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December 2010 Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on December 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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Best Bargains, Beaters, and Range Rovers
When I picked up your latest issue and read the article about "Best Beater 4x4s" (Sept. '10), I was laughing to myself because I had recently purchased a '91 Range Rover with a 2-inch lift, bigger tires, and some off-road lights, and-I kid you not, a Great Divide edition-all for (yes) $1,000. If you don't know, there were only 400 of these vehicles ever made, and you're probably thinking that it's a pile, but it turns out to be a great rig-only 137K on the motor, and I will bet $1,000 that it will out-wheel any of the ten vehicles in your article, lifted or not. I would like to see a Range Rover mentioned in the future for being a great $1,000 rig, or just a budget rig at that. Thanks for reading, and looking forward to the next issue.
Perry Kleespies
Via the Internet

Looks like you found the proverbial needle in the haystack. Either that, or the person who sold it to you had no idea what he or she was giving up.

The purpose of our article was to review the vehicles you'd be most likely to find on sale for a grand at your local junkyard or through Craigslist or the classifieds. Based on our own experiences, Range Rovers don't really qualify as a "best beater," not by a long shot. But we're happy for your good fortune all the same, and yes, your Great Divide Rover will wheel as well as anything else we included in our story.

The Skinny on 6.0L Diesels
My dad shared an article with me about what it takes to make a 6.0L Power Stroke diesel reliable, from the Sept. '10 issue. I have a 2003 6.0L (transition year from 7.3L to 6.0L) with 81,000 miles, and my dad has two 2007 6.0Ls with 20,000 to 30,000 miles. Anyway, in the article it doesn't say anything about differences in the production years as far as how many problems or how severe the problems are with the motors. I thought 2004 to 2006 were the biggest problem years. If you could elaborate on this (whether there are truly differences or not), I think readers would really benefit.
Kenny Anderson
Ashland, WI

Robin Stover replies: You're right-due to space limitations, I wasn't able to squeeze in the additional information you mentioned. As to the 6.0L engine differences from year to year-there really isn't a better year to own. They each have their own set of problems, but all of them can blow head gaskets, all can crack heads, all have EGR coolers that can fail, all will have restricted oil coolers, all have compromised oil coolers that can fill the cooling system with oil, all can have high-pressure oil system issues, and all can have injector problems. Here is some additional model-specific information that didn't make it into the story:

  • In 2003 trucks, the EGR coolers were better than in later years. These coolers have a round housing rather than square housings like the later trucks.
  • Late '04 models changed to a square-style EGR cooler, a different intake manifold, a relocated high-pressure oil sensor (to the passenger valve cover) and a different fuel injector oil rail style.
  • 2005-07 models have a different high-pressure oil pump system.
  • Late 2004-07 models all use the rectangular EGR coolers that are problematic.
  • All 6.0Ls use the same oil cooler that is problematic.
  • An improved turbocharger drain tube recently became available for all 6.0Ls.
  • An improved high-pressure oil pump outlet fitting became available for 2005-07 6.0Ls recently.
  • An improved high-pressure oil pump filter screen became available for all 6.0Ls recently.
  • Recently, Bulletproof Diesel released a new line of upgrades for the 6.0L engines found in van applications. www.bulletproofdiesel.com.

Lifted Dodge Rides Rough
I enjoy your magazine very much. I have a customized '09 Dodge 2500 4x4. It has a 5-inch aftermarket suspension lift that my wife really hates as it is really rough riding. I have spent a lot of money on this truck and would like to do whatever I can to get a smooth ride out of it. I have about $1,500 I can spend on it if you're interested. Oh, it really sucks on gas mileage, too.
Ronald Leatherman
Fletcher, OK

Your 6,000-pound lifted 4x4 pickup truck gets lousy mileage? We'd have never guessed.

Any time you deviate noticeably from the OE steering and driveline geometry, your overall ride and handling will be adversely affected to some degree, particularly if you are bolting up bigger, heavier wheels and tires along with that brand-new suspension kit. The aftermarket suspension companies do their best to mitigate this condition by adjusting spring rates and shock valving to best approximate the factory settings under any given load, and by including steering components that will return the truck to near-stock geometry. But what constitutes a "rough ride" can vary from one driver to another, and the reasons for it can be due to any number of factors. Some of them may be inherent in the design of the kit or its components, or due to something that went awry in the installation.

