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October 2008 4x4 Truck Tech Questions and Answers - Nuts & Bolts

2004 Ford F250 Super Duty
Fred Williams
| Brand Manager, Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off Road
Posted October 1, 2008

Q My father and I are looking to beef up his '96 1/2-ton Chevy Suburban for mild off-road and some heavy towing. The tired 350 is going for a full rebuild and a turbo, but the questions come in about suspension, most likely 3-inch, but what kits offer good rearend stability for the towing? Also a new axle in the rear is in the plans, but we are not sure what to look for. Something that would swap right in without total modification is preferable. A selectable locker is also going to be in the mix, most likely an ARB Air Locker. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

George R.

A Making a 1/2-ton into a towing machine is an uphill battle, but it doesn't need to be a tremendous headache. If you can find a 91/2-inch semi-floating 14-bolt rear axle out of an '88-'98 light-duty 3/4-ton (these are recognized by their 2500 badge, yet six-lug wheel bolt pattern) it should nearly bolt in and there is an ARB available for it. As for suspension, I agree keeping it around a 2- to 3-inch lift will be best for both wheeling and towing, and I would also invest in some rear air springs such as those made by Firestone Ride Right (800.888.0650, or Air Lift (800.248.0892, to help support the extra weight of the trailer. And finally, look into trailer brakes, a brake controller, and a weight-distributing hitch such as those from Draw-Tite (866.308.9054,

Q I have an '04 F-250 Super Duty four-door with an 8- to 10-inch lift and 44-inch Michelin XL tires, but now I badly need some step rails. Normal step rails won't be any help. I made my own front bumper and have included a photo of the truck.

Dent m.

A If you want something to protect the rocker panels during off-roading, then you are looking for rock sliders. Rock sliders are designed to take abuse off-road, slide over obstacles that want to dent your cab, support the weight of the truck, and depending on the design also offer a step up to get into your truck. Very few companies make serious rock sliders for fullsize trucks, so I suspect you'll need to find a specialty fabrication shop to make you a set or build your own at home.

If you are just looking for a step up into the truck I'd recommend the retractable steps from AMP Research ( and distributed by Bestop (800.845.3567, I used to think these were a gimmick, but they are extremely handy for getting in and out of a tall truck. I keep hoping they will offer a super-rugged off-road version that can be dunked in mud, take some rock abuse, and be shut off when the truck is in four-wheel drive. Hey, AMP, you got your ears on?

Q I am the proud owner of an '02 S-10. It has gotten me everywhere I need to go, except the back nine. The problem is that my truck is two-wheel drive. I really want a 4WD but cannot afford to sell my truck. I am a college student, so I cannot afford to buy a new output shaft and transfer-case adapter. I have devised the plan of divorce-mounting a transfer case. The problem is that I have no experience with doing so. I have never had a truck with one and have never been around one, period. I currently have an NP205 case lying around, but I am considering using a Toyota case instead. My truck has the 4L60E transmission and the 4.3. Now, granted, this swap will not be a permanent solution, but it will be used until I win the lottery or get a better job. Help me!

No Name


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