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March 2010 InBox

Posted in Features on March 1, 2010
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Pure Appreciation
Hi, I enjoy reading your mag every month and I especially enjoy the coverage of the Ultimate Adventure; y'all do a great job. I know I will never be able to attend the UA but it gives me ideas for my 4Runner and me to go on a trip when I get back from Iraq. I am from Oklahoma so there are a few good places to go, my favorites being Clayton and Disney, as they are great. I'm sure they can't compare to Moab, but you should check them out if you ever get a chance.

I attached a picture of me and my 4Runner at Disney climbing the Water Fall. It has a stock four-cylinder, and I swapped out the stock automatic tranny for a five-speed, 5.29 gears with lockers front and rear, 6-inch Trail Gear suspension, dual transfer cases, a high steer kit, a custom front bumper and rock sliders, and 37-inch Iroks. The best part is I still get around 18 mpg with it too. Keep up the good work.
SPC Brandon Wyatt

Thanks for reading Brandon, and thanks for doing your job overseas. Why couldn't you do the UA? Applying is the first step; the rest is easy.

Why No Real Prices?
Many of us face restrictive budgets these days when it comes to just about every purchase. As part of researching a purchase decision, I look to your articles to help choose lift kits, tires, and so on. In your recent article "Taco Lift for Under $400" (Jan. '10), the specifics of how this $400 was spent is not stated anywhere. I understand that retail sources, optional upgrades, and many other factors prevent a publication from showing actual costs, but if you are going to state that a project can be completed at a given cost, I feel those costs should be identified at least in general terms. Especially when showing before and after shots, not showing where those dollars were spent is misleading.

In the article the BDS suspension lift was used, along with upgraded shocks and upgraded tires. Although it is stated that you "sprung" for the new Geolanders and that the BDS 5500 shocks were optional, none of the costs were identified, which is really the entire point of this article! I would not take exception to this if the article made no mention of any dollar figure to begin with. Love the mag. This one just struck a chord!
Kenny Jans
Snohomish, WA

Kenny, that's exactly why we prefer not to put any prices in print. No matter what, someone will find issue with it and not be happy. In this article the base kit was under $400, and the extras were indeed, as stated, extra. Sorry for the confusion.

Nuts & Bolts Rocks!
Just wanted to say that I think the new Nuts & Bolts section in the Jan. '10 issue is awesome. It is really cool to hear answers, albeit well-drafted "political" ones, to questions we have all wanted to ask to big boys. Props to them for lending an ear.

Also, I loved seeing Clampy again in the Pit Bull tire test this month. I enjoy watching the evolution of your project rigs. How about letting us know how older projects are doing? I know you probably have to be careful about the reviews you give, but it would be great to see how some of your projects did in terms of meeting their objectives. Just an idea. Keep up the good work.
Robbie Cox

We're glad you like the new format of Nuts & Bolts. While the department won't always be that way, for now we'll keep asking the OEs to answer the tough questions. As far as project trucks go, this issue is devoted to them, and in the next few months we'll clue you in on some of our older projects that have fallen by the wayside.

Nice Layout!
I have been a subscriber for quite a few years now, and I am enjoying the magazine more and more as time goes by. I have written a letter or two in the past, and I certainly should write more. I just finished reading the Oct. '09 issue. I know, I'm way behind on my culture.

I felt compelled to tell you how much I enjoyed the layout for the "Retired Racer" story on page 83. There is nothing wrong with the story or pictures, but it is the slant to the pictures and descriptions that I like. I'm glad that someone had the freedom and the gumption to try something slightly different. It's not earth shattering, it's not quantum physics, it's just a nice change-up that adds to the overall appeal of the magazine.

I'm not saying all layouts should be like this, and I really wouldn't care if you never did it again. I just don't think many people would have taken the time to notice or to comment on a layout, and I feel like you should know that some readers do actually appreciate more of the work you do than just the incessant red Jeep stories or the lack of red Jeep stories, whichever is the gripe du jour. Thanks for putting together such an enjoyable publication.
Shawn Nichols
Bloomington, IN

Thanks for noticing, Shawn. You're right, not many people take the time to tell us these sorts of things, and they are greatly appreciated. Our art director, Alan Huber, pours his heart and soul into this magazine just like the rest of us, and he appreciates the comment as well.

