4x4 AnswerMan Tackles Your Truck and SUV Questions

Jul. 31, 2015 By Jaime Hernandez
The new Prospector Ram Truck from American Expedition Vehicles.  (Photo

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
June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

COOL TRUCKS FROM THE FIELD

We wanted to share AEVís latest creation, the Prospector. This Ram 2500/3500 diesel 4x4 pickup is designed for dedicated overland travelers and recreational explorers. The AEV Prospector is outfitted with all the necessary equipment to take you places you never thought were possible. The AEV Prospector package for Heavy-Duty Ram Trucks includes:

- AEV Premium Front Bumper
- AEV HD 3" DualSport SC Suspension
- AEV 17-inch Katla or Salta HD Wheels wrapped with 37-inch BFGoodrich tires
- AEV Badging
- AEV Instrument Cluster
- AEV Logo Headrests
- AEV Serialized Build Plaque
- AEV Anti-Glare Decal
 - Painted Grille and Rear Bumper

The AEV Prospector edition is available from your local Ram Truck dealer. More info can be found at http://www.aev-conversions.com/.

--

FMVSS No. 126 TESTING

Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

Iíve been looking at different suspension lifts for my 2015 Ford F-150. Iíve noticed that some companies say their kits are FMVSS compliant. What exactly is it, and is it important to have?

Roger T
El Paso, Texas


Hi Roger,

In an effort to reduce the risk of rollover crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 126 requiring all new passenger vehicles under 10,000 lbs. GVWR include an electronic stability control (ESC) system as standard equipment. The FMVSS No. 126 testing and compliancy you're referring to is something suspension manufacturers have taken on to show that their suspension systems work with the factory Electronic Stability Control (ESC). 

In other words, the higher center of gravity gained from the lift will not affect the ESC from working correctly. So yes, it is important to have a suspension lift that is FMVSS No. 126 compliant if you want your truckís electronic stability control to work correctly.

The FMVSS No. 126 testing itself is pretty interesting. The truck looks like itís doing a high wire balancing act as it races down the track at 50 mph.

Here's a video from Pro Comp Suspension that shows how it is done.

ProComp Video

MODIFIED POWERSTEP

Off-Road.com,

I would like to install a PowerStep XL on my 2005 double cab Tundra 4WD, however, my local dealer says they are not made for that year model. Too Bad!

Any way to retrofit the earliest 2007 model to work properly on the 2005 Tundra?

William Bryan

Hi William,

It may be possible to retrofit a set of AMP Research Powersteps to work, but itís not going to be an easy plug-n-play installation. Youíre going to have to make some modifications to make it work. Fortunately the steps themselves are easy ot modify and trim with the proper tools. The toughest part would be finding the proper bracketry for the steps. It would be a good idea to try and get measurements from AMP Research directly.

Take a look at the following story featuring an installation on a Double Cab Toyota Tundra. 

AMP Research PowerStep Running Boards Review

Also, look at the step bracket below, the flat mounting surface lends itself for custom installation. Itís off the 2007-2015 Toyota Tundra application.

--

PREFERS LEXUS to 4RUNNER

Off-Road.com,

I like our 2011 GX460... better to buy a few year old Lexus, than a brand new 4Runner. The GX is tough as nails anyway. 
Paul R

Letter sparked by 2015 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Review

Hey Paul, if youíre looking for a Toyota product with all the luxury bells and whistles, the GX is a nice compact SUV platform work with. Thereís a reason the Prado is so popular around the world. The price break on an older used model is also appealing to the wallet.

As for the 2015 Toyota 4Runner, itís got potential. The only big push back weíve heard is from off-road bumper fabricators that are complaining about the rather large front fascia that incorporates the grill and bumper into one piece. It takes a lot of steel to cover that, and the lines make it difficult to work with. Aside from that, itís got plenty of power, good suspension and a slew of options.

--

SMOGY BRONCO 300

Off-Road.com,

I have a 1986 bronco 4x4 300 4 speed. Why is it so hard to smog this beast?
-Tom Petty

Letter sparked by Late Model (1978-1996) Ford Bronco History

Hi Tom Petty,

Your Bronco sounds like a real heartbreaker. The fact that it wonít pass smog is bumming me out. I donít know your Bronco real well, but if itís failing the smog test it probably has a poor running engine, emission control delete, or way too many hot rod modifications making the smog check technician nervous.

The best thing to do is to get the engine running smooth again.  A tune-up does wonders. If you need some help getting it back on the road, make sure to check out our sister site http://www.fullsizebroncos.com/, where you can chat with other Bronco owners about your horse.

Good luck.

--


CLACKING TRD PRO

Hi Off-Road.com,

My name is Justin and Iím having problems with my new 2015 TRD Pro. Itís making clacking noises whenever I hit any bumps little or big and also whenever Iím turning. Is anyone having similar problems? Or have any idea what it could be?

Justin

Letter sparked by Review: 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
 

Hi Justin,

It sounds like the noise youíre describing is coming from the suspension.  Something might be loose. Since your Toyota truck is a 2015 model, itís still covered under warranty (3 year/36,000 mile basic, 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain).  Take it to your local Toyota dealership and have it inspected. Donít wait until it becomes a big problem. Let us know what you find out.

