4x4 AnswerMan Off-Road Questions and Answers

Mar. 15, 2011 By Jaime Hernandez
Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to editor@off-road.com. Please include your name and location, and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

Other 4x4 Answerman Columns:

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010


I have a Ď91 F350 with 35MT BFGs. Running over 35 PSI off-road and it has shaken the bolts out of my truck. With 25 - 28 PSI the ride is so cushy. Iím considering going lower, but then when Iím back on the pavement will I have to re-air?


Hi Tony,

If youíre going to be on dirt roads for long stretches, and your 25-28 psi range is working for you, then stick with it. Itís different for every vehicle, depending on the rating of your tire (C,D,E) and the weight of your vehicle. 

Now if youíre looking to get better traction off-road and will not be going fast (over 35 mph), consider dropping down to 15 psi. Youíll get a lot better bite and more flex from the sidewall.

Youíre correct, the tire should be aired back to the recommended on-road PSI for optimal on-road handling and safety. If you run your tires on 15 psi on the road the vehicle will be unpredictable and will damage the tire and sidewall once you get up to highway speeds.

Get yourself a little portable compressor and experiment. You can get a good one from Viair http://www.viaircorp.com/



I have a 2005 4x4 Silverado extended cab. Problems are: 1)The windshield keeps stress cracking; 2)The front end makes one heck of a creaking noise when the road/pavement gets uneven, or even just turning into driveway(greased and new front shocks); 3) the heater just goes to max heat when it feels it wants too (driver side only) even with the A/C on, have to turn off engine then start to get it to reset. Any help would be appreciated, thanks.


Hi John,

Sounds like your truck is possessed. Weíll help you get rid of the gremlins.

The cab is getting some extra flex, causing your broken windshields. This can be frame or body mount related. Check the bushing that your cab uses to mount on the frame for deterioration. 

Also, check your frame for any loose cross member or abnormal flex. The best ways to check it is by actually putting stress on it. Put one wheel on a flex ramp, or find a dirt hill.  If youíre able to safely park and get out, you might be able to further inspect the vehicle for any visible abnormal flexing joints. You could also take it to a frame shop and have them inspect it for you.

Iím pretty sure your second problem of creaking front end noise is associated with the loose cross member or joint you will find after inspecting the frame better.

As for your heater, it sounds like a control module problem.  Itís going crazy because the circuitry is no longer working like it should. Your best bet is to find a used one at a wrecking yard or on eBay to swap out. You could also buy a new one, but thereís typically no return on electrical parts. The used one will be a fraction of the cost of a new one and should fix it if the controller is the problem. 

Start with the small stuff first and then work your way up to the next potential bad part.

Good Luck!   


4x4 AnswerMan,

What year is your mega cab Dodge?

Bruce Harrison

Hi Bruce,

Project Mega Cab is a 2006. Itís the first year of the Mega Cab model. Sheís been good and we really enjoy her on long trips and off-road.

Read Project Mega Cab Articles:

BD Performance Trans Pan

Magnaflow Diesel Exhaust

K&N Diesel Intake

KORE Performance Suspension

More at http://www.off-road.com/diesel.html



I have a 93 Toyota 4X4 pickup with IFS. Iím having trouble getting the screw at the end of the shaft off. Any suggestions?

Thank you for this information as Iím a backyard mechanic that enjoys learning everything I can about my truck.

Daniel Robinson

Hi Daniel,

That darn screw. If youíre referring to the CV axle itself, thereís a C-clip you will need to remove in order to pull the outer part of the CV axle out of the hub assembly.


If you are truly interested in learning more about your Toyota truck, I would highly recommend the Haynes Toyota repair manual.  Itís full of tips, tricks and images that will help you keep your pick-up running.




Does the 4 door Tracker or the Suzuki Grand Vitara have a longer wheelbase than the 2 door Tracker?


Hi Toby,

The 4 door Chevy Tracker does have a longer wheelbase than the two-door Chevrolet Tracker and Suzuki Grand Vitara

Chevrolet Tracker
2-door: 86.6 in. (2,200 mm)
4-door: 97.6 in. (2,479 mm)

Suzuki Grand Vitara
2-Door: 96.1 in. (2,440 mm)

Hope this helps.



Where is the ECT power button on a 2003 automatic two-wheel drive? It just came on. Iím thinking because itís reaching high mileage and the transmission is shifting on its own to lengthen the life of the motor?

Speedy G

Hi Speedy G,

Thatís funny, your Toyota is smart, but Iím not sure if the reason the ECT Power is coming on because it can tell itís coming to the end of the line.

The Toyota Electronically Controlled Transmission (ECT) button is located to the left of your steering column, below the driver side air vent on the dash board. It might have accidentally been activated.

The ECT button will give you more acceleration power in an automatic transmission vehicle by holding gearshift points longer. It works well on hills and windy roads that require extra power. Itís not a good idea to have it activated all the time as it will use up more fuel to keep the power going. Use at your own discretion.

To take it out of the ECT Power mode, simply press the ECT button once. The indicator light on the instrument cluster that says ďECT PowerĒ should come off, setting it back to normal shifting.




All I want to do is remove the rear axles from an '85 SJ410. May I just pull them with a wheel puller or is there some device within the differential I must mess with? Many thanks.

