4x4 AnswerMan: Truck and SUV Off-Road Tech

Jul. 17, 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:
June 2012

May 2012

April 2012


TRUCK BED ATV HAULER SYSTEM

4x4 AnswerMan,
Looking for ATV Caddy rear loading for 2007 Chevy Silverado HD quad cab LT package. Price? Side loader price? Will need to load two Polaris Sportsman 550XP. Do the ramps have safety rails to ensure the bike tracks up the rails without any problems?

Warren Broadbent


Hi Warren,

If youíre looking for a high-quality system, look no further than DiamondBack HD ATV Hauler. They are built here in the USA out of strong, high-quality aluminum. They look great and are super lightweight. We tested their ATV ramps and ATV Carrier a few years back and were really impressed. The ramps have 3-inch sidewalls and can support up to 800 lbs. The HD Truck Cover from Diamond Back can support up to 1600 lbs.

Check out the related review article on Off-Road.com:

Two ATV Diamondback HD Cover Extension

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MY TRUCK IS ALL BENT UP

4x4 AnswerMan,
I need help on replacing the brackets on a Chevy S-10 4x4 that holds the cab.  The braces are welded to the frame on a s10 pickup. I hit a ditch and knocked the cab over to one side. I have all the bushings to mount it but the braces are messed up.

Bertswan


Hi Bertswan,

Sorry to hear your pick-up truck got all banged up. Hopefully your frame is still straight and doesnít look like a boomerang.

You may be able to repair the damaged brackets with some metal plate. While youíre at it, replacing the stressed bolts from the other side wouldnít hurt. The last thing you want is to have a fatigued bolt break. 

If the brackets are completely destroyed and not salvageable, the other option would be to find a donor frame at a wreaking yard to get brackets off to use on your frame.

Good luck.

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FJ CRUISER BROKEN STEERING

4x4 AnswerMan,
Last spring there was an article in a 4X4 magazine that dealt with a weak frame/steering box problem (crack) on an FJ Cruiser. I have been unable to find anything on the Internet to corroborate this problem. I have a 3-inch body lift and added 33s. Is this a real problem and who makes the repair kit?
Thanks for your time.
Moltrider


Hi Moltrider,

Anything is possible, but we havenít seen too many FJ Cruiser suffer from broken steering, unless you wheel them hard. If you like it rough, then you may consider upgrading the steering links. Those have more of a failure record, especially if your vehicle is lifted or long travel.

The guys at All-Pro Off-Road make a nice replacement made from .250 wall DOM tubing.  You can read more about them on our sister site FJCruiserForums.com


 
All-Pro Steering Links

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DODGE RAM TRX LEVELING KIT

4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a 2010 Dodge 2500 6.7L 4x4 TRX. Iím having a hard time finding a leveling kit to fit this truck. A lot of kits suggest not to put it on a truck with an off-road package (TRX package). My question is why not put it on a TRX package, what makes it different from a standard 4x4?

Jeff


Hi Jeff,

The Dodge Ram TRX has different shocks and springs than the SLT and Laramie 4x4 2500 models. The TRX suspension is tuned for off-road and hauling/towing. It also makes the truck sit about 1-inch taller than the SLT and Laramie 4x4 Ram models.

Youíre right about many companies not offering a leveling kit for the TRX model. This problem is primarily with the 1500 IFS Ram truck. The taller springs or leveling spacers will put the CV axles at extreme angles, causing vibration and possible failure. 

Luckily you have a solid axle front end on the 2500, so youíre okay going higher than 2-inches from stock to get that level look you want. Superlift Suspension has done their homework on the TRX and offers solutions to level and lift your truck to 2.5 inches.

Check our their website or give them a call to get the details - http://www.superlift.com/

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GAS GUZZLING SILVERADO

4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a '99 2500 Silverado with a 6-liter engine. It is completely stock. I get 13.5 MPG in town or on the highway. What can I do to increase it?

Jeffrey Calhoun


Hi Jeffrey

If you're getting 13 MPG in the city, then you're doing great. Based on testing done by DOT, a 1999 Chevy Silverado 2500 with 8 cylinder 6.0L, and automatic transmission should be averaging closer to 12 MPG. 

Just stay up on your maintenance, clean your air filer often, and keep your tires fully inflated. Keep your gas pedal light to squeeze every ounce of fuel.

If the 12-13 MPG average is unacceptable for you, then you many need to look at a diesel full-sized truck, or even a mid-sized truck. You can find more information on MPG for different vehicles at https://www.fueleconomy.gov/.

Good luck.

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MY JACK WONíT REACH

4x4 AnswerMan,
I bought a 2002 Ford Expedition with a 15-inch lift kit last year and it's time to change the brake pads on the front and possibly the rear also. I upgraded the gears to accommodate the weight and the 40-inch tires on it, because they were stock gears. I have a 2 1/2 ton floor jack and 18-inch jack stands, which were fine for the rear end work. I need front brakes and the jack and stands I have will not lift the truck high enough to take off the tires. I can do the work myself and do not want to spend $500 at a shop to have them done. How can I jack the front end up? Is there another jack I need to buy or taller jack stands? What do you suggest?

