4x4 AnswerMan: Reader Truck & SUV Questions

May. 30, 2014 By Jaime Hernandez
Ryan Hauf in is fully exoed Ford Explorer had plenty of steel and grunt to take on drive shaft hill in Truckhaven, CA, all while giving the crowd a show.

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.

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Letter sparked by First Ride: 2015 Toyota TRD Pros


If they had included an 8-speed in the 2015 I'd be in line already. I wish Toyota would give us something that we can’t find or upgrade on a previous model Tundra. The Tacoma and Tundra drivetrains are more then sufficient in power, but they are also dated. I’d rather mod a ‘12 on the cheap rather then purchase a ‘15 at a premium.  I’ve been wanting for a new Tundra for the past 2 years and thought this might be it, but as it stands, I'll wait for the ‘16. There just isn’t enough “New” for me in this new truck.


Hi Scott,

It sounds like you’ve had your eye on the Toyota Tundra for some time.  Whatever year Tundra you decide to buy, it’s a great truck to build on and make your own.  If the packages and offerings from Toyota are not exciting to you, then make your own “Scotty” package.  We did, and it proved to be fun and worthwhile. There’s plenty of support from the aftermarket for the 2007-2015 Toyota Tacoma, so there should be no shortage of accessories, suspension and engine performance upgrades and option.

Good luck.





What I find funny is the fact that they have such small tires. 31.5 tall…really? Where's the 33s and 35s?

Dale Aastrom

Hey Dale,

Must be an OE thing. In all fairness, none of the Big 3 offer a 35-inch tire on their factory 4x4 rides. Maybe TRD should take some cues from the Ford SVT Raptor and RAM Power Wagon, which are both fitted with 33-inch all-terrain tires from the factory.

If you want a Toyota TRD Pro with taller rubber, you can do it yourself.  The truck will need some help from a suspension lift to clear them, as these trucks don’t have much room for larger off-road tires. That said, it can be done! 

Check out this Tundra story for details.

Toyota Tundra: Fixing Tire Rub from Large Off-Road Tires



4x4 AnswerMan,

My Trailblazer Check Engine light went on and shot a P0128 code.  According to my boyfriend, it’s something to do with engine temperature.  The truck seems to be running fine, but with summer on the way, I don’t want to overheat my baby.  Any help is appreciated.


Hi Daisy,

Glad you were able to pull the code off your OBD-II. According to the folks at OBD-Codes.com, the P0128 trouble code is for a “Coolant Thermostat (Coolant Temperature Below Thermostat Regulating Temperature).”

What this means is that the engine has not reached the required temperature level within a specified amount of time after starting the engine. Some causes for the P0128 code may be low engine coolant level, leaking or stuck open thermostat, faulty cooling fan, coolant temperature sensor (ECT) or intake air temperature sensor (IAT).  You can read more about P0128 at: http://www.obd-codes.com/

I would start with the easy stuff, like checking your radiator fluid.  You can also re-set the PCM and see if the code comes back.  While the care is off, you can check to see if the fan clutch has resistance.  It should, and if it doesn’t, you may have a bad fan clutch.  Also, if you hear the fan making loud buzzing noise, pushing air like a prop plane, or feel a loss in engine power at higher RPMs--it can indicate the fan clutch is bad. The fan should slow down as engine RPMs goes up. If your Trailblazer has over 75k miles, they have been known to go bad as you reach the 100k mark.

If the fan clutch seems fine, I would check and replace the thermostat if needed. They’re not that expensive and easy to replace. The sensors would be the last things on my list, as they will probably be the more expensive pieces of the puzzle, next to the fan clutch. If possible, check them with a multimeter to see if they are working properly before replacing them.  Reference your vehicle service manual for specs.

Good luck, I hope you get this sorted out before the summer heat.



Letter sparked by Nissan MQ Patrol 4WD FAQ File


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

Johann van den Berg

Hello Johann,

Your best bet is eBay or a wrecking yard. If you can park the Patrol for a few days without use, you could also take out your current one and send it out to be rebuilt. Check with your local repair shop or auto parts store for options.

Good luck!



4x4 AnswerMan,

My 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 Turbo Diesel will not go over 30 mph. Every once in awhile it goes in 3rd gear but not overdrive for the freeway. It has plenty of transmission fluid and no lights are on warming me about anything? I’m lost!!!


Hi Brandon,

Bummer, it sounds like your transmission is toast. The fact that you’re still able to drive it, but can’t get it up to highway speed would be a pretty good indicator. You can also check the fluid and smell it. If it looks dark or smells burn—BINGO! Your best bet at this point is to drive it over to a Transmission shop and have them give you a FREE diagnostic, along with an estimate to rebuild. Try to find a reputable shop in your area that deals with diesel trucks.

I’m not sure what type of driving you do with your truck, but if it’s highly modified, it may be a good time to upgrade your transmission to something that can handle more horsepower and torque.  You can get some ideas on what’s available at BD Diesel Power at http://www.dieselperformance.com/.

Good luck!



4x4 AnswerMan,

Will a 1985 ignition switch work in a 82 Datsun 720 pickup model?


