4x4 AnswerMan: Off-Road Truck and SUV Tech

Aug. 22, 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:

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012



4x4 AnswerMan,

Iím interested in getting a larger tire for a 2007 Ford F-150 4x4, no lift. Could I run a 33" tire without losing any turn radius or altering any suspension / steering linkage.... What size would you recommend... Thanks.
Charlie Pope

Hi Charlie,

You should be able to fit some 33-inch tires using factory wheels or aftermarket wheels with similar offset. The 285/75 tire size in either a 16-inch or 17-inch wheel should do the trick.  As far as brands, first I would look closer at thread pattern design (all-terrain vs. mud-terrain). If you drive a lot of highway miles and most of the off-roading will be done in sand, dirt and maybe some snow, then the all-terrain style tire will do you good.  If you are looking for something more aggressive to handle mud, rock and donít mind a heavier lug tire, then the mud-terrain tire will be a better fit.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I kindly need your advice. I have a Nissan Patrol Y60A lifted with a 50mm shocks, springs, steering stabilizer. I also have a full set from another companyís castor bushes. Still noticed that steering became unstable sometimes by 100km/h or hitting road bumps, steering wheel vibrates, rotates, etc.

Do I need a stronger wheel stabilizer? Which type? Price? Appreciate your help.

Razvan Ionascu

Hello Razvan,

Itís definitely suspension related, so youíre on the right track. If you already have a steering stabilizer in place, then that should be fine.  No need to replace it unless it is damaged.

You stated that the caster has already been adjusted with caster-correction bushings.  Since you only have a 50mm suspension lift, it may not have been necessary to replace the bushings. Itís hard to say.

For starters, I would check for loose steering linkage. Sometimes worn rod ends will cause play in the steering, making it feel loose and unsteady at higher speeds.

I would also have the tires re-balanced to make sure they are true. Sometimes they can start to vibrate at higher speeds if not balanced correctly. Your alignment should also do checked.

Here is an article about caster correction that will help give more information.

Old Man Emu Caster Correction Review 


Good luck.



4x4 AnswerMan,

Hello you posted an article 17th of July 2012 about off-road Tech and led with a nice picture of big green 4x4 truck pulling the white Jeep. I have tried to look for it but not found what make it is.  Could you help me out?

Mark Grant Blackmore

Hi Mark,

Thanks for noticing this awesome tactical truck. We spotted it at this yearís Overland Expo. The folks at Xtreme Rubicons did a nice job Ė talk about an extreme set-up.

The truck is a FMTV (Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles) made by Stewart & Stevenson.

According to the online military site Olive Drab, these trucks were introduced in 1996 to the U.S. Army to replace the old AM General 2.5 and 5-ton trucks.  Stewart & Stevenson was acquired by BAE Systems in 2007.  They make a civilian version of the FMTV called the BAE Brazo SD.

You can learn more about these vehicles at http://olive-drab.com/idphoto/id_photos_fmtv.php

Make sure to check out our Overland Expo event story for more cool overland 4x4 trucks.

Overland Expo 2012



4x4 Answerman,

I own a 2002 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4 XE. I know it has a H233B rear end with, I believe, a 4.6:1 gear ratio. It is a 5-spd manual with a 6-cyl engine. The one problem I have with it is the gas mileage for such a small-sized truck. I was wondering about changing out the rear end with a 3.54:1 gear ratio that I've read some older models used to have. Is this feasible? And would I need to change the frontend gears?

Lastly, I am having a hard time locating information about this and even locating the ring and pinion. Would you know of any resources that would help?

I appreciate your help,

Sidney, NE

Hi Caleb,

Youíre on the right track. Putting a higher gear ratio would require fewer revolutions from the engine and transmission to turn the wheelsógiving you better MPG if fitted with the correct tire size. Where it gets tricky is if youíre running oversized tires or use your truck for off-road driving, hauling or towing loads. Itís not going to have much power and feel very sluggish. Thatís something to consider.

If you decide to swap out gears, you would need to do both front and rear. One company that makes ring and pinion sets for the Nissan Frontier is Rugged Rocks.  They should be able to help you find what you need and answer any further questions regarding your specific gear needs.




4x4 AnswerMan,

Can you take the transfer case out without pulling the transmission?

Hi FJ60 Owner,

You should be able to pull off the transfer case without removing the transmission, but you will need to split the transfer case in order to remove bolts attached to the transmission. For many, itís easier to just pull the transmission out with the transfer case. Itís easier to work on it when itís off the vehicle.

