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Long-Term Updates - May 2010

Posted in How To on May 1, 2010
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Photographers: Off-Road Staff

'88-to-'98 Chevy Suspension
About a year ago we stuck on an Extreme Suspensions kit on our '97 Tahoe. So far, we've been happy with the way it rode, but in hindsight we definitely wish we would have left the front sway bar on the vehicle. The triple-shock setup we opted for uses three sho-cks valved to work in conjunction with each other so the ride was unexpectedly soft. We're still happy with the kit and it's still on the truck, but we have had to replace the upper ball joints twice now. Unfortunately, the upper ball joint in this Chevy suspension design was never meant to take the load of a shock absorber being mounted to the upper A-arm, and therefore the ball joints occasionally suffer.

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SmartScan DTC Tool
This little diagnostic trouble code (DTC) scanner from Black & Decker has actually been a really nice little item...for our friends. This has been in our possession maybe 10 percent of the time since we tried it for a story many months ago. No, this little device doesn't do anything your truck's tuner/programmer won't do, but it is nice to have something dedicated to one purpose. Since tuners/programmers are vehicle-specific for tuning (not for DTC reading, though), we always leave ours in the glovebox of whatever vehicle it's matched to. Since the SmartScan is supposed to stay in the garage, it's always there to use on any OBD-II vehicle (unless it's being borrowed by friends who don't like to return things).

Baja ATZ
Has this tire ever lasted! In fact, we put the Baja ATZ on a daily driver before we put a brand new engine in the very same vehicle. Currently, the engine has two blown head gaskets, and the tires still have a few month's worth of tread on them. Amazing! This image shows the 33-inch Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ at 50,000 miles of wear from freeway, around town, and many off-road miles. The ATZs started out as quiet tires, but definitely got louder as they wore. It probably didn't help that our test vehicle hasn't been perfectly aligned for their entire runtime, though. But even without it aligned, the ATZs wore fairly evenly and we got great life out of them. They worked best in the sand, on mild trails, the desert, and exceptionally on dry pavement.

LMC Body Parts
Sometimes reproduction parts aren't as good of quality and don't fit nearly as well as the factory units, but that's not the experience we've had at all with LMC parts. A few years ago, we did a major body panel replacement on a K5 Blazer project vehicle that had more rust and Bondo over the wheels than we wanted. It was a son of a gun to get the old bedsides off and get the new LMC ones lined up correctly, but once we did they fit almost as well as the factory ones did. We say "almost" because this K5 had already been rolled once so the entire body was twisted, and unless we twisted the new bedsides we just weren't going to get a perfect fit. We did manage to get them lined up very closely though, and to this day they've held up well through the rigors of our off-road use.

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