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November 2009 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Features on November 1, 2009
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Where To Write
Address your correspondence to:
Four Wheeler
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048.

All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department can also be reached through the website at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Mystery Grille On Cherokee Chief
Reader: I would like more information on the 1978 Cherokee Chief that's on the cover of the August '09 issue: specifically, the grille. I have a 1977 Wagoneer that I am working on and have tried with no luck to find a similar grille. Thank you for your time.
Mark Scarborough
Hickory, NC

Editor: One of the coolest things about working for the design division of an OE manufacturer like Jeep has gotta be the access you're likely to have to some hard-to-find and/or rare parts. Technically speaking, that Cherokee on our cover is only a '78 from the A-pillar back; the front clip and "Rhino Chaser" grille were actually designed by Willys and were grafted onto the Cherokee from a first-generation ('63-'65) Wagoneer. Gladiator pickup trucks also used this grille through the 1970 model year, so it's possible that you might be able to locate one at a junkyard or online at eBay or Craigslist. Otherwise, we don't have any suggestions, since we couldn't find anyone out there who sells an NOS replacement grille of this vintage. Readers?

Who's Responsible for Conserving Fuel?
Reader: As you may know, new mandates are again forcing auto manufacturers to increase fuel mileage. The newest legislation will hold trucks to 30 mpg by 2016. I, like many truck enthusiasts I know, are in favor of saving fuel. I simply don't believe forcing the responsibility on the auto industry is the answer. This will only lead to fewer choices for those who want and need real trucks.

My wife and I drive a V-6 4Runner. We keep our truck tuned up (21 to 22 mpg here in flat Virginia), we avoid aggressive acceleration, and we consolidate trips. We drive it less than 10,000 miles a year.

How much gas does an economy car use for those who drive aggressively, don't tune up their car, and travel 30,000 miles in a single year?

We should all share the responsibility to conserve resources, not just the auto industry.
Tommy Christopher
Ashburn, VA

Editor: We couldn't agree more. Federal CAFE standards are great in theory, but there's only one problem. It's like this: You can require the manufacturers to build a truck that gets 45, 55, even 100 mpg, and given enough time and money for research and development, the OE engineers will work out a solution. But what you can't control is the amount of consumer demand for the kind of truck that would likely get that kind of mileage, for the kind of price that the manufacturers will need to charge to recover the vehicle's production cost. Put it another way: Would you pay $80,000 for a Smartcar SUT? We didn't think so, either.

But as you mentioned, there are ways that we can all conserve fuel, including reducing any unnecessary weight, cutting down aerodynamic drag, keeping our engines and gearboxes tuned at regular intervals and filled with fresh fluids, keeping our tires at the proper inflation pressure, and so on. Your state Department of Transportation or DMV is usually a good source of information for mileage-saving tips.

Teal Brute Paint Envy
Reader: I've got a teal Jeep TJ that is in need of being repainted. I'd really like to know how the Teal Brute's teal color came out. Do you have the actual color that was used, or the percentages that were mixed?
Michael Stein
Cleveland, OH

Editor: Robin Stover replies: Thanks for writing in. We used all genuine PPG colors and mixed them by hand until the color looked close to the factory paint. However, once the paint dried, it was off a bit. I think our new teal has a bit less blue in it than the factory color. DC Customs in Ukiah, California ( may be able to help you figure out how to match what we did if you're interested. (They still have some of the paint we used in storage, premixed, just in case we needed to re-shoot anything.)

