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December 2006 4x4 Tech Questions - Tech Line

Posted December 1, 2006

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Four Wheeler
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Question: How stout is the six-speed manual trans in the new Dodge Power Wagon? I am seriously considering one. I'm just not happy with the performance on our '04 545RFE, even after the TSB reflash on the trans hunting problem. We tow a 27-foot Tailgator Toybox and have reached the limits of the limited-slip rear and open front diffs and we need more gears when going up the side of mountains on dirt and gravel roads.
Mike Cherry

Answer: Have you ever looked at one of these six-speeds? They are huge. If size alone has any bearing on strength (and it does), this trans looks like it belongs in a 10-yard dumptruck. In the real world, I have never heard anything bad about it. I am sure that the reason that Dodge decided to go with it was due to the fact so many people were pulling loads that were taxing the automatic to the limit, with failures common.

Question: I have a question regarding my '01 Ford Excursion with a 6.8L V-10 engine. It currently has the three-speed trans with overdrive. I'd like to know whether I can swap it for a five-speed Torq-Shift trans, and if I can, whether the transfer case will work-or will it need to be swapped too?
Farmington Hills, MI

Answer: While it would make for a great swap, I figured it was going to almost be impossible. Well, nothing is impossible with cubic money and cubic time to devote to it. I asked my Ford Guru, Mike Kelly, what he thought of the possibility and he had this to say:
"The Torq-Shift trans case is only made for the 6.0L diesel engine. It won't fit a 6.8L V-10 gas engine. If you could make an adapter to bolt it up, you would need a custom-programmed PCM to make it work electrically because it has a total different valve body and shifting strategy. The output shaft is also larger, so a different transfer case would be needed, or the existing transfer case would need the input gear swapped to the larger one."

OK, so it's not impossible, but a heck of a lot of work and expense. Is it worth it?

Question: I recently installed Gibson headers and even more recently installed a body lift. Now my steering shaft rubs the headers. Is there a header out there or another solution that fixes this problem?
Colt Miller
Conyers, GA

Answer: You didn't say how much body lift or what the vehicle is. Guess it wouldn't make any difference, as no one makes headers specifically for a body lift. How bad do they rub? Rubbing to me means just touching. I would remove the steering shaft, and take a hammer to the headers. A small dimple in one tube will not make a whole lot of difference in the way the tube will flow.

Question: I have a '90 Wrangler with a 2.5L four-banger. What can I do to get more power out of it besides an engine swap? The foreign four-cylinder (for fast/furious types) seems to have all kinds of goodies to make it get on down the road. I'm new at the 4x4 scene and want to learn all much as I can.
Eric Reeder

Answer: You can add a set of headers from Clifford Performance (www.clifford or Gale Banks Engineering (, along with a good performance exhaust system with a high-flow catalytic converter from Random Technology ( You could also install a throttle-body spacer, or maybe better yet, a throttle body from a 4.0L engine, which is about 6 mm larger. A higher-flow air intake and filter, of which there are numerous to chose from, will offer a great improvement.

When it all comes down to how much horsepower and torque you're going to gain for the amount of money spent, the gains are not all that much-perhaps about 14 more horsepower.

You might be better off spending the money on some gears in the 4.56:1 to 4.89:1 range and just screaming the engine down the highway. Remember the Jeeps called the CJ-2A, CJ-3A and the CJ-5? Well, they used a four-cylinder engine and 5.38:1 gears. Adding a locking differential will be a major traction helper. But then again, you're dealing with the Dana 35C rearend. That, even with the four-cylinder powerplant, doesn't really like tires that are much larger than stock.

Bottom line: If you're looking for better performance both on and off the highway, sell the Jeep and buy one with the 4.0L six and the Dana 44 rearend.

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