4x4 AnswerMan: Snow Testing, Transfer Case Service and More

Mar. 25, 2015 By Jaime Hernandez
Modified Unimog crawling over massive earth mover tires at Ocotillo Wells SVRA - Truckhaven 4x4 Training Area.

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

More 4x4 AnswerMan Columns
February 2015

January 2015

December 2014 


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RAM SNOW TESTING

Comments sparked by Ram Truck Makes the Most of Snow, Performs Winter Testing

Ram Trucks recently did some extreme cold weather testing.  We got some good feedback from Off-Road.com readers running their Ram trucks in the snow and conducting their own real-life testing.

Off-Road.com reader “Mark” states:

I have a ‘98 ram 1500 with the 5.9 magnum and towing package. I’ve been towing with it since day 1 and it has 166,000 miles and only now I need to redo the trans. My trailer weighs about 8000 lbs. with my car and all my stuff in it. Never broke down on me yet and I can plow through anything in 4W drive! I will be looking to get a 2500 with the Cummins very soon.

Off-Road.com reader “Butch” adds:

Been testing my 05 Ram 2500 Cummins in the U.P. for 9 years now, it struggled in some -34 and -38 weather, otherwise good to go.

Off-Road.com reader “Tom” rounds things off with:

The very best Dodge Ram 4×4 pickup for snowplowing is the 2500 or 3500 HD HEMI engine pickup and not the Cummins, WHY? I have both and the Cummins has too much torque and will spin the wheels much easier than the HEMI, meaning less traction. The other problem with the Cummins engine is it weighs twice as much as the HEMI and if you put a 900 lb. plus plow on the front of it that’s too much weight for the suspension and ball joints, etc. Western Plows will not install heavy-duty plow on a Cummins engine pickup for that reason and they are right.

How does your truck do in the snow? Let us know in the comment section below.

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OFF-ROAD TIRES & TOWING

4x4 AnswerMan,

My 2010 Dodge 3500 MegaCab Diesel (non-dually) is due for a new set of tires and I would like something more aggressive than my BFGs but stay with the stock 17-inch wheels.  Although I do not go off-roading all that often, do like to have the ability so would I guess like the best of both worlds since I also haul a 40 foot, 15,000 lb fifth wheel RV which never goes off highway with me.

I am looking at a set of Mud Hogs but just a bit worried about the noise factor but mostly, the life of the tire since it will be largely highway. Any comments or suggestions?

I live in a snow climate in Alberta Canada.
Thanks for your time.
Wes Taylor


Hi Wes,

Mud Hogs will perform well in the mud and snow, as will most mud-terrain tires.  The big drawback is they wear fast on the highway and also tend to cost more money than other tires (especially when the thread life is factored in). Mud-terrain type tires do look awesome and perform amazing off-road, but on the highway they do tend to wander and can be difficult to balance (static and dynamic). Yes, they will be noisy, much louder than a highway light truck (LT) tire or even an all-terrain tire. They may also decrease your fuel economy and towing capacity (depending on size and load rating).

As long as you know what you’re getting into, the tradeoff may be worth the aggressive, big lug look and off-road performance you’ll get.  If we were talking about your trail rig, I would say, “Go for it.” Since you’re using it to tow and primarily for on-road driving, I would recommend you stick to an all-terrain or light truck tire.

If you’re concerned with durability and towing capacity, but would also like to get off-road performance, you should also take a look at something like the new BF Goodrich All-Terrain K02.

The All-Terrain K02 features a more aggressive design than the previous KO, while adding strength and durability. The KO2 has tread features for better traction, including side-biter lugs in the sidewall, raised bars in the shoulder to help release mud, and 3-D sipe biting edges for better snow traction. The rugged KO2 is durable, lasting twice as long on gravel roads and 15 percent longer on asphalt (compared to previous-generation KO tire). They also fare well off-road in dirt, mud, rocks, and snow. They work well for towing/hauling.

You can read all about it in Testing the New BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2


2015 TOYOTA 4RUNNER LIMITED

Great review, I have the identical 4Runner and we love it. A very well rounded vehicle that's not going to be mistaken for a minivan/crossover.  Also - we average 18.5 MPG in ours, and that's at high altitude w/85 octane.
DJ

Letter sparked by Re: Review: 2015 Toyota 4Runner Limited 


Glad you liked it DJ. We’re also happy to hear you’re enjoying your Toyota 4Runner with stellar remarks.

Any other 4Runner drivers out there? How do you like your Toyota?

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WRONG CAP

Off-Road.com,

I have an 83 Watson (Datsun).  he new distribution cap they gave me looks totally different. Does anyone know how to install it?