For example, does the kit run an add-a-leaf setup in the back, or rear blocks? The former will absorb irregularities throughout the chassis and ride more smoothly than the latter. Does your new suspension use full-length replacement front coil springs, or coil spacers to achieve the extra lift? The former will typically display softer, more compliant ride characteristics than the latter.

You did upgrade to premium shocks along with the lift, didn't you? You definitely don't want to cheap out there-you want a quality set of shocks, preferably with remote reservoirs, that can handle the extra heat buildup that goes along with extended shock travel. How about bushings? Are they fully greasable? If not, they'll wear faster, squeak a lot, and contribute to a rougher ride. How about driveline length or angularity? Driveshafts that are out of phase or running at excessive angles can wreak all sorts of havoc with your ride.

Finally, who installed your lift kit? Did you do it yourself, or did a professional installer handle it? Could any of the control arms or steering components have been bent (even the tiniest bit) or improperly torqued during installation? Did you visit an alignment shop after having the suspension lift installed? What kind of tires are you running now? The stock rubber ones or bigger, knobbier treads? Are the wheels still stock? If not, did you purchase rims with the proper offset?

As you can see, there could be all sorts of potential reasons for your less-than-stellar ride. We'd suggest you start at the "end" of the installation (i.e., the wheels and tires) and work your way back to the beginning of the process. Also, don't forget the effects of simple aerodynamics when you lift a big, boxy pickup truck and slap on some larger-than-stock tires.

Old Transmission Stamping Riddles
I have come upon a T-18 transmission.
• Stamped on the top: A.5.79 Q3 13 01 097 906
• Stamped on the left side: NFC2 8325 13-01-065-904 Borg Warner
• Stamped on a tag on top: D9T3 CB and an oval with a word in it I can't make out (Ford)?

How can I tell what year transmission I have? Is there any way to tell the gear ratio? Any clue on how to find out? Who would you recommend to service this unit and go through it?
George Geyer Jr.
Lindenhurst, NY

This is tough one to answer definitively, but we're fairly certain that your unit is indeed a Ford gearbox, most likely manufactured in 1979. Gear ratios are 6.32:1, 3.09:1, 1.69:1, a 1.00:1 direct Drive, and a 7.44:1 Reverse. It should be running a 10-spline input shaft that sticks out 61/2 inches from the transmission housing (that will confirm that it's a Ford unit, as will a PTO outlet on the passenger side of the case), and the Reverse shift pattern should be to the right and downward (that'll confirm it's a '79-and-later version). This cast-iron grinder is quite desirable due to its low First gear, improved lubrication (over the T-98 it's based off) and stout internals. It can handle V-8 power (it bolts up directly to a typical Ford small-block bellhousing), and if properly maintained should last a very long time. Because this was a fairly common gearbox that saw production in Jeeps, Ford, and Scouts for over 25 years, just about any competent transmission builder or off-road shop should be able to service it without any problems.

Whipsaw Memorial
I just wanted to show my appreciation for picturing my former husband's memorial site from the "Whipsaw Trail" article (Aug. '10). It is nice to see people climbing the rock in his name. I am since remarried, but my new husband and I, and my friends and family, still go every year on the September long weekend to visit him. That plaque on the rock has had a lot of tire prints on it.
Viola Goertzen (nee Janzen)
Canyon Creek, Alberta Canada

3-Ton Military Rock Buggy?
I wanted to know if you knew about the new military truck, the SRATS. I've seen some sitting in a off-load yard here in country. Would love to see a write-up about it. I've got some pics that I can send to you. From what I saw, it is going to be one hell of a fun truck to play with. I'm trying to get someone to let me take one out to check it out. Thanks for a great mag, and keep up all the tech info. I will be getting subscribed up when I get home.
Rob Robinett
Via the Internet

