4x4 Answerman: Off-Road Van Conversion, 2017 Ford Raptor, Torsion Keys and More

Dec. 08, 2015 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

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015 


NISSANíS NEW DIESEL PICKUP
The new 2016 Nissan Titan XD has given pickup truck owners something to be excited about going into the New Year. Having a 555 lb-ft Cummins 5.0L V8 turbo diesel under the hood doesnít hurt either.

Diesel truck enthusiasts on Off-Road.com have been chiming in on what they think about this full-size truck.

@bill says: ďThis is what Ram should have come out with."

Thomas Barry Sr says, ďOne thing Iíd rather see on this engine is a gear, rather than chain driven valve train.Ē

@Aronzona says ďIf I had the money I would buy one. I like it!!!!Ē

Nissanís new turbo-diesel-powered truck is certainly making tracks across the nation and getting attention from truck enthusiasts. Off-Road.com just completed a test run with the Titan XD across the Mojave Desert and up to the Eastern Sierra. See how it did.

MORE: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Fuel Economy Testing

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RAM TRUCK MISINFORMATION
Off-Road.com,

Having problem with Electronic Vehicle Information Center on Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab. When gas save info comes on, eng. light comes on, currently no info available, only outside temp, gas info etc., scrolling down with up/down button, screen blank and eng. light on. Is there a fuse or XX that needs attention? Your help would be appreciated. Local dealer is no help, does not know the answer. 

Thanks!
Bruce
New Mexico

Hi Bruce,

You can definitely check all the fuses for peace of mind, but if the problem is still popping up, it needs a deep scan, with a possible re-flash to sort out this bug. The EVIC (Electronic Vehicle Information Center) integrates all the vitals of your truck and communicates directly with the ECM. Itís an advanced system that requires advanced equipment to diagnose (more than the OBD-II scanners readily found).

I would suggest taking it to a different RAM truck dealership or certified mechanic that understands electrical systems, especially the EVIC.  Depending on the year model, it may still be under warranty. RAM trucks are backed by a 5-year/60,000-mile Limited Warranty. You can learn more at http://www.ramtrucks.com.

Good luck!

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F-150 BRONCO AXLES

Off-Road.com,
Will front and rear axles from Ď91 Bronco fit a Ď95 F-150?

For those not familiar with the twin-traction beam (TTB) developed by Ford in the Ď80s, here's a TTB truck build by brinker88. Note that itís a hybrid of a solid axle and independent suspension. An interesting design still used by many off-road racers.

Hi Richard,

The front Dana 44 Twin Traction Beam (TTB) should fit, as well as the rear 8.8-inch axle. If your F-150 truck still has the Ford 9-inch rear, you may want to keep it. Itís much stronger than the 8.8 and there are more options for building it up down the road (gears, lockers, heavy duty axles, trusses, etc).

Good luck.

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BOLT-ON ROLL CAGE

Off-Road.com,

Did Justin think about welding that roll bar in? I'm not comfortable with the bolting idea yet.
Javier, Gunnison CO

Letter sparked by Installing a Four-Point Rollbar in a Toyota 4Runner

Javier,

The re-enforced bolt-on roll cage installed by Mr. Fort on his trusty Toyota 4Runner is the same roll cage delivered from the factory on the first-generation 4Runner (plus modifications). It was designed to bolt down to the floor and keep the top from completely folding in during a roll over. As you may recall, the first-generation 4Runner had a fiberglass top.

Many will agree that having something is better than nothing, even if itís a bolt-on roll bar. If you have the space, time and materials to do it, tying into the frame is stronger. This can be achieved either by welding or bolting it down with high-strength bolts and steel plate.

For now, Mr. Fort plans to continue bonking around in his hunter green 4Runner. But itís fair to say no modification is ever out of the question. Stay tuned to see what other nifty mods come out of Justinís garage.

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2017 FORD RAPTOR

The all-new Ford F-150 Raptor continues to stir the pot with off-road truck aficionados, but some still arenít ready to swallow the V-6 pill. Hereís what some Off-Road.com readers are saying about the latest SVT pickup truck.

Comanche1 doesnít seem to be a big fan of V6 engine. He says, ďV-6. Get a rope.Ē

Others like JeepinJason are looking past that and really digging the styling.  He says, ďThe newer trucks are just bringing back some 'retro' styling cues. Go look at Ford, Chevy, and Dodge trucks from the 1960s, or older Toyota trucks. The FORD in the grille of the Raptor is actually somewhat reminiscent of the original Bronco's grille.Ē

Do you love or hate the all-new 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor?  We want to know.

Comment below.