Good luck!

--

STRAIGHT AXLE CONVERSION

4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 1989 4x4. Can a straight axle be put under it and how can it be done?

Meggie Brann

Hi Maggie,

You can put a straight axle under most trucks, even if itís equipped with independent front suspension (IFS). It helps if the vehicle has a ladder frame, making it easier to weld on mounting brackets for the axle and suspension. The tricky part comes with finding the correct width axle and matching the driver/passenger side differential drop configuration so it lines up with your transfer case. 

There are a few companies that make straight axle suspension (SAS) conversion kits. Just search the Web. If youíre looking for fabrication parts to build your own, try Ruff Stuff Specialties.

Once youíve got the straight axle mounted, youíll have to get a new driveshaft made to the correct length, a steering gear box mounted (if you currently have rack-and-pinion), along with steering linkage to make it drivable.  Brake lines adapted to the straight axles for stopping power are also very important. These are just some of the modifications that will need to be performed.

It takes some work, but it can be done.

--

NISSAN MQ PATROL

HI GUYS!...THIS IS A REALY COOL SITE!...LOL. IM GUNNA ASK A STUPID Q...CAN ANYBODY HELP ME WITH SOME DECENT REAR SLIDERS?...MINE ARE TOTALED ON MY 85 TURBO SHORTY!...THE ONLY THING THAT HAS RUST!...THE GLASSES ARE FINE BUT THE FRAMES ARE NAKKERED!...LOL...GET THIS!...YOULL DIE!!!...LOL...ITS JUST HIT 90,495 KMS...LOL...IM SERIOUS!...ITS LIKE BRAND NEW...ALL FISH OILED INSIDE AND THROUGHOUT...EVERY LITTLE DUST COVER AND STUFF JUST LIKE OFF THE PRODUCTION LINE...PAID $5300.00 FOR IT 5 MONTHS AGO!...LOL...NOT TOO SHABBY FOR FITTY!...ITS MY SECOND ONE BUT THE ONE I HAD 20 YEARS AGO WAS A RUST BUCKET. "IM BLESSED FINALY AFTER SEARCHING FOR THIS HOLEY GRAIL FOR TWO DECADES.
SHANE

Letter sparked by The Nissan MQ Patrol 4WD FAQ File

WOW Shane! Glad you found such a great vintage 4WD. There arenít too many of these early Patrols around, let alone a turbo diesel. Weíre also glad you found Off-Road.com and all the great 4x4 import content, like the Nissan MQ Patrol FAQ file.

Do some more digging via the Search box on the top/right of the page. Youíll be surprised how much Datsun/Nissan content we have. It will spin your wheels!

--

VIBRATING TRAILBLAZER

Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a Chevy Trailblazer 4x4 with over 150k miles.  Itís been a great truck, but lately it developed a vibration that comes and goes.  It feels like itís coming from the front of the vehicle.  I donít think itís alignment, I just had that done recently.  Any ideas on what it can be? 

Eleanor
East County, CA


Hi Eleanor,

It sounds like itís mechanical. A few things you will want to check are the CV axles in the front. If the boots are torn and oozing grease, thereís a good chance they may need to be replaced. A good indicator that they are bad is when they make a clanking noise, especially when making a turn. The bearings and race get worn and need to be replaced. You can either rebuild it yourself or buy a remanufactured set from the local auto parts store. Itís recommended that both sides be replaced.

Another thing to check would be the front drive shaft for play. The U-joints do get worn, even if you donít use 4WD all the time. Theyíre constantly spinning, even when there is no power to the front axle. While youíre at it, check both the front and rear drive shafts for excessive play. If you end up having to replace the U-joints, itís also a good idea to have the drive shaft balanced so it turns smooth.

If the CV axles, U-joints and drive shafts are all fine--the vibration might be coming from the transmission. Change the transmission fluid and check for excessive metal shaving or debris. While youíre at it, change the transmission filter. Itís cheap insurance against metal shavings and sludge damaging or clogging the internals.

Since itís a 4WD, also check the transfer case.

Good luck.
 
--

EARLY BRONCO 4 SALE

Off-Road.com,

My dad has the following Bronco for sale - if you know anyone that would be interested in it please pass on his number: 573-979-7414 or 573-238-3316......We are located in Marble Hill, MO
Melissa Mock

Letter sparked by Late Model (1978-1996) Ford Bronco History



Hi Melissa,

By the looks of the dash, itís an early Ford Bronco (1966-1977). Make sure to also check out the Off-Road.com Forums and share the 4x4 you have up for grabs. Some additional information and photos of the Bronco would be helpful.

Good luck!

--

HUNGRY OFF-ROADER


Off-road trainer and grill expert Tom Severin served up some great backcountry cooking tips in this delightful story. Off-Road.com reader Pepertroll approves of Severinís cooking tips, and Ghost of Don Anderson said ďthe food on that grill is making me hungry.Ē  We agree.

For a complete menu worth serving, check out Trail Tips: Camp Cooking for Your Next Off-Road Trip

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
June 2015

May 2015

April 2015


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