, so letís start by checking your front end for the ďclunkĒ sound.

Here is some information we found that references what youíre experiencingóbacklash in the driveline.
To determine whether the axle causes driveline clunk, check the total axle backlash as follows:

1. Raise vehicle on a frame or twinpost hoist so that drive wheels are free. Clamp a bar between axle companion flange and a part of the frame or body so that flange cannot move.

2. On conventional drive axles, lock the left wheel to keep it from turning. On all models, turn the right wheel slowly until it is felt to be in Drive condition. Hold a chalk marker on side of tire about 12 inches from center of wheel. Turn wheel in the opposite direction until it is again felt to be in Drive condition.

3. Measure the length of the chalk mark, which is the total axle backlash. If backlash is one inch or less, drive axle is not the source of clunk noise.
Source: garage411.com

If you still canít isolate the problem or donít know what to do, take it to a mechanic and get a diagnostic/estimate done. It might end up costing you less in the long run.
Good luck.



Hello 4x4 AnswerMan,
How are you ... I have this 2005 Nissan Pathfinder with 3.5 L SE manual gear, the problem is the clutch is original and itís very weak for the supercharged engine.... is there any replacement for the clutch? Thanks any way

Wow, this is a very cool set-up. Iím drooling at the intercooler. Please send us more pictures of your engine and specs on what you have. Iím thinking itís either out of a 350Z or Altima.

It must be fun driving this Pathfinder around. But letís get you fixed up first so you can put more ponies to the wheels. Something tells me your stock clutch has seen its last revolution. Itís time to step it up to heavy duty or racing clutch. There are a few companies out there that make these, like Nismo and Exedy. 

Once you get your new clutch, you should be golden.



4x4 Answer Man,
I have a Ď94 Bronco that needs the braking upgraded. (Iíd really like to stop instead of just praying that I will.)

What is your recommendation? Are there aftermarket kits, or cross over parts from other vehicles that will do the job?
I look forward to your reply,

Hi Adrian,

For starters, letís make sure your existing system is working properly. You might have a bad brake booster, so that will make your brakes work poorly.

Also, look for any leaky brake cylinders on all four corners.

If youíre running big tires, you can definitely upgrade to performance brake pads and slotted or drilled rotors.

You can also do a rear disk conversion for added braking power.

A good source for Bronco brake upgrades is the Bronco Graveyard http://broncograveyard.com.

They can point you in the right direction.



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,
My name is Thomas, I'm writing from Latin America, specifically from Panama City, Panama. I really enjoy reading your columns for is a bit difficult to find correct off-roading information down here on the off road stores. I'm starting on the off-roading experience and I need some enlighten regarding driving spotlights and fog lights.

I own a Mitsubishi Raider 2008 and I'm installing a roll bar, which I would like to equip with 4 6" spotlights. I went to a local off roading store and they recommended some IPF 968 csg. But at other store, they recommended due to the distance that the beam had to cover from the bar to the front of the vehicle some WARN SDB-160HB. I really need an advice on what kind of spotlights will suit better my ride. I've also been told that a wrong choice on the type of light can result in the light lightning me up through the side mirrors. Can you please recommend a solution?

Thank you
-Thomas Sanchez

Hi Thomas,
Iím glad you enjoy the 4x4 AnswerMan column. Iím also very glad that you are getting into off-road; it really is a great sport.

To answer your question, there isnít really a good or bad light Ė it all depends on what you want to do with it, and how much money you want to spend. There are basically two types of lights for off-road, a pencil/spot light, which focuses the light beam on an area, and a wide-beam light, which gives you a wider area. Typically the pencil/spot beam will go further, but it will have a smaller light area than a wide beam/flood light. You can run a combination of both to give you the optimal off-road lighting.

As for placement, you can have a custom light bar made for the cab, or you can also install them on the front bumper. Hereís a photo of a proven set-up used by the Mitsubishi race team that won the 40th Baja 1000 in a Mitsubishi Raider in its class. Your roll bar light mounting idea will also work.

Photo compliments of Mitsubishi Motors 



4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a 1979 Ford Bronco 4" of lift with a set of 35" tires under her; I bought a rebuilt engine off a buddy. The engine was out of a 77, all gaskets and valve seals were replaced, block was blueprinted and squared and bored 40 over new pistons and rings to go along, it has a comp cam not to 100 percent on what kind, and a edelbrock performer 400 intake and a edelbrock 650 cfm carb, I bought a set of headers for it and put it in. Now after my buddy spending around 2 grand on this engine it has nothing compared to the jam I was expecting, my old engine that smoked and leaked oil like crazy and had 300 000+ kms on it has just a little less. What could I do that's cheap but effective? Next year I will be doing head work and possibly tunelram and MSD, the whole spark part of the engine, running out of cash for this build but this 400 should have way more power than it has what could be wrong?

Hi Bill,
Check your Ford 400ís compression, set the timing and adjust your carburetor. It wouldnít hurt to do a tune-up again since things might have settled after the initial break-in.

