Off-Road Truck & SUV Questions Answered

Feb. 27, 2014 By Jaime Hernandez
2014 Toyota 4WD dubbed ďUltimate Ski 4RunnerĒ built by OAKLEY, Freestyle Skier Simon Dumont and Herbst Smith Fabrication. On display at SEMA Show in Las Vegas, NV.

Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to Please include your name and location, and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

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4x4 AnswerMan,

Man what a creation!! I have some questions about the controls. I am not familiar with rear-steer controls but this has me wondering what all you guys did!! I see twin stick T-Case, single T-case, line lock (brakes), proportioning valve and I assume the joystick is rear steer and a level to lock it out I assume. So what is the twin levers pointed towards the passenger seat?


Letter sparked by Project Samurai, Part 8: Completing Interior and Controls

Hello Randall,

Project Suzuki Samurai is definitely one over-the-top build. All the buttons and levers add function and off-road capability to this little mean machine. The two levers you pointed out are actually turning brakes made by Jamar. In Part 5 of the Project Suzuki Samurai build, Rick Sieman goes a little more in depth of what they do for the truck.

We also installed a turn brake from Jamar for doing ďdiggers.Ē  The quality and finish is incredible. We've already installed a rear wheel disconnect from Trail Tough Products, and this works in conjunction with the turn brakes. How is it used? Example: Disengage the rear driveshaft from the transfer case using the turn brake to lock up the right rear wheel. Then turn the front wheels to the right, keeping the right rear wheel locked up with the turn brake and the rear wheel will pivot while the front wheels dig in and give you a sharp turn, thus giving it the name "digger."

You can read more about Project Samuraiís Instruments in this story.



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

My name is Brandon and I'm from Shirley Long Island.

I want to buy a new Tundra and I was wondering what you have to do to put 35s on a Tundra? From upgrading the axle to the fender. I live right by the beach and plan on doing a lot of off-roading. As an example, Iím pretty sure if you want to put 35s on a Wrangler you need to upgrade the axle to a Dana 44 or something stronger.

Thank You,

Hi Brandon,

Sounds like youíre getting ready to build a sweet Long Island ride. Toyota Tundra trucks are real nice.  Plenty of power and utility when you need it.  As for running 35-inch tires, the geometry of the front suspension requires either slightly massaging the frame, or a taller 6-inch lift to make that big of a tire fit.
Our very own Josh Burns just finished doing a FOX Performance suspension with Total Chaos UCAs. It did require some trimming, but it rides bitchiní and looks good too. Because he chose to run a lower suspension set-up, his truck is much more nimble than one with a 6-inch lift. His truck is set-up for faster dirt speeds.

See the full story at Trail-Ready Tundra 

If you want the height and donít care about going fast on dirt, then the taller 6-inch set-up may be your boat.

As for axles, you can run stock. Most IFS Toyotas only required stronger front axles if you are running 37- to 40-inch tires and wheeling hard. Donít worry about upgrading until you break an axle. When youíre ready, the guys at RCV Off-Road Performance have extra heavy-duty axles made from strong 4340 Chromoly for your truck. More at



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

I am looking for a set of wheel balancers for my 2006 Ford F350 extended cab 4x4 Diesel. I am using stock rims. Can you help me by recommending one of your  products?

Thank you for your help,
William Vandever

Hello William,

Thanks for your question. If you feel that the static and dynamic wheel balancing done at your local tire shop isnít meeting your needs, then there are other aftermarket options used by professional truck drivers. One that comes to mind is Centramatic. They use a wheel balancer that goes on the inside of your wheel, then works as the wheel rolls, distributing weight to where it is needed while spinning. Although we have never used this device, the manufacturer does have several fleet trucks and owners on record that back up their claims of:

ē Increased Tire Life 35%-50%
ē Reduced Vibration
ē Dramatically Improved Ride
ē 8%-10% Lower Tire Temp

If youíre interested in finding out more, you can visit their website at

If this all sounds too good to be true, then stick to a good old static/dynamic alignment done by a reputable tire shop. Rotate often, and to really squeeze the most out of your rubber, have tires balanced every 3,000 - 6,000 miles.



