4x4 Answerman Tackles Your Off-Road Questions

Oct. 20, 2011 By Jaime Hernadez
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:

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

Hey 4x4 AnswerMan,

Long story short I blew up one 5.0 302 V8 motor (jumped it into a lake haha). I replaced the motor with a new torque converter and I put the converter on wrong.  I bolted it to the motor instead of the tranny first.  I was wondering if i could have broken anything or can i still save the tranny, if I unbolt everything and try it again.  If you could help me out that would be great.

Hayden Lott

Hi Hayden,

Didnít your mom tell you those Duke boys had stunt devils and more than one General Lee for each episode?

I hope you learned your lesson: jump, break, fix and do it again. ďYee Haa.Ē

Ok, joking aside--take care of yourself, be safe if youíre going to be the next big Hollywood stunt man. Before you go jumping any more, we need to get your wheels running again. Itís hard to say how much damage was done by bolting things the way you did. Youíre going to have to take it apart no matter what.

Once you have the transmission pulled back from the engine, it should give you a better idea if things are salvageable or you will need a new torque converter and flywheel, and possibly a transmission.

Good luck!

Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a 1979 20r Toyota Longbed and am going to install an HEI ignition.
Can you tell me curb weight, diff gear ratio, and stock cfm?  Can't thank you enough.
Kevin Mc Grath Redway,CA

Hi Kevin,

Nice find, these old trucks make awesome crawlers.  The 1979 Toyota pick-up truck came equipped with a 4-cylinder 20R, naturally-aspirated engine with the help of an Aisan 190 cfm carburetor. As for curb weight I couldnít find an exact number, but it should come in at around 2900 lbs.
Gear ratio from Toyota is 4.10 on 4WD models.

Hello 4x4 AnswerMan,

I am writing to you from La Paz, Bolivia, and need some help. I work in the mining industry and travel all over Bolivia on some pretty bad roads. I am looking for a vehicle that can carry up to 2000 kilos in mineral. The best vehicles here are the old FJ40's but there are very few. The biggest issue is that there are laws in place right now that will not allow the importation of trucks older than 2006 and all other vehicles have to be 2008 or newer.

My question is whether it is possible to put the suspension of the old FJ40's onto a newer Toyota truck, like the Tundra? The older Toyotas have a different suspension that can handle the higher load capacity.

What issues would there be?  How much would something like this cost?

Thank you very much for your time and please send me any questions you may have.


Hola Raul,

2000 kilos. Thatís a lot of ore. Thatís about 2 metric tons.
I have an FJ40 sitting in my garage that would love to make a trip down to Bolivia. They are great little mining carts, arenít they. = )

Well, I see your dilemma and can think of a few options. Obviously keeping the package compact in size is probably important when accessing the mines.

You could swap in FJ40 suspension parts to another vehicle, but if youíre thinking of using a Toyota Tacoma, consider working with the existing suspension. All you may need is heavy-duty springs to carry the extra load.

Start with Old Man Emu; they have many leaf and coil spring applications, including heavy-load springs designed to take up to 800 lbs. more than stock springs. If you still need more help, consider adding air helper springs, such as those made by Firestone.

If you still need more, you may need to have a custom leaf pack built with add-a-leafs.

Price for leaf springs starts at about $250 each, and coils are $100 each.
Good luck, and please send us a photo of your mining FJ40 in operation.

 Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

Is it possible to do any mild off-roading with a 2012 all-wheel drive KIA Sorrento? I have a 1500 ft. driveway which is difficult in the winter. I also drive around the edge of corn fields during the hunting season. I notice the KIA has a locking center differential, would this be enough with proper tires to go off road? If this vehicle won't do it, do you recommend any other crossovers? I currently have a 2001 Ford Explorer, but I'm looking for better gas mileage.
Thank you, 
Don Foster

Hi Don,

The vehicle is definitely capable of off-road travel. In 2006 the Sorrento completed an around-the-world expedition with Christer Gerlach behind the wheel. The Swedish driver and adventurer completed a 27,000-kilometer global adventure with no problems.

If youíre serious about getting on the dirt with your Sorrento, the first thing you need are off-road-worthy tires. An all-terrain tire would be the best choice for your vehicle, as it will give you added traction off-road and handle good on road.  You may also consider adding a performance monotube shock absorber for better handling on and off-road.

