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May 2012 InBox Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on May 1, 2012
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Comanche Power!
Great stuff in your Jan. ’12 issue about Jeep, but something was missing—the Jeep Comanche! Who could forget the Jeep that was a truck that was a Jeep? It has been years since I last saw a Comanche in the flesh, but I definitely remember them.
Andrew Dunn
Via email

We figured that the previous two issues were full of enough Comanche, namely the Zone Comanche on the Ultimate Adventure. Just check it out or visit Zone’s website for more info (

Series or Parallel?
In “Ultimate Revival, Part 7” (Feb ’12) caption 6 says that with a push of the button the batteries will be put in series. In the article it states that the batteries are put in parallel when the switch is depressed, thus providing twice the amperage for running the winch, or to jump the primary battery from the auxiliary. If the IBS-DBR relay switches the start battery ground from ground to the auxiliary battery positive, then you would have have 24 volts, not 12 volts and twice the amps. However, I see no need for 24 volts in a 12-volt system. Just something that caught my attention.
Via email

You’re correct, the right answer is parallel. The extreme outback IBS-DBR has a switch that runs the batteries in parallel for 30 minutes. Never hook the batteries up in series, except for 24V systems, welding, or other approved uses. Hooking two 12V batteries in series does indeed make the system 24V, which would probably fry everything hooked into the system. The lights would be dang bright for a bit though!

Your 4x4 of the Year Winner vs. a Dodge
As an owner of a ’12 Ram Power Wagon, the second I saw the two contenders for the 4x4 of the Year Award (Feb. ’12) I knew that the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon would win. As I read your thoughts and comments on the ’12 Power Wagon, I found myself agreeing with every point you had. I agree that the truck is long and hangs low and rock sliders are a must (I still think it’s a shame that Dodge quit making these for the Power Wagon). Also, I had to smile to myself when I saw that you as well had to do the “locker dance” when playing with the lockers on the Power Wagon. And I laughed out loud when you said, “Finally, why are you twisting our arm to call this truck only ‘Ram’ when right there on the dash it says ‘Dodge’?” And of course the last point, not having true mud-terrains (way to go, Captain Obvious).

We all know that the Power Wagon is a great truck, and when pitting truck against truck there isn’t much that’s going to beat the Power Wagon, but in a 4x4 contest the Wrangler is the obvious winner.

Thanks for putting together a great magazine. I always look forward to seeing your magazine in my mailbox each month.
Josh Spaid
Missoula, MT

Thanks for the input, John. As different as the vehicles are, the match was still close. We would be happy with either one in our own stable. Look forward to a far bigger group in next year’s test, as most major manufacturers have many changes in the works.

He Likes Us!
I was reading the In Box in recent months, and while I know you don’t get many of these letters, here is one. I really enjoyed reading the Jan. ’12 issue. As an owner of a bone-stock ’08 Silverado work truck (vinyl floors, crank windows, manual locks, etc.) the article “Iron Horse Warrior” was awesome. Furthermore, the basic Bow Tie boost (“Chevy Zone”) was great too. Finally, a lift kit that my wife and my wallet and my boat trailer will all accept! That lift is definitely in my future. Thanks again for a great magazine. I think the balance between Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler features is just about right.
James Smith
Chapin, SC

We enjoyed putting that issue together, so thanks for the compliments. I noticed you sidestepped the Ram/Dodge name issue as well by calling them all Chrysler vehicles. Maybe the Chrysler corporate gurus will like that better? We doubt it. Thanks again for the kudos.

Speaking of Dodge
Love the mag! It is the one that has me dreaming in the page and picture because of the real life and really possible trucks you have in there, and it doesn’t have an overabundance of ads.

In reading the Feb. ’12 edition, I quickly opened the mag to Readers’ Rides and leafed through the Jeeps, the unique vehicles (What the Heck!?), the Toy Group, the Chevy Corral, and the Blue Oval Band, and, yup, I was left flipping through ads and other articles looking for my Dodge trucks and did not find them! Now, before you formulate your response to me and ream me and the other Dodge owners out, let me do it.

Hey, Dodge owners! Yeah, you with the nice Ram on your truck. Send in your favorite pics of your favorite truck. Let’s stop the others from hogging the mags. Let’s stop them from dodging us! Let’s get them good. You’ve got the truck, you’ve even got the pics, get out of your truck—for a few minutes—and show the world what we’ve got! Oh, by the way, here are a few pics of my Dodge, a ’01 Dakota with 3.9L V-6 stock, five-speed manual stock (320K kilometers with original clutch), 35x12.50x15 BFG All-Terrains on original rims, 11⁄2-inch wheel spacers, custom front winch bumper with 2-inch tow receiver, custom rear bumper with tow receiver, 2-inch body lift, 21⁄2-inch rear spring blocks, custom torsion keys in the front, and a CB radio to stay in touch with trail buddies from the Central Ontario 4x4 Club (
Rev’n ahead in the Kawarthas,
Mark J. Haug
Ontario, Canada

Well put. We can’t print Dodge or Ram readers’ rides if we don’t have them. Hopefully this will work and some of those slackers will get with the program!

