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Techline: Your 4x4 and Top Off-Road Questions Answered Here

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on April 30, 2019
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Stopping Stop-Start

I am the proud new owner of a ’19 Jeep Wrangler JL. This is my first new Jeep in about 20 years. It’s also one of the nicest vehicles that I’ve ever owned. My question for you is about the auto stop-start feature. I just can’t seem to get used to it. Is there a way (without putting any type of programmer on the Jeep) that I can disable it automatically so I don’t have to press the button every time I get behind the wheel? I’m not interested in voiding my warranty, just looking for a way to simplify this.
Henry Benson
Via email

We understand the frustration with the auto stop-start. However, it isn’t a terrible feature considering the fact that it will increase your fuel economy a little. While modules such as the ones offered from Z Automotive (zautomotive.com) will allow you to defeat this feature, you can also do it without a programmer of any sort. An easy (though not perfect) way to accomplish this is by disconnecting one of the hood position sensors. You can find these by popping the hood and locating the two standing pin sensors positioned on the driver side of the Jeep, just behind the grille at the top. You’re going to want to unplug the one that is the closest to the driver-side fender.

This is going to cause a couple things to happen. You’ll notice the first thing when you start the vehicle. In the information center on the dash you will have a warning message that pops up, stating that stop-start is unavailable and needs servicing. This will go away, but you will be left with a yellow “A” that is circled with an exclamation point. That’s going to stay illuminated. The good news is that your stop-start system is now defeated and will not activate again unless you reconnect the hood sensor.

Radius Arm vs. Four-Link

I am torn and hoping you guys can help me out. I have a ’15 Ford F-250 Super Duty. After working through a little spell of death wobble, I’m finally ready to lift the truck. I’ve been looking at going with a 6-inch full suspension.

It appears that I can either go with a radius arm drop kit or a four-link conversion for the front suspension. The four-link option is more money and work. Since I am doing the work myself, I don’t mind the extra labor if it’s worth it. My question for you—do you think I’ll notice the difference or will a radius arm kit work just as good? This truck isn’t going to be a hardcore off-roader by any means. However, it will see plenty of dirt roads and rough country roads (that can send your truck into death wobble!).
Steve Greenberg
Via email

First, it’s good to hear that you got your death wobble sorted out. That’s no fun. Both Ford and Ram have moved to radius arms on their 3/4- and 1-ton trucks. The reason for this largely has to do with the towing and handling attributes. Both of the aforementioned truck manufacturers are more concerned about customers hauling safely down the road than articulating on the trail. The type of four-link you are referring to attaches the arms at the stock radius arm mounts at the axle and gives you separation at the frame side via a drop bracket. This will allow a bit more give over the stock-style radius arm, but it might not be as free-flowing as a more traditional four-link that you might find on something such as a Jeep Wrangler. That being said, we’ve driven trucks with both setups and will say that the link version tends to ride slightly better. Does that equate to the increased investment? That’s hard to say. We believe a quality set of shocks and springs can make a bigger difference over the actual arms in your case. However, the link system isn’t going to hurt you. So, if optimal ride quality is what you’re after, the four-link would be our go-to over the radius arm drop.

Ultimate IFS Suburban

I recently remember reading in Four Wheeler, or your sister magazine (don’t hold me to it, I don’t trust my memory 100 percent), that the editor was looking for ideas for a new project. Well, I have an idea that has been floating around in my head for a long time. I own a ’92 3/4-ton four-wheel-drive Suburban. Although that era had some issues, I really like the look of these trucks and think they have a lot of potential. I think the factory IFS sucks, but I’m also not dead set against it. I’ve had this truck for a long time and will probably be driving it until I die. Call me crazy, but I’d like to keep the IFS and have some changes in mind that I think would be fun to do.

In my eyes, the two main issues with the setup are the unit bearings and the axle disconnect, which I hate. I miss good ol’ locking hubs and think the new standard of a two-piece axle that can’t be disengaged and is non-serviceable sucks. I’ve seen that phase one of my idea is already offered by Dynatrac in it’s Free-Spin kit, but only for newer trucks. I think it would be fairly simple to adapt an off-the-shelf 4WD spindle to the stock IFS knuckle.