Just run it off-road around your area and youíll soon learn what its limits are and where it shines. Worst case scenario, you may need to have a tractor pull you out of a muddy corn field--but at least it was fun.


Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 2011 Denali HD 2500 single-wheel truck and I have hotshot business and I feel like I would be better off with dully wheels for weight safety. Is this possible without changing out axles?


*Hotshotting, for those who donít know, is carrying loads on a trailer such as cars using a light-duty truck. You may have seen them running around the interstate hauling equipment or 3-4 cars on a trailer.

Hello Luther,

There are ways to convert your truck into a dually using the same housing, but it will not increase your load-carrying capacity. One of those ways is by using a dually kit, such as the one shown below from Arrowcraft (http://www.arrowcraft.com/).

Although the dually wheel may help with stability, and save your bacon in case of a blow-out, it does not give you any more towing capacity.

Your 3/4 ton GMC Sierra Denali HD truck is rated at 17,000 lbs. If you need more than that, you should consider trading it in for a 1-ton diesel dually rated at 21,000 lbs.

The DOT goes by the reading on the little sticker on your driver door. So even if you converted your 3/4 ton into a dually, the max you can tow is 17,000 lbs. legally. 

Hope that helps. Happy Truckiní.


4x4 AnswerMan,
Iíve got an Ď89 4Runner sitting on 35x14.50x15 boggers. Iím pulling the 22re out and dropping in a Chevy small block bolted up to a SM465, and either a 205 or a rockwell t221. My question for you is what all is involved in the conversion and have i made the right choice in tranny/transfer case.


Hi Mike,

You canít go wrong with a Chevy small block Ė good horsepower and easy to find parts. As for the transmission, the SM465 is a great choice if youíre looking for a low 1st gear (6.56 to 1 ratio).

The 205 transfer case would be a better choice, as there are more aftermarket parts available. Parts for Rockwell T221 are scarce.

Aside from motor mounts, trans and t-case mounts, modified drivelines and any little details such as wiring and plumbing, you should be golden. 

To give you a better idea on what all is involved with an engine swap, take a look at this Off-Road.com article that discusses swapping in a 4.3l Chevy V6 into a Toyota. The process will be very similar, just add 2 pistons for the V8.


4x4 AnswerMan,
I have an Ď86 Toyota pickup with a standard 5 speed. In overdrive it makes a whining sound.  What might the cause be and is there anything I can do to keep it from getting worse?


Hi Tristan,

Sounds like the OD is haunting your gearbox.  First off, check your trans fluid to make sure you have enough.  At the higher RPM, low oil and grinding gears can become more noisy.  If the oil level seems fine, then you can try a cheap fix, such as putting in some thicker oil or additive from Lucas Oil. This will help quiet down the howling. Just make sure you donít overfill.

If that doesnít fix it, or if it continues to get worse, you should really have it repaired. It will end up costing you more if you wait until it completely grenades.

4x4 AnswerMan,
Are you aware of any International Harvester Scout II clubs in or around Ontario, Canada?  Any information you have to share is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your tremendous work and assistance. 

Hi Gene,

Greeting to our friends in Canada. Looking around our list of IH clubs here on Off-Road.com, and even on the World Wide Interweb, we were not able to come up with an International Harvester Scout II Club in Ontario, Canada. 

The closest one we could find is in British Columbia, on the opposite side of the country. You probably donít want to move.

These vehicles are rare, so itís no surprise that finding a club specific to the IH Scout II is hard to find. You could always start your own.

Another option is to join a 4x4 club in Ontario. At least youíll be able to learn about 4x4s, share interest, and go on some trail runs with your new buds.

There are two 4x4 clubs in your area:

Easter Ontario Trail Blazers http://www.eotb.ca/
Central Ontario 4x4 Club

It might be worth while looking into.

If you want to try starting a club, drop a post on the forums here at Off-Road.com. Maybe youíll find there are a few people in your area with the same desire to get out and wheel - http://forums.off-road.com/.

Hello 4x4 Answer Man,

I have a 1998 Chevy 1500 Silverado and I was planning on doing a 6-inch lift kit and I was curious to know if i would have to install a longer driveshaft in the truck? I have asked several people but have gotten mixed answers and I just wanted an answer for sure.

Hi David,

In most cases you donít need to buy new driveshafts when lifting a Chevy K1500 Silverado or Tahoe with a 6-inch lift. Most of the good suspension lift kits come with transfer case drop-down spacers or brackets that re-align the driveshaft angle.

