4x4 AnswerMan: Off-Road Truck and SUV Tech

Jan. 25, 2012 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.

More 4x4 AnswerMan Columns:

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 2010 GMC 4x4 and want to re-gear to 4.10s! What are my options and to whom can I take it? I live in Northeast Texas and Dallas is 160 miles away to the west of me. I have the 5.3 engine and 3.08s currently. I have a STC programmer readily available.

Thanks for any help.

Chef Boy ArDee

Hi Chef Boy ArDee,

You’re in luck, most of the major gear companies make 4.10 gears for your truck.  It’s just a matter of picking one. Here are some to look at:

G2 http://www.g2axle.com/
Motive Gear
Precision Gear

As for installation, try looking for a local mechanic that has a knack for gear installation. You can talk to other off-roaders in the area and get a referral. 

If you can’t find anyone local, then try Rock N Roll Off-Road just outside of Dallas. http://www.rockandrolloffroad.com/

Good luck!


DODGE RAM 1500 4X4 – NO 4LO

4x4 AnswerMan,

I have an ‘04 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 Hemi. I went to put my truck in 4 low and it wouldn't go. It goes in 4 high fine but it will only shift down from 2 high.  Won’t shift up, not even to neutral. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Greg Carman
Florence, MS

Hi Greg,

I take it you have one of those automatic transfer cases with the dial knob.  I have the same system on my Dodge and hate it. I also have the same problem from time to time, with the truck not engaging 4LO or getting stuck in Neutral.

One thing that I found to work is to have the truck rolling (slowly moving, under 5mph) when engaging 4LO. It somehow helps the gears mesh better than when standing still. Make sure you’re in Neutral when you do it.

If you’re still having issues, you may get a SERVICE 4X4 light come on. In this case, you’re now dealing with low fluid, the transfer case actuator getting stuck, or a bad 4x4 computer. In some cases, you may be able to trouble shoot the problem with a scanner.

I’ve talked to people that were having issues and simply servicing their transfer case fixed the problem (putting new fluid).

Try the rolling trick first, then work down the list (cheapest to most expensive). 

I feel your frustration bud. If Chrysler would just go back to manual transfer cases on their trucks we’d be set.


4x4 AnswerMan,

Can I put 38 in tires on my 84 Chevy pickup with a four inch suspension lift?

Chris Grazioli

Hi Chris,

38s with a 4 inch lift—sure, just bust out the hack saw. With a little massaging of the sheet metal you should be able to work them in. You’ll need to open up the wheel well. 

To finish the job off, you can either add some Bushwacker flares or universal rubber flares.

There is a slight chance you may need to move the front differential up, so the tires have enough room to turn.

Before you cut anything, check with the guys at http://offroaddesign.com/. They’ll be able to tell you for sure and will also have the suspension solution if you need to modify anything. 

Also, read up on the “Potent Rodent” build Shawn Spickler did a few years back to get some other ideas of what to do.

Project Potent Rodent

Fender cutting done one Chevy K10



4x4 AnswerMan,

I got a 1995 dodge 1500 and am looking for a 10" lift.  Where can I find one?


Hi Larry,

Wow that’s big. If you’re serious about climbing a ladder everything you drive, then give Full Throttle Suspension a try. They are about the only one’s offering a 10-inch suspension lift for your Dodge Ram. 




Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

My mechanic and I are having a very difficult time trying to track down a .pdf file or any info on mating a 1995 Suzuki Sidekick and a 1996 TDI engine.

The engine is in the vehicle and is ready to roll once the wiring has been resolved. This particular TDI has the electronic pump system.

I have contacted most of the conversions company (i.e. Acme, Rocky Road, etc) but no one seems to have any info.

Waterfowler Hunter

Hi Hunter,

You tried the big shots in the conversion business, but no cigar.

This is a highly custom modification, so you’re not going to find much info or support from the aftermarket.  You need help from other TDI enthusiast to figure out a way to make this diesel tick. 

Start by visiting this Volkswagen TDI diesel enthusiast group, I think you will find much needed information and direction on your swap http://forums.tdiclub.com/forumdisplay.php?f=63

You can also try our Diesel Tech section on the Off-Road.com forums http://forums.off-road.com/diesel-tech/ to see if any other readers have any additional info.

Come back and gives us an update on your project. Photos please! 



4x4 AnswerMan,

Did you ever find out what Chevy application the parts came off of? I have the same setup and cant get replacement hubs (which are the same as you have in the picture) Please tell me what year those hubs are?

Charles Coker

Hi Charles,

Thanks for resurrecting this great tech article that shows how to convert a Dana 44 into an 8 lug using 3/4-ton parts.

The hubs you’re describing are Warn Hubs off a 70 to early ‘80s K20.

Reader Don Neuharth chimed in on our comment section and says he is running 8-lug parts from a 1975 Chevy K20.

Performing an 8-lug swap on a TTB Dana 44 front axle for Broncos and F-150s



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have 04 Dodge 2500 diesel quad cab and I bought 35s and they rub on the front. Will a leveling kit work?

