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May 2005 4x4 Tech Questions - Techline

Willie Worthy | Writer
Posted May 1, 2005

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Question: I am a 16-year-old boy and I've owned my '84 Jeep J-20 for a year. In that time I've decked it all out (but I won't go into that, there's too much to list-look for it in "Readers' Rigs" in the near future). I have a few questions before I take it out for my first real off-road adventure (I just got my license). One of my questions is that people have told me that I have Dana 44s, and others have told me that I have Dana 60s! So what do I have?

Another question is, I'd like to put headers on my Jeep, but should I? How much horsepower will I get with headers and glasspacks? What brand of headers should I go with? Do you know where I can find headers for my Jeep? Will headers for/from a '76 Dodge Power Wagon with a 360 V-8 work (it has the same size engine)? Do you know of a magazine or Web site that will have parts for my type of Jeep?
Jesse Shubin
Turlock,CA

Answer: It's hard to keep up with the J-series pickups, as lots of changes took place between model years. The easy way to tell is that the cover bolts on a Dana 60 take a 9/16-inch socket, and the ones on a 44 take a 1/2-inch. Or take a look at the front and compare it to the rear, as the front is a 44. A 60 will look the same, only bigger. Then again, now that I think about it, it could be an AMC axle. In this case, the cover will not look like a Dana cover but will be round. But there is a good chance that if your truck is really a J-20, it will have eight-bolt wheels and the rear axle will be a full-floating design. That is, the wheel hub rides on a spindle similar to the frontend, and the axleshaft is held in place with maybe six bolts. You can take the axleshaft out without removing the wheel. Another way to check is that most Dana 60s have the number "60" cast into the top side of their housings. Jeep did put some semifloating axes in its J-trucks.

No, the 360 in the Dodge is not the same motor as an AMC 360. The same headers that fit a Jeep Wagoneer of the same vintage will fit your truck. Hedman Hedders (562/921-0404, www.hedman.com) lists a set for your truck (PN 99250). Most likely you could order them directly from a mail-order outlet such as Summit Racing (www.summitracing.com).

A good Web site for information on your J-20 is www.cfsja.org.

Question: I am 15 years old and I just purchased an '85 Chevy Scottsdale and saved money for a Skyjacker lift kit and 33-inch Swampers. I have been reading your Web site and found that steering is a big issue. Will I need to get new steering besides the pitman arm? Will I need to strengthen the frame near the steering box? The truck is usually just in mud, as I'm from South Dakota (the flatlands).
A.M. Russo
via e-mail

Answer: I will assume that you're looking at Skyjacker's 4-inch lift kit (PN 140AKS). This comes with a new steering arm. Far as I can see, the kit has just about everything you will need to do the lift, other than some longer brake lines. Most likely, the instructions tell you how to relocate your present brake lines, but I would really suggest that you also go with the longer brake lines.

Yes, you're right about the steering-box mount-they can stand some re-enforcement. One of the better setups is from Auto Fab (619/562-1740, www.autofab.com) under PN SBGK200.

Question: I was wondering if you could give me some pros and cons to lifting an IFS truck. I have an '88 Toyota pickup that goes anywhere and everywhere, but I still want to do a lift, and a few people are trying to talk me out of it. Some say that IFS is a pain to lift and things break easier, and then some say that it's a waste of money because the truck has no problem going anywhere. My wheel travel is very limited, and that is a big reason I want a lift. The lift would only be 4 inches, nothing huge.
Kira Quasny
via e-mail

Answer: Well, if you don't have any problem "going anywhere," I would suggest that you forget about the suspension lift and spend your money on some more trips. Now if you want to go a bit beyond that, I would think a 4-inch lift would be a great benefit.

First, the lift will allow you to go to a larger size tire, and more tire = more traction. Second, combine both the added suspension height and the added tire height, and you will gain a considerable amount of ground clearance under the vehicle. Add it all up, and you can go a lot more "anywhere" a lot easier.

The downside? It's expensive. Have you priced the cost of a quality suspension kit and a new set of tires and wheels? The truck may also not handle quite as well on the highway as it did before. Fuel mileage will suffer a bit, as well as acceleration. Maybe the front axleshafts and their CV joints will wear out a bit sooner.

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