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Off-Road Unloaded - Letters to the Editor - September 2011

Posted in Features on September 1, 2011
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Editor’s Note: If you want to say or ask something, email Unloaded at or write to:
OFF-ROAD magazine
1733 Alton Parkway, Ste. 100
Irvine, CA 92606

Remember, we’re giving away swag every month to the author of our favorite letter. Be sure to include your address, so we know where to send your goods.

Letters of the Month

This month, our lucky Letter-of-the-Month writer is getting hooked up with some genuine Bubba Rope to hook up his truck to when it gets stuck. Bubba Rope is a stretch-and-yank recovery device that builds up energy and finally gives a mighty, but smooth tug to extract a stuck vehicle. Not only that, but Bubba Rope supplied T-shirts to give to all the other letter writers this month. Check them out at

Not All GPS Units Are the Same!
I just received my Lowrance Elite-5M Baja Off-road GPS Chartplotter—don’t waste your time with one of these units! First, it came without a mounting bracket. I am not sure I got what I ordered, as the manual talks about mounting a sonar transducer. There seems to be no way to upload contour maps unless you use the Navionics cards, which are only good if I want to drive my Jeep in lakes or coastal waters. There is no way to pre-run off-road routes, set waypoints, and download this information and send it to the rest of my team. I think what I got from Lowrance is something far less than advertised—what I have is a large screen TomTom. If you can’t pre-run trails, set up waypoints, and share them with team members via uploads, then it’s useless. I’m very disappointed! This is definitely a marine unit and not an “off-road” unit as advertised by Lowrance!

Declan McLaughlin
Pensacola, Florida

Declan, thanks for the advisement. And for speaking your mind and trying to help the rest of us out, you’re getting hooked up with some Bubba Rope.

While GPS complaints are being made, let me make my own: Why do GPS units not have RCA outlets on the back of them? It would be so simple and a great way to add another screen so the driver could easily see an auxiliary screen while the copilot has the main unit in front of them.

My second GPS beef: When is there going to be a GPS unit that I can use for everyday highway driving and then use for recreational off-road use as well? I want one unit that can do it all instead of a fixed dash GPS device and then another small unit suction-cupped to my windshield.

Come to the Dark Side!


I am 14 years old, and I have always loved anything with an engine and wheels. I loved trail rigs, and always dreamed of building one…that was until I picked up my first copy of OFF-ROAD magazine. Now, I’m obsessed with prerunners. I hope I can get a Ranger, a F-150, or a ’96 Bronco for my first truck (I’m a Ford/Dodge guy). The perfect truck for me is a ’92-to’05 Ford Ranger…maybe with a Camburg suspension, General Grabbers, ‘caged from tip to tip, with some custom bumpers and stroker V-8. Big dreams, huh?

Brandon Dufala
Morrison, Colorado

P.S. Can you run a story in the near future showing what coilover suspension is and how it works?

Brandon, we’re stoked to hear that you want to build a prerunner. They’re a ton of fun, and you can still get through a lot of good trails if you make a 4WD prerunner. Out in Colorado, you don’t have as many wide-open expanses of desert as we do in the Southwest, but a prerunner truck is still a ton of fun on fire roads, wider trails, and ranch roads. Plus, a properly-built prerunner will still handle great on the streets! Since you’re out in Colorado, I urge you to check out the off-road racing at Colorado Off Road Extreme OHV Park. You can find information about it at Take your friends and go check it out!

Cherokee Cooling Issues
I am having an overheating issue with my XJ Cherokee. It’s okay if it’s lower than 70 degrees F outside in the desert (Ocotillo Wells, Anza Borrego, California, outside San Diego), but once it warms up hotter than that, my XJ has trouble staying cool to the point where I might as well try hiking. Are there radiators out there that provide better cooling from say a Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Toyota that I could find at a junk yard? If so, which one should I look for to fit in the same space. My XJ is a ’95, by the way. If not, what’s the best thing out there for keeping her cool short of icing the block like drag racers do? Thanks so much for your help.

Matthew Sratton
Via email

Matthew, your problem is an old and familiar one for many 4.0L Jeep Cherokee owners. First off, the engines in those vehicles are set to run a tad lean from the factory, making them run a little hotter (than if they were run richer). Secondly, there is not a big area to shove a radiator in the front of an XJ Cherokee, so the engineers had to work within design parameters. And unfortunately, Cherokees came with tiny single-row radiators.

For years, the aftermarket has been offering two- and three-row radiators for XJs, and they only cost a couple hundred dollars. I can almost guarantee that a new radiator will solve your cooling issues. I got mine from 1-800-Radiator and it was delivered straight to my doorstep.

Best Bumper Builds
I have a ‘92Chevy Z71 and was looking to add a front bumper to it. I want to build something custom and not use bolt-on bumpers. I do some trail stuff, but I like driving fast, too, so I don’t want a giant deer killer in the front of my truck. Any suggestions?

Dan Garcia
Athol, Idaho

It sounds like custom is the right way for you to go, Dan. Perhaps try using a winch in a custom-built tube bumper. Put a winch cradle between the frame horns, and then use tube to go off both sides and to make a light hoop with.

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