Larry Lusk
Hi Larry,

The leveling kit should help with the rubbing. You can either go the spacer route or replace the coils and shocks. We did the KORE HP Leveling suspension kit on the front of our Dodge Ram 2500 and love it. It rides smoother than stock, and it also handles better.

You can read more about it in this article.

Project Dodge Ram Mega Cab: KORE HP Leveling Kit


If it’s still rubbing after leveling the truck, then it may have to do with the wheel backspacing. In other words, the problem is in the wheel.

We ran 35, and later 37s, with minimal rubbing using factory Mopar wheels with the KORE HP Leveling kit on a similar Dodge. 

Hope this helps.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have 2004 Toyota Tacoma. Is it possible to change the power steering pulley either bigger or smaller pulley so that the truck will steer easier for me? I have disability; I just need the steering a little freer for me.

If this is possible were can I get parts to do this.

Please help,


Hi Vernon,
Bigger or smaller pulley is not going to do much for the flow. You will need to go internal on the pump to make any real changes.

I’m not sure what size tire or engine you’re running, so here are some options on what can be done.

One of the easiest ways to keep your steering feeling light is to run skinny tires.
If you want to run wide tires and need more power steering power, then you may be in need of a hi-flow pump. Toyota is going to be limited, so try PSC Motorsports. They have high-flow power steering pump for 20r, 22r and 2.7l and 3.4l Toyota engines.

More info at http://www.pscmotorsports.com/


4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 78 Chevy Crew Cab 4x4 with 8 in lift on 36 swampers. I installed a HO GM crate motor (12496968). Tried 750cfm carb, Mallory ignition, .8 mm wires, E3 plugs, and timing at 10 deg. It still hesitates off idle and sometimes misses. Is this truck too heavy for the cam in this motor?

Scott Gilliland

Hi Scott,

That’s one bitchin’ truck you have there. I’m jealous.

The engine size is fine, unless you find down the road that a big block would fill that engine bay better. = ) 

I believe your problem may be in the carburetor. I did a little digging and found that the carburetor GM Performance designated for that engine was a 600 CFM. 

You’re extra 150 CFM may be flooding, hence the lagging at take off and back firing.

You may be able to work with your current setup, but timing and carburetor will need to be dialed in. Re-jetting may also be an option.

Try this CFM calculator from Summit if you want to spec out your RPM and engine size numbers.

Also, here is some more information I found on your engine from GM Performance that may come in handy.

Good luck, and send us pictures!

GM Performance HO 350 (12496968)

GM Performance brings us their lowest priced performance deluxe complete crate engine in the form of a 350 cubic inch HO with approximately 9.1:1 compression, 330 hp at 5,000 rpm and 380 ft./lbs. of torque at 3,800 rpm. These 4-bolt main engines have a recommended max rpm of 5,500. Dressed to impress with chrome valve covers and front timing cover these engines will look great between the fenders of your favorite street rod, muscle car or grass roots racer. These 350 HO are not intended for marine use and should only be used in 1979 and earlier pre-emissions street vehicles or any year off road vehicles. Parts used in this engine assemblies are 4-bolt main 1-piece rear main seal blocks, nodular cast iron crankshafts, powdered metal connecting rods, Dished cast aluminum pistons. Installed camshafts are hydraulic flat tappet with .435 in. intake lift and .460 in exhaust lift with duration at .050 in. for intake is 212 and 222 for exhaust with a 112.5 lobe centerline. Standard Morse link timing chains are installed. Cylinder heads are Vortec cast iron style with 64cc chambers; 170cc intake runners with 1.94 in. intake valves and 1.50 in. exhaust valves. Stamped steel self-aligning rocker arms are used for reliability. Aluminum dual plane with EGR capability Vortec style intake manifold with a Holley 600 cfm vacuum secondary with electric choke help feed the engines. Spark plugs, HEI distributors are included. Cast iron long style water pumps with standard "V" belt rotation threaded for 1979-89 power steering pump brackets. Standard 8 in. balancer and 12 3/4 in. flexplates, along with chrome air cleaner, and standard cast aluminum thermostat housings with driver side hose connection and a 180 degree thermostat. This kit also includes the oil filter, oil filter adapter, PCV valve, PCV hose, oil dipstick, and tube. Does not include starter, fuel pump, fuel pump push rod, or the fuel pump adapter plate.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 2004 Dodge 1500 quad cab 5.7 L and I was wanting to know if anybody is making manual locking hubs for this truck?

Tyson R

Hi Tyson,

Unfortunately, there isn’t one made for this IFS front Dodge Ram suspension. There are a few options for the heavy-duty 2500/3500 trucks, but they will not work on yours.

If you wanted front manual hubs, your only true option would be to do a full front axle swap to a Dana 44, Dana 60 or American Axle, and that can get pricey real fast.

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.

More 4x4 AnswerMan Columns:

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

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