Reader: I was going through some of my old mags and came across the May '06 issue. Your project Frontier Nismo article that month got me wondering: If you can do the 4x2 locker modification to a Nissan, can it be done to a Toyota Tacoma also, and how? I know I'm not the only Tacoma owner out there who's needed my locker to work in something other than 4-Lo. I would really appreciate any info you can give me.
Editor: Frontier fabmeister Robin Stover replies: We did some research on this and found a plethora of information pertaining to a similar modification to the Tacoma. Toyota enthusiasts refer to this as the "grey wire mod." On Tacoma trucks, the 4WD computer is tied to the main ECU with a gray wire. When the vehicle is placed in 4-Lo, a ground signal is sent through this gray wire to the 4WD computer. This ground signal allows the locker to be activated when the diff-lock button is pressed. The ground signal also goes to the main ECU, communicating that the truck is in 4-Lo and thus changing the shift points. By sending a ground signal only to the 4WD computer, the locker may be activated in 2-Hi, 4-Hi, or 4-Lo, yet the main ECU is not affected; therefore the shift points will only change if the truck is actually in 4-Lo. You can find this wire by simply removing the driver-side kick panel. The 4WD computer is located toward the back of the panel area, close to the firewall. It has a decal on it that reads, "Computer 4 Wheel Drive Control." Once located, simply unplug the white connector going into the 4WD computer and remove the tape and protective sheathing from the wiring harness. Find the grey wire located in prong number 8 of this plug. Cut this wire, attach a short jumper wire, and then ground it. Tape up the dash side of this wire and test the locker in two-wheel drive or 4-Hi. The diff-lock indicator lamp should illuminate on the gauge cluster, confirming success.
Reader: I recently squeezed a set of 305/70R16 tires on my factory Dodge 1500 4x4 with factory steel rims. Now I have a minor rubbing issue on the front upper control arms at full steer. Obviously, I can't cut that off. I like the tire size and am planning a 2 1/2-inch front leveling kit and add-a-leaf in the rear to get some more lift out of it. My question is: Would it be advisable to use wheel spacers in the front (1 1/2-inch aluminum bolt-on kind), or just pony up for some aftermarket rims with better backspacing?
Editor: Wheel spacers, to us, are at best a necessary evil. At times, such as when installing larger-than-stock tires and wheels side by side (i.e., in a rear dualie application), you may have no other choice, but the downside to spacers includes (but is not limited to) increased wear on suspension and hub components, diminished ride and handling characteristics, and premature failure of stud-and-nut assemblies. For the vast majority of applications, including yours, we'd recommend going to a set of wheels with the proper backspacing. Besides being safer, they should eliminate your tire rub too.
Reader: I read your review on the '07 Explorer Sport Trac (Aug. '06) and enjoyed the article very much. I have been in the market to buy the new Sport Trac, but I was a little concerned after you talked about the trail aspect. I am looking to do some four-wheeling and looking for a vehicle that can do it all.
My two choices are the '07 Sport Trac and the Toyota 4Runner. I know the Toyota is more competent on the trails, but how much more? Can you elaborate on the '07 Sport Trac on the trails? Can the new Sport Trac be lifted with the independent rear suspension? If so, who can do it?
Editor: To answer your questions:
1. A lot more.
2. If the trails are mild, the Sport Trac will be fine. Any kind of rough stuff, get the Toyota.
3. Sure it can, if you've got the requisite fabrication skills, a thorough understanding of suspension geometry, and plenty of time and money.
4. Nobody we know of.