Oh Wait, More Dodge Stuff
I have been a very faithful reader of your magazine for about 10 years. I have had small complaints about your magazine over the years, but not any worth vocalizing until now. I received the Feb. ’12 issue, and all I can say is I am very disappointed. Your Readers’ Rides contest was appalling to me! Jeep, Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and a ”what the heck” section? Where is the Dodge section? When the magazine had this contest in past years, I noticed the Dodge part of it was dwindling, but eliminating it completely? That’s too much, in my opinion.

Your magazine has been declining in value over the past couple of years and you have been forgetting not only the avid Dodge readers but also the low-budget older truck owners. These are two categories that I fall into. With the lack of funds that I and most of your readers have due to hard economic times, I would think that this magazine would write more articles on building our trucks on tighter budgets. The magazine seems to be writing more articles on building new trucks while I and many others can’t even think about buying newer models. Then building up a more modern vehicle? That is out of the question.

Your magazine used to be a helpful aid for me and the longevity of my trucks, but now I guess I have no use for your writings anymore. Unless I win the lottery and use my winnings to buy a new Ford F-150 or Toyota Tacoma, I will not be renewing my subscription to your magazine due to your lack of referencing the lower class yet avid truck owners like me. 
Matthew Studebaker
Lemont, IL

Hang in there, Matthew. We will continue to do plenty of old tech and will be doing more Dodge stuff soon. In fact, we have our Cheap Truck Challenge (working title) coming back in an issue or two, so hold on and don’t lose that 12-buck subscription just yet.

First Mud Wheeling
I just wanted to share with you guys my first off-roading experience in my 30 years on this earth. No, it was not in a 4x4, but a 27-foot box van. I work as a delivery driver for a certain home improvement store, and had to traverse through nearly foot-thick red clay mud uphill to deliver some appliances to my customer. Luckily, even though I’ve never been off-roading in my life, I’ve read and seen enough to know how to do it. I got up to speed before the mud got bad, shoved her into Third gear, and floored it. With the back end of the truck fishtailing a foot or so left to right the entire way up, I never took my foot out of it, knowing that if I slowed or stopped, I was going to need a wrecker. A quarter of a mile and probably 200 pounds of mud later, I made it up the hill without a problem. It absolutely made my day. Just thought I’d share this with y’all. Thanks for the awesome mag!
Robby Thompson
Tyler, TX

I guess reading our mag has saved the day for whomever you were delivering to. Thanks for letting us know, and go get yourself a 4x4 to start having more fun!

Reader Rant
The Truth Is the Truth
I’m just writing to make sure we don’t sacrifice our journalistic integrity for the sake of advertising dollars. In the Sept. ’11 issue, you feature Harbor Freight Tools in “How Do They Do It?” (Drivelines, page 19), accept advertising dollars for a full-page ad (page 37), and tout your “Harbor Freight hookup” in “Scratch-Built Scrambler, Part 12” (page 64). While I have made a few purchases at Harbor Freight, I have been disappointed about 50 percent of the time with the quality and longevity of the tool.

Your Drivelines caption tells of a discussion about Harbor’s Badland 9,000-pound winch that took place between Harbor personnel and Source Interlink Media editors. Did the Four Wheeler editor mention that the winch “failed to operate right out of the box,” as was written in the July 2011 issue?

Hopefully, you are having much better luck with their products than I had. I hope at least that you got a nice lunch out of the meeting. Still love your magazine.
Tom Armstrong
Chino, CA

Thanks for the concern, Tom. We understand your concern, as journalistic integrity is the foundation of our magazine. If you don’t believe what we write, then we lose all credibility.

The facts of the Harbor Freight mentions are pretty straightforward. Yes, they have some products that won’t hold up to certain uses, but that’s true about all manufacturers. It is the consumer’s job to understand that you get what you pay for, like when choosing between a Snap-on wrench and a Harbor one. I can’t afford Snap-on quality, but I can afford the Harbor model. Considering the price, it is actually a better value for most people.

As for the winch you mentioned, we feel any product could have a problem out of the box. However, that magazine decided to do their product testing differently than we would have, and yes, we will be testing the Harbor winch against others soon, so stay tuned.

By the way, we were impressed with how the Harbor facility tested and improved their products, and yes, it was an excellent lunch!

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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