4x4 AnswerMan: Off-Road Truck & SUV Tech Questions

Dec. 02, 2013 By Jaime Hernandez
Omix-ADA Kaiser Jeep M715 military truck on display at 2013 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, NV.

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

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4x4 AnswerMan,

When will the 2014 Silverado High Country model show up in dealerships?
Larry Davidson  

Hi Larry,

Just in time for the holidays, the new 2014 Silverado High Country pickup should be rolling into a Chevrolet dealership near you right about now (even if itís just in a catalog). The special edition Silverado adds a new level of tough truck luxury to the Silverado lineup with a unique chrome grille with horizontal chrome bars, halogen projector headlamps and body-color front and rear bumpers. Unique 20-inch chrome wheels with P275/55R20 all-season tires are standard, as are chrome body side moldings, door handles and mirrors.

The interior of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country features an exclusive saddle brown interior. Features include heated and cooled perforated leather front bucket seats with High Country logos on the headrests, Chevrolet MyLink connectivity with an 8-inch touch screen, Bose premium audio and front and rear park assist (Photo General Motors).

The luxurious pickup is powered by a Vortec 5.3-liter V8 with 355 HP and 383 lb-ft of torque, an optional 6.2L with 420 HP and 460 lb-ft of torque is also available. 

With a base price of $45,010 and more luxury than any production Chevy Silverado ever--this might be the one youíve been waiting for.

Read the full 2014 Silverado High Country review at our sister site AutoGuide.com.



4x4 AnswerMan,

How do you make lockout hubs for Dodge Ram 2500 truck, similar to a Ford?
Deb Graesser

Hi Deb,

In the past, a number of home-brewed hub conversions may have worked, but with 2000-present Dodge Ram truck, you need to retain the ABS brake sensors on the hub assembly if you plan on still driving it on the street. In cases like these, there arenít any easy frankenhubs one can piece together. Your best bet is to take a look at the conversion kits currently available by Dynatrac or SpynTec Industries. They are specifically machined to replace the factory unit bearing using the factory knuckle and will accommodate the factory ABS sensors. These kits also have a number of specialized pieces, all machined to specific tolerances and dimension to ensure proper fitment and reliability.

The new Shorty SpynTec hub for 2000-Ď13 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks are 1.25 inches shorter than their original Dodge hubs. These are a nice option if you run a stock or positive offset wheel. The shorter hub is less prone to stick outside the wheel/tire, keeping the heavy-duty manual wheel lock out of harmís way.

Some of the benefits to having a manual lock hub vs. factory assembly are:

ē Eliminates unit bearing hub assemblies prone to breaking.
ē Forged, machined hubs and spindles
ē Fully rebuild-able and inexpensive to maintain
ē Reduces drivetrain wear
ē Retains ABS sensors for a functional ABS Brake System.
ē Increased fuel economy (2-3 MPG)

More info at:

SpynTec Industries


Off-Road.com contributor Justin Fort traversing some lumpy terrain with his Toyota 4Runner in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado.
4x4 AnswerMan,

When are you posting the rear lift?

Hi Minerals Africa,

The Toyota 4Runner rear suspension story was installed in Part 3 of Toyota 4Runner, Third Generation: Trail Suspension. Thanks for unearthing this great Toyota build.

Toyota 4Runner, Third Generation: Trail Suspension - Part 3



4x4 AnswerMan,

I'm planning a future build on my pickup, '09 Silverado 1500 CCSB (LS), and am wanting a lot of lights. Exactly 26 - 50" Stealths, 6 - 30" Stealths, 6 - LaPaz HID, 6 - PreRunner HID, and 4 - Fuego's HID--all by Baja Designs. I'd like to group the LED bars 6/6/6/6/2 and then group all (4 lights) and blinker (2 lights) functions. If possible I'd like a master all on/off switch.

Thank You,
Cody Cornell

Hi Cody,

Thatís by far the craziest off-road lighting setup anyone we know has ever proposed.  Thatís more lights than most SCORE Baja 1000 Trophy Trucks or Severe Duty Military trucks. Are you trying to fend off vampires or outshine Clark Griswoldís House? 

In either case, it would be very impressive to see this come to light. We are big fans of Baja Designs and their innovative off-road lighting.

Yes, you can wire all of your lights to a single on/off switch (master). Basically, each light requires separate wiring, winch works off a Bosch-style relay. Baja Designs sells its own wiring harness, allowing for some additional function, like 50% Power and Strobe mode on LEDs. We highly recommend you look at their LED wiring harness to get the most out of your lights. They should also be able to help answer any questions about what you are planning to do.

Just in case you have room for one more set, Baja Designs just released a new line of LED lights called the Squadron XL. With a 4,300 lumen count and power draw of 42 watts, the new Squadron XL is the only single housing light on the market that has the distance of an 8Ē HID with the smooth spread of an LED (more info at http://www.bajadesigns.com/).

We just got a pair of Squadron XLs ourselves. Look for a full in-depth review real soon. Please let us know when your off-road lighting is fully operational Ė weíd love to see it (preferably from behind the beam).



4x4 AnswerMan,

I own a 1992 Nissan d21 pickup 4x4 with a Z24 engine. I live on St. Kitts Island in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. When the truck is parked for like two weeks and not driven at all, the wheels (I think itís mainly the rear wheels) just donít want to turn whether the truck is being towed or being driven. After being towed some distance the wheels would then run free or after some effort by the engine of providing power to the wheels they would then run free as normal. What causes the wheels to lockup?