Lift Kit Shootout
I have a suggestion. I just got my new issue about lift kits (Jan. '10). How about a lift kit shootout? Pull three or four trucks of the same general year from your readers, friends, or personal fleets that are pretty bone stock. Find a shop that is willing to cut a deal on the installs, or have the kit companies put their kit on the trucks. The owner of the truck would be responsible for the cost of the kit. (I understand that a magazine can't and shouldn't cover the cost, but as an incentive, you could facilitate low-cost professional installs.)

Now you have three or four equal trucks to compare the fit, finish, performance, and ease of install of each kit as well as determine whether the consumer should attempt a shade-tree install. Run the newly lifted rigs over a mix of trails, mud, rocks, and sand, and give people a reason to plunk down their hard-earned money on the most expensive upgrade most of us will ever spend on a daily driver.

I am not talking about a crazy 12-inch-twin-coilover, over-the-top lift, but rather the most popular kind; e.g., 6-inch Chevy 1500, 4-inch Jeep WJ (gotta throw my rig in there), that kind of stuff. You could do one brand/model of truck/SUV per year. This might give the suspension companies a little real-world feedback, testing, or just bragging rights.

I love your magazine and have been reading it form the mid '80s. By the way, it is really amazing how tastes have changed over the past 20-plus years. Remember the covers with the late '70s Fords with the triple/double bed bars and enough KC lights to light up Dodger Stadium, and the tilt beds, and tilt hoods with the blower scoop sticking out? Man, those days seem so far back there. How about throwing some of those retro pictures for the new guys to take a gander over?

Keep up the great work, and never forget to Tread Lightly! It breaks my heart to see all my spots closing on what seems like a monthly basis.
Jeremy Kelley
Mesa, AZ

We like your idea and have done such shootouts before. Alas, in this economy even we have to tighten our belts, and the budget needed for such testing is temporarily gone. Even the manufacturers of parts and shop owners themselves are feeling the pinch, and parts and service are sometimes hard to come by. But we will once again do this sort of test around this time next year, so look for it.

Reader Rant
Why Waste Winches?
I read "Wrangler Winch Testing" (Jan. '10) and it left me wondering how these sort of testing articles work. Do the manufacturers pay you to do them? I'm curious because on the magazine cover you called this article "Wrangler Winch Testing," but the article doesn't say much regarding actually testing the winch. The best thing that was said about the XRC-8 was that it and the bumper bolted on in just a couple hours. In the sidebar you said that you pulled a Wrangler and a Flatfender out of mud, speed was good and the engagement system worked.

Then it mentioned that it was a big draw on the electrical system and had you wishing for a dual battery system. So, if I read between the lines, are you holding back ripping a dog of a winch from one of your good sponsors? I look to articles like this for real tech and honesty, and this one seems to fall short on both.
Aaron Hull
Alton, IL

Feature Editor Ali Mansour responds: I'm sorry the article fell short in your eyes. We try our best to be as thorough as possible when conducting these tests. While we would have loved to have elaborated on both the winch and the bumper, space restrictions didn't make that possible. We don't think you should have to read through the lines. We hope you can come away with an idea of how we feel about the product by simply reading the facts as they are printed.

For example, when we wrote that the winch had a big draw on our electrical system, I don't think we were holding anything back. We were simply stating a fact. Did the winch stop working or burn the Jeep to the ground? No. Are there drawbacks to owning this winch? Sure, but it did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Not all tech articles can be in-depth, though we would like them to be, and sometimes a basic review of the product is all we can do. If the winch stopped working and the bumper ripped off and disappeared into the mud, we would have printed it.

Honesty is a virtue by which the entire crew lives and writes.

Next time you feel that you need to know more about a product, simply send us an email and we'll do our best to let you know more about it. We are here for our readers.

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: Editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245, fax 310.531.9368. Email to:

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