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Toyota FJ Cruiser - 4x Forum

Posted in Features on May 1, 2008
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Send questions, comments, and suggestions to: 4 WHeel DrIVe & SporT UTIlITY MagaZINe, attn:Christian lee, 2400 e. Katella ave., Ste. 700, anaheim, Ca 92806, or

Jeep Mag No More
Comment: a year ago I purchased a one-year subscription to your magazine. I had recently purchased a four-wheel-drive vehicle and was looking for a reference source for tips, how-to articles, vehicle reviews, and reader forums. During the last year, I can say you have a very good magazine with very creative articles and games. I think it may be the most creative magazine I have read in a while. The reason for me writing you this letter is really to tell you how disappointed I was with the exclusive coverage of "everything Jeep." I know Jeep has a dedicated following, but honestly, isn't it just a small percentage of all four-wheel-drive vehicles being sold in this country? Could it not be said that Jeep is niche within the fourwheel drive community? Why isn't there any coverage of domestic pickup trucks and SUVs? It's just Jeep articles, Jeep accessory advertisers, and occasional articles about the ugly Toyota FJ. I've actually owned a Jeep product - a '94 Cherokee that I purchased new. I can honestly say that it was the most miserable vehicle I've owned. It fell apart and rode terrible. I sold it and never looked back. There is a whole market of other "four-wheelers" who would be very interested in a magazine that catered to their type of vehicles. You're not trying to reach that audience? If not, why not name the magazine Jeep Monthly? I won't be renewing my subscription because the magazine has no information that I can use for my vehicle.Kevin reploglevia e-mail

Reply: Kevin, you failed to mention what make 4x4 you now own. It would be interesting to know what mark we've missed with you. I won't deny that we become a bit Jeep-heavy from time-to-time, but one need look no further than the last few issues to see that we really are more than just "everything Jeep." Though we may not provide you with detailed information about your particular vehicle every month, are you so against Jeeps that you won't look at pictures of them or read about them on trails that you've never explored? Will you not look at innovative products that are designed with Jeeps in mind but are still perfect crossover parts to other makes of vehicles? The "four-wheeling" audience we are trying to reach appreciates all things four-wheel drive. They appreciate a well-engineered part because of the thought and time that went into its development, regardless of what model vehicle it applies. They want to know how parts work, so they will have a broad knowledge base for around the campfire, and so they can wrench on vehicles other than their own. our audience can do these things because they read articles that had nothing to do with their vehicle. I studied english literature in college on my way to writing for a 4x4 mag. What if I'd quit all of those years ago because Keats and Yeats were getting more time than Hemingway? I'm certainly glad I didn't leave before I learned things I didn't think I wanted to learn. I wish we could have pleased you, Kevin, and I'm sorry you won't be sticking around for another year to read about what we have to say. By the way, I've also owned a pile-of-crap Jeep in my time. They can't all be winners.

Where To Wheel
Q: As I ride around my area of the country, I often see dirt roads and old logging roads that look like potentially interesting trails. Wanting to avoid trespassing tickets and landowners with shotguns, I usually just keep on driving. However, there are a couple that just look too good to forget about. How do I find out who the landowners are and what is the best way to go about obtaining permission to explore their lands with my Jeep? If the road is an unmarked forest service road, how do I find out if it is a legal road for me to travel? Thanks.Gareth AblesGreenville, SC

A: Gareth, discovering new trails is great fun, and you are smart in wanting permission before exploring them. as you pointed out, being ticketed for trespassing or chased with a shotgun by an angry landowner can certainly ruin an otherwise fun day, so finding out what roads are legal or not is best done before you start exploring. In your state of South Carolina, you can look to the South Carolina State Trails program website ( for info about what roads are designated for oHV use. another option is to contact a local 4x4 club or shop, which might have already explored some of the same roads that caught your eye. Trick 'n' Traction 4WD Club ( is a local greenville, South Carolina, club that may be able to point you in the right direction. Another option is doing your own detective work at city and county of- fices to determine what land belongs to what owner, but this can involve extensive legwork for little results. For more information about 4x4 clubs in your area, check out the Southern Four Wheel Drive association ( and the United Four Wheel Drive association (

T - Case Pops Out Of Gear
Q: I own a '97 Jeep Cherokee Sport 4x4 with a five-speed and 4.0l engine. It has an issue with the transfer case popping out of 4-Hi and into Neutral. I'm told it's due to a bent fork inside the case. Is there anyone who makes a low-gear set that will work in my existing case? Thanks.
via e-mail

A: KJ, the shifter for the Np231J on my Wrangler does the same thing when in 4-Hi. I found that the complex linkage below the floorboard was binding and causing the shifter to pop out of gear. This is most likely the case with yours because if the fork inside the case were bent, you'd likely not be able to shift the gears in the case at all. I've also found that the T-case shifter handle can become bent backward after being forced into gear by a strong-armed driver frustrated with the binding linkage. When this occurs, the shifter is moved closer to the edge of the hole in the floorboard and also the console, and may vibrate until it pops out of gear while bumping along the trail. Check out these possible shifter culprits before tearing open your T-case. If you're plain sick and tired of the factory shifter, however, Novak Conversion offers a replacement shifter kit for the Np231J transfer case that gets rid of the factory linkage to use a more direct shift method. as for low-gear sets for the Np231J transfer case, you can look to TeraFlex (, which offers 4:1 ratio gears in its heavy-duty replacement front transfer-case half. The TeraFlex half case and 4:1 gears are very durable and offer a pretty basic installation. Wheel on.

Universal Spare-Tire Carrier
Q: I have a '99 Chevy Tahoe Sport two-door. Does anyone make a spare-tire carrier that mounts to the bumper or something like the fullsize Broncos have? I would be very happy if you could help me out. Thanks.
Ross Perry
Northwood, Oh

A: Ross, the company Wilco products/Tiregate in Santa ana, California, offers a spare-tire carrier that should meet your needs. The company's Hitchgate-series carrier is designed to be used on most vehicles equipped with a 2-inch receiver hitch and can accommodate up to a 40-inch tire. The Hitchgate incorporates a Hilift jack mount, and a license-plate-relocation kit is also available. For more information, contact: Tiregate, (877) 945-2684, Thanks for reading.

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