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February 2012 Inbox - Letters To The Editor

Posted in Features on February 1, 2012
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While the rig in “Upping The Ante” (Oct. ’11) is a fantastic ride, I don’t see how it can be called an FJ45. The particular vehicle in the article has nothing on it that is in common with the FJ, aside from the noted vague likeness of the front grille.

At what point does a vehicle veer far enough away from its namesake before it can no longer be identified by that namesake? By the way this vehicle’s list of aftermarket and custom parts reads, I could do the same thing, slap a Bugatti badge on it and call it a Veyron. It wouldn’t be any farther from the truth than calling this rig an FJ45.
Vestal Taylor
Cheyenne, WY

Air-Up Ratio Change?
I would like to comment on and add to what Willie stated in Willie’s Workbench (Nov. ’11). I have been aware of the difference in rolling diameters of different inflation pressures. I have used this to my benefit in situations where there is little traction, like in sand and snow/ice conditions. In these situations, I run a slightly taller rolling diameter (higher tire pressure) in the front than in the rear. This allows the front to pull the rear just slightly. This comes in handy in snowy conditions when cornering since the front tracks outside the rear. If the rolling diameters are the same, then the rear will try to push the front and since it is usually lighter, break loose and cause the vehicle to spin. When in sand, if the front is pulling the rear, particularly when going uphill, the rear will not break traction as much. But if the front plows, the vehicle will have a tendency to bog more. Thank you for your article on the importance of inflation pressures.
Steve Howard
Durham, CA

Ehhh, I’m not buying it. Personally, I feel that the added traction of properly deflated tires at all four corners will far outweigh the benefits of having the front tires filled more than the rear on snow, ice, and sand. For example, on ice, a filled tire will often be crowned causing less tread to be in contact with the road surface. That’s not something you want for your steering tires. And in sand, a filled tire will actually furrow down and push rather than roll over the surface like a properly deflated tire will. Ultimately the actual gear ratio change you would see by running different tire pressures front to rear would be negligible unless you ran the rear tires in the single digits and the fronts at full pressure. And if that’s the case you will see far better performance if you ran all four tires at a reasonable pressure for the terrain you plan to encounter.

Random ATV Rant
The rapid proliferation of ATVs is going to ruin normal Jeep four-wheeling for me. I was in the San Juan Mountains on several occasions the last two summers and the ATVs were everywhere. They tend to run in packs at high speeds. I four-wheel for the challenge of the obstacles, but also for beautiful scenery. Is there a place on earth as neat as the Alpine Loop, Ophir Pass, Imogene, and Black Bear? I have done most of Moab and the Rubicon, less the Sluice, in the last 15 years. It’s great fun, and I’ve met great people. I can see trails being shut down due to excessive ATV activity. They were like ants.
Bob Farrell
Osprey, FL

Who Said Not To?
Here we go, another pissing contest between a reader and Willie’s Workbench (Nov. ’11) about death wobble. Any person putting a lift kit and larger tires or wheels on any vehicle, solid-axle or IFS (that is intended to be driven on the streets), should have every component repaired, replaced, or made sure it is in perfect working order. Otherwise, keep that truck on a trailer and on the trails. We have enough idiots on the streets in unsafe vehicles. Let’s not add to that problem with our 4x4s. The right (wrong) administration might try to outlaw them. Perform the shotgun approach or surgical sniper rifle repair before it hits the streets. My daughter wants me to get home when I leave every night in my big rig on a 500-mile-run so we can go four-wheeling or play golf the next day.
Heath Edwards
Edmond, OK

In your Oct. issue you reviewed a Hankook Maxi Vantage tire that you tried out. I cannot find this tire anywhere and my local dealer cannot get it. Do you have a resource of where to buy this tire?
Little Rock, AR

If you go to you can click on the “Find a Dealer” link to, well, find a dealer.

Shifting Business
I was on and read Sean Holman’s Column Shift about standard transmissions and enjoyed it very much. I learned to drive a stick shift 50 years ago when I was 12. My first vehicles were standard and my new ’12 Rubicon is a standard and loads of fun to drive. I love the control I have with a manual transmission. This is my first one in 4 years. Before that I had a 25-year drought. I didn’t find a single point of disagreement with Sean’s article.
Jim McCain
Shreveport, LA

Old News
Hey guys, I wanted to give you some feedback on your “What Hits What Fits” (Aug. ’09). Yes, I know I’m writing you about a story that ran quite awihile ago, but my favorite reading place was being upgraded and I am still catching up (that story is for another magazine).

