Do You Need a Premium Suspension Kit?
Reader: My name is Sfc. Albert D. Alvarez. I am currently deployed to the Middle East. I have a fairly stock '07 Dodge Ram Mega Cab 1500 4x4 with the 5.7L Hemi. My only mods thus far have been an aFe Hi-Breather intake and a Gibson exhaust. I am due to be coming home in the next five to six months.
I have been looking at lift kits from two separate companies: KORE (Recon Series) and Carli (Starter System with possible steering stabilizer). I live in El Paso, Texas, and like to take the family out to have a fun time in the sand. I do a majority of pavement driving, but I like to get dirty when I go back home to central Texas (where there is mud!). I don't want a "Road Queen," and don't want to go over board with a "Dirt King," either. I'm looking for something in between. Can you tell me which of these two systems would be the better choice for me? Or perhaps some other system?
SFC Albert Alvarez
In the Middle East
Editor: Both the Carli and KORE suspension systems you mention are high-quality, race-tested pieces of engineering. They are also both at the upper end of the spectrum, price wise, and while you'll certainly get what you pay for with either kit, we're not sure you really need the equivalent of a full-on "Dirt King" race suspension for the kind of wheeling you describe here. We think your best bet would be to contact reps of both companies when you get back to the States, check out some catalogs, and do a little comparison shopping.
Air Intakes: Which Makes More Power?
Reader: I just recently bought an '06 Nissan Titan and I wanted to somehow add some power to it. I like the exhaust note on it, so I'd probably leave that alone for awhile. Adding an air intake sounds like the way I want to go, but there are so many to choose from. The Volant intakes seem to be really good, but there is also a new Fram intake out, along with a K&N. I am just not sure which one to purchase. Since the engine will be taking in more air, will it make the engine any louder? Thanks.
Editor: Good questions all. We'll be comparison testing some leading air intakes in an upcoming issue. Stay tuned.
Wants to Know: Army Jeep or Postal Jeep?
Reader: I recently purchased a DJ-5D Jeep with left-hand drive. I was going to restore it but decided to sell it on eBay. It is painted black, but you can see the U.S. Army 720 CE decals on the side doors. The doors are hinged and not sliding although they might have been at one time. I assumed it was authentic Army, but a number of e-mails insist it is a Postal Jeep that had the decals added later. It is Army green inside and under the carpet. If I can prove it really is an Army Jeep, it would be worth much more than the Postal Jeep. Any idea whether this really was an Army Jeep?
Wichita Falls, TX
Editor: We asked our longtime colleague, Jim Allen, who's as knowledgeable as anyone on the planet about Jeep history, and he answered back with this:
"Larry, what you have is not precisely a Jeep. In fact, anybody from Jeep-either today or back when yours was built-would vehemently deny it was a 'Jeep.' It was built by AM General, which was a division of American Motors that produced commercial and military products including the DJ ('Dispatcher Jeep,' a legacy from when it was built by Jeep). AM General separated from AMC in 1983 but continued to have close ties for a number of years afterward. There were many versions of the DJ, from the first DJ-3A that appeared in 1955, to the last, the DJ-5M built in 1984. Many were used for the Postal Service, most often in right-hand-drive configuration, but they were also common in government service as utility or delivery vehicles. That's likely how yours was used. All DJs were two-wheel drive. You don't see many that were built as left-hand drive, though they were easy enough to convert.
"As far as its value goes, I honestly doubt it's worth more having been an Army vehicle than if it had been a Postal DJ. In general, old postal DJs are not particularly collectable or valuable, but some people still find them useful in a variety of commercial or utility roles. If yours has any special value, it's in the relatively easy use it had (compared to a postal) and the fact that it's already left-hand drive. Beyond that, I wouldn't expect to see any premiums over what any other similar DJ would bring."
Wants Onboard Air for Hemi P/W
Reader: I am looking for an air compressor for my truck. I have an '06 Dodge 2500 Power Wagon (5.7 Hemi with the six-speed). I would like to have an onboard air system on the truck (air tank, fittings to the front and rear, and so on). I thought I read about a compressor on your Teal Brute project with a compressor that runs off the motor. I cannot seem to find the article on the Web. Any help would be great. Thanks.
Editor: At present, there are no engine-driven options available for your truck, though we've been told that Kilby Enterprises is working on one and may have it ready for sale later in the year. For now, check out Voltair (www.12-voltair.com) or Oasis Off Road (www.oasisoffroad.com) for non-engine-driven high-output compressor options. Thanks for writing in.
Too-Wide Tires for Jeeps?
Reader: How wide is too wide on a JK? For years, I've been an avid reader of Four Wheeler and have wondered why more people don't opt to run wider tires to increase surface area on trail rigs? It increases lateral stability, and when aired down, you actually get more rubber on the contact patch (per inch) from width than height.
Considering the light weight of the JK and Unlimited, is there a disadvantage with going to a 15.5-inch-wide tire? There are only a few that offer these that I know of (e.g., Cepek, Mickey Thompson, Interco). The only downside I can think of is hydroplaning at highway speeds.
West Chester, PA
Editor: Actually, we can think of a few others. For starters, if you mount those wider tires on your stock rims, you are going to run into some nasty inner fender-rub issues at full steering-and actually, we'd guess you won't even have full steering with a tire that wide. (For those of you who remember our Project Xterra from a few years ago, we're speaking from experience here.) Sure, you can move the tires outward to clear the fender and/or frame via wider aftermarket wheels with reduced backspacing and/or wheel spacers (ugh), but the "farther out" you go, the greater the amounts of stress you'll place on the stock wheel bearings and suspension components.
Also, by moving the center of the contact patch farther away from the vehicle's steering axis, you'll have changes in your Jeep's "scrub radius" to contend with, which can affect either your ability to steer, brake, or both. (Not good!) And obviously, you'd need to ditch the factory fender flares for fatter aftermarket pieces to stay street-legal in most states.
Now, we're not saying you can't have a fat-tired Jeep-plenty of folks have 'em. There are simply a number of issues pertaining to clearances, steering, and suspension geometry that you need to work out before you slap on those wider meats. One more thing: Wider tires = more aerodynamic drag, which in turn = crummier mileage. Just a reminder.