4x4 AnswerMan – Truck and SUV Tech Questions Answered

Oct. 22, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez
Rod Hall in his H1 Alpha Hummer driving off-road in the Nevada desert.

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 2012

August 2012

July 2012


4x4 AnswerMan,

Where can I find axle studs for the Dana 44? It’s off a 1984 Ramcharger. Mine are rusted and they stripped during reassembly. Please, any info to finish this project and get me out of the garage!

Matt Berry


Hi Matt,

The best thing to do is to take one of the good studs off the hub and take it into your local auto parts store. They should be able to match one up. If you find most are rusty or stripped, you might as well replace them all with new ones. It will just set you back a few dollars, but it will be well worth avoiding future headaches.

Now get going, you big stud.



4x4 AnswerMan,

It was so nice to see how the event has grown over the years. The location outside of Flagstaff was an excellent jumping off point for post show adventures in the southwest.

Mario Donovan

Thanks for the note, Mario. The 2012 Overland Expo was a great event, and you’re right—the venue was perfect for starting an off-road adventure.  Arizona has a lot to offer, and this area in particular is close to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, among other great places.  We really hope they use Mormon Lake again next year.

Note sparked by Overland Expo 2012 - Highlights



4x4 AnswerMan,

Are these shock hoops correct for my 1993 Ford f-350 4x4, if so, what do they cost.

Thank you

Off Road Unlimited Shock Hoops – Ford F-250

Hi John,

The Off Road Unlimited (ORU) shock hoops were designed for the Ford F-250/F-350, so they should fit nicely. It’s a quick and easy way to add a dual shock setup to your Ford pick-up. They also look nice. ORU makes good stuff, so you can’t go wrong. 

More info at:

Off Road Unlimited



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 99 Sierra Z-71 that I installed a cold air intake. It’s larger than my factory mass airflow sensor. Could you tell me which adapters to use to not screw everything up?


Hi Tim,

Sounds like you need an adapter that reduces the diameter so it couples correctly to your mass air flow sensor. This can be achieved by using a silicone intake hose. They work great under heat, pressure and won’t collapse with suction.

Try these guys, they should have what you need http://www.siliconeintakes.com/



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a spring-under Samurai with two inches of lift. Would a Z-Bar Eliminator work well for me?


Howdy Samurai Driver,

The Z-Bar Eliminator will help with bump-steer, spongy steering and bad geometry on your steering components. The factory setup tends to go awry once it’s lifted. I’m not familiar with you particular Suzuki Samurai, but I can tell you that it’s worth looking into.

A good place to start would be with Petrol Off-Road. They offer a Z-Bar Eliminator kit and can answer questions you may have. 

More info at:
Petrol Off-Road
(760) 731-8313



Cooper Discover A/T3 tires

4x4 AnswerMan,

I purchased a set of the Cooper AT3 tire about a month ago and today put them to the test. Today was the annual Great Escapes Off-Road show at the Michigan Technical Resources Park.  I was told this is or was the DANA test track. My vehicle is a 1999 Chevy Tracker. It is equipped with a one-inch lift and nothing else but the 235/75/15 Discoverer AT3 tires.

Now, while I couldn't do some of the crazy stuff the highly modified vehicles could, I was able to easily cover 75% of the obstacles. I was most impressed with the tires ability to perform in the mud pit. Again, my vehicle is nothing special but these tires cut through 9-18 inches of mud like butter. I am absolutely amazed. They are simply awesome tires!

Stu Hallock

Hi Stu,

Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you’re enjoying your Cooper Tires and had a lot of fun at the Great Escapes Off-Road Show. We’ve also had great luck with our Cooper Discoverer tires.

Letter sparked by:
Cooper Tire Unveils New All-Terrain and Off-Road Tire 



4x4 AnswerMan,

I want to put a snorkel on my truck. When I hook the carburetor to it what do I put over the radiator so it won’t get nothing in it? Will this keep my alternator safe? Why do people put a snorkel on their exhaust?