I am looking at this truck. They are asking 3500.00. Under cab has some holes. Front driveline is not hooked up so we can't tell if it works. Not same year dash. Fuel tank filler is on passenger side in the back. Never seen this before. The truck runs good but has a tap on one of heads. Just don't know what to offer him. Can you help me?

Larry Hewett

Hello Larry,

This is starting to sound like a Johnny Cash song. Unless youíre looking for a project truck with multiple titles, stand clear. If you just canít live without it, then Iíd look at other similar trucks in your area to see what theyíre selling for (year/make/model).

Thereís obviously something going on with the engine, itís literally ticking. It may just need a valve adjustment, or you may be dealing with a bent push rod or spun rod bearing. Itís hard to say until you tear into the engine. Either way, itís going to cost time and money to fix. Find out what a rebuild or donor motor + labor would cost, and then deduct that from your offer.

Thereís also something up with the front differential. Try to find out why the front driveshaft is disconnected. If nothing is wrong, then have owner put it back together so you can test the 4x4. If he wonít or canít, go with the assumption that it doesnít work (deduct even more money from sale price).

Who knows, this may be the best truck you ever own. Just be aware of what youíre getting into.

Good luck!



4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a WC truck but it has a WD-20 cab put on it. How do I figure out what chassis I have? There are readable numbers on driverís side frame rail just behind front shackle.

James Davis

Hello James,

The serial numbers you found may help to uncover exactly what chassis your truck has.
The lightweight and versatile Dodge half-ton 4x4 WC series trucks were built during from 1941-1942. They were the first Dodge all-military design developed for World War II. This included various G505 models: Pickup, Weapons Carrier, Panel, Command and Reconnaissance, Ambulance. You can find more information, including Serial Number Range, at
Olive-Drabís Military Light Truck page.



Hey 4x4 AnswerMan,

I live in Trinidad and Tobago. I find this truck truly remarkable. I want to purchase one of these. The only thing keeping me back was they didn't come in right-hand drive, which is the correct side in my country, as in the UK. I am interested in your conversion and would like to know more about it so possibly I would have my dream truck one day soon.

Linnell Doolan 

Letter sparked by RHD USA Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

Hello Linnell,

Glad you found this story. The guys at Right Hand Drive USA (RHD USA) can certainly help you make your dream truck a true right hand drive Ford SVT Raptor. They do such a nice job, and the finished product has a factory look and feel to it. They can also help you customize the truck with performance parts and accessories readily available here in the USA.

For more information, contact Shawn over at RHD USA / 4Steer Conversion at 619-546-4RHD (4743).


4x4 AnswerMan,
I have a manual transmission 1992 Nissan Pathfinder I recently purchased. I cannot get it into 4-wheel drive.

Tommie Slade

Hi Tommie,

Thatís a real bummer.  Did you check the 4WD fuse already? Thereís also a chance the 4WD actuator solenoid is frozen. You can try tapping it with hammer to see if it comes loose. It should be on the driverís side, behind the transmission (see diagram below). Itís also a good idea to check the wiring and linkage. There should be no wire damage on loose parts between the solenoid and transfer case shift lever.
Good luck.




4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 2012 F-150 with a 6" lift and 35" tires. Ever since I had the modifications done, the turning radius is terrible. I figured this was because of the backspacing required to fit the wider tires in the wheel well broadening the wheelbase, and it was just one drawback that came with the trade off of bigger tires. However, I have seen some articles talking about drop pitman arms and/or an adjustable drag link. I haven't found anything pertaining to my year and model though, so I was wondering if there is anything I could do to correct or improve my turning radius? I work in the oil field and spend about 25% of my day turning around and it's getting to be a nuisance and sometimes even a safety issue. Any info or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

Frisco, TX

Hi Jason,

It sounds like you have some big meats on the truck. Whatever wheel backspacing and tire combo you are currently running isnít working. To solve your problem, you will need to either use wheel spacers or get a different wheel/tire combo all together. With a 6-inch lift, you can run 35 x 12.50-inch tires using a wheel with 4.5 to 5-inch backspacing. There may still be some rubbing, which then can be solved by either cutting or modifying the frame, bumper, fender or plastic in the way.

