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February 2007 Off-Road Mail - Letters

Posted in Features on February 1, 2007
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I Beg to Differ
Phil Howell's editorial (Nov. '06 Off-Road) ends with "most of us don't need meddling from any quarter to keep us healthy. To those who do: farewell."

I used to think like that, only there is a flaw, actually a big flaw. Phil writes, "It's their life, and if they fall off and hit something with their head they'll probably only be hurting themselves. That's their right."

Wrong. Most have families that would be hurt, but if they have the audacity to survive the headfirst slide into the curb and live, what then? Too often the taxpayer ends up paying for a lifetime of care. Phil is right in that sometimes the thinking goes too far, but the protection isn't just for the individual, it's for the family and the taxpayer.
Daniel R. Jenkins
Simi Valley, California

I'll Do It Myself, Thank You
I read with interest about your Sport Trac and Ranger projects. I'm looking for a suspension lift kit for my '06 Ford Ranger 4x4. No one makes anything as far as I can tell, but I was wondering if you knew of any custom jobs that anyone has done. The hardest part for me is getting longer spindles - the rest I can build myself. I'm looking for 4 or 5 inches of lift. If there is anyone you can put me in contact with I would greatly appreciate it.
Matt Stibler
London, Ontario

Matt,D.I.Y. fabrication is great, as long as the time and effort is well spent. In this case, you really don't need to spend the time and effort, because there are some suspension kits available for your truck. Superlift ( makes a 4-inch lift kit, RCD ( makes a 5-inch lift kit, and Dixon Bros. Racing ( makes the long-travel suspension system that you've seen on our '01 Sport Trac. Ranger 4x4s from '98 to present use the same front suspension and can use the same suspension lift kits.

If you're looking for a fabrication project to do, we'd suggest building bumpers, a spare-tire mount, or a utility rack for tools and spare parts. If your fabrication ability is beyond the basics, consider building an in-cab rollcage. We're recommending a ready-made suspension kit in this case because the suspension companies listed have all spent gobs of time, effort, and research and development dollars to make sure that the products they bring to market will perform well once bolted to your truck.

Throw Me a Bone Here!
I have been reading Off-Road for several years now and I need your help. I own an '85 Nissan 720 4x4 King Cab. I want to do some mods, but it is nearly impossible to find anything for my truck. One of the things that I am looking for is some kind of winch bumper, but the only thing that I could find was one of those mounts that plug into a receiver hitch. That is not the kind I want - I would like to have a regular winch bumper.

I would also like to find a snorkel for it, but I don't know if anybody makes them for carburetors or not. I'd also like to find a good lift kit for the little truck as I would really like to stuff some 33s under it (but if I must, 31s are OK).

I will be using my truck primarily for adventure-type wheeling, but I want it to be prepared for just about anything I throw at it. Any information on how to locate these parts would be greatly appreciated.Josh Brattenvia e-mail

Josh,Sorry, man, but you're the proud owner of a good truck that has almost no aftermarket support. We don't know of a single suspension lift kit for your 720, although you might contact Calmini Products ( or Spencer Low Racing ( to see what leads they might suggest.

As for bumpers, your best bet is to either find a fabricator to build something completely custom, or to take another ready-made bumper for a different application of a similar size (like a Toyota pickup) and have a fabricator build some bumper brackets to fit your truck. Finding differential gears and traction-aiding differentials is going to be equally tough.

No offense to you or to your truck, but unless you don't mind using custom parts almost every step of the way, you're better off getting an additional or a different truck and building it for wheeling.

Questionable Toy' Tranny
I recently bought an '00 Toyota Tacoma with the SR5 package. I'm the second owner, and the 4x4 has 75,000 miles on the odometer. The truck is an automatic, and I'm hearing a sound coming from the transmission when I come to a sudden stop. It just feels as if it is shifting into First too hard. This is the first automatic I've had in six years, so I'm not too sure if I'm just paranoid or if I really have a problem that should eventually be looked into.
Matt Whisenhunt

Matt,The first thing to check would be the tranny fluid. Better yet, have the tranny flushed and refilled with factory-spec fluid. Since you're the second owner, you can't be completely sure of how the truck was driven by the previous owner and whether or not the tranny fluid was changed regularly (even if the previous owner provided you with receipts). It sounds as if the fluid level may be low. You may also have some sort of issue with the electronics, since that tranny is computer-controlled.

Those are my best guesses. As you know, Toyota trucks have a reputation for longevity, so take your truck to a competent shop and let them check it out. The odds are in your favor that it's a minor problem.

Editor's note: If you have anything you'd like to say to us or ask us, please feel free to write to:
Off-Road Magazine, Off-Road Mail, 2400 E. Katella Ave., 7th Floor, Anaheim, CA 92806. You can e-mail us at

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