Wayne Oakley


Hi Wayne,

The best scenario would be if you could find someone with a shop lift that attaches from the frame. You donít want the drive on type.

The other option would be to use a Hi-Lift Jack. They have some taller version now to accommodate lifting big trucks and 4x4s like yours (http://www.hi-lift.com/). Just make sure you have a solid plate to lift from, like front bumper or sliders. Even then, you only want to do one side at a time. For safety, get some big wood blocks 4x6 or 8x8.  Sometimes lumbar yards sell pieces as scrap. Complete beams are really expensive.

The other method that works is stacking some wood blocks and a Heavy Duty 8- or 10-ton bottle jack. My brother uses this method on his big truck all the time. Just be careful. Make sure to use jack stands and only work on one side at a time.

Good luck.

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HARD TURNING TRUCK

4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a Ď99 Silverado 1500 z71 5.3 with 6-inch Fabtech lift and 3-inch body lift. Does this truck have an available steering stabilizer as I have 37/14.5/R20 on it and itís hard turning is a pain. Also can I fit a 41 on this truck with the lift I have?

Michael Chamberlain


Hi Michael,

Turning big tires gets harder the bigger you go. If you can to smooth things out, you need to go to a high-flow steering pump and heavy-duty steering gear box. Your truck uses a Saginal style and they are very strong. It just needs more turning power. Try AGR. They can either set you up with an upgraded system or possibly modify the ones you have on there now to provide more turning power.

For even more turning power, AGR offers the Rock Ram, but that is designed for solid axle front suspension.

Make sure to contact AGR Performance and let them know Off-Road.com sent you.

AGR Performance
http://www.agrperformance.com/

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BIGGER IS BETTER

4x4 AnswerMan,
Hello, do you know what is the tallest tire I can put on my Ď03 Dodge Dakota with a 3" body lift installed?

William Ritter


Hi William,

If itís a 4x4 Dodge Dakota, you should be able to squeeze in 33-inch tires. If you have a 2x4 pick-up, 31-inch may be it, you can try 33s with some fender trimming.

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CHEVY 4X4 VAN CAMPER

4x4 AnswerMan,
I'm going to be building a 4x4 Chevy van similar to the Ford 4x4 you have featured. My main question is what transfer case will bolt up to the auto. tranny? I have a Ď95 Chevy G20 with 4L60E trans and will I need to get one like that from a 4x4 pickup or can I use the one that is in the van? I will be using a 3/4 ton front axle from a Ď90 Suburban. Any help on this will be very helpful.

Thank you.
STEVE

Article sparked by Project Motovan: Building an Off-Road Van, Part 6 - Video
 

Hi Steve,

Sounds like a fun project. The easiest way to get this done would be to get both the transmission and transfer case from the same donor truck. If you already have the 4L60E, then just make sure itís a 4WD version. The 2WD 4L60E is longer than the 4WD model, and itís not a direct bolt on.

You may be able to run a 2WD transmission, but would require an adapter kit. You can find those through Advance Adapters (http://www.advanceadapters.com/).

If you plan on towing or adding a lot of weight to your van, you may consider running a 4L80 instead. Itís stronger and will last longer. It will also be more in tune with the heavy-duty setup youíre planning on doing. You can find these on 3/4 and 1-ton GM pick-ups. Just make sure to get the transmission and transfer case from the same donor truck.

If you need help with wiring and computer programing, make sure to check out Howel EFI (http://www.howellefi.com/). They specialize on fuel-injected GM drivetrain conversion. Howell can build a custom wiring harness and program the computer for your engine, trans and transfer case.

Make sure to come back and give us an update. Weíd love to hear how your 4x4 van conversion comes together.

Cheers!

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LARGER TIRES FOR CHEVY Z71

4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a 2005 Silverado Z71 LT crew cab. Wanting to put new wheels and mt tires on it. Currently have 265 70 R17s. Without lifting it, can I go any bigger? Will adjusting the torsion bars give me enough room for 285s. The LTs have the fender flares on them so the tires really sit inside the wheel well. Drives me nuts, I wanna make it look badass without lifting it. Any ideas would help, thanks.

Josh


Hi Josh

Good news, you can fit 285s or 33-inch tires on there now. If you want to level the front suspension, you could turn up the torsion bars with some leveling keys. You can get a good set from Ready Lift (http://www.readylift.com/).

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BURLY WINCH BUMPER

Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a 2002 Ford F-250 7.3 liter. Is there a place I can buy this bumper in black for my truck?

Tanner Neely

Article sparked by Off-Road Tech, Inc - Bumpers for the Extreme

Hi Tanner,

This is one burly bumper. Not sure if Off Road Tech is still making custom bumpers; itís been over 10 years since our last dealing. If they are, Iím sure they can powder coat it black for you. 

Their website is no longer valid, and the telephone number on file is disconnected.   

If they donít work out, other companies like Fab Fours and ARB make a similar bumper and they are black.

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:
June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

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