4x4 AnswerMan: Your Truck and SUV Off-Road Questions Answered

Sep. 01, 2015 By Jaime Hernandez
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
July 2015 

June 2015 

May 2015 


The new 2016 Toyota Tacoma has been getting a lot of attention on Off-Road.com. Here are some comments from readers and their thoughts on this latest pickup truck from Toyota.

mextijuas5 says:
I like the TRD off road look, but hopefully Toyota will be smart to offer leather, since I don't want to get the limited. I don't like a truck with too much painted plastic, it's just gonna scratch, peel and look ugly. Also no chrome. Also I want rear disc brakes, every other off road truck or SUV has them, they were just trying to save a few bucks. Also it has to have LED or HIDs, the smaller cheap corolla has them, so why not the Toyota? Thatís what makes it look premium.

JB adds:

Not a home run, more of an RBI triple. The new combo needs to deliver more torque and fuel economy and drum brakes? Seriously?

Although this may be the greatest Tacoma yet, consumers still seem to want more styling options as well as modern day technologies on their Toyota pickup.  As for the rear drum brakes, we also gave Toyota a little grief for them in our 2015 Mid-Size Truck Shootout.

Believer it or not, Toyota actually says those rear drum brakes serve a purpose on their trucks.  Toyota showed us a very interesting demo with its new CRAWL system, where it buried the truckís tires in sand and then was able to use the CRAWL system to get completely unstuck from the obstacle. The front discs were squeaking horribly from the sand, and Toyota Chief Engineer Mike Sweers commented that the squeak from sandy terrain in the discs is exactly why they still have drums in the rear.

Check out the video and review at 2016 Toyota Tacoma First Drive Ė Video.


Hi Off-Road.com,
I live in south bay and didnít know about this trail.  Iím also a mountain biker so Iím definitely going to check it out.  Iíve been wanting to get out in my prerunner truck, but itís been too hot in the desert, like over 100 degrees.  Anyways, thanks for the story, looking forward to more.
Micah V.
Chula Vista, CA

Letter sparked by
Backyard Off-Roading in San Diego: Anderson Truck Trail 

Hey Micah,

Glad you found it and you liked it. There are some pretty cool hidden trails around Southern California and San Diego. You just have to look for them.  Make sure to also check these San Diego trail stories and others on Off-Road.com:

Off-Road Travel: Julian, CA - Apple Pie, Gold & Trails
Off-Road Travel: Anza-Borrego South


A lot of people might be interested in knowing that most commercial airplane tires are retreads!

Joe Gatliff
Letter sparked by TreadWright's Affordable Recycled Mud-Terrain Tire

Hi Joe,

I read your comment right before jumping on a plane. Although it may be a little unnerving, the fact is that airline companies do use retreads. If done right, however, retreads should be safe and reliable. By the way, I got home safe, the plane didnít crash during takeoff or landing, and the retread tires on the Boeing 737 held up just fineÖthank goodness. As for the TreadWright tires in the story, theyíre still alive and wearing well two years after.

If you havenít heard about recycled mud-terrain tires, please see the story linked above. Theyíre affordable and perform rather well.




Great review. Do you know if they will offer diesel in the near future?

Letter sparked by 2016 Toyota Tacoma First Drive Ė Video

Hi whatver04811,

We actually asked them that during the launch of the truck in Detroit earlier this year. Although a Toyota truck diesel option would be great, the answer appears to be ďNoĒ for the U.S. market. Read more on why Toyota says it isn't bringing diesel to America here.

On the other hand, Nissan is now launching a diesel truck in North America, making Toyota the only truck brand in the U.S. without a diesel option Ford, RAM, and GM all have diesel engine options for their light-duty pickup trucks.

Maybe itís time Toyota made the shift, and there has been reports that Toyota might use the same 5.0-liter Cummins diesel Nissan is using in its new Titan. They already have proven technology in other parts of the world.  What do you think? (Comment below).



Hey Off-Road.com,

I keep seeing different ads for new trucks claiming to have the best tow capacity.  Is there any standard testing to verify this?  Everyone claims to have the best truck.  It's hard to tell what's hype and what's real.  I'm in the market for a new 1/2-ton pickup and would like to know.  I'll probably pull the trigger before the end of the year.

Franky G.
Daytona Beach, FL

 Hi Franky,

There has been a lot of debate on tow ratings stamped on vehicles by the manufacturer. Everyone wants to look the best, so the numbers have to reflect that. In order to have an even playing field, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has been working on developing a standardized towing test that all manufacturers could use called the SAE J2807. Toyota was the first to adopt it in 2013. The Big 3 have been holding off as long as possible, but we did start to see more using it on select models.

RAM has now joined the SAE J2807 testing, and Ford also did with the 2015 F-150.  There are still some models not being tested using the SAE J2807 standards, but thatís sure to change as more pressure is felt from consumers for real numbers.

Soon, all trucks will be using SAE J2807 testing, giving the consumer more accurate numbers on true towing capacity. If youíre concerned with towing capacity on new trucks, look for models that have adopted SAE J2807 testing.  Then compare apples with apples.

