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Off-Road Rant - Editorial - May 2011

Posted in Features on May 1, 2011
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Do you ever see auto-related sights that just make you cringe? Every now and then I run across vehicle builds or install jobs that make me ill, angry, and scared all in an instant. I have no doubt that many of you have had similar feelings evoked by demonstrations of vehicular disrespect. Whether it’s an incorrectly installed part or a poorly maintained vehicle, seeing something that is unquestionably unsafe for the road can really turn your stomach.

And it should. You’ve heard that a vehicle can be a loaded weapon? While technically the driver is the only thing that could be loaded, a vehicle can be extremely effective at causing harm to property or person, and any street-legalized vehicle should be in top-notch condition with all points properly working at all times.

I’m not talking about your turn signals and horn, here. Tires, suspensions, steering, and braking systems need to be in perfect or near-perfect condition and in proper working order whenever your ride is on the roadway. To have anything but iswell, an insult to other drivers on the road. Your (or your vehicle’s) actions have the potential to harm not only yourself but also innocent people near you, and therefore you need to make sure that your ride is up to snuff any time your tires touch asphalt (this can be as simple as giving your own vehicle a multi-point inspection after coming off a trail).

Notice the complete lack of alignment cam. Without this cam, the axle will just wander back and forth on the control arm because of the slotted bolt hole.

If you don’t know much about the mechanics of your vehicle, be absolutely sure to go to a reputable service center when having any work performed. Shoddy work puts everyone at risk, and it’s your responsibility to wisely choose your mechanic and what you have done to your vehicle.

I mention all these things (again) this month because I recently ran across a real disaster when visiting a friend’s shop. A customer had brought in a TJ Wrangler after his friends installed a suspension kit for him. Some friends. I was surprised the Jeep even made it to the shop. Bolts had been downsized, new holes had been drilled, and the so-called installers clearly had absolutely no clue about anything automotive-related.

Take a look at the images and see for yourself. No further explanation is really needed.

PhotosView Slideshow

As a holder of a state-issued driver’s license and a member of morning commuter traffic, I consider it my duty to prevent, stop, or point out unsafe vehicles and installation jobs whenever possible. And I expect anyone else with an ample amount of automotive know-how to do the same. OR

This month...

We got to Dynatrac and built the world’s strongest Dana 44 using a combination of hybrid and high-end parts. Was it cheap? Heck no! But it is one badass axle (Page 48). We also got a sneak peak at the newest LED technology utilized by a mil-spec auxiliary light (Page 34), and were able to perform some testing on the first self-learning, fuel-injection system ever made (Page 44).

In our Project Vehicles section, we posted a long-term update on our experiences over the last 15 months with 47-inch tires on a street-legal vehicle. It’s been a heck of a ride that we’ll never forget (Page 56).

And we were able to do another teardown in our Off-Road Dissectionsthis time we sacrificed a Mastercraft seat. Check it out on Page 66.

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