Comments sparked by 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Testing in Production Form 

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LIFTED G-VAN

Hello 4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 1990 Chevy G20 van. I would really like to lift it up a bit to be able to fit some bigger tires and give it a beastier look. Is the frame of my van the same as any other vehicles? My ultimate goal is to convert it to a 4x4. But I am just a poor boy doing it all myself. I have access to a very large pick n pull so I am hoping I can get the needed 4x4 parts. So my two questions are 1) How can I level out and also lift my van 2 inches to?  2) How can I convert to 4x4? 

Thanks for any info. Itís much appreciated.

Cheers. 
Dale

Hey Dale,

Sounds like a fun project and van build. To get a little lift up front, you might be able to squeeze in taller springs or coil spacers to level out the ride. The factory front A-arms and suspension only have limited adjustability for alignment, so you canít go too big. I wouldnít do more than a 1-inch tweak without modifying the A-arms (which involves heating, bending, fabricating, extending for proper wheel toe-in alignment). Most 2WD lift use a lifted spindle to get around this issue.

If you're serious about building a GM G20 4x4 van, you need to check out Boulder Offroad 4x4 Vans. They have converted many G series vans into 4x4. Their website gives you plenty of ideas of what's involved, what you need, and what you can expect. They even sell conversion kits if you're a DIY type of guy.

You can keep things relatively low cost if you find donor front and rear axles, transmission, transfer case, and maybe even some drive shafts.

You can learn more about GM Van 4x4 Conversions at http://www.boulderoffroadvans.com

Happy Trails!

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DODGE DURANGO PEG LEG

Hello 4x4 Off-Road.com,

Love your Q&A section, very informative.

I have a 2000 Dodge Durango with the 5.9 engine, 3.55 gears, NO ANTISPIN.  This is a huge disadvantage off road especially over uneven terrain, is there any way to mitigate this problem without re gearing? I'm running stock height with firestone m/t's (31"), plan on a 2 in torsion/shackle lift in the near future.

Another question, my tranny slips sometimes on dry pavement but performs perfectly on the beach when I cruise slow in 4 low. Will changing the fluid help? It has 140k on it.

Thanks for the help!

Jason
Long island, NY

Hi Jason,

Thanks for writing in. We like what youíve done with your Durango so far, it looks like itís ready for adventure. Iím sure driving it on the beach is great fun, especially with that 5.9 V8 engine.

As for your open differential question, you can do a few things. You can add a limited slip to your 8.25 Chrysler rear differential, like the DANA Trac-loc limited slip. You will get plenty more traction off-road, and itís well mannered during on-road driving (no chirping around corners). A Trac-loc will set you back around $320 +labor. You can learn more at
http://www.4WP.com

If you frequent the sand, letting some air out of the tires will also help add traction, in addition to making the vehicle ride softer off-road. Around 15 psi seems to be a good tire pressure for sand off-road driving Ė but donít go any lower without beadlock wheels.

As for your transmission, if youíve never changed the fluid, it wouldnít hurt to do it. You should also service the transfer case while youíre at it. You can add an additive to help with slipping. Weíve had some luck with Lucas Oil Transmission Fix.

Good luck!


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BIG STUFF BOWTIE

4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 95' Chevy 1500 and itís all stock.  I want to get bigger tires than I have now (mine are 29'' almost 30'') and I want 31-inch tires, the only thing I worry about is rubbing.

Thank You,
Kate


Hi Kate,

Please donít worry. Your truck has plenty of room for larger tires. In fact, you can comfortably fit up to 33-inch tires without rubbing (285/75/R16 or 285/70/R17 are very popular). Itís also important to keep close to factory wheel offset to minimize rubbing.

If you happen to get extra aggressive mud-terrain tires with chunky thread blocks there is a slight chance they may rub on the bumper and fender. In that cases you can simply trim the bumper and bang a little sheet metal to give way to big rubber.

If you want a little more lift up front, you can get a set of torsion lift keys, which will easily yield up to 2.5 inches to level out your ride. It will also give your K1500 pickup additional room for large tires up front.
You can find a great selection at 4 Wheel Parts
http://www.4WP.com.

Happy wheeliní!

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DISK BRAKE CONVERSION KIT

Off-Road.com,

I have a 1970 K10 Chevy truck I would like to change from drum to disc front and rear.  Do they make a kit?
Dennis

Hi Dennis,

Youíre in luck. Ruff Stuff Specialties makes just the kit youíre looking for. They can also sell you just the brackets necessary for the disk brake conversion if you wish to source your own rotors and calipers. Check with them for details at
http://www.ruffstuffspecialties.com.

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REBEL TRUCK

Weíre still getting plenty of mixed letters from readers on the Ram 1500 Rebel pickup truck. ďLamest grill design, IMOĒ says Hill @disqus_RJDBraOHMI.  Jimmy in southbay thinks itís ďkickassĒ.

Personally, I like the concept. Itís not for everyoneóbut neither is the premium price tag. What do you think?

Get the full story at Testing Ramís new 1500 Rebel off-road truck. 

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
October 2015 

September 2015 

August 2015 


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