Where To Write
Address your correspondence to:
6420 Wilshire Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90048.
All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department lso can be eached through he Web site at ww.fourwheeler. om. Due to the olume of mail, lectronic and otherwise, e cannot espond to every eader, but we do ead everything.
Top Truck Gripes & Grouses
Reader: I've always loved your magazine. I have some that go back 30-plus years. Never got rid of any because I like to keep them for reference. Just wanted to comment about the voting for the 50 Top Truck Finalists (Apr. '08): It's a shame the ballot is on the other side of some of the finalists' photos, numbers 45 and 47 in particular. I'm voting for 45; he's very good at what he builds. (Besides, he's also the husband of my niece.) Nice guy. Just a shame I'll end up cutting out the picture of his truck. Too bad the ballot wasn't on a page with just advertising on the other side.
Thanks for letting me gripe. Continue with the great magazine.
P.S: Danny Marlow (45) doesn't live in Cedar Falls, Idaho. It's Cedar Falls, Iowa. We have the corn, Idaho has the potatoes.
Editor: Spuds rule, dude (we'll take vodka over ethanol any ol' day) ... but thanks for the correction. Obviously, GPS was made for people like us.
Trust us, we'd love not to have to force our readers to chop out photos of their favorite trucks so they can send in their TTC ballot. On the other hand, if we placed the ballot on a page that's backed by an ad, the unlucky advertiser is likely to feel well, you can guess how it goes. Thanks for writing in, and for your support of the magazine.
Night Wheeling At Top Truck?
Reader: I was looking at the new Top Truck rigs, and I decided that they must not need to run at night. It would be hard on y'all, but let's let all the rigs run a course at night since it does happen from time to time in real life.
Editor: In the early days of the event, we used to run parts of TTC at night-and if you think the amount of carnage that the Tank Trap or the Mini Rubicon wreaks on our competitors' rigs is bad now, you shoulda seen what it was like when we ran them in the dark. (Not a pretty picture.) More relevantly, our hosts at Hollister Hills SVRA now mandate that we cease Top Truck activities at dusk, when the park officially shuts down.
More April Goofballs
Reader: Sorry to hear that you have fallen on such hard times, having to recycle articles every other month. I look forward to each month's issue, and especially anticipate certain mainstays, such as "Willie's Workbench," for tips and tricks to keep my Jeep going. So as I was reading Willie's (Apr. '08), I thought, "This sounds strangely familiar." Upon investigation, you ran the exact same Workbench in March '08. I know power-steering fluid is important, but hey, I'm pretty sure I got it the first time.
Well, er, we were going to say the story was so nice, we hadda run it twice ... but yes, you're right, we screwed up. Hey, when we goof, at least we aim high.
Needs Euro-Diesel Cherokee Info
Reader: I'm a long-time reader and need some Jeep info. I am looking at purchasing a '96 Jeep Cherokee that has what is reported as a "VM" diesel. I have been around Jeeps all my life and never heard of this. The seller says that these Jeeps were built for export, but a few of them never were. It is a right-hand drive. Have you folks ever heard of this, and do you know if this engine is usable in the U.S.?
Editor: The "VM" designation stands for VM Motori, an Italian company that has supplied diesel engines for a variety of Chrysler vehicles for some 20-odd years, including the much-beloved (by us) 2.8L engine that was available in the previousgeneration Jeep Liberty. Most of these engines, such as the 2.5L four-cylinder that was offered from 1994 to 2001 in the Cherokee, were designed for export markets in Europe and Asia, and are almost surely not going to pass emissions anywhere in the U.S.
Even if you were able to wrangle some sort of "smog pass" for your vehicle (we've heard of some states where you can get an exemption if your rig is registered as "off-road only"), we wouldn't recommend this particular model, as pre-'98 versions of this engine had weak timing chains that were prone to catastrophic breakage. (In '98 they solved the problem by converting to a stronger, double rollerstyle chain.) Also, this particular block was originally based off a marine-engine design. It wasn't made to turn low revs at slow speeds for any great length of time and hence suffered from overheating problems that resulted in nagging little things like cracked cylinder heads. Did we seal the deal for you, or what?
Wants Editorial Turn-Around Times
Reader: I was wondering if you guys at the magazine knew when the Hank's 4x4 Jamboree event will be in your magazine and if you were planning on putting pics online. A bunch of my buddies and I were there, and we don't know what the turn-around time is on something like this. Any information would be helpful.
"Dodge" Dan Christian
Editor: As we write this, it is the second week in March. This magazine will ship to the printer during the third week of April, and will go on sale the last week in May as a July issue. So, an event such as Hank's, which takes place in mid-August, wouldn't show up in print until (believe it or not) our December issue. D'ohhhhhh!!
However, all is not lost, thanks to the miracle of the Internet. We don't know yet if we'll be able to make it to Hank's this year, but if you go, take a camera-then log onto the Forums at fourwheeler. com, find a relevant thread (or start one of your own), and post all the Jpegs you like. You'll be sharing some cool event action with your fellow cyber-wheelers, plus you'll be famous. Hey, we aim to please.
Letter Of Month
Reader: I am lucky Number 9 listed in your Top Truck Challenge entries. I just wanted to make sure you have my correct last name on file because, in case of the slim possibility that I get voted to go to TTC, I wanted you to be able to contact me. Keep up the great mag-I look forward to it more than my wife's Victoria's Secrets catalogs.
Editor: Bro', that is the best compliment we've gotten in months. A box of deluxe FW swag is being mailed your way.