You can find more information on SAE J2807 at http://www.sae.org/.


Readerís Tip: Try to always leave a campsite cleaner than you found it
Ron H Spins

Sparked by Trail Tips: Good Driving Ethics Help Keep Trails Open For All 

Hi Ron,

Thatís a great tip.One we can all honor in order to help keep trails and land open for off-road use. For other ways to get involved, make sure to check out the following organizations.

Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC) 


Tread Lightly




I was at the 4 Wheel Parts Truck & Jeep Fest in Orlando last weekend and really liked a roof top tent they had.  I was ready to buy one, just because it's so cool. I'd never seen anything like it before.  The only problem is that I'm not sure if I can mount it on my Tacoma without major modifications.  I also live in a condo and don't know if it will fit in the parking structure.  Are they easy to take off and store?

Orlando, FL

Hi Matilda,

You probably saw the new Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent (RTT).  Itís a nice model made to sleep 3 adults.  An RTT would be a fun way to camp off the ground and away from the alligators out there.  As for mounting on your truck, the most common way is to use a rack.  There are a number of companies that make bed racks that can help you mount your RTT.  Hereís a new one just released by Leitner Designs that would do the job.

The RTT is much heavier than a typical backpacking tent because of the larger frame, ladder and platform, so it does require 2 people to mount and remove safely from the vehicle.  If you donít use it year round, storing it might be a good option.  You can prop them upright, taking up very little room in a garage or storage area.

You can read more about the Smittybilt Overlander RTT at www.smittybilt.com.

Good luck!




I have been searching to see what a matching set of 1985 Toyota 4 Runner 4WD complete axle set would be worth and what they would sell for. There is nothing at all out there to compare any pricing to. Can anyone give me any opinions?



Hi Rick,

Pricing varies around the country, but if weíre talking about matching front and rear axles, with matching gears, in relatively good conditionóI donít see paying more than $1,000 for the set. You can certainly pay more than that if you feel they are in exceptionally good condition (no rust, low miles, no oil leaks, complete hub to hub, etc). Because itís an older 4Runner, you donít come across 1985 models as often, but when you do find them, wrecking yards will typically sell complete axle assemblies for $400-$800 Front, $200-$500 Rear. If it was a newer model 4Runner, youíd be looking at over $1,000 each. 

There are a few truck part recyclers online you can check. They also come up for sale on Craigslist and Ebay from time to time.

Maybe some other Off-Road.com readers can chime in on what theyíre seeing out there.

Good luck.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I read your Volvo 240 antenna story.  It made me laugh.  I drove the exact same car back in high school.  It was awful mustard yellow, but we had fun drifting that thing in the winter.  It was also great for keg runs in college.  I also have a 4Runner now.  If the antenna ever brakes, I might have to do this.

Denver, Colorado

Letter sparked by $20 Low-Profile, Trail-Adapted Antenna Install

Hi Colin,

Glad you found this story.  That trail antenna mod Justin did on his 4Runner has proven to be helpful when exploring heavily wooded areas in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and in the Eastern Sierra.  To be honest, I thought it was a little crazy myself, but it works!

Thanks Volvo for fixed a-pillar antennas.



Hi Guys, love the website.  I really like that you mix it up with trucks, dirt bikes and stuff.  I own a lifted Chevy Silverado Z71 and Kawasaki dirt bike, so I totally dig it.

I was wondering if you know of any bed accessories for my truck that would help keep my gear from flying out when the tailgate is down.  Iíve seen some corral looking things, but donít know what theyíre called.


Las Cruces, NM

Hi Ramiro,

Glad you like Off-Road.com. Thereís a great collection of dirt bike stories here, as well as off-road tech and new truck model reviews.  As for the dirt bike corral you mentioned, AMP Research makes one called the BedXtender. Itís a very popular solution for those that carry dirt bikes, ATVs or UTVs in the back of the truck. Not only is it an added layer of safety for keeping things from rolling out, but also a smart way to keep your gear in the bed of the truck.

You can read more about the AMP Research BedXtender on page 2 of AMP Research PowerStep Running Boards Review. 




I just bought a new to me 2009 Ford F-150 4x4 truck.  I want to lift it and also get some blacked out wheels with 35-inch tires.  I found a good deal on SVT Raptor suspension on eBay and it says it fits my truck.  Is this true?  I just want to make sure before I buy it.  I really like the pre-runner look.

Austin, Texas

Hi Jimmy,

The SVT Raptor suspension should fit on your 12th Generation Ford F-150 4x4 truck, from years 2009-2014. If you can get the matching FOX Shocks, youíll be ahead of the game and maybe even save some money. Itís a direct bolt-on application for your truck, and will add off-road performance.  There are a few drawbacks, though; you will need to get longer CV axles and longer tie rods to support the wider SVT A-arm and spindle mounting location. You may also need to get wider front fenders or make modifications to accommodate the wider footprint and keep tires from rubbing.  

It will take a little work sourcing the additional parts needed, but once itís together, it will be an awesome Raptorized F-150.

Good luck!

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
July 2015

June 2015

May 2015 

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