Send questions, comments, and suggestions to 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine, Attn: Christian Lee, 2400 E. Katella Ave.,7th Floor, Anaheim, CA 92806, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leveling a Grand CherokeeQ: I am looking for a leveling kit or front springs (no spacers) for my '99 Jeep Grand Cherokee so it will sit level. It is 4WD and has the I-6 engine. Any suggestions? Geraldvia e-mail
A: Gerald, Though a variety of leveling kits are available for your '99 WJ, the majority of them simply include spacers. That's not to say that this isn't a viable means of "leveling" or adding a small degree of lift to your vehicle. Spacers are considered an inexpensive method of fitting taller tires and serve as a great launching pad into exploring more extreme suspension systems. We've seen many well-built Grand Cherokees get their start with just spacers and slightly-larger-than-stock tires and move on to use long-arm kits and 35-inch meats. A few of the spacer kits we came across in our search included the Trimmer Coil Spacers from Old Man Emu (www.arbusa.com), WJ Leveling Kitz from Kevin's Off-Road (www.kevinsoffroad.com), and 2-inch Suspension Spacers from Daystar Products (www.daystarproducts.com). After the spacer kits, your next step is a complete suspension kit, most of which range from 2.5 inches and up, in both standard-arm and long-arm configurations. Since springs are all that you're after, though, one option that may be available to you is to install a set of factory coil springs from Jeep's "Up Country" suspension group. Some of these coil spring packages situated the Grand Cherokee from 1/2 to 1 inch higher than the standard spring group offered, and should be available at your local dealer. The "Up Country" suspension group was an available option on most WJ models until 2003. For more information about the "Up Country" package, check out www.wjjeeps.com, which also offers a wealth of Grand Cherokee WJ technical info. Other good resources are available from the North American Grand Cherokee Association (NAGCA) at www.nagca.com.
Boosted BrakesQ: Are you using a brake booster on your project All-American flatfender? If so, what is it? I have not seen any info about it.Jaredvia e-mail
A: Jared, We installed a Hydroboost Braking System from Vanco Power Brake Supply [(800) 256-6295, www.vancopbs.com)] in South Gate, California. The installation article appeared on page 88 of the Dec. '04 issue. Vanco offers its Hydroboost kits for Jeep CJs, YJs, XJs, and TJs, Scout IIs, early Ford Broncos, and various truck applications.
Likes Our StyleQ: I have been meaning to write since Kevin McNulty took over as editor. You all are doing a great job and I feel that 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility magazine is one of the best ones out there. I own three Jeeps, two Grands and a TJ, and love to hit the trails. I like how your magazine covers such a wide spectrum of off-roading, especially your adventure trips. I'm always looking for somewhere to go trailriding in the future. Rock buggies are cool, but I like that your magazine's focus is how to use a stock or slightly modified vehicle and just go out and explore the less traveled route. Keep up the great work!Doug Coleburnvia e-mail
A: Doug, Thanks for the props. We try to offer a balance of articles that will appeal to all of our readers, and it's nice to hear that we've accomplished this for you. We like hitting new trails and exploring, too, so look forward to seeing plenty more adventure trips in the future. 'Wheel on.
Mercedes ModsQ: Way to go on an awesome magazine! You guys never disappoint with tons of great event coverage and the technical articles that allow most 'wheelers, like me, to modify our rigs and feel like we know something. OK, here's the dilemma. I recently became the owner of an '00 Mercedes ML 430 (I know, I know, but it was a hand-me-down). Since the 'wheeling I do is Nor-Cal Sierras (Rubicon, Plumas, and so on) suspension mods, tires, and a winch mount are going to be necessary. The racks and other stuff will follow. I have searched for sources for this stuff and so far have found nothing. Any help in the right direction for these items would be a life-saver. Thanks again and keep up the great articles.Tom Brownvia e-mail
A: Tom, We wouldn't knock you for owning an ML430 unless we actually saw you on the trail. And we'd only do it then if you were afraid to use it. We don't have a great deal of experience with the newer Mercedes line of SUVs, but from what we gathered from the Internet, they can actually be built to handle some moderate to extreme (expecting body damage) trails. One of the coolest aspects we discovered is that you can fit a 32-inch tire in stock form, with some reporting that a 33-inch will fit with some rubbing. If more altitude is on your agenda, the German company Off-Road Exclusive (www.orc.de) offers a 30mm body lift kit to accommodate 34-inch tires (and maybe 35s with rubbing). The kit includes coil spacer brackets and Bilstein shocks. The company also sells a kit that adapts the front bumper to accept a Warn M8000 or XD9000 winch, as well as myriad other Mercedes ML parts. For bumper options, look to TJM (www.tjmproducts.com.au) and Go Rhino! (www.gorhino.com). To get in touch with the Mercedes off-road community, check out www.starduzt.net, which offers useful bulletin boards to communicate with other Mercedes vehicle enthusiasts.
TJ Dana 44 SwapQ: I have an '02 Jeep Wrangler with the 2.5L motor and a five-speed transmission. I was wondering if a Dana 44 will be a direct replacement for my stock rear Dana 35. The Dana 44 will be out of a same-year Jeep. Thank you.Gary via e-mail
A: Gary, Yes. But you'll also need to modify your rear driveshaft.
Heat-Reduction HoodsQ: I was wondering if you could answer a quick question. There is a picture on page 26 of your Oct. '05 issue (volume 21, issue 10) of a red Jeep Wrangler with a slotted hood. I assume it's for heat evacuation. How do you make such uniform cuts? Any info on the owner? Thanks.Frank Helmstettervia e-mail
A: Frank, We couldn't locate the vehicle owner before time of publication, but we can tell you that the "slots" in the hood are called louvers and are stamped, not cut, into the hood. The stamping allows for the uniformity of the cuts. Louvers are employed, as you pointed out, to dissipate heat from the engine compartment. Custom body shops often offer this service and can stamp the louvers in varying configurations and lengths to meet your needs. Although we didn't track down any aftermarket replacement louvered hoods, AEV [(406) 251-2100, www.aev-conversions.com)] offers its Jeep TJ Heat-Reduction Hood, which incorporates a custom vent to allow cooler air to enter.