Yep, we know about it. Technically speaking, it's called the ELSORV, which is short for (you'll love this) Enhanced Logistic Off Road Vehicle. It's one of the "future rigs" the military is testing for its next generation of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, and its design was supposedly inspired by competition rock buggies. We don't know a whole lot of details, except it's a V-hull (blast-resistant) body style on a HMMWV chassis, and it runs a 6.5L diesel, Allison tranny, solid axles at both ends, and coil suspension. It weighs 6,800 pounds empty, can carry 2,700 more, and has a claimed top speed of 100 mph. We've seen some photos of them running Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs on beadlocked wheels, and it's got a grille that looks like it came off a 50-series Land Cruiser. (In other words, we dig it.) We'd love to get our hands on one for testing, but to the best of our knowledge, the only working prototypes are all tooling around in Afghanistan at present. But we'll be on the lookout in case the ELSORV goes into full production. It looks like it would be a killer rig in the dirt.

Mystery Lift for F-250 LD
I have a '98 F-250 4x4 with the 5.4L engine and independent frontend. I want to lift it 2 or 3 inches. I am going to use leaf springs to lift the back (not blocks), but my question is, what do I need to do to lift the front end? I can't find anything on lifting my year of truck with the independent front-any info would be much appreciated.
Christian
Lake Isabella, CA

If you only need 2 to 3 inches of lift, we'd recommend you consider a leveling kit for the front. Tuff Country and Daystar both make kits for your truck that'll give you 2 to 21/2 inches, and whichever you choose, they're easy to install and quite affordable.

Wants a Good Street-and-Snow Rig
I moved up to Lake Arrowhead, California, last year from San Diego, and my current car, a PT Cruiser convertible, is less than adequate during the cold months. I have a steep driveway, and sometimes my road is not plowed immediately after it snows. I can get snow up to four feet in a single night, though not very often. I also drive into Los Angeles during the week and come home on the weekends. My problem is that sometimes I can't come home or leave my house because of a snowstorm. I've literally gotten my car within 200 yards of my house and then had to go back down the mountain because it would not get me the rest of the way. (My wife is a domestic goddess, so she is usually home and I have to come home to get her dug out and keep the groceries and mail coming.) I also would like to drive the local fire roads to various trails in my area.

I've been looking at getting a serious off-road vehicle that still works for two kids and lots of highway driving. Naturally, I look at the Jeep Wrangler and think that this is the rig for me. I can add tires and suspension to clear over the snow. I can also add a winch to pull me or another car out of the driveway if I absolutely have to leave or come home. It's also small enough to maneuver the opening of my driveway. My other issue would be that I don't have the free cash to do extensive modifications after I trade in my other car. Whatever I can get from the dealer, wrapped up in the total loan, would be best.

What are your thoughts? Is a better vehicle out there?
Sean Miller
Lake Arrowhead, CA

Looks like you answered your own question. We think you'd be really well served by a four-door Wrangler Unlimited. If you can pony up the extra dough for the Rubicon package, you'll have just about all the off-road hardware you really need onboard (4:1 transfer case, front and rear lockers, 32-inch all-terrains), and the Unlimited's interior space and longer wheelbase will give you plenty of room for the wife and kids while delivering a very civilized pavement ride. And yes, there are a slew of options available for it via the aftermarket. If you're trolling for some ideas, take a look at our long-running "Project 'Con Artist" buildup series; all of the episodes are archived at fourwheeler.com.

As an alternative, we'd probably suggest a Hummer H3. It's also extremely wheelable right out of the box. Its pavement manners are great as well, and it's got plenty of room inside for your family. However, it'll cost more money than the Jeep-especially for the V-8 version; forget about the five-cylinder model-and since GM's in the process of unwinding its Hummer division, you may or may not find it difficult to locate a dealership that has any for sale. If you can find one, though, you're likely to get a pretty good price. But if you're looking for a capable factory vehicle that also has a ton of aftermarket support behind it, go with the Jeep.

Wants Dual Battery Kit for YJ
I was reading your latest issue and saw the part about installing dual batteries for your TJ (Aug. '10). I wanted to know if there was a company out there that makes a dual battery kit for the YJ.
PFC Dustin Sampson
Winefrede, WV

Kodiak Industries offers a dual battery kit for Jeep YJs. You can reach them at 408/892-4684 or at www.kodiakinc.com

Where To Write Address your correspondence to: Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245. 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 www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

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