4-Wheel & Off-Road welcomes letters to the editor. Letters must include an address or a telephone number so the sender can be verified. Once verified, your name may be withheld at your request. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Due to the large volume of mailwe receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos. Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a tiFF, an Eps, or a maximum-quality JpEg file.
4-Wheel & Off-Road
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Anything Else
Reader: I am writing with a counterpoint to your review of the jeep liberty '08 model ("First drive," Jan. '08, page 94). I own an '03 jeep liberty, and anyone who buys a liberty knows it is a compromise vehicle, not a rubicon. I do not understand why marketing executives from any of the manufacturers do not contact actual owners of vehicles and ask the owners about likes and dislikes. The '08 liberty is "lower, wider, longer, and heavier." This is an improvement? The smaller the off- road vehicle, the easier it is to get around the woods. Since the liberty has ifs, I know you all think i've taken my life in my hands doing it, but my liberty has been off-road and does well.
Another great feature on my liberty is the flat-black fender flares. In the woods, these are the first thing that will contact trees and other obstacles, and you don't have to worry about matching the body paint. My '03 has a factory options package that included a limited-slip rear axle, skidplates, and tow hooks. I like the round headlights on the older version, and the '08 version is so ugly I would not replace mine based on looks alone. I thought jeep learned its lesson with square lights on the wrangler.
So instead of the jeep skunkworks "liberator" that was seen in moab, we are offered this unsightly pig. They should have made the liberator with 3 inches chopped out of the roof, a diesel, and a two-door model option.
I am waiting for a rubicon with a diesel for more serious off-road adventures, and will keep my '03 liberty running as long as possible as my good all-around vehicle.
Editor: Our view is that we think you need to review the review again. We agree with you, and reviewing our review gives us the view that your view needs review. And yes, we would have preferred the liberator as well.
Reader: Maybe it's just tricky pictures in your "cheap rubicon axles" story (Apr. '08), but photos 4 and 5 don't seem to coincide with the captions. Caption 4 states a comparison between rear pinions, but I believe them to be the front pinions because one is cut different, as the TJ rubicon 44 front was standardrotation low-pinion and the JK rubicon 44 front is reverse-rotation high-pinion. I don't have a micrometer eye and it's hard to judge with pictures, but the caption for the pinions in picture 5 lists larger dimensions than those in caption 4 and the pinions in picture 5 look noticeably smaller. Also if picture 5 is indeed the front pinions, is the reader to assume it is from the TJ dana 30 (which I believe is also reverse cut), or the TJ rubicon 44? Lastly I remember reading the JK rubicon 44s had different pinions front and rear, but don't the TJ rubicon 44s have the same gearset front and rear?
Editor: Good eye! The key to the swapped captions is the reverse cut on the gears. The actual photo size makes no difference, as the photos were taken from different distances and printed at different enlargein ment ratios. Also, the price quoted of $1,400 is for each axle, not a pair as some people misread. That's still a smokin' price for a complete dana 44 with a locker!
Axle Swapping Blues
Reader: Just writing in to correct a few quick, but glaring, errors I saw in the mar. '08 issue. In the "axle-swap bummers" article, it is stated that the '93-'97 dana 35 front axle is built with smaller dana 28 components. I'm not certain if you're referring to only the four-cylinder trucks or all dana 35s used in this time but it's incorrect anyway. For a while there was a hybrid dana 28/dana 35 used under some trucks, but it was inconsistently used and not every truck that you would expect to find it under got it. The hybrid was a turkey of an axle but most will have the reverse-cut, high-pinion dana 35 TTB that's actually a good axle. Therangerstation. com's tech pages and forum can clear up the questions about it. Also, in the nuts & bolts column a reader is toldthat his '93 mazda b2600 is similar to a ranger. Nope. Starting in '94 they were a ranger clone, but prior to that they were 100 percent mazda and shared no parts with the rangers. When I had my '96 ranger on 33s, I had more than a few mazda owners contact me about their trucks and it kinda sucked to tell them their older trucks really had no good options short of a totally custom suspension. Anyway, thanks for the great magazine and keep up the good work!
Traverse city, MI
Editor: We simply stand corrected, and appreciate the input.
Reader: I was reading about the 440 story "mopar muscle" (Mar. '08) and I think you should check out www.440source.com. They have way more information that shows the truth about thick or thin walls. I was shocked at what I found.
Mad river, CA
Editor: The guys at 440 have a wealth of info on big-block dodges, and certainly tell it like it is!
We Cover Everything
Reader: Ok, everyone loves when their rigs are covered and I am no exception! I'll never complain about the lack of coverage, because you have great articles that give me ideas that I might not get if you only covered a small number of vehicles. And, I get my early bronco fix from bronco driver. Yes, I'm partial to ebs and love that you had three articles that mentioned them: "bronco daze," "backyard axle buildup" (sure looked like the underbelly of an eb), and "carburetor basics." Yep, life is good!! Thanks for holding to your core beliefs on what this mag should be.