I have owned a 2003 F-150 for the last eight years with several wheel/tire and lift combinations, so I wanted to give you my feedback. First, I put 33x12.50 Pro-Comp A-Ts on the truck almost as soon as I bought it. They were on 17x10 wheels with 4.5 inches of backspacing. Most of my wheeling time was spent in sand, but with zero lift, I had absolutely no problems after trimming less than 1-inch off of the black chin spoiler (not the grey fascia).

Later, I put 35x12.50 Dick Cepek FC-IIs on 17x8 wheels with 4.5 inches of backspacing (and a 1-inch-offset shift inboard). I did this because everyone I talked to told me it was impossible to fit 35s on a 2003 F-150 without a lift, and needed a back-up plan in case the 35s did not fit. After a quick test fit, I trimmed about another inch off the very bottom of the lower fascia/chin spoiler. I drove a few thousand miles with those 35s on, no lift, and only experienced the slightest rub on the frame at full steering lock. Then I installed a 4-inch lift with the 35s on 17x8 wheels. With the lift, the fascia trimming may not have been necessary.

Seeing the front/rear at full stuff, I know 35s are the max with my setup, so 36-plus-inch tires would require more lift. But I feel with the proper wheel offset, you can run 33s with no lift and 35s with only four inches of lift.

Keep up the good work—and next time, I hope to be more timely!
Keith Daugherty
Via the Internet

Hey, no worries here. Thanks for the info! And people write to us all the time about stories that are a lot older than the one you mentioned . . .

Old Imaging
I’m looking for a picture of a Jeep Willys. It was taken in Iceland about June, 1981. The car was flying, and the picture was in your magazine. It was maybe on the front page. It would be very nice to see this.
Asgeir Valdemarsson
Reykjavik, Iceland

At the present time, our parent company, Source Interlink Media—which includes sister publications such as Motor Trend, Hot Rod, Truckin’, Low Rider, and Petersen’s 4-Wheel—is embarking on a massive project to digitally convert all of our magazines’ old photographs and artwork for future use on the Internet. The total number of photographs these magazines have generated over the course of six decades is almost impossible to calculate, but the number of images from Motor Trend and Hot Rod alone is estimated to be in excess of six million. So, long story short: You’ll eventually see this old Jeep on our website. It’s just going to take some time.

Bombproof Tires for Afghanistan?
Can you offer some advice on tough tires for Afghanistan? I lead a small U.S. unit in Afghanistan with a pair of armored Ford Expeditions. We’ve blown nine OEM tires since March due to daily ops on some harsh surfaces. Since fixing a flat on the side of the road has some added hazards in our neighborhood, I need to upgrade my rigs with some tougher rubber that I can count on not blowing out when outside the wire. Our stock configuration is 255/70R18 and 18x8.5 rims on a 7,480-pound vehicle. Any suggestions for brands, model and tire type?
Karl Seekamp
FSB, Afghanistan

Well, for starters, you’ve added about 1,700 pounds (give or take) to the base curb weight of your vehicle. While we understand the (obvious) reasons for this, that’s a lot of extra poundage, and it could be shortening your tires’ life cycle, depending on sidewall construction, load rating and inflation pressure.

As to tire type, generally speaking, bias-plys will be more durable than radials for your kind of use, though they’ll deliver a rougher ride (if that matters), and finding a bias-ply in your size could be an issue. If it were up to us, though, we’d look at possibly acquiring some “run-flat” tires, which typically use an internal support ring and/or sidewall reinforcements to keep the full weight of the vehicle off the rim in case of a blowout. Most of them will let you drive upwards of 100 miles at speeds of around 50 mph after suffering a flat, and while they’re not bombproof per se, they should at least be able to get you to a safe location where you can change tires. Most of the major tire manufacturers employ some kind of run-flat technologies in their high-end performance tires, though sizes and applications can be limited according to manufacturer. Your best bet is to take a spin through some of the tire manufacturers’ online catalogues, and maybe run some size searches at one of the bigger online mail-order sites such as Tire Rack or Discount Tire.

Monthly Abductee
Heath Edwards takes the cake this month. We’re not sure where he read to do otherwise in Four Wheeler, but his stern (although misguided) letter put a smile on our faces. So Heath, we’re sending you a DVD copy of Cowboys and Aliens to ease your troubled mind.

The action adventure, Cowboys and Aliens, debuted on Blu-Ray December 6th featuring an extended edition of the movie and over two hours of exclusive bonus features. fw

Where To Write
Address your correspondence to Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 or send an email to 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.

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