Your Off-Road Truck and SUV Questions Answered

Jul. 11, 2016 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.

May 2016 

March 2016 

January 2016


When I hit the lottery, I will buy A super-crew Raptor and will drive back roads from Mass. to Tenn. to get a barrel of Jack Daniels.

Charles Lemaire

Sparked by 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew First Look

Now thatís a story! Please get in touch with us as soon as you win the Lottery. Weíll even help you pick out the Raptor.

But seriously, a barrel run in a Raptor would be awesome! Invite a few more trucks and we can call it the Bootleg Rally.



Need to make it in 16 inches please.


Sparked by First Look Nitto Ridge Grappler

I second that ďDude.Ē Plenty of 16-inch wheels still turning on older trucks, Jeeps and 4x4s. Many pre-2000 4x4 vehicles were equipped with 16-inch from the factory. 

That said, 17-inch is now the most popular aftermarket wheel size for truck, Jeep and SUV applications. The 18-inch wheel size is also gaining popularity.

If tire manufacturers stop making 16-inch off-road tires, weíll have no choice but to run DubsÖ or maybe make our own wagon wheels. Then again, this is a brand-new tire, and oftentimes more sizes will become available down the line. No word yet from Nitto is a 16-inch is planned for the future.




I heard from truck drivers LED headlights aren't worth beans in a snow storm, due to snow buildup on the lights.

Letter sparked by Re: J.W. Speaker LED Headlight Installation and Review 

Hi Outbackandy,

If you're driving through a nasty snowstorm, ice could potentially build up due to the lower operating temperature of the LED (compared to Halogen). For these extreme applications, Rain-X seems to keep the snow and ice at bay. It just slides right off the lens.

Happy Truckiní.



Hello 4x4 AnswerMan,

I am planning on getting a Ď97 3.3 Pathfinder (stock) as my rig for dune bashing here in the UAE.  I was looking at leveling / lift kits for it but was confused on which is better for it.

As far as I know, the stock lift is good enough but if I need to put in a bigger / wider set of wheels, what kind of lift should I be expecting to do?  And do you know of any good brands that still do it for the Ď97 Pathfinder?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks and Regards,
Neil George P.

Hi Neil,

This SUV is a few years old now, so aftermarket parts are becoming harder to find, especially when it comes to off-road suspension. One company that still makes a quality suspension lift kit for your vehicle is Old Man Emu. Using their medium load springs, you can get up to a 1.75 in (44.45 mm) suspension lift. They have matching OME nitro charged shocks to go with it.  Learn more at

If you like the stock suspension height, then I would recommend you upgrade the shock absorbers to something like FOX or Bilstein monotube shocks. Not only will these shocks soak up the bumps much better, they will also make your Pathfinder handle amazing on- and off-road.

Another upgrade we recommend is all-terrain tires. They will provide added traction off-road and float over the dunes much better than a standard highway tire.

Good luck! Please send us photos of your dune adventures.



Hey guys,

I need a 24volt a/c compressor for my MK patrol LWB SD33 engine. Can anyone point me in the right direction please? Or give me a model or serial number so that I can find one.

Letter sparked by The Nissan MQ Patrol 4WD FAQ File 

Hi Raj,

If you canít find one at your local auto parts store or Nissan 4x4 specialty retailer, why not try an Automotive A/C shop. They can either rebuild your existing one or get you a new one. These shops sometimes have access to different wholesale suppliers not used by auto parts stores (secret stash).

Also try Ebay Motors. You can find almost anything there.

Good luck!



Help! Everywhere I look the set ups I see for ball joints don't look like mine and I can't get the upper to budge. This is what mine looks like on our Ď99 Dodge 2500. 4x4 I've tried pb50...tried a ball joint press. Help. lol

Letter sparked by Installing New Ball Joints in 2003 Dodge Ram Truck 

Hi Shar,

You may need to apply a little heat if the ball joint is rusted in place. Also, when we did ours, we used an impact gun in conjunction with the Miller Ball Joint press kit (as shown above). Just make sure youíre using the correct diameter adapter.  Also, donít forget the safety glasses!



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have an AMC 4x4 Wagon that I want to add an LED light bar for my late night adventures. Any ideas on how to mount one on the roof?


Hi Frank,

If you still have the factory roof rack, you could try mounting the LED light bar to that.  Just run the cross bar all the way to the front of the vehicle, and then find a clever way to attach it.

If you donít like that idea, or donít have a roof rack, you could try using an LED bar mount. They probably wonít make any specific to your vehicle, but you could try running one from a pickup truck or Jeep. It will require some modification, but will look awesome! Rough Country makes the one shown above and has several options to choose from. Our friends at SoCal SuperTrucks also have some modern options that could be adapted as well.

Good luck!