Reading the letters to the editor each month I see that you are constantly being challenged on what should be written and published. You have maintained your position of being a wheeling mag for the masses. By covering the old and new, the cheap and expensive, this magazine has gotten better each month of the 15 years I've read it! Congrats and keep up the great work. Now, figure out how you can clone pw because he is the perfect editor for this publication.
White lake, MI
Editor: Thanks. We try to cover everything even though some people don't see that. I wish I could clone myself as well so I could go wheeling instead of sitting in front of this computer!
Reader: You said in your latest editorial that you wanted some reader feedback, so here it is.
I grew up in tempe, arizona, and have been wheeling the trails of arizona since I was a kid and my dad taught me how to wheel. I own three jeeps, but have owned and wheeled a wide variety of vehicles, including an '87 dodge raider, a '66 vw baja, a '78 F-250, a '96 dodge cummins 4x4, and a '98 toyota tacoma 4wd. Currently I own an '05 jeep tj with 33s, a 4.0L, a dana 44, a detroit locker, alloy usa shafts f/r, armor, 4.88s, and lots of goodies. I also own a '77 CJ-5 with a 258, a T-18a, a dana 20, 31s, and a full cage.
The first point is that I would still like to see a variety of vehicle write-ups and trail runs in the magazine. Personally I love jeeps, and I don't want to wheel anything else. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy write-ups about samis, rovers, broncos, blazers, and buggies. Other magazines either have too many jeeps or not enough. I would like to see every 4x4 represented in your magazine, at least proportionately to the number of owners who wheel those vehicles.
I would like to see lots of moab action and trail rides where not everyone has 37-plus-inch tires. I know most guys in my club run tires in the 31- to 35-inch range and don't have three-speed transfer cases and viper engines. I would like to see lots of "real-world" rigs alongside many of the fantasy rigs out there, as well as more oddball 4x4s, trars, and baja/ sandrail action (maybe not too much).
Finally, I would like to see even more arizona wheeling. I love it when you guys come out here and hit the trails. I am sure one of the many clubs would love to take you guys out and give you a great trail run with amazing pictures. We've got a few who might even flop on command for the camera. I suggest the azvjc found at www.virtualjeepclub.com, if you ever plan on coming to arizona and hitting some of our famous trails.
I think you guys have done a great job of balancing these things in the past and I hope you continue for many years into the future. By the way, strapped sandals do rule for wheelin. You're right! I got a sweet pair of nikes for $35 at big 5 that have been along for quite a few wheeling trips thus far.
Editor: That about says it all. I grew up in tempe, had a 4x4 store there, and cut many of those famous trails with the help of lots of good arizona wheelers!
Reader: I want you to know that i'm not being critical of you in any way here, just a geography 101 lesson for all concerned folks out there who follow every word you say (just like me). In your dec. '07 issue, you noted that kane and denise riccardI on the ultimate adventure hailed from the great state of maryland (just like me) but in the text you said they drove "down from the northeast." But, of course, you know that maryland is not in the northeast. Being south of the mason-dixon line (subject for a future lecture) puts maryland, at best, in the so-called mid-atlantic states. On the other hand, the locals running the state government back at the start of the civil war wanted to leave the union, maryland being a mostly farming and tobacco growing state at that time. But alas, they could not. Being as maryland partially surrounds washington, D.C., there were almost as many federal troops around the countryside as state residents. The rest is history and maryland residents have had a bit of an identity problem ever since. I hope you didn't make it worse for them. It's already a tough world out there!
Editor: Right you are. By the way, I grew up in tempe, and graduated from arizona state university with a bs in geography. Maybe that's why I had a 4x4 store.
Reader: It's no secret that you guys do not favor independent suspension on a 4x4. However, you voted the original hummer one of the best 4x4s of all time. If a four-wheel independent suspended machine can actually be such a capable off-roader, how do you explain this apparent contradiction?
Editor: Independent front suspension (IFS) has its place in the world, as everything does, including irs. As a rule, most is setups suffer from weak design and construction and by their very nature aren't as durable as a comparable solid axle due to the myriad of extra components and exterior forces. Is does some things better than a solid axle, such as high-speed desert running, while they fail miserably in most rock courses. We'd love to try and make a do-all, be-all is, but the force hasn't been with us yet. Check out all of the "red sled" buildups in the past year and you'll see our point. As far as voting the original hummer one of the best 4x4s of all time goes, more than its suspension is taken into account. Just like most beauty contests, spindly arms and legs don't mean the whole package should be thrown out.