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December 2011 InBox - Letters To The Editor

Posted in Features on December 1, 2011
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Raptor Frame Problems?
When you told me how much you enjoyed your raptor I just had to buy one to drive while I rebuild my Jeeps, but I left the country before even getting 1,000 miles on it. When I got back recently I saw something on a Raptor forum and wondered if you were aware of it. It basically says that Raptor frames have been bending under hard use as evidenced on a recent Raptor run. Is this true? Considering I may be a victim of all the frame bending hype I’m wondering what your opinion is.

Maybe I’m thinking too hard. I crawled underneath and looked at the size of the holes on the inside of the framerails above the rear bumpstops. They’re oddly oversized. Take a look at how close the bumpstop is to the axle. The 12 inches of “usable” (as advertised) rear travel is hard to buy unless they’re talking droop at a 70 percent plus/minus ratio being where the travel is. There is very little uptravel before contact, which should normally be fine barring the gaping holes in the framerails directly above the impact zone. Even including bumpstop compression, there doesn’t seem to be much uptravel available before the frame feels the impact. It seems to be hard, if not impossible, to run average dirt roads without the axle slamming into the bumpstops (they’re only 3 inches away).

Over time I think this will take its toll due to metal fatigue. Because of the size of the holes inside the framerails this area of the frame is inherently weak, and unfortunately it’s in crucial impact areas. In the end I think it’s likely this will affect most people who run their trucks hard.

It actually scares me now to use the truck the way I think I should be able to. I don’t mean to say that I want to run it like I see it run in the commercials. Honestly, I’d only like to be able to use it running dirt roads and sand pits as hard as I run my Jeep and like I have run all my trucks, but my confidence is gone. I’m afraid to bend my frame now. I think that anyone with mechanical ability never would have put a hole of that size in that spot considering the clearances. I think it was an oversight, that it never occurred to Ford that it could be an issue or they wouldn’t have weakened the frame in that spot by what is likely over 50 percent due to the holes.

I’m buying a reinforcing kit, as it’s actually easier and quicker then fabbing my own, and I’m sure it will address the issue. Screw the warranty—I just don’t want a bent frame. Once it’s bent I will always be unhappy and never get over it, even if it’s perfectly straightened. I’m weird like that.
Scott the Jersey Devil
Pine Barrens, NJ

You are thinking way too hard. Like the engineers at Ford I am well aware of the hole, why the bumpstop is there, and the whole engineering scenario. I also know I have thrashed the Raptor far harder than most owners have with zero issues. Remember that the 12 inches of travel accounts for lots of downtravel. Yes, it has more droop than compression, and it is supposed to.

Remember that while running a trail at speed, if the suspension is already bottomed out on the stop and hits another bump, something has to give, and ideally it isn’t your back. Certain bumps on a road will compress a suspension, and then another bump may put it over the edge. The choice an engineer has is to make a weak link or a fuse somewhere, and bending an area near the frame seems better than an axletube, which could cause other handling problems.

Frames have been bent, fixed, straightened, and built forever. It’s a myth that once they’re bent they won’t ever be the same. The allegation that the bent-frames issue is a design flaw doesn’t hold water. I don’t think it is a problem and neither does Ford. The soft suspension of the Raptor is designed to have only 3-4 inches of uptravel, and the bumpstop continues compressing as part of the suspension design. Yes, weld a piece of steel on the frame so that is will never bend, but do remember that everything will yield at a certain point, and if the frame doesn’t yield when this type of force is applied, something else will have to give. Hopefully it won’t be your vertebrae.

Missing Commanders
I want to know what happened to the two Jeep Commanders that were built for the 2007 Ultimate Adventure because those were really cool. I also don’t understand why everyone dogs on them, because you said that they were great vehicles.
Elias Corey
Via email

Our Commanders served us well and were great vehicles with excellent off-road prowess. They were a bit thirsty for fuel but never let us down. For cost-cutting reasons our corporate hierarchy deemed them unneeded and they were sold down the road before we could spit sideways. Even though the new CEO of Chrysler, Sergio Marchione, had called them “unfit for public consumption” before production ceased, we heartily disagree and still miss them in our ever-dwindling fleet.

Reader Rant
One-Way Trip
In response to Gene Savage’s reader rant in the Aug. ’11 issue: Gene, you obviously made a mistake by reading 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine. As we all know, off-road vehicles do not handle as well as typical passenger cars. So, in the interest of safety, you should not be reading this magazine. Since I am a generous person, if you have a subscription, tell me how much is left on it and I will refund your money. I wouldn’t want you to get any ideas of engaging in any off- highway antics where you could be hurt. But that’s not all. I will also pay for a first-class, one-way trip to an island retreat just 90 miles south of Florida. There you will be safe and the government will take care of all your needs. Enjoy your stay! I know we will!
Phillip Pearce
Covina, CA

That’s one way to get rid of whiners!

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