Funny how all things come full circle, I talked to Rod in 2005 when he and Walker were inducted into the ORMHOF it was the grand opening I think, and he was running down the Fords because he was driving the Hummer. I was pit help for Dale sextons 1978 F-100 class 8 step side back in the day. Those sure were the Glory days of Off Road.  With Politics and $500,000 trophy trucks, and Bat shit crazy Baja natives it sure took all the fun out of it.


Letter sparked by Rod Hall Returns to Baja in 1969 Ford Bronco 

Hey Nutwithagun,

Rod Hall is an amazing off-road racer and motorsports legend. Iím glad heís still out there doing his thing. Doing it in an early Ford Bronco just makes it that much cooler.

I wasnít around the early days of Baja, but I bet it was a whole different race. Thanks for sharing. Itís only through veterans like yourself that we can keep the Baja legends alive. Keep the stories coming!



Hello AnswerMan,
I have 180K on my 2003 4Runner Sport and the dealer has been telling me for some time, and I know as well, that my CV Axles are getting long in the tooth. I am ready to get this done and had decided that I would go with a brand new set of Cardone Select Part # 66-5235.

As I was getting all the parts lined up that I would order I was looking back at more of the comments from other people and didn't like what I was hearing, too many negative things, problems w/ boots, etc. I am having some doubts about going with brand new ones. 

My question is - from your experience would you just get a refurbished set from? (anyone in particular) or would you go with a brand new set manufactured by Cardone or someone else?  I had been told that the Toyota dealers get their refurbished sets from a parts place like NAPA and they don't use new ones.


Joe Holden
Washougal, WA

Hi Joe,

Getting your CV Axles repaired is smart. Torn CV Axle boots ooze grease all over and make a mess. They also allow contaminants like dirt, salt, and mud gets inside the boot. This dramatically degrades the grease and will shorten the life of the constant velocity joint and ball bearings inside.  If you catch it early, sometimes a simple re-boot can fix the problem.

If your CV Axles are good and the joints donít click or make weird sounds while driving, Iíd find a local shop that can re-grease and re-boot your existing set.  During the re-boot, a good tech will let you know if any of the internals also need to be replaced.  This is the most economical option.

SEE RELEATED ARTICLE: Rebuilding the Half-Shafts

If theyíre shot, replacing CV Axles with a rebuilt or aftermarket set really depends on your intended use.  The prices are all over the place, and sometimes the cheaper ones make it tempting due to the low price and lifetime warranty.  These will probably work fine if youíre mostly driving on paved roads and doing light off-roading, like back country dirt roads.

If you plan on going off-road often and maybe even hitting some technical trails, itís worth paying a little extra for higher quality materials.  Weíve had good luck with the Cardone brand (itís actually what the local NAPA sells, new & rebuilt).  The Cardone CV Axles are much pricier than other auto parts store brands, but their rubber boots seem to last longer.  Genuine Replacement Parts are also a good bet (if still available).

If youíre constantly tearing boots or breaking CV Axles, then you really need to check out RCV Performance Axles (shown above). They offer purpose built CV Axles for hardcore off-road use. Theyíre a little pricey but well worth it. More info at



4x4 AnswerMan,

My truck almost caught on fire after being parked for the winter.  Found some chewed up wiring and rat droppings in the engine bay. Short of sprinkling rat poison all over, what can you do to keep varmints out?


Pack Rats can raise havoc on your vehicle and  MPG if not dealt with immediately. This car was rescued by Mr. Pack Rat of Tuscon, AZ.  Looks comfy.

Hey Skip,

Sorry to hear about your rat infestation. For some odd reason, rats do like chewing on wiring and making homes in cars that arenít moved often. Best thing you can do is to drive your vehicle and donít let it sit for too long. Otherwise youíll end up with a rig riddled with black widows, snakes, and who knows what else. 

The guys at the wrecking yard have non-moving cars and trucks. They really like using Decon. The bait kills the rats in their tracks and stops them before major damage is done. They also recommend lifting the hood (rats donít like the light). 

A more natural approach is using mint oil with cotton balls. They just need to be replaced every tqo weeks or so. Pack rats donít like the scent.




My steering wheel is really hard when turning.  I hit a rock last week by the lake and thatís when it started.  Driving home was a bitch.  Any ideas?


Hi Louie,

Itís possible the steering gear box was damaged when you hit the rock.  If the sector shaft was bent, this would make turning the wheel hard. Best to check it ASAP!

You can lift vehicle off the ground and look signs of damage to the steering gear box or any other front suspension component. A power steering fluid leak coming from the steering gear box is also a good indicator thereís damage.

If you canít find the problem, take it into a good suspensions alignment shop. They should be able to pinpoint the problem.

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.

May 2016 

March 2016

January 2016 Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!