4x4 AnswerMan - Your Truck and SUV Questions Answered

Jul. 30, 2013 By Jaime Hernandez
Toyota Hilux 4x4 pick-up trucks crawling in Johnson Valley, CA.

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.

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4x4 AnswerMan,

Quick question, can I use a front end with lockouts in place of a full-time front end with a 203 transfer case? I have a 205 transfer case, but, I've been told the length is different, and I don't want to have to lengthen my rear drive shaft. Plus, I hate to replace a part that isn't broke, yet! LMAO. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, and any assistance you offer will be greatly appreciated.

Hi Jerry,

Sounds like you have two nice heavy-duty transfer cases to work with on this project. Yes, you can definitely run a front differential with locking hubs. In fact, itís the preferred setup for seasoned 4-wheelers running NP203s.

If you can get the original shafts from the NP203 setup, you may get lucky and have them bolt right up on your truck. If the u-joints are worn, rusty or dry, get some new ones in there. Thereís a slight chance you may need to have driveshafts made, but itís not the end of the world. Not running a correct length driveline can prove costly if it snaps or pulls apart on the road or trail.

By the way, if you like to crawl, have you ever thought about a doubler? Off Road Designs makes a nice doubler kit that mates both the NP205 and NP203 together for a gnarly 4:1 LO Range. You can find more info at http://www.offroaddesign.com/catalog/doubler.htm

Good luck!


4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 2001 Chevy Silverado 1500 4x4 stock with torsion bars cranked up. My tires are now 265/75/R16. I was wondering if I could put 285/75/R16 with no problems rubbing or anything?

Hello Bob,

Youíre in luck. You can run 285/75 R16 with no issues on a stock 4x4 Silverado.  Ditch those old cranked stockers. The new 33-inch tires are going to make the truck look awesome. Theyíll also give it some additional height and grab on the trail.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a Ď92 K1500 and want the rear end to lock up when I am pulling. Will a 4x4 "posi-lok" system lock the rear end or just the front? I am also thinking about running 4.56 gears, and right now I have 305/75/R16 tires. Would 35s be good to run with those gears?

Hi Tyler,

The 4x4 Posi-Lok you are referring to replaces thermal linear actuator with a cable operated actuator in the front differential on K1500, K2500 and K3500 model trucks and SUVs. This is a nice upgrade on these models, as it will give the driver full control of engaging the shift fork and collar that activates the front right axle.  The ď4x4 Posi-LokĒ will not work in the rear differential.

If you are looking for both rear wheels to lock up, then you need a ďlocker.Ē  There are mechanical, electric and air actuated lockers. Eaton, Detroit and ARB are some of the best-known brands, and a good place to start your search. If you plan to swap out gears to 4.56, this would be a good time to also add a rear locker. There should be some savings in labor cost and time if you piggy back the jobs. 

As for gear ratio, if you do a lot of street and highway driving, the 4.56 should work well and help with MPG. If you primarily run the truck on the dirt, 4.88 or deeper would work best for lower torque and power. It really depends on the type of terrain you like to tackle.

Thereís a ton of Chevy 4x4 tech and project builds here on Off-Road.com that may help you get started. Just do a search using the search box on the top right of the page.

Good luck.



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a question, whose truck is this and where can I get the prints to build this bed? This is exactly what I want.


Hi Joel,

We love this full-sized Chevy pick-up. The owner is a long-time Moab resident Dirk Blount. The bed is a custom build. You can try and track him down or get some more detail from this piece written by Chris Collard titled Orange Crush - Killer Chevy Silverado: http://www.offroadadventures.com/articles/view/id/353/page/1



4x4 AnswerMan,

I adjusted my torsion bars and really loved the look of a higher front end but after four CV boot replacements I had to lower it back to stock. Toyota said the angle of my CV boots shouldn't be the issue as to why the boots were wearing out. Besides me not wanting to believe what the problem was, it started getting too expensive and disappointing. Tires rub a little now on turns into driveways but not bad, and she sure rides smoother. Miss the look. Iím looking for other options on how to lift front end without touching CV boots. I like the power rake look. I drive a Ď96 Toyota T100 4wd SR5. Love my T100.