Wrangler Pickup Conversion?
Reader: I am trying to locate someone that converts Jeep four-door Wranglers into an SUT similar to the Hummer H2 SUT. Remove the portion of the body behind the rear seat and add a short pickup bed. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Steve Skelton
Via the Internet

Editor: No one makes that specific conversion just yet, though AEV Conversions offers the international-market-only J8-based pickup truck in kit form. Perhaps they would be able to advise you on using the J8 body panels to convert your four-door to the pickup truck model. AEV can be contacted at

Mopar EFI Kit Costs How Much?
Reader: Regarding your article on the Jeep Mopar fuel injection conversion, you stated a price of $1,900 for the kit. Where might I find a kit at this price? I can only find them in the $2,400 to $2,800 range.
Steve Samaniego
Placerville, CA

Editor: We assume you're referring to a story about the 258ci carb-to-EFI conversion story on a Wrangler YJ-which we wrote several years ago. Over the years, the price of that specific Mopar EFI kit has increased quite a bit. Take any manufacturer list prices we mention in these pages with at least a grain of salt-chances are they'll be a little different by the time you actually get the magazine.

Wants To Work In Vehicle Logistics
Reader: I was wondering if you guys have any contact info on the PCS company that handled the logistics of the Ford Raptor testing. I plan on getting out of the military in the next few years and I'm curious about a position with them.
Channing Green
N. Las Vegas, NV

Editor: Try PCS Incorporated, 1515 Broadway, El Cajon CA 92921, 619/442-7338. Good luck.

New Tundra V-8: Aluminum Or Cast-Iron?
Reader: I just read your review of the 2010 Toyota Tundra (Aug. '09) and it mentions that the new Tundra 4.6L iForce V-8 has a cast-iron block like the 4.7 iForce. Toyota states the 4.6 has an aluminum block. Just curious if you are wrong or Toyota is wrong.
Tom Petrov
Via the Internet

Editor: Toyota didn't get to be the world's biggest automaker by being wrong very often. Does that answer your question?

Wants Project Wheelbase Info
Reader: I am trying to figure out the wheelbase on some of your project vehicles. I am looking to compare them to my own wheelbase and see if modifying it would be a wise choice. I have found the Teal Brute's wheelbase to be 117 inches. Is that correct? I also couldn't find the Mega Titan's wheelbase, so any information would be helpful.
Clay Johnson
The Woodlands, TX

Editor: You are correct on the Teal Brute wheelbase. The Mega-Titan's 'base is now 167 inches.

Tire Tech, Tips & Tirades
Reader: We enjoyed the article, "Are Recap Tires as Good as New?" by Willie Worthy and Bruce Erickson (Aug. '09).

The economic and environmental benefits of retreads have been proven over millions of miles by all types of vehicles, including four wheelers, school buses, military and commercial airlines, fire engines and other emergency vehicles, small package delivery services such as DHL, Fed Ex, UPS, and even the U.S. Postal Service.

For any of your readers who still have doubts about retreads, we will be happy to send a CD and two DVDs that should convince them that retreads are as safe as the best new tires, but cost a lot less. There is no charge for our materials and everything we send is non commercial. Our materials can be ordered by sending a complete address to or by calling our toll free number, 888/473-8732.

Finally, I walk the walk. I have been driving on retreaded tires for more than 30 years. My wife and son also drive on retreads.
Harvey Brodsky Managing Director
Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau
Pacific Grove, CA

Reader: Regarding "Beefy Tire Tech" (Aug. '09): When "reading" a tire, additional helpful info is the tire's manufacturing date. The last four numbers at the end of the string of numbers beginning with "DOT" indicate the week and the year of manufacture. For instance, if the last four numbers in the sequence are "1506," that would be a manufacturing date in the 15th week (April) of 2006. This can be very helpful when buying a used four-wheeler. The old bias-ply tires on the '76 CJ-5 I just acquired indicate they were made in 1964! Even with good tread, they're ready to be replaced.
Dane Smith
Dallas, TX

Reader: I got a good laugh at your tire chart ("What Hits, What Fits," Aug. '09) for the Jeep Commander XK. Here is the reality:
No lift with 1/4-inch strut spacer, max tire size= 255/65/17
2- to 3.5-inch lift without wheel spacers = 245/60/17 - 255/70/17
2- to 3.5-inch lift with wheel spacers (1.25- to 1.5-inch) = 255/75/17 - 265/70/17
4-inch lift with spacers = 285/70/17

Rusty's Off Road is working on a 4.5-inch lift which is not yet completed. The chart shows a 6-inch lift, which is not available for the XK due to all the computer sensors that would go haywire with anything over two inches. The 4- and 4.5-inch lifts require computer reprogramming, so as of yet, no one has gone bigger than 4.5 inches to the best of my knowledge.