Ty

Letter sparked by The Nissan 720 4wd FAQ File

Hi Ty,

If they gave you the wrong distributor cap, it’s going to be hard to make it fit and work correctly. Take it back.

Have them order the right one. If they can’t get you the exact replacement, go somewhere else. Make sure you compare it to the old one when you pick it up. If it doesn’t match, have them re-order another part #.  Many times there will be several part numbers listed for the same model (which can make things confusing).

Good luck.

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TRANSFER CASE FLUID

AnswerMan,

I have an NP241 transfer case in my Chevy 4x4. What type of oil does it take and how often should the fluid be changed? I only use four-wheel drive in the winter.

Thanks,
Roger

Hi Roger,

Your NP241 transfer case calls for Dexron III Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF).  As far as how often you should change the fluid really depends on how hard you run the four-wheel drive and how often. You mentioned only in the winter, but does that mean you run it only when things get slippery, or three to four months out of the year? How many miles?

Most service technicians recommend you service the transfer case every 30,000 miles or 24 months (more often for harsh winter or off-road conditions). Some four-wheelers like to switch out the transfer case and differential fluids every season.

Overall, you don’t want metal shavings and debris floating in there too long since there is no filter for the transfer case. It only takes three to four quarts of oil, so call it cheap insurance. 

Good luck!

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18-INCH WHEEL BACK SPACING

4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 07 Dodge 2500. Looking to put 35 x 12.50 18s on it. What back spacing should I use for rims? It has leveling kit. Will it rub??

Thanks,
Troy


Hey Troy,

Glad you wrote in. Member "Torqed" from our sister site CumminsForum.com reports that he successfully runs a leveling kit and 18x9 size wheels with 4.5 back spacing, he was able to fit 35x12.5 Nitto Trail Grapplers on his 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 with that setup. It had very minor rubbing, which was easily fixed by trimming the inner fender (towards the back, near the door). He can now turn lock to lock with no rub.

For a full list of different wheel sizes, offset and back spacing for your Dodge Ram, make sure to check out the Official Wheel/tire/backspace/offset Fitment Thread.

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LEXUS OFF-ROAD

4x4 AnswerMan,

I am From Puerto Rico I just bought a Lexus 1996 LX450 I heard is the same model as the Toyota 80 series. Where can I buy parts? I want to put mine like the one in the pictures but different tires.

Wilfredo Martinez

Letter sparked by Shop Build: Slee Off-Road Toyota 80 Series Land Cruiser


Hi Wilfredo,

Yes, many of the 80 Series Land Cruiser parts will fit the Lexus LX450. You can find all these parts and more at Slee Off-Road (303) 278-8287,
http://sleeoffroad.com/.

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CAGE MY TRUCK

4x4 AnswerMan,

Can you make a cage for a 1986 Chevy truck 4x4? It's going to be my daughter’s fist car. 

Darren Cloward

Hi Darren,

I tell you what, the best thing to do is find someone in your area to cage your truck. Make sure that it’s frame bolted or welded for added safety and rigidity.

If you’re handy, like buying tools and can weld—you could also try fabricating your own. You can get some pretty good ideas from our hard-core off-road sister site Pirate4x4.com. 

A good place to start is Roll Cage 101.

Good luck.

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CB ANTENNA  - NO GROUND, NO SIGNAL

For any of you that may be having CB Antenna or signal problems, make sure to check out The Off-Road Guide to Troubleshooting CB Installations.

Off-Road.com reader “26TM240” also chimed in to give us a little tip that may help many of you out there.  He states that the reason people are having problems with getting ground to their CB antenna is because new vehicle’s body work is glued together (inner and outer panels have no earth / ground contact).  That’s why using the spare tire carrier may not work if it’s not properly grounded.

His advice is to drill a hole on the tire carrier, bolt an earth / ground strap to a nut and bolt through. The earth/ground strap is then linked and bolted to the chassis / frame for proper grounding. Problem solved.

Sounds like a good solution for today’s plastic riddled trucks.


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PICKUP TOW HITCH

Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

I just got a new to me Ford F-150 FX4 to tow my toys around.  For some reason the truck didn’t come with a tow hitch.  Can you tell me what hitch I need get to tow a 23ft Weekend Warrior toy hauler trailer.

Ray

Hello Ray,

According Weekend Warrior, their 23ft toy haulers have a tongue weight of roughly 635 lbs. The best hitch for you would be a Class IV with weight distribution.  The Class IV is rated up to 12,000 lbs Gross Trailer Weight, and up to 1,200 lbs. Tongue Weight. Anything less and you risk having a trailer that sways and a truck that sags.

Learn more about tow hitch options at https://www.etrailer.com/.

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

More 4x4 AnswerMan Columns
February 2015

January 2015

December 2014 


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