Charlie Herrmann

Hi Charlie,

I believe you can just pull them after you remove the hub assembly. There is no c-clip to worry about, just pull them out.

See if this assembly illustration helps.

source: http://www.autopartslib.com/



Have you ever seen any Chevy '93 G30 454 4x4 EXT? Chevy customer service tells me I have #4 of 16 factory made and sent me a vin # checker below and it tells me there are only 3.


Hi Scott,

Thatís a pretty handy link that can be used by others curious about their vehicles.

Well, on some of the options it does seem like you have a low production vehicle number. If you value that, and really like your van, then keep it. Someday if you decide to sell it, make sure you document this and present it to buyer. It will have some intrinsic value.


Hello 4x4AnswerMan,

I have 32-inch tires on my Ď93 F150. Recently had to put the stock spare (265/70-15) on the front. The spare is a good 2" smaller in diameter. Now my 4x4 completely binds up in less than 5 feet.
Stops truck in its path. Is this due to the spare being smaller? I knew it would put more stress on drive-line, but will it cause it to bind up as well?

Lawrenceburg, IN

Hi Jeff,

Itís not a good idea to run the spare for a prolonged time. Itís there to get you to the next town or tire shop so you can replace the damaged tire with the correct full-sized tire.

Youíre on the right track: the smaller tire is causing extra revolutions compared to the 32-inch tire on the other side. Itís causing extra stress on your front diff and other drive component.

Replace that tire A.S.A.P. or risk causing mechanical problems.



Can I drive my4x4 without a rear driveshaft? If so, will it do damage to the front-wheel drive or the transfer case.


Hi Bill,

In an emergency, you can limp your vehicle by using only the front drive. Itís not recommended to drive this way for long. Itís only recommended to get you back to camp or repair shop.

It shouldnít hurt the transfer case or front-wheel drive, especially if you have a full-time transfer case.

We once lost a rear driveline at night in the middle of Arizona. We took the broken rear driveline out and drove over 100 miles to get to the next town on just front-wheel drive.  Having that front driveline and 4WD worked great.


Hey 4x4AnswerMan,

I have a 1977 Ford F150 custom with a 400m that is having starting problems. Awhile back when I turned the key over the starter solenoid would make this clicking/grinding noise and that was it. So two weeks later and Iíve now replace the battery, new battery cables, new battery cable clamps, new voltage regulator, new starter and new starter solenoid, and Iíve made sure all the cables and wires were in good shape, but now when I turn the key over the starter solenoid still makes that annoying noise it was before and thatís it. The battery was fully charged before I tried the new starter also.

What should I do?


Hi Chris,

If your starter is sticking even after the vehicle has started and causing horrible grinding noise, it might be that your ignition switch or remote starter solenoid is no good. You can test the ignition switch by jiggling your key after it starts. See if it helps or makes it worse. 

It can also be the remote starter solenoid or wiring.  Here is a generic Ford diagram with a Ford starter solenoid. Make sure the wiring is correct too. The remote starter solenoid will be on the driver side engine compartment, either by the inner wheel well or firewall.

Itís an inexpensive part to replace, and it doesnít hurt to have an extra one. 

Good luck.



Iím fairly new to the 4x4 world. I traded a junky car for a junky 4x4 but it works for me.  I have an 85 s10 blazer sitting on a K5 frame with 33 x 12.5 tires and it has been sitting for a bit. The brakes and calipers have rusted to the rotors on the front.

The question is how do I get them off and where to start on it what bolts need to come off.

Lexington, Tn

Hi Cody,

Surface rust is inevitable, especially if you live in snow country. You can take your wheels off and clean up your rear drums and front rotors with a wire brush and spray some high-temp paint on them to help protect.  If you just use regular paint it will burn off the first time you ride the brakes and things get hotóand they will.

If the rust build-up is really bad on the rotors, take them off and into your local auto parts store to get turned.  Theyíll let you know if they are salvageable or if you need new ones. 

As for brake shoes, hopefully those are good, but if theyíre not, they might need to be replaced. 

If youíve never done a brake job, donít do it. Brakes are a serious thing.  Either take it in to a shop or find a friend that has done them before.  You can learn, and read up on the step-by-step process in automotive repair manuals like those published by Chilton or Haynes.

Good luck and be safe.



I have a lifted S10 with TSL Super Swampers on 38x16x15 rims. I had the tires rotated front to rear and developed a severe shimmy in the front end at about 30 MPH. My son called it the death wobble as described to by others. Do you think the tires caused the shimming? I would like to troubleshoot this problem without buying a bunch of parts and keep changing parts until it is fixed.


Hi Peacher 57,

The tires are probably causing the shimmy or ďdeath wobble.Ē To find out for sure, simply rotate them back to where they were and see if that fixes it. 

You might also consider having the wheels/tires re-balanced to make sure you are getting a true balanced rotation.  It will also help with getting the most miles out of your TSLs.

Another thing to consider is that the unbalanced tire can also be uncovering worn steering components like pitman arm and rod end.  Take a look and inspect them for play.

Getír Done!

Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to editor@off-road.com. Please include your name and location, and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

Other 4x4 Answerman Columns:

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

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