Of course, that would require a custom CV axle with the proper outer stub shaft, but after some problem solving, should be doable. Also, I would need to replace the two-piece passenger-side inner axle with a custom one-piece axle, eliminating the axle disconnect. This brings me to the second phase of my idea. The weak link in the chain, aka, the cast-aluminum axlehousing.

Instead of replacing the two-piece axle in the stock axlehousing, why not just replace the entire unit? I was wondering if it would be possible/feasible (anything is possible!) to replace the stock differential with maybe a built-up Ford 9-inch housing. Or maybe even a Dana 44 with the left side lopped-off and shortened as much as possible. A Dana 60 would be even better if there were room for it.

The third phase of my idea would be to eliminate the torsion bars and adapt some coilover shocks. I know that ideally, with an IFS suspension, it would be preferred to have longer A-arms, but that would be a completely different project. Tons of money, engineering and fabrication. More than what I need or want. I’d just like to adapt it using the stock A-arms.

You still see tons of ’87 to ’99 trucks on the road and I’m amazed at how little is available for them. Even if there were such parts available for them, I guess the poor slobs that drive them, like me, couldn’t afford them anyway. But, doing it myself at home, scrounging parts and doing all the fabrication (except for the axles, which wouldn't be cheap!) sounds like a pretty cool project. So, what do you think? Have you ever seen anyone do anything along those lines with these trucks?
Al Miccio
Via email

Well, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good idea of the challenges of crafting a reliable IFS setup for that generation’s Suburban. If you want to look at the most robust examples of a nearly indestructible IFS, take a look at a 4400 Ultra4 car. These cars often use fabricated housings for the centersections with massive dropout third members.

In terms of packaging, the Dana 44 would likely fit the best, but it might not be the strength you need depending on use and tire size. RCV Performance (rcvperformance.com) is definitely a common name and leader in the CV axle world, so the company could most likely build you something. You’d likely be looking at fabricated steering knuckles as well to accommodate the hub situation that you are chasing. Speaking of steering, that’s one thing that you’ll have to really address as well.

That generation is known for rapidly wearing out the idler arm and destroying tire rods off-road. Depending on your tire size, you’d likely need to run some sort of hydraulic assist, which has been done. Adding coilovers into the mix will complicate this a bit as you will need new upper and lower control arms. While you state you don’t want a longer arm set, you’ll need them for clearance and travel.

Sure, this is all “doable,” but we’re not sure we could recommend dropping that kind of coin unless you’re really chasing a go-fast application. Given there are a handful of companies that offer solid-axle conversions, we think you should at the very least consider swapping in a high-pinion Dana 60 front axle or Dana 44, depending on your tire goals. Offroad Design (offroaddesign.com) makes a very budget-friendly solid-axle conversion kit, and it would likely be cheaper and easier than your custom IFS setup.

We love that generation’s GM Suburban just as much as you. We think you’re absolutely on track if you want to build a custom IFS assembly, but we’re just not sure the time and investment will be worth it.

DIY King Shock Rebuild

I’m thinking about tackling rebuilding my King 2.0 remote-reservoir shocks myself. I have a bad seal in one and have never checked the nitrogen in any of them. It appears the process is pretty straightforward from what I am watching online. Am I fooling myself or is this something that I can do at home?
Carl B.
Via email

The nice thing about investing in a premium set of performance series shocks is the fact that they are completely rebuildable. You can even change the valving in them if you’re unhappy with the compression or rebound settings. As far as rebuilding them yourself, it’s definitely something that you can do at home if you are up for the challenge. We would put it somewhere between changing a water pump and changing your differential oil. It’s not overly difficult; you just have to make sure to take your time. You’ll need to get the specific shock fluid from King, along with the correct seals for your shocks. You can buy nitrogen refill kits online, so that’s not an issue. We would also touch base with King on the recommended nitrogen pressure amount. It’s typically between 180 and 200 psi. As you may have found, there are many excellent tutorials on YouTube that can walk you through this process, along with step-by-step articles that you can find on our website. Take your time, and you’ll find that it really isn’t that difficult of a job.

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