Hello Aaron,

The ignition switch for the Datsun/Nissan 720 pickups is the same from 1979-1985, so you should be good.  Make sure it’s not a 1985.5, as this is when the truck was redesigned and became the Nissan Hardbody. The Hardbody switch will not fit without some wiring and dash modification.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I read your article about the Toyota ADD Diffs and I have a question. I have a 2000 Tacoma with the 3.4 and the 4.10 diff.  I found out fast that my current carrier is no good it, pops an snaps when I engage the front diff. I've replaced everything you would normally replace CV shafts, both sides, and have since replaced the locking hubs (mine came with manual locking hubs) with the good Warn hubs. I recently bought a front carrier out of a salvage yard. It has the ADD vacuum on it, my carrier doesn't have it on the diff. Now can I swap the diffs an be ok? And also I took the vacuum unit off, and now mind you, I’m still new to the Toyota 4x4 scene.  Is the unit a limited slip or what?  I can turn the yoke and it doesn't spin the passenger side splines.  Also can I take my non-ADD section off my dif and swap it on the ADD side? Can you help clear this up because it’s driving me nuts. I'm a solider in Ft Benning Georgia and I need my 4x4. Any assistance or pointers will be helpful.  I'm a good mechanic I'm just a little lost when it comes to this section of the truck.

Lt. Brandon

Hi Brandon,

First off, THANK YOU for your service.  Sounds like you’re getting right into your Toyota and on your way to sorting out the differential problem.  Yes, you should be able to use your electric actuator in place of the vacuum actuator on your IFS 7.5 inch differential.  I’m not sure what year the donor carrier came from, but a quick comparison and some measurements should be able to tell you if the clam and internals are compatible.  You should be good as long as the donor differential came from a 1995-03 Tacoma, 2000-04 Tundra or 1996-02 4Runner with a 7.5-inch IFS front differential.  The diagram below may also help get a visual.

As far as limited slip (LSD) is concerned, the 7.5-inch IFS differential did not come equipped with LSD from the factory.  This would be an aftermarket add on.  Both sides would be spinning when you turn one side if any of the two differentials have it installed.

Hope this helps.

Please send us some photos of your Toyota off-roading in Georgia!



Dear 4x4 AnswerMan,

Finally found good discussion here. I have a 2013 Diesel Twin Turbo Land Cruiser 200 series and I am going to change my suspension system. I have tried OME with 2” lift and now I am planning to have Bilsteins, but until now I couldn’t find one.

In the Bilstein catalogue, there is only 1 choice they recommend, which is OEM replacement 4600 series shocks. Are there any available raised struts?


Hi Bill,

Glad you found us.  You’re a very luck man to have a 200 Series Land Cruiser, let alone a Turbo Diesel Toyota. You mentioned Bilstein, but like you stated, they only have factory replacement options at this time, no lifted coilovers.  If you’ve had your fun with the Old Man Emu and are ready for something with more off-road performance—we recommend you take a look at FOX.

Their 3.0 FOX Performance Series coil over is designed and tuned for the 200 Series Land Cruiser.  It offers up to 2-inches of lift.  In addition, you can be assured you will also be getting one of the best nitrogen off-road shocks, backed by over 35 years of racing technology.  Match them to a set of Total Chaos Upper Control Arms (UCAs) to get the most suspension travel and off-road performance from your FOX 3.0 Coilovers.

Rear FOX 2.0 IPF Performance Series shocks are also available, so you can match the front.  As far as rear springs go, you may still need to consult Old Man Emu.

You can find more information on FOX at http://www.ridefox.com/




4x4 AnswserMan,

I have a maroon 1997 Z71 Silverado, it has no rust or anything so it’s easily paintable. I want to paint it black with a nice clear coat. About how much will it run me?


Hello Marion,

Looks like you’re giving your truck a second life with a new paint job.  According to a credible source, you should be able to get a paint job done on your truck anywhere from $300-$400 during a sale promotion (keep your eye out for online ads, newspaper, radio or TV commercials).  If your paint job requires a clear coat, you’re looking at an additional $200-$300 bucks.  Mind you, these guesstimates are just for the exterior body panels, not interior. They can also match up the door sills, but that will likely run you some additional coin. Same goes for the inside of bed.

If you’re handy, you might be able to save a few bucks if you can do some of the prep work yourself, like taking off molding, sanding, body work, etc.

If I were you, I’d get 2-3 quotes from auto paint shops around you and then decide on what works best for you. Ask them if you can get any discount if you do some of the prep work.

Editor Josh Burns recently had his Jeep painted at MAACO and it turned out great!  Take a look - WJ Project.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I went off-roading in my 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 over the weekend and noticed on the way home, the rear left wheel smelled like hot brakes.  It also seemed to get hotter than the right side while driving.  I checked the pads on the disk brakes, and they have plenty of meat.  Any ideas on what can be causing this?


Hello Randy,

The rear disk brakes on these 3rd Generation Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 trucks are nice for braking power, but vulnerable when it comes to off-road.  This is especially the case if you are running stock size tires (265/70R17), as there is not much ground clearance.  The caliper is exposed and can easily come in contact with rocks or other objects on the trail.  It’s possible that you hit the caliper and bent the slide pin bolt.  If this is the case, the rear brake pads are not able to disengage and slide back to a neutral position after hydraulic pressure is released from the lines.  In other words, the brake pads are still touching the rotor even after you take your foot off the brake pedal.  This might be the reason you smelled “hot brakes” while driving.

I recommend you get underneath your truck and look for any rock rash on the caliper, bolts or bracket.  If nothing jumps at you, I would get the rear tires off the ground and  spin the wheel at question to check for brake resistance.  If you notice any stopping points or rotor noise, you know there’s a frozen caliper.

To dig further, you can also remove the wheel to inspect caliper.  If the slide pin bolt is bent, you’ll see it as you remove the caliper from the axle.  If damaged, the brake slide pins cost less than $10 and can easily replaced.  Once caliper is removed, check brake pads, guide pins, brake line and piston for any damage.  You should be able to pin point the problem during inspection.

If you don’t feel comfortable working on your brakes, take the truck into a certified mechanic.
Good luck.

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
April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

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