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September 2012 Techline Tech Questions

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on September 1, 2012
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Knuckle Out
I have a ’74 Dodge Power Wagon W200 Adventurer Sport. The steering knuckles are worn out where the wheel bearings seat. Simply replacing the bearings is no longer an option. I heard that I can swap to Jeep Wagoneer parts but I can’t find any nearby to use. Are there any aftermarket options out there where I can update the wheel bearings without changing out the whole front axlehousing? If it does come down to changing the front axle, what can I use that will install easily and have readily available parts?

Your Dodge truck has a common Dana 44 front axle that enjoys lots of interchangeability. However, from the knuckles out your axle has some odd-ball undesirable parts. The ’74-’79 Dodge trucks have what are known as unitbearings. The design of the wheel bearings is not all that durable, especially when larger-than-stock tires are added. The knuckles are also specific to this unitbearing design. Even though the Jeep Wagoneer Dana 44 knuckles will bolt up to your Dodge Dana 44 axlehousing and ball joints, you can’t really use Jeep Wagoneer parts because the six-lug pattern won’t match the eight-lug rearend of your truck and the steering system is radically different. Ideally you should look for the knuckles, spindles, wheel bearings, hubs, brakes, stub axles, and so on from an ’80-’93 Dodge ¾-ton eight-lug truck. These components will bolt to your Dana 44, allow you to use your existing steering linkages, and get you the stronger, more-desirable, traditional wheel bearing design.

Shock Lift
I have a ’99 Chevy 1500. If I buy shocks that are for up to a 2.5-inch lift will it help raise my truck any? Also, any ideas for a cheap but good leveling kit? I want to go up to 33-inch tires. Is it true that if you raise your torsion bars it will put your front axles at a sharp angle, bind them, and break them? If that’s the case won’t a set of leveling keys do exactly the same thing?

Simply changing your shocks will not lift your truck. Pretty much every lift kit manufacturer offers a leveling kit for your truck. The leveling kit you would be using will typically include a set of new torsion keys. There is a special tool available to help with installation.

A fairly competent mechanic with a good set of hand tools, a floor jack, and some jackstands can install new torsion keys. However, your truck will need to be realigned once the new ride height has been set.

Moderation is key when it comes to the factory front halfshafts and leveling kits. You don’t want to lift it too much or you could cause premature wear and possibly binding of the front axleshaft CV joints on your IFS suspension. Cranking up the factory torsion bars and keys will eventually cause the torsion bars to sag. Using aftermarket torsion lift keys allows the factory torsion bars to retain their spring resistance and your truck’s ride height. However, using leveling torsion keys really only sets ride height to sit in a different part of the suspension travel, limiting downtravel from already limited stock suspension, which can cause ride harshness depending on how you use your truck.

Power Out
Could you guys please settle a small argument? I have a ’93 Ford Bronco and I am trying to get a few extra horsepower out of it. From what I have read and researched, I am under the impression that air intakes, and injectors, or higher performance fuel systems, and chips are good ways to get more performance without doing a whole lot of engine modifications. Lately I have been told that these are all a waste of money and that you cannot expect much of a gain from these products. Can you guys set me straight?
Gabe Hurlburt
Via email

The ’92-’96 Broncos were the last of their kind. They are great 4x4s. These Broncos either have the 5.0L V-8 or the optional 5.8L V-8 engine. There are lots of aftermarket performance parts for both engines. Some of the aftermarket performance products, like a supercharger, will make a huge difference in power output while others will be significantly less noticeable. Some of the products you have mentioned won’t really benefit you unless you make other modifications to complement them. For example, you generally don’t need to upgrade the fuel injectors on an engine until you start changing things like the cam, add a supercharger or turbo, or make other significant power changes. The factory injectors can handle the fuel needs of most simple bolt-on aftermarket performance parts.

If you want to add only one part, the best bang for the buck comes from an aftermarket cold-air intake. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to install yourself, and they can noticeably increase fuel economy and power output. Several companies offer cold-air intakes for your Bronco.

Considering the cost, some of the other easy-to-install power parts won’t impress you with performance numbers.

Sequoia Gearing
I am not a mechanic, nor am I going to build a rockcrawler or other type of “real” off-road machine. I do, however, want to differentiate my stock ’02 Toyota Sequoia from the dozens just like it that I see every day. I know I can get a small lift from RevTek so I can put 35-inch tires under me and still fit in my garage.

What gearing should I be using to maintain my day-to-day driving without sacrificing too much power or fuel mileage?

The stock tires are 30.8 inches tall. I do not know the gearing, but it is bone stock. I might go with 33- or 35-inch tires, what would be the proper gearing?

I do not off-road, I only see occasional snow. I also need to maintain a somewhat-professional image.
Paul Griswold
Via email

As best I can tell your truck has 4.10:1 axle gears in it now. Switching to a tire that is a true measured (not the sidewall specs) 33 inches tall really won’t warrant a gearing change. To do so would require something around a 4.39, which is not available. It’s a pretty small step up and really wouldn’t be a cost-effective upgrade.

The true 35-inch tire would require a 4.66 ring-and-pinion to bring the gearing back close to stock. There are only 4.10, 4.56, and 4.88 axle gears available for your 4x4. So if you decided to make the swap, the 4.88s would make the most sense with the 35-inch tires. However, if the tires you are considering are not actually a measured 35 inches tall you may be better off with the 4.56 gears.

Ultimately I just don’t think the gearing improvement will be justified by the cost of the gear swap in either case. FW

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