Please help,


Hi JD,

Sounds like you’re building an aqua truck. Snorkels are a great way to raise the air intake point from fender or bumper height to the roofline. Even with a snorkel, you need to be realistic on how deep your vehicle can go. If you go too deep, your engine will suck water and hydro lock-- destroying the internals and leaving you stranded.

Tailpipe snorkels are used so the engine can release exhaust easily, with no resistance from water or mud when fully submerged. Ideally, you want them to be the same height as your snorkel (intake). It’s often used on tactical military vehicles

You’re on the right track. Depending how deep of water crossing you plan to do, you essentially need to make various components waterproof or airtight. This includes axles, electrical, drivetrain, body/cab, and so on. If you find yourself wanting to float in deep places, you may consider some flotation devices like the ones used on this Jeep from the Paris-New York Expedition. You could also just bring a dingy.

Good luck!



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have just got a 1973 Land Cruiser. It has sat for over 10 years in a backyard. I have a lot to do. How much are these roll cages going for? My other toy is a 1964 Mitsubishi /Jeep, it is like a 3b and land cruiser put together as one.


Hi Kevin,

The Man-A-Fre 4+Plus Land Cruiser roll cage is really nice. We have a family cage on our 40 Series Land Cruiser and it’s solid, made in the USA. Checking Man-A-Fre’s website, they start at around $850. They also offer custom options like seat cradle for racing seats and gussets for strengthening corners.

Another company that makes nice roll cages is Metal Tech 4x4. They are comparable in price, but they have their own design lines and features like frame tie-in that make them stronger. More info at http://www.metaltech4x4.com/.



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

I’m Jay. I have a 2000 Chevy half-ton 4x4 regular cab long box, and I just put a Rough Country 6-inch no torsion drop kit on it. I busted my transfer case off the spacer between my transmission and t-case. I was wondering why that happened? My guess is my driveline angle is too high? And if it is, how do I fix it?

1999-2006 Chevy/GMC 1500 Pickup 6" NON-Torsion Bar Drop Lift Kit - Rough Country

Hi Jay,

It’s hard to say what actually caused your transfer case to break. Was it the terrain, rocks, a heavy foot? In any case, I would contact Rough Country and let them know what happened. They might be able to offer some ideas on what you can do so it doesn’t happen again.

If it’s the driveline angle, that can typically be fixed by either dropping the transfer case with spacers or rotating axles with shims. Check with Rough Country first before doing anything.

You can contact Tech Support at http://www.roughcountry.com/ or call 800-222-7023.

Good luck.



Hello 4x4 AnswerMan,

I just bought a 2001 Chevy 1500 Z71 and it needs new tires soon. What would the biggest tires I can put on without putting a leveling kit and blocks on? Also what other mods should I do with my truck before I do some trail riding?

Ryan M
Minot, North Dakota

Hi Ryan,

The Z71 is a great truck to off-road with – plenty of power and aftermarket support. You can go as big as 33-inch tires with stock suspension. If you decide to level the front later, the 33s will still look and work well. Since you’re in the market, I would spend the extra money to get some All-Terrain tires—especially if you plan on driving the truck off-road. The added traction and re-enforced sidewalls will give you a sure foot on the trail and good handling on the street and highway.

There aren’t too many mods needed to simply hit the dirt. Since you have a Z71 model, your truck is already equipped with nice mono-tube Bilstein shocks and skid plates. I would say, just get some good tires and start exploring your local trails. You’ll make modifications as needed or as they fit your budget.

Feel free to look around our Chevy tech articles on Off-Road.com for more ideas http://www.off-road.com/trucks-4x4/chevrolet.html

The most important thing is that you get out there and start having fun.


4x4 AnswerMan,

I've got a 2012 Chevrolet 1500 LT Crew Cab short bed 4x4. I put a 2.25” leveling kit on the front to accommodate 33" tires. I replaced the factory 1.25” rear blocks with 3" blocks. That's a difference of 1.75". I've called both Rancho and Bilstein attempting to purchase new rear shocks to accommodate the additional 1.75" of height. However, no one at either company can tell me what size shocks I need. I would think this would be an easy problem to fix. The new shocks would have to be approx 1.75" inches longer than the factory shocks. Correct? I'm thinking about putting Rancho's 9000 series shocks on it. Do you know what length shocks I should buy to fit my truck off hand or am I going to have to pull one off myself and measure it?

