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May 2009 Letters To The Editor - In Box

Posted in Features on May 1, 2009
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Submission Information
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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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.

Write to:
4-Wheel & Off-Road
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
fax 323.782.2704.

Email to:

Auto Industry Ideas
Reader: Thanks for the great mag. I've been reading it for 25 years or so, and wheeling longer. One minor issue/omission with the "What goes around comes around" editorial (4xForward, Mar. '09). While the auto industry is no doubt a kingpin in our country and to our society, an oft overlooked fact is that 50 percent of the U.S. job source is our government. A bunch of "nonproducers," my dad always said.

We're not talking about important jobs like military, police officers, and so on, but all the nebulous aides, litigators, and the like. Only when the ratio of producers outweighs the nonproducers will our country regain its proper position as the pinnacle of the free world.

As far as relating to wheeling goes, see my attached pinnacle pic, a Colorado two-week adventure. Thanks, and keep producing the great work!
Dale Knepp
Marshville, NC

Clean Up Your Garbage
Reader: I just finished reading 4xForward (Feb. '09) and I couldn't agree more. It all lies in the hands of us wheelers. I am appalled at the ignorance and stupidity of most of the local off-roaders here in Florida. Every time I go out to the local mud hole there is trash and beer bottles everywhere. It's horrible. I gave up trying to clean up because people were tossing more crap then I could pick up. And now as of last week I found out some of the land owners are trying to get the place shut down. I saw it coming; it's disappointing how a bunch of mooks can ruin it for the rest of us responsible off-roaders. I'm afraid to go back to New Hampshire and find my favorite trails that I grew up on gated off. It's sad how people can be so ignorant. Thanks, I just felt like venting.

Editor: No worries. We vent all the time. However, if you turn that energy into organizing a change in the status quos, we could all make a difference. Let's educate the mooks and not give up on picking up trash.

Project-Truck Graveyard
Reader: First of all, love the magazine. As a younger, second-generation wheeler, I love to see the info your magazine has to offer. I was curious as to where your project vehicles go after they have been finished. Are they sold off?
Derek McMains

Editor: We don't sell them off, but the sad truth is that many of them reside in our project-truck graveyard. However, some are in the rejuvenation phase, and others have great plans ahead of them. Stay tuned!

Readers Want Mud
Reader: I love reading your magazine. I love to read your magazine two or three times a day. So I'm not trying to bash or cut you guys down. But all we have around here in Pope County, Illinois, is mud. We love it, but I was just wondering why you guys don't put that kind of stuff in the magazine anymore. When you do, it's all over the cover. I get my hopes up and hurry and try to find the column. When I do it's only a page or two. When you guys show events on rockcrawling, it's a five-page spread and that's almost every issue. Now I'm going to keep my comments to myself on rockcrawling. Yeah, it's fun, but why can't you have a big five-page spread on mudding?
Brad Reed

Editor: Check out our marvelous mud mayhem last issue ("A Muddy Muddy Good Time")-three whole pages! If you actually go through every page of every issue, you'll find that rocks don't get more pages than mud and we don't concentrate on either one. The idea is to give balanced coverage to the entire wheeling world. We like showing mud. Hang on to your subscription, as we have more mud events coming!

Fab Freedom
Reader: Let me say first that I love the mag, and I love the coverage of the unique 4x4s that you feature. Of particular interest to me are the fabricated vehicles (as opposed to the cookie-cutter, bolt-on, "look at me I've got one too" units some mags seem to feature). In my opinion the skilled fabricators of shops like Evolution Off Road that built the UA vehicle are an often ignored and very important part of the off-road aftermarket. Even if you can't afford to take your truck to a pro shop (like me), the featured trucks provide a valuable source of inspiration to those of us that like to build our own and build something unusual.

In that vein, I have a thought for you and your mad scientist amigos at 4WOR. The Ultimate Adventure vehicle, next time why don't you consider a first-generation Jeep Liberty as the buildup truck?

Now before you delete this message and give the rest of the office a good laugh about the guy who thought this most unloved of Jeeps could hang with the UA gang, take a minute to think it over. First, they are cheap and plentiful. They can be had in a bare-bones configuration, the V-6 is peppy with the six-speed manual, and if you could lay your hands on the CRD you could build an eco wheeler (very politically correct). Parts are easy to obtain. The short wheelbase would be great on a tight trail.

The shortcomings of the OEM equipment do not make any difference when we get into UA territory (remember the 3/4-ton Dodge mega cab 2WD Jeep hybrid?). Obviously the IFS and abysmal ground clearance will need to be addressed, but isn't that par for the UA course? You guys always graft in a Dynatrac or something up front to handle the beating you give the trucks in the UA.