Thereís a good thread on IH8MUD that discusses this topic. Hope it helps: http://forum.ih8mud.com/60-series-wagons/421308-fj60-transfer-case-removal.html



4x4 AnswerMan,

What is the towing capacity of the 1978 Bronco 4x4?
Tiffany Cox

Hi Tiffany,

The original ownerís manual in 1978 said you could comfortably tow 2000 Ė 3500lbs.  The only draw back is the short wheelbase.  You have to be really careful and make sure your weight is distributed correctly.  You donít want to put too much weight on the tongue. Thereís some good information shared on the Full Size Bronco forum that you may find useful.  http://www.fullsizebronco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=178926

Good luck



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a Ď96 4Runner Limited and Iím looking to lift it about 2.5" in the back and 3" in the front (Toytech). Iím also going to run a 1" diff drop. I was just wondering if you think it would clear 33x12.5 Baja Claws without a body lift? If not, would a 1" body lift clear them? Let me know if you have any suggestions, thanks.


Letter sparked from article Toyota 4Runner, Third Generation: Trail Suspension, Part 3

Hi Josh,

Sounds like youíre on the right track.  The suspension lift you have in mind should work for 33s. You may need to get wheels with a different offset to keep from rubbing in the rear when flexing, and in the front when turning or flexing suspension. You might be able to get away with some wheel spacers.

Justin Fort, owner of the 3rd Gen in the article runs a 10-inch wide Goodyear MTR on 17s with no problems.

As for the body lift, see how you do with the suspension only first. If you are rubbing a lot, you can add a body spacer.

Since youíre planning on buying the suspension from Toytech, why donít you give them a call.  They should be able to clarify what their kit will and will not work with (tire sizes, wheel offsets).

Good luck.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a stock 2000 GMC Z71 truck with a regular cab and short bed. I want to put a Fab Tech 6-inch lift and run 35s. Now I have found AMP power steps and they do not make a step for a Chevy/GMC regular cab truck.  Do you know of another company that might have the power step or what can be done to make the steps fit a regular cab? I would not mind if the steps went out to the bed, I could just open the door and let the step come down and use it to get to the bed from the side, but the frame turns up at the cab/bed so now what can be done?

Thanks, Gary

Hi Gary,

Sounds like a nice project. Unfortunately neither AMP Research or Bestop make a power step for your regular cab pick-up. You might be able to modify one of the extended cab models to work on your truck. Some fabrication would be involved to make the rear mount attach to the frame and be strong.

Best thing to do would be to contact AMP Research or Bestop and get dimensions for a 2000 GMC Sierra Extra Cab power step. Then decide how much fabrication it would require to mount.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 96 Chevy k1500 z71. One day it decided to put itself in 4HI and slowed my truck down bad then came a loud pop noise. Ever since it has really bad hesitation in 4x4 and has the same loud pop noise.

Hi Cheyenne,

This doesnít sound good. The fact that your truck forced itself into 4HI, followed by a loud pop would indicate something internal in the transfer case was damaged.  Your best bet is to take the transfer case out of the truck and see what is wrong inside. It might be a bearing, chain or shaft.  Also, look for stress cracks on the case, along with oil leaks.

Whatever you do, donít keep driving the truck without addressing this problem. Itís not going away, and driving it will only make it worse. If you donít feel comfortable taking the transfer case out yourself, a visit to a good transmission shop or mechanic.

Best of luck.




4x4 AnswerMan,

I found this article post via Google, looking for a little 4x4 day trip. Great writing here! I found it entertaining and interesting. I will be coming back for more! Thanks!

C Taylor

Letter sparked by story Off-Road Trail Rides in Orange County, Calif.

Hi Taylor,

Weíre glad you found us. Sometimes the trails close to home are just as fun as the ones far away. We hope you had a good time and keep checking back for more off-road adventures.

If you havenít already, please ďlikeĒ us on Facebook to stay up to date on our latest off-road builds, adventures and off-road racing action.
http://www.facebook/ .com/offroadcom



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have an Ď06 Chevy 1500 with a 2-inch leveling kit on the front. I have gotten 17-inch DC 2 rims, and I was wondering if I can fit 33 Nitto Mud Grapplers on it without rubbing when I turn? Do I have to get a 4-inch lift or not? And what would you prefer?

Hi PD Riggers,

If your 2006 Chevy Silverado 1500 is 4x4, you should be able to run 33-inch tires with no issues. You already have the leveling kit so youíre set!

You may need to trim the bumper if it rubs, but only address that once you experience the rub. This usually only happens when you have to make a U-turn or the truckís suspension is flexed off-road.




4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 2008 Toyota RAV 4, and I would like as much info on lifting it to get just a little better ground clearance and tires.


Look no further than the Trucklet project RAV 4 build here on Off-Road.com. You can find a complete series of articles to help you completely transform your micro SUV into one bad trail machine. Use the search box, keyword ďRAV 4Ē for more.

Toyota Rav4 Crawling: Recapping our Build of the Trucklet


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:

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

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