My brother has been running a RCD 6-inch suspension lift for over eight years now and has had no problems on his K1500 Tahoe. Still running the factory front and rear driveshafts.

There are other suspension companies that make good quality 6-inch kits, such as  Skyjacker, Superlift, Rancho and even Pro Comp. Make sure to check them out too.

Do I need special brake rotors for off-roading? Drilled, slotted or both?

Qusay Ali

Hi Qusay Ali,

You donít need special brake rotors to off-road. As long as your factory rotors are in good working order and stop, you should be fine.

If you are running large off-road tires, or simply want better brake performance, you can certainly upgrade to any of the variations you have mentioned above.

Depending on the type of terrain you off-road, there are arguments on why not to run slotted or cross-drilled rotors, such as mud caking on them and causing horrible brake noise. If you are in sandy or desert regions, you should be okay.

Youíre not going to notice much of a difference at low speed; high-speed is where they really shine. Slotted and drilled rotors will cool faster than factory OE rotors. 

Donít forget about quality brake pads, those are just as important as the rotors.

I have to beef up my suspension on my 91 Sidekicker. What would you recommend? I live on three miles of gravel, and I tend to drive too fast. I love my baby. Looking forward to your recommendation.


Gail R.

Hello Gail,

So you have a led foot that canít be cured. Youíre on the right track with thinking of suspension. Adding some good shocks is going to be the fastest way to make the rough ride smoother, and also give you some added driving control. 

You can start by swapping out the factory shocks and struts with some quality Bilstein monotubes or Old Man Emu twins.

Next, consider getting some off-road worthy tires, maybe even the next size up to add more sidewall.  Tires will aid in softening the ride and getting you more traction on that gravel road of yours.

A good place to look for Geo Tracker parts is at RockyRoad Off-Road (http://www.rocky-road.com/). They specialize on these little trucklets.

Make sure to also check out our Tracker community here on Off-Road.com at

Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,  I have a 1995 K1500 GMC Yukon and I was planning to do a solid axel swap. I am able to get a front axle from a 2007 Ford F-350 Harley Davidson Super Duty. I was just wondering if this would work in my Yukon and what you knew about the death wobble. 

I believe this axle experienced something close, and is that even happening to the Dana axles? Their is also a Ford F-550 I believe to be a 2006 that is ready to go to the junk yard.   It has coil springs and traction beam looking things. I am wondering what kind of axel this is and if it would work too. I'm  very sorry but people on forums know nothing about this... and neither do I obviously.


Hi Ryan,

No worries, weíll try to steer you in the right direction.

First of all, ďdeath wobbleĒ can be experienced with any axle, or IFS A-arm for that matter.  Death Wobble has to do with worn suspension components, such as tie-rods, shocks, even the wrong tires. This problem can be resolved by isolating the source and fixing it. So donít let that hold you back from doing a front SAS swap using a Dana 60.

Next, moving to your solid axle swap question, it can be done. The least expensive and fastest way to get the front done is by using a leaf spring setup.  All you need to do is remove the factory IFS from your K1500 Yukon, weld some spring perches on the frame, and bolt on the new front springs and axle. Done.

Thereís obviously a little more work that needs to be done to connect the steering and driveline, but you get the point.

The other option would be using a coil sprung front axle, like the second one you found, but that usually requires more fabrication as you are now dealing with control arms and brackets to hold the coils or coilovers in place. If you can spring the money and time, this will give you a softer ride.

A good place for you to get more information on whatís involved and cost is Off-Road Designs. They specialize in full-size GM trucks, and also make all the brackets and parts you will need for a front straight axle conversion. They can be found at http://offroaddesign.com/.

One last piece of advice, if youíre going to step up to a 1-ton front axle, you should also do the rear. That little 10-bolt rear axle is no match for the monster Dana 60s youíre considering.  While youíre at it, you might as well upgrade your transmission and transfer case. The K1500 ½-ton drivetrain is not going to cut it.  Youíll be dealing with a broken t-case or burned tranny on your first off-road trip.  No fun.

Again, talk to the guys at Off-Road Designs. Theyíve done many of these swaps, so they can tell you all the ins and outs of building a 1/2-ton truck with 1-ton axles.

Good luck!


More 4x4 AnswerMan Columns:

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

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