Helmet Cops On The Rubicon?
Reader: First, I'd like to state my appreciation for your keeping a first-class magazine going. I was a subscriber when I still lived in Colorado and can't wait to get back out west where I belong. Petersen's still doesn't hold a candle to you guys. Secondly, a big part of what I hate about this part of the country is reflected in the first letter (Feb. '08). I hardly had to even look to see that it had to be from somebody around this part of the country (Ohio). For crying out loud, what kind of danger is a mud pit to your head? It's this same Eastern mentality that is behind the desire back here to close land in the West to four wheelers. If you don't live there, keep your cotton-pickin' hands off! Next thing you know, they'll be demanding seatbelt cops and helmets on the Rubicon! Keep up the good work, and I'll be seeing you on the trails back in God's country soon.
Lookin' For Xtreme Blazer Body
Reader: I need to know if there's a body kit for my '00 S-10 Blazer. I'm lookin' for the Blazer Xtreme kit. Let me know if there's a Web site for them.
Editor: The only avenue we know where you are still likely to find a complete Xtreme body kit is directly through your GM dealer. You might have some luck poking around the classifieds at eBay or Craigslist, but of course this is usually a hit-or-miss proposition. A good resource we found is an enthusiast site for S-10 owners, www.s10forum.com, where you can find info about the Xtreme package, along with OE parts numbers for all the individual body components. Good luck hunting.
Wants A Job At Four Wheeler
Reader: I was just wondering if you're hiring for anything right now. It would be a dream come true to work with Four Wheeler.
Editor: Thanks for the kind words, but sorry to say, we're hiring about as frequently as Hillary Clinton wins Democratic caucuses these days. When job openings occur, we do as a rule post them to some of the bigger job sites such as Monster. com, or to magazine-specific sites such as Media Bistro. We've also posted job notices at fourwheeler. com when positions have opened up at the magazine, so check our Web site regularly for the latest info.
The Crated Jeep Mystery,Solved At Last
Reader: Please stop saying there are no Jeeps in crates. I started working on tractor-trailers in 1977, and one trailer had a Jeep in a crate inside of it. The Jeep had the wheels off for shipping. It came with an owner's manual. So please don't call me a liar and do some research. This is the second time I have emailed you about this. The least you could do is send me a free subscription.
Editor: We get all kinds of pitches for free stuff. Yours is one of the more creative ones. But keep trying!
Old vs. New Tire Comparos?
Reader: I think that some of the best issues are the ones with tire tests in them. Just a few days ago, I thought of a great tire test. What if you put the new and the old versions of BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains to the test on the same vehicle and put each set through the same course and see which one works better for different things?
Poplar Bluff, MO
Editor: We sort-of did that in our review of the new KM2 Mud-Terrain (Nov. '07). We didn't run them over the same course at the same time, but as luck would have it, we'd been driving a Wrangler Rubicon with the previous-gen tires on it for a month before we hopped into another Wrangler Rubicon that was shod with the new tires, and given identical vehicles, an apples-to-apples comparison was fairly easy to make.
On the other hand, that particular test was kind of a one-shot deal since both versions of the Goodrich M-T were still available to the public. That will change in the near future, as Goodrich phases out production of the old M-T later this year. Which begs the obvious question: Why would we want to test a tire that isn't being made anymore, and which probably won't be easy to find in the future?
Trying For 20 MPG From A Truck
Reader: I just recently got a new job commuting 80 miles per day. I just sold my '96 Toyota T-100 SR5 4x4 V-6 because I was only getting about 15 mpg. I don't want to go without a 4x4 (I live in Maine), but I really need to find one that will get 20 mpg on the highway. I was looking at '96-'00 4x4 Jeep Cherokees with the I-6 engine. I looked up fuel ratings at Kelly Blue Book, and they said it should get 16 city and 21 highway; the manual transmission is said to be about 1 mpg or so better.
I know there are a lot of upgrades available for the Jeep, but I don't want to make a bad purchase, and I am open to any ideas that you may have for trucks or SUVs, or aftermarket vehicle upgrades that actually give you better fuel mileage. I picked up a '97 GMC 1500 4x2 with the 5.0L and a five-speed to get by. It gets 20 mpg, but it is not a 4x4. I've considered doing a twowheel- drive suspension lift but am not sold on it entirely. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I know that vehicle fuel ratings are not always that accurate.
Editor: You're getting 20 mpg overall with a 10-year-old V-8 pickup truck? We're impressed.
There are so many variables involved in estimating mileage-your driving style, your vehicle's state of tune, the types of roads and weather you drive in-that it's hard to guarantee that any particular vehicle we'd recommend will deliver anything approaching its promised EPA mileage. One thing we can tell you, though, is this: if you're concerned about mileage above all else, forget about the suspension lift. Anything that adds weight and/or wind resistance to your vehicle will have an adverse affect on mileage.
And that leads to another thing: When it comes to mileage, nothing-but nothing-beats light weight. Or a diesel engine. Or better yet, both.
Engine Miles: How High Is Too High?
Reader: I have a '94 Chevrolet 1500 Z/71 that has 350,000 miles on it, and all on the original motor. It is completely stock, except for dual exhaust, and I have been looking into putting a 3-inch suspension lift and 33x12.50 tires on it. Do you think it would be worth the money and effort to put a lift on a truck with this many miles on it?
Wake Forest, NC
Editor: Not without a fresh motor. Next question?