I am currently running a 2-inch lift, 1.5-inch wheel spacers, and 265/70R17Nitto Terra Grapplers. The tires rub and I had to do some very minor modifications to fix that.

I also saw that the August issue features a lot of Jeeps, and the Commander seems to be absent. The XK is a capable off-road vehicle, and some owners have taken the XK into some hairy situations.
Via the Internet

Reader: I have a 2001 Nissan Xterra, and your "What Hits, What Fits" chart says you can only fit a 29x9.50 tire on it in stock form. On my Xterra, I am running 31x10.50s with no trouble other than the exception of having to do just some minor trimming in the front. Just wanted to let you know so you can look into that.
Todd Rice
Via the Internet

Reader: I just got my August issue. I looked at your "What Hits, What Fits" chart, and I'm going to be calling my dealer the first thing in the morning to have my truck looked at. I bought my truck with the wrong tires on it. Your chart says the stock size should be 29x9.50, but I have 33-inch tires, and according to the chart, that means I have a 4-inch lift kit. I did not pay for this lift and I want it removed. I know your staff spends many hours researching info and would never print incorrect info. I'll let you know what the dealer says.
Steve Belanger
Rochester, NH

Editor: Great, let us know how it goes. And in the future, you might let us know the make and model of your truck so we can make the necessary corrections to our chart.

As we stated in the actual story (does anybody read this stuff anymore?), our tire fitment chart is best viewed as, "an ongoing evolution of facts as we receive them, and should be referred to as a general reference rather than as absolute truth for every single 4x4." But any time we get good hard numbers, such as those furnished here for the Commander XK, we will incorporate those into our chart for next year. And simply because we state that a 6-inch lift is needed to fit 40-inch tires, it doesn't mean that anyone actually makes a 6-inch lift kit for it; it's simply a hypothetical yardstick to follow if you're looking to fit 40s on the vehicle.

On the subject, you say you don't see many Commanders in this magazine? We can't imagine why that would be the case. Thanks to all who wrote in with tire tips and information.

Dept Of Corrections
In "Beefy Tire Tech," which ran in our August '09 issue, we misidentified a photo of a Mickey Thompson F-C II tire. We also published an erroneous phone number for the company; the correct number is 800/222-9092. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Letter Of The Month
Uncle Sam Needs 24v Lights For MRAPS
Reader: I'm currently deployed to Afghanistan and am writing because I have a bit of a strange request. My platoon is driving the new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle, or MRAP. Being an avid wheeler, I was chosen as a driver and am many times the lead driver in convoy operations.

Without going into too much detail (operational security), the lighting and visibility on these MRAPs is very poor, which makes it hard to accomplish our mission. We do many patrols, which include keeping a 10-kilometer bubble of security around our base, looking for IEDs, mortars, rockets, and other threats.

One positive aspect about the MRAP is that there are several 24-volt hookups on the top of the vehicle, which allow accessories to be plugged in. Here's where my request comes in:

Are you guys able to ask, in print, for donations and/or lights which would work for these vehicles? I know I'm asking a lot, but with all of the red tape involved over here, for us to order our own would take upward of six months and eat up funds that we've had to help raise ourselves. We don't really know where else we can turn.

Thanks for your consideration, guys. Looking forward to a response sometime soon!
SPC Powell
Via the Internet

Editor: Consider it done. Hopefully, one of our advertisers (or some other manufacturer of off-road lights) will see this request and be able to help you out. Until then, a box of FW swag is on its way to Afghanistan, and it's got your name on it. Thanks for writing in.

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