Thomas Tompkins

Hello Thomas,

Sounds like it would be a straightforward answer, but there’s actually more to it. It’s not just a matter of getting a longer shock – you also have to make sure the shock is properly valved and tuned for your vehicle. For example, you may find a shock that is two inches longer, but is designed for a VW Bus. It might fit, but the valving will not be correct, which will make your truck handle poorly.

Unfortunately for the leveling market, most lifted Truck/SUV shocks are made for the 4- and 6-inch suspension lifts.  If you are running a leveling kit with up to 2-inch height increase, you should be okay running the stock shock. This seems to be the consensus with most suspension companies.

This is why neither Bilstein nor Rancho can give you a part number; they don’t have an “off the shelf” application.

If you really want to get technical, you could custom order longer shocks with the Chevy 1500 LT Crew Cab 4x4 valving from Bilstein. Their 5100 and 5165 Series are available in 5"-14" travel lengths with various valvings.  They will cost more, but you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for.

To be certain you get the correct size, you will need to remove one of your rear shocks and take measurements.  Get the extended and collapsed lengths as well as ride height. This should help you find the correct shock length needed when you call to order.

Good luck with this.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4x4. It has a 6-inch suspension lift as well as a 3-inch body lift, 20 rims and 37-inch tires. Should I re-gear axles and to what gears? I don’t use it for mudding only driving on street and highway.


Alan Smith
Ontario, Canada

Hi Alan,

Sounds like a serious big truck. With 37-inch tires, you’re probably looking at a 4.88 ring and pinion setup, considering you drive primarily on street and highway. If it was mud or rock crawler, I would suggest considering 5.12s. 

To get a better idea, you can play around with RPMs, Tire Size and Gear Ratios using this calculator at Randy’s Ring and Pinion http://www.ringpinion.com/Calculators/Calculators.aspx  It should help get you in the zone. You can also give Randy’s a call for further questions at 1-866-631-0196.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I am a relatively new owner of a 2003 TJ. It has 3.73 gears with a D44 rear end and new 31" tires with a stock suspension. The mileage is round 35k. Thinking of adding a lift of 2" or less. I do not plan on doing extreme off roading, probably just a few old mine roads in Colorado and National Forest roads. Most of the driving will be on paved roads. Do you recommend a budget boost? If so, with or without new shocks? What about a more elaborate 2" lift such as OME? I plan to keep the 31" tires.



Hi Mike,

You’ve got yourself a very capable Jeep there. The first thing I would do is get some off-road tires. If you’re going to be driving on highway a lot, then consider an all-terrain design. As for the lift, you might not need it for the trails you plan on doing and the 31-inch tires size. If you find yourself bottoming out and rubbing tires a lot off-road, then I would consider moving up to a 2-inch lift for added clearance.

Daystar makes a budget 1.75" spacer for the 97-06 Jeep TJ Wrangler that may work for you if you decide you need the lift. You can do just the spacers initially, but keep in mind that you will need shocks sooner or later (recommended at 50k).

Superlift and Terraflex make some nice two-inch kits that typically come with shocks. The nice thing about these kits is that they are tuned to work together.

As for Old Man Emu suspension, they are designed primarily for added weight-carrying capacity. If you plan on lugging around a lot of gear, this might be a good option. They have kits available with Sport, Light and Heavy load springs that yield a 2-inch lift.

Feel free to look at our Jeep section on Off-Road.com for more tech articles and ideas for your Jeep. http://www.off-road.com/jeep.html 

If you have additional Jeep questions, try the “JeepCreep”—our resident Jeep expert. He’s sure to help you out.




4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 07 Big Horn 5.7 4WD. Just hit 75k and no maintenance issues to date. Truck is used for a 40-mile daily commute and frequently sees the dirt and the desert sand. I'm now pulling an 8500-pound toy hauler, and she handles it in stride. Drive it like I stole it.


Hi Josh,

Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you got a winner.

Letter sparked by Hemi Stuff: 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 Review

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 2012

August 2012

July 2012

Off-Road.com Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!