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January 2009 Letters To The Editor

November 2008 Cover
Posted January 1, 2009

Send Us Your Letters

Where To Write
Address your correspondence to:
Four Wheeler
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 also can be reached through the Web site at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Wants Mud-Tire Comparo Test
Reader: I enjoyed your three-way test of all-terrain tires ("A Tale of Three Tires," Nov. '08). Will there ever be a test of mud-terrain tires? I have a set of Hankook M/Ts on my two-wheel drive. I'm going to put a set on my four-wheel drive when I replace the tires.
Karen Billy
Wright City, OK

Editor: We don't have any mud-tire comparison test in the works for the immediate future, but it is a subject we'll be returning to eventually. Thanks for the suggestion.

"Safety First," Or Maybe Not?
Reader: I have to wonder why: For driving a vehicle not suited for highway use and then getting into a high-speed rollover accident that clearly demonstrates why ("Achilles' Wheels," Oct. '08), you award a reader with $2,000 and magazine attention? Oh, yes, how could I forget-all because "safety really does come first." I think you need to have a conversation with the freight train operator who nearly punted Dave Manning into a Darwin Award.
David Geesaman
Harrisburg, PA

Editor: We get lots of letters...and every now and then, we get a letter that breaks the mold. And something tells us, this won't be the last we hear about this one. Readers?

The Last Word On Torsion Bars.We Think
Reader: I was reading an editor's response to "Torsion-Bar Cranking: Pros and Cons" and was alarmed. The answers to Justin from Corpus Christi's questions were not accurate-at all. I'm a vehicle systems engineer with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in mechanical engineering. I also own an off-road company on the side, which deals primarily in torsion-bar suspension products. I get these questions a lot and I realize there are a lot of misunderstandings here.

Since I'm sure you get a lot of questions regarding the cranking of torsion bars, I'll just give you the rundown. You can respond to your reader's questions as required.

Pros: More compression travel
Cons: Less down travel

How this affects a truck off road: For those who do a lot of slower speed trail wheeling, down travel is as important as up. Therefore, cranking is not a good idea. It will lessen your capability. Use other methods such as body lifts or fender mods to fit larger tires.

For those who play in the desert, you need compression travel. Your truck will experience extremely high forces catching air, which will likely break things anyway, but at least the odds go down when you have a lot more compression travel. The ride will suck, but again you are subjecting the truck to extreme forces, so you have to accept the give-and-take or get a long-travel kit.

Long term effects: Typically, slim to none-the spring might fatigue sooner, but these springs often last decades and at the very least much longer than their leaf and coil counterparts. CV boots will wear faster but they are inexpensive. Four-wheeling wears out truck parts-it's just part of the sport. If your cranked torsion bar only lasts 10 years instead of 18, who cares? You probably won't own the truck then anyway. The shocks will not be affected because the range of travel has not changed. On some trucks, excessive tie-rod angle will wear steering components. If you don't wheel rocks, that's usually not an issue, though.

Effects on ride quality on-road: It gets worse as you go up. As the A-arm makes an angle (is no longer parallel) with the ground, the actual twisting force the bar experiences is reduced. There is less torque. It then flexes less when you hit a bump, making you feel the bump more.

Preload and "over torque." The preload goes down, not up, as you increase ride height up until you max it out and pin the A-arm against its extension bumpstop (no one should do this). Think about it-the bar is resisting twisting force as a result of the truck's mass. When you cranked the bar, did the truck get heavier? Nope, the only thing that changed is the mechanical advantage or leverage of the A-arm. The leverage went down, and thus so did the preload. (There goes the whole "do you need stiffer bars to hold the lift" crap I hear time and time again.)

Bigger bars-do you need 'em? It depends. The spring rate of a torsion bar goes up with an increase in diameter at a rate of the diameter raised to the 4th power. That's a lot fast. You need bigger bars for one reason only-to get less flex out of your front end. That's it.

After reading this and contrasting it with your response, I think you'll agree some clarification is in order.
Frank Falcone
Plainfield, IL

Editor: We don't think there was anything in our answer that directly contradicted the points you've made here-we simply didn't cover the matter in a whole lot of detail. Besides, we enjoy hearing from knowledgeable readers such as yourself who can help us fill in the blanks. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Reader: I read with great interest the letter in the October 2008 issue regarding the pros and cons of torsion-bar keys. In your reply, you state that "We don't recommend torsion-bar lifts in general." However, in the January '08 issue, Ken Brubaker did a two-page tech article on torsion-bar keys in which he states it is a "cost-effective and worthwhile install." Sooooo, which is it?
Jack Cooper
Greenville, MI

Editor: Well, yes, a torsion-bar lift is cost-effective if you're on a budget and you don't need a huge amount of lift, flex, or articulation. Worthwhile? It's all in the eye of the beholder, i.e., it largely depends on the kind of wheeling you do.

Crossovers Rock. Cross-Dressers? Well...
Reader: Hey, just wanted to say thanks for putting my letter "Crossovers Are Cool" in the mag. Only problem is, my name isn't Jo Geddes. It's Jon. No offense to anyone named JoAnne Geddes out there, but that's just not me.
Jon Geddes
Everson, WA

Editor: Sorry for the goof. The guilty editor is undergoing a sex change operation as we speak-and he ain't looking any prettier, that's for sure.

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