If you are running 13.50-inch wide tires, thereís your problem.

The larger tires and wider wheels are making your footprint wider, hence the wider turning radius. If you really want to get back to a factory turning radius, your best bet is to run a 12-inch wide tire with a 4.5 to 5-inch backspacing. Need even more, go back to the factory wheel with skinny 35s.

Good luck!



4x4 AnswerMan,                  

I have a 2000 Toyota Tacoma SR5 4X4 with manual hubs. After removing the outside hub assembly, how do I remove the hub assembly with studs from the axle? I am trying to replace the backing plates.

Hello Dave,

After you get past the 4WD manual locking hub assembly, you will need to remove the bearing assembly. Itís held in place by four bolts. Use a skinny wrench to get between the hub sub-assembly and bearing assembly (see diagram below). Once you get that off, you should be able to access the backing plate/dust cover. 



4x4 AnswerMan,

Iím getting ready to do my first gear lube change on my 1980 Toyota diffs. How much will I need?

Kevin Meeks

Hello Kevin,

According to the Toyota Pickup gurus at Marlin Crawler, your Toyota Pickup differentials should take 2.3 quarts of 75w90 each. If it hasnít been serviced in a long time, get ready for some nasty sludge.




4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a lifted 1987 Chevy K10 Silverado. I am wondering how to make my front drive shaft match up with the axle in the front. It is a 6-in lift but it still makes the shaft at a bent angle so it does not turn like it should. What should I do to make it work?

Hi Eliot,

You have a few options to fix the driveshaft angle after lifting your Chevy 4x4 truck. You can put a 4-degree shim under the front axle to correct the pinion angle. You can also try dropping the transfer case 1 inch to help correct the driveshaft angle. If youíre still having vibration problems, you may need to have a proper front driveshaft made, typically lengthen and double cardan.

Thereís a pretty good tech article on our sister site Pirate 4x4 that may help
Driveshaft Geometry

You can also check out our friends at Tom Woodís Custom Drive Shafts



I have the same cooler and love it. I swore I would never spend that much on a cooler but after getting a great deal on it when it first came out I couldn't pass it up. I used the pelican 35qt for work leaving it in the back of an FJ Cruiser in Texas during the summer in full sun. The truck was HOT inside. My ice lasted 4 to 5 days and the water was still very cold on days 5 and 6. The ice would've easily lasted 7 days under normal conditions. I didn't realize how good it was until I used a regular cooler again. These super coolers are awesome. The only downside is the weight. The latches are easy to use and I like them much better than my buddyís yeti bungee cord latches.


Letter sparked by Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler Review

Hi Erik,

Good to hear you are also having good luck with the new Pelican Pro Gear Elite Cooler. Pelican definitely knows how to build extreme containers--including those to carry important cargo such as food and water. Thanks for sharing your notes from the hot Texas oil fields.



Anyone know of a website where I might be able to download a 1987 Pathfinder Factory Service Manual? I have a 1989 Hardbody FSM, but there are differences.



Hi Spanky,

We havenít found any reputable website links for 1987 Nissan Pathfinder Factory Service Manual that we feel comfortable referring you too.  Most of the ones weíve come across are red flags for computer virus or phishing scam. DONíT CLICK THE LINK!

We did find some used hard copies for sale on Ebay ranging anywhere from $15 - $100, depending on condition. This isnít bad considering the amount of information youíll have access to on your truck. The Factory Shop Manual will have the most in-depth information about your Nissan Hardbody.

Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to Please include your name and location, and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

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