Personally I think that many people would love to see this black sheep of the Jeep family get a much needed makeover, 4WOR style! A "dare to be different" SUV buildup. After all, they were a good-selling unit for Jeep, especially for the female demographic (my wife has one).

So after the laughter stops and you wipe away the tears from your eyes, take a moment to visualize a Jeep Liberty, on 37-inch BFG tires, front and rear Dana 60s or the like, Atlas 2 transfer case, Jeep stock CRD engine, a cool exo cage, and all the bells and whistles you guys usually add to a UA truck. After all, I bet the first guy to amp up a Samurai was lampooned by the naysayers at first, and we all know how that ended.

Well, thank you for your time considering this and for the great mag.
Matt Huffadine
Medicine Hat, AB, Canada

Editor: Your Suzuki Samurai reference/retrospect is well heeded. This sounds like an interesting idea, but that would mean buying one to start and our budget just isn't that plentiful. How about if we rehash what we have? Anyone have some ideas?

More 4x4 Of The Year Flak
Reader: Like most people, I need to comment on your 4x4 of the Year award. I don't understand your scoring of the Ride and Drive section. The Ram won two of the five categories, but you gave the most points to the Equator, and that category is one that doesn't apply to most people. Simply put, everyone will drive their vehicle on the road, and 99 percent will drive them on the dirt and gravel. But how many people actually drive on sand dunes? Plus, the Ram outscored the Equator in every other part of the test, except for one tie.

Your magazine is supposed to be based on real-life usage (at least that is what is claimed), so how can you rank that category (sand dunes) higher? I know that the Big Three are in trouble and you all are looking for supporters (import-car companies that have money to hand out) to take their place on your field. But please, do not make it obvious. I'm a longtime subscriber to your mag, but I will not be renewing my subscription. I don't need to fill my head with rhetoric once a month.
Daniel Hartman
Shippensburg, PA

Editor: Sorry, Daniel, you are way wrong. You still don't understand the scoring system. We explained it more last month ("Why Didn't Dodge Win?" In Box, Apr. '09). Each point is weighted, not absolute. The Dodge did indeed win more categories, but it didn't make the most weighted points overall; the Suzuki did.

As much as you may not drive in sand dunes, it is an important test for wheelhop, control, overheating, and suspension capability. Sand is one arena where we can test these parameters instead of taking weeks more of dedicated individual tests to get to the same results. That's why driving in sand is important.

As for taking money from the imports: Did you notice that Dodge has more ads and it didn't even win the test? Whether you believe it or not, ad revenue has absolutely nothing to do with product testing or a winner of our test. That's called journalistic integrity. We have it, and we're proud of it.

License Plate Request
Reader: First I would just like to say I love the magazine. The articles, photos, and how-tos are great. I was just wondering how I would go about getting a tag for the front of my truck, the red and white 4-Wheel & Off-Road plate? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Dustin Sheppard
Pascagoula, MS

Editor: Thanks for asking. Those plates are not easy to get, unless you happen to run into one of the staff at an event or a trail ride or even a parking lot. We hand them out at many of the various places we go, so hang tight and you might get one someday! Alternatively, top-quality answers to our Question of the Month can also receive a plate, our way of saying thanks for playing.

Question Of The Month
Question: Is an automatic or manual transmission better for four-wheeling, and why?

Answer: Responses to our last Question: do you like to buy our mag on the newsstand or subscribe, and why?

Reader: I am a subscriber due to the fact that I do not want to waste my time or any meat off of my 35s by traveling over to the nearest magazine supplier to grab a fresh copy. Besides that, I am helping to keep a postal worker employed.
Mike, via

Reader: I subscribe-mailbox version since the spring of 1998. Same year as my GMC K1500 with 190,000 plus on the odometer. That way I can take the magazine to work (home of the "Duramax Diesel Plant Moraine, Ohio"), 3rd shift QA to peruse and wish during down time. I'm a third tier and can't afford to purchase this "heartbeat" I help build.
Jeffery A. Pelfrey, Hamilton, OH

Reader: I subscribe because it's cheaper and more convenient. I understand that there is apparently more content in the newsstand issues, but I'm willing to accept the loss to save money. Equally important is that the magazine is delivered to my door, so I never have to remember to make a special stop to get the new issue.

However, clarity concerning which email address to use for these answers might be a good idea.
Mark St. Hilaire, Cheshire, MA

Editor: That's 3 to zip in the subscriber versus newsstand tallies. Thanks for playing, guys. Three points: First, the body of the subscriber version is identical to the newsstand. The content is the same. However, some rare times the newsstand issue contains a premium. We haven't had one in over a year. Second, subscribers get the issue up to a week before it hits the newsstand. Third, please send your answers to

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