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October 2010 4Word - Editorial

4word
Phil Howell | Writer
Posted October 1, 2010

"We've never heard that before..."

"We've never heard of that before!" Have you ever heard that when you called a manufacturer, retailer, or shop to talk to them about a problem or issue? I have and it makes me angry. If they've truly never heard of the issue before, so what? They're hearing about it now. The implication is that there's never been a problem so it's not a problem now. They also imply we're idiots, liars, or both. Of course, there are those people who ARE idiots and liars, but most aren't.

Manufacturers, retailers, and shops should listen to their customers and treat them with a modicum of respect, especially if they want to stay in business. Common sense dictates that these companies would want to hear about problems so they can be addressed. Experience shows they don't want to hear about problems and, once they do, don't want to rectify them. For example, I was talking with an acquaintance who owns a company. He was complaining that sales were down while his competitor's sales were up. His products had a problem that was being splashed all over the forums. There was also talk about his company's shoddy customer service. I mentioned these problems and he exclaimed, "I never heard of that before!" then proceeded to tell me they didn't have any issues and that these customers were stupid (how did he know they were stupid if he had never heard of the problem?). No wonder sales were down.

"That's the way this part/modification works and you have to learn to live with it." This is another common statement and is just as bogus as, "We've never heard of that before." What they're really saying is, "We've fouled up all our installations and nobody's vehicle works when it leaves our shop." On the other hand, it could be the parts installed aren't right for your application. I just ran into the latter while working on my Trailrunner JK.

I wanted the very best suspension possible for this two-door JK. So, I decided to mix and match, using quality parts. All of these suspension pieces were designed to work together in their respective systems, but I knew I could get something to work even better. What a revelation. Most coils turned out to be too soft unless paired with stiffly valved shocks. Even then, The JK's ESP and Traction Control were activating around every corner with most of these combinations. The stated coil lift seldom meant anything, either. On the two-door JK, most of the coils lifted the Jeep higher than advertised. I tried trimming coils, but to get to the right height, the coils had to be trimmed so much the base wind was completely cut off and we were into the angled portion of the wire. Shorter coils were finally found that work without trimming. I've also found shocks that work stunningly well. I'll be telling you about these when the build installment is written.

Parts that weren't designed for the use I wanted didn't work. These weren't bad parts when used as they were designed. So, make sure you're using parts as advertised before getting angry that something's not working. Shop owners, if you're not paying attention to the way, or which, parts are being installed on customer's vehicles, be prepared to field complaints.

The Trailrunner JK is working superbly. It doesn't exhibit bumpsteer or twitchiness. After much experimentation and work, it has no issues. When building your project vehicle, you don't have to accept mediocrity. "You have to learn to live with it" is not something you have to do. With correct caster, vehicles don't wander. With correct pinion angle and balanced driveshafts, they don't vibrate. With the right coils, shocks, control arms, and geometry, they work well on- and off-road.

Don't listen to naysayers. Don't put up with the "We've never heard of that before..." crowd. Get it right. Don't settle.

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