Hi John,

Thanks for sharing your experience. No disrespect to the techs, but itís a known fact that extreme angles on lifted suspension eat up CV boots and CV axles.  There are basically two options if you want to continue with a lifted front end.  You can install a Total Chaos long-travel suspension kit and retain 4WD using a set of custom CV axles. These kits are pricey and require coilover shocks, but they are bitchiní and worth the coin. Find more info at http://chaosfab.com/.

A more affordable option would be to trade your 4WD function for that pre-runner look. Some guys simply take off the CV axles and crank the torsion bars, to lift the front. By removing the CV axles you wonít have to deal with busted boots or joints in the future. To crank the torsion bars and also have the truck run smooth, we suggest you get a set of ReadyLift torsion keys. They will give you up to 3 inches of lift over factory height. Just make sure to get a proper alignment done in either case.

Please send us a photo of your T100 when you get it sorted out. These are becoming very rare.

Good luck.



4x4 AnswerMan,

How do I, or what is the best way to flush and drain my coolant system on my Ď93-94 Toyota pickup 4-cyl. 22re? Thank you very much. Iím in process of working on it.

Thanks again,
Walter Jackson

Hi Walter,

Doing a radiator flush is pretty straightforward. You basically have to drain the coolant, flush the radiator and cooling system, add fresh coolant, bleed the system of air, check the coolant level and top off if needed.

You typically want to flush your radiator every two years, but some products out there claim to have a longer life. They sell fluid testers at most auto parts stores that can help you determine if your antifreeze is still good. A visual test should also help--if you see rust in there, itís probably not good.

One of the main reasons for flushing and changing your radiator fluid is to ensure rust doesnít clog up your radiator and cause your engine to overheat. If the anti-freeze properties of the ethylene glycol have also diminished, itís a good idea to change it before winter hits. New antifreeze will ensure the radiator fluid doesnít freezeópossibly damaging the radiator, hoses or engine.

To get started, make sure the vehicle is cool before beginning work. Draining the radiator alone should remove about 40% of the coolant and can be done by removing the lower radiator hose or opening the petcock. The rest should flow out of the engine block, head and heater core. Turn your temperature lever inside the truck to HOT, this will shift the heater valve open so any additional fluid inside the heater core comes out. To get even more fluid out of the system, you can also get rid of anything in the reserve tank. Just make sure to catch all the old coolant fluid in a container.

To flush, re-attach the lower radiator hose or tighten the petcock on radiator. Add water with water with a hose to the radiator until full. Remove the lower radiator hose or open the petcock to flush it out. Repeat this until water coming out of radiator is clean and clear from rust and debris.  Flushing with water twice should do the job, but if more flushes are needed, go for it.
If you want to get even more thorough with the flush, you can buy a radiator Flush and Fill kit, which allows reverse flushing of the cooling system in minutes.

Make sure you collect all the old radiator fluid and water used during the flush.  Check with your local laws for proper disposal. Many local auto parts stores, mechanic shops or county recycle facilities will take your old antifreeze and radiator fluid. Please donít just put it down the drain.
Here's a video we found from Peak that gives a recap of the radiator flush process. Happy flushing!




4x4 AnswerMan,

Is it safe to mount a bigger tire size 285/75/R16 from the original size of 255/70/R16 on Ford sport trac? Thanks.
Ryan Bong

Hi Ryan,

You can definitely run 285/75/R16 safely with the right suspension setup. If your Ford Explorer Sport Trac is stock height, you will need to lift your truck to make room for these larger 33-inch diameter tires. A popular setup to run 33s on a Sport Trac is to do a 3-inch body lift. If you run the factory wheel offset or close to it, you should have no rubbing issues when turning the front wheels.

You can lift the rear by adding extended leaf spring hangers, 1 to 2 inches should do. Just remember that whatever hanger length extension you get, it will provide half of that in actual lift (e.g. 2 inch hanger equals 1 inch of lift). 

If additional lift is needed up front, cranking the suspension torsion bars will yield another 1 to 1.5 inches of suspension lift. If you crank the torsion bars for more than 2 inches of lift, we highly recommend you get some ReadyLift leveling torsion keys designed to lift and adjust the geometry of your suspension.  Otherwise, the truck will ride hard, bounce and feel like crapola. More info at http://www.readylift.com.