If youíre still not getting good power, maybe you should take it into a mechanic that knows Fords.  Youíve already spent all this time and money already, it wouldnít hurt to take it into a shop to have it professionally tuned.

As for additional engine upgrades, youíre on the right track: ignition, head work, etc.
You might even consider upgrading some of your other drive train components, like your transmission and  even your differential gearing.  All these little things can sum up to a big difference.



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,
I just bought a pair of KC Hi-Lites that say 100 watt H3 halogen. Inside are the instructions, but it says to ask the dealer for newer trucks, because of the computer. Well my truck is an f-150 crew cab 2004. Is there a different way to connect it or is it the same?
Jorge Lopez

Hi Jorge,
Iím not sure if these KC HighLites H3 halogen light bulbs will work on your truck. Your best bet is to contact KC HiLites directly to get some answers. Hereís their contact info:

PHONE:  +1 (928) 635-2607
EMAIL: [email protected]
KC HiLiTES, Inc.
PO Box 155 Williams AZ 86046



4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a 1986 S-10 Blazer and was wondering the cheapest way to lift it? Would it be ok to just put the axle on top of the springs and put a spacer under the front coil springs?
Brian K Johnson

Hi Brian,
The cheapest way to lift your S-10 Blazer is with a body lift.  You can get away for under $100.
If you want to modify the suspension, this will require some more time and money. You didnít state if it is a 2WD or 4WD. But since you mention coil springs up front, I believe youíre referring to the 2WD. You can do a 2-inch Rough Country suspension lift for around $200. This includes bigger front coils and an add-a-leafówhich will allow you to run 31s.

You can go bigger, but the bigger you go, the more money itís going to cost.
I would stay away from spring over in the rear and coil spacer in the front. Coil spacers work, but mostly on coil-over suspension.

Have fun with it.



4x4 AnswerMan,
2007 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 6 speed manual trans. I want to tow this behind my motorhome. In 2w drive the front drive shaft does not rotate when the trans is in neutral. Do the rear trans and transfer bearings get enough oil when itís being towed?
Duane Lawson

Hi Duane,
In the ownerís manual it states that the Toyota Tacoma was not designed to be flat towed. That being said, there are people that have successfully done it. You might need to get a Remco driveshaft disconnect, or manually disconnect your drive shafts to prevent any potential damage to your transfer case and transmission.
Here is a thread we found on MotorHome Magazineís website that might help http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/boards/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/22231836.cfm
Happy Trails!



4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a 07 Ford F-350 it has a 8" Rize lift on it that came with Bilstein shocks on it I have not been happy with the Bilstein I am looking at getting lift kings all the way around wondering if they are good and in the last few months my gas mileage has gone way down and my power seems to getting worse
Big B

Hi Big B.,
Sorry to hear youíre not happy with your shocks. If theyíre the 7100 series with reservoirs or a shrader valve, check the nitrogen pressure, they might be low. They should be at 120psi. Only use nitrogen to fill.

If you want to try different shocks, the King Shocks are very similar to the Bilstein; they are both mono-tube shocks with a nitrogen gas charge.

The best bet would be to contact RIZE Industries http://www.rizeind.com/ and find out which shocks they designed their kit to use. If they have a good engineering team, they should be able to help you out. Let them know what youíre not happy with (e.g. too rough, too soft, etc.)

As for bad MPG, it comes with the territory. Big trucks arenít little hybrids. You can get smaller tires, re-gear it or even try using a power programmer with the fuel economy setting. You didnít state if you have the Power Stroke diesel of V10, but either way, check your filters. Sometimes by cleaning or replacing your air and fuel filters it gives it some pep.

Just do some regular maintenance to get it back up to par.



HELLO 4x4 AnswerMan,
I live in the Middle East (Israel).
I own a Land Cruiser 2008 3.0DVD with automatic transmission, because of previous traumatic diff. blowing twice with a same SUV (2006 model), I consider changing the front and rear diff.

Can you please tell which diff I have (size and ratio) and maybe your recommendations for reinforcement of those articles? (consider changing ring and pinion to bigger size in the same housing that I have if it is possible).

I considered buying a ring and pinion 8" of Prado 90 even with changing the diff. ratio to 4.10. If it will fit my diff housing.
Waiting for your reply.
-Dan Avidan

Hi Dan
Good to hear from you. If your Land Cruiser is factory stock, then you more than likely have one of the following differential gear settings:

GXL Turbo Diesel Automatic
GXL V8 Automatic
GXL Turbo Diesel Manual
GXL V8 Manual

If youíre blowing through the differentials like theyíre going out of style, it might be time to look at some heavy-duty parts. Heck, you might even consider cryogenically treating them to make them stronger.
When youíre looking for gears, try to find the strongest ones possible. Iím not sure what you have available in Israel, but here in the USA there are three companies that I can think of: Motive Gear, Yukon Gear, Precision Gear, and all are excellent companies.

While youíre at it, you might consider upgrading your axles to hardened chromoly. These will take much more abuse. 

Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to [email protected]. Please include your name and location, vehicle year and make and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

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