Leroy Barnes

Hi Leroy,

This sounds very strange. Is there any chance your parking brake is locking and getting stuckórust maybe? Next time the truck sits for awhile, jack the rear axle off the ground to manually check if wheels will spin. If they donít, take wheels off to check rear brakes. It may just be a matter of adjusting or servicing them.

If the brakes are not the problem, you may have a bad bearing. Check for excessive play or grinding noise when turning the wheel. You may need to remove the hub assembly to physically inspect the bearings. I would recommend checking both rear and front wheels.

Please get this fixed ASAP, as you donít want to have it lock-up while driving. It could cause an accident.

Be safe.



4x4 AnswerMan,

Will a 2004 Chevy S-10 crew cab 4x4 hold 16" rims and tires without any modifications?

Derrick Armstrong

Hi Derrick,

If they are GM five-lug wheels with similar wheel off-set to factory wheels, you should be fine. Weíve run aftermarket 17-inch wheels with minimal spacers in the past. As far as the tire size goes, it really depends on how tall your truck is. If itís factory height, you can fit up to 30-inch tires with no lift. Any larger diameter will require a suspension or body lift.

Make sure to check out all our Chevy S-10 tech articles here on Off-Road.com.

Youíll be blown away.

Mickey Thompson Chevy S-10 Stadium Truck.



4x4 AnswerMan,

My problem is that it locks in and doesn't lock out. Then if I switch off the truck and leave it off for a few minutes it disconnects by itself.

Mark Anthony Vella

Hi Anthony,

These early Toyota Automatic Disconnecting Differential Systems are vacuum activated.  If you are still running the factory hoses, they are probably rotten and leaking air. I would start by replacing them. Theyíre over 20 years old!

Follow the trouble-shooting guide found here on Off-Road.com for more tips on how to fix your Toyota Automatic Disconnecting Differential System.

Good luck.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 2001 Chevy Silverado Z-71 4x4. I have recently replaced literally everything in the front, except the front diff. Now I have a severe vibration and noise coming from what feels like the left side short shaft. I checked the axle bearings and they were good. Also, the front left tire will not free spin in two-wheel drive. I can jack it up and try to turn it but can only get at most half a turn before it seizes up. The noise and vibration can be heard and felt at all speeds from 10 MPH to 80 MPH. The TC will engage and everything pulls. I can lock into 4-LO and see the front tires pulling but canít figure this one out. PLEASE HELP!!!!!

Justin Beasley

Hi Justin,

If possible, try disconnecting the front driveshaft to see what happens. If you still have the same symptoms, I would isolate it to the front differential. I have a feeling that the grinding noise and vibration is coming from a CV Axle. You said you already checked the wheel bearings, so if it wasnít that, CV Axle is next in line. If you can visually see grease oozing out of the boot or can feel excessive play, replace them. Since the truck probably has some miles on it, itís best to do it in pairs. If one failed, the other isnít too far behind.

Hope that takes care of the grind.


Nissan Patrol 160 Series (MQ / MK) made from 1980Ė1989 manufactured for Europe, Australia and South Africa (Photo Wikimedia). 


I am looking for a power steering box for a RHD MQ living in South Africa. Can anyone that direct me please?    

Johann van den Berg

Hello Johann,

Thanks for sending this over. We really like seeing different 4WDs from around the world. Your Nissan Patrol is one of those special rigs that really stands out on the trail.

As for a replacement power steering box, you should be able and source one in South Africa from a reputable auto parts store that deals with Nissan trucks. This may require making a few calls or even driving/flying into a major city. Try this group of Nissan Patrol owners in South Africa for local supplier recommendations. http://www.patrol4x4.co.za/

Good luck!


CHEVY Z71 Winch Bull Bar

4x4 AnswerMan,

Iím trying to find a bush guard just like the one on that Chevy. Whatís the name brand of it?

Big Chevy

Hi Big Chevy,

The winch bull bar you like from Project Z71 on Off-Road.com is a Warn Transformer Winch bumper. You keep your factory bumper, just add the winch/brush guard piece. More info at http://www.warn.com/.



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

I live in the UK and have a 2001 Nissan Terrano 2 SE 2.7 Tdi. It has around 90 thousand miles. My problem is that it will not engage 4x4 Low. It will engage 4x4 High. I have just replaced both the gearbox and transfer box. That had just over 60 thousand miles on it. My problem still exists. If I had any hair I would have pulled it out by now because up to yet, this has cost me almost £800 and still not sorted. Do you have any idea what the problem may be? 

Thanks in advance.
Brian Clark

Hello Brian,

It can be very frustrating when the 4WD gets stuck or starts to act up.  Sometimes the fix is as simple as slowing down and following some easy steps to engage low range. Iíve learned that most new vehicles shift into 4-LO much easier if they are in neutral and slightly rolling. The gears need to mesh up correctly.

Since you mentioned a new drivetrain installation, I would also go back and check all the plug connectors on the transmission and transfer case for proper fitment. One bad connection is all it takes to throw things off. 

If after checking all your plugs you still canít get it to engage into 4-LO, I would take it into a mechanic that can do an electronic diagnostic. They should be able to tell you if your 4WD switch, computer or actuator is bad.

If your model happens to have a manual shift lever, I would double-check the adjustment on the cable. If not properly adjusted, shifting into 4-LO will not be possible.

Good luck.



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

Does the Toyota Diff ID apply to an LN109 YOM 1994 Japan Import?

Mark Anthony Vella

Hi Mark,

It may work, but first you need your VIN#.  Once you have located that, you can use the chart located in article Toyota Differential Identification.

You may be surprised.

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

More 4x4 AnswerMan Columns
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