4x4 AnswerMan,

Iím trying to take my steering column cover off. Iíve unscrewed all nuts and the lower portion is off, how do I get the top portion off?

Hi Sam,

If all the screws have been removed, try moving the top cover gently from side to side, slightly pulling up on it at the same time. It may be stuck or held in place by clips. If you have a tilt column, try raising it or lowering it so the back end of the cover is free from the dash. 

Hereís an assembly diagram that may help.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 1981 Datsun 4x4 pickup that I need to know how to hook the throttle cable to the carburetor. I just recently put a motor (a Nissan Z) and transmission (manual) in my truck, but because someone else removed the throttle cable from the carb. I don't know how to put it back on.

Delcena Bonser

Hi Delcena,

We havenít had a Datsun question in years, thanks for bringing back some interest in these early Nissan 4x4s. If you still have the original throttle cable from the truck, see if you can route that from the gas pedal, through the firewall and up to the carburetor. There should be some sort of bracket that holds the throttle cable in place near the engineóusually an existing bolt on the head or intake.

If the cable is too short now because of the Nissan Z motor, you may need to purchase a universal throttle cable, available at most auto parts stores. This will be a custom application for a custom truck.

Please send us some photos and an update of how the Datsun 4x4 does with the zippy Z power. Should be a lot of fun!



4x4 AnwerMan,

What's your take on stoplight/turn signal visibility for the Joe Hauler?

Dave Bain

Story sparked by Joe Hauler Dirt Bike Carrier Review

Hi Dave,

We really like our Joe Hauler. Itís easy to load and unload dirt bikes from as well as hauling them around. As for visibility of lighting (stop and turn signals), the tail lamp shines though the wheel spokes and area above the dirt bike tires. The only area not visible is the profile of the dirt bike tire. Luckily we also have a 3rd brake light mounted on the top of our sport utility, so the bright red LED shines over the dirt bike with no visual obstruction during braking. 

The Joe Hauler also comes with some reflective stickers on the back end that aid with letting people know that the load sticks out. This works great even when youíre stopped or parked. 

If you are really concerned about lighting, one could easily tap into the trailer lighting on the hitch and add some additional lights on the Joe Hauler itself.

Happy hauling!



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,
I just bought a 2013 Ford F-150 STX model. It has the 5-liter engine with traction control. Does my new truck handle like the Ď09 in the article? Just wondering.


Letter sparked by 2009 Ford F-150 Truck Review

Hi Anthony,

The 2009 Ford F-150 pick up mentioned in the article above is very similar to your 2013 F-150 STX as far as suspension is concerned. The suspension components on 12th generation Ford F-150 4x4 models are the same, except for the SVT Raptor. The overall handling of the truck should be similar, with small differences in handling due to wheel and tire size options. 

On the plus side, your 5.0L V8 should have a positive impact on the overall handling of the truck since power to the wheels is what makes your F-150 shake, rattle and roll.

During your truck buying, you may have come across the FX4 package. If you find yourself wanting a firmer ride with more performance and control, you can easily upgrade to some mono tube shocks from FOX or Bilstein. A suspension shock upgrade is well worth the money and will provide better driving and handling on and off-road.


4x4 AnswerMan,

Does any one out there make an IFS swap kit for 2002 GMC Sierra 1500 that isnít HD,  or are they the same?

Jimmy Weeks

Hi Jimmy,

Solid Axle Conversion kits are readily available for Chevy and GMC trucks 1500/2500/3500 models made from 1988-1998. Itís the 1999 and newer half-ton models that prove more difficult to find. HD GM truck frames are different than the 1/2 ton frames from 1999-present. Unfortunately this means the HD straight axle suspension (SAS) conversion kits out there wonít work on your truck.

Now donít get bummed out too fast; there is hope. If you truly would like to convert your truck to a solid axle, you will have to create your own kit. There will also be some custom fabrication involved to make it work. You can find SAS conversion brackets, hangers, and metal parts for the project at Ruff Stuff (http://www.ruffstuffspecialties.com). Once you have your parts figured out, then the rest is labor. There is some SAS information here on Off-Road.com that may help, just do a search. You can also reference our sister site Pirate4x4.com.

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
June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

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