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March 2009 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on March 1, 2009 Comment (0)
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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 www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Tired Of Air-Pressure Tips?
Reader: I just read "Needs Better MPG From FJ-40 Cruiser" (Techline, Jan. '09). Are you kidding me? For one, maybe he is light-footed? That's not that big of an issue, but what really ticked me off was your response about his air pressure! You have no idea what wheel size or tire pressure he is running, and to tell him to increase his air pressure is really a one-sided argument. My teeth fell out the last time I tried that trick! I lifted my Dodge 1500 4x4 and added large wheels and tires and lost about 5 mpg by doing so. It's just a fact of life if you lift it and drive it on the street. I might also add that if anyone thinks lifted trucks look cool, well, you're right, they do, but beware--if you lift a truck, you will pay the price in frontend parts, tires, and yes, you will spend more on gas for your new gas hog. Just leave it stock unless you're using it off-road. Period.
Stacy Millard
Manhattan, KS

Wrangler Pickup Truck: Will They Ever...?
Reader: The Jeep Wrangler JT--is Jeep actually going to make this, or are they just teasing us every year? And if they aren't, I say to hell with their federal bailout money. If Jeep can't make a Jeep Wrangler JT, but they can make "car Jeeps," then screw 'em--there's no saving Chrysler/Jeep.

But if they do make a Wrangler pickup, my deposit is ready.
Kent Taylor
Coos Bay, OR

Editor: Like you, we've been teased and tugged for what seems like years over this rig. We've heard, at various times, that it would be based off the (IFS) Dakota chassis or (more recently) off the solid-axle JK Unlimited platform, and that it would run either a V-6 gas or four-cylinder diesel powerplant. Sorry to say, in recent months we've gotten word from reliable sources inside of Chrysler that the project has been shelved for the time being. Fortunately, the Jeep brand figures to survive into the future--even if Chrysler doesn't--so perhaps one day we'll see a midsize pickup truck with the seven-slot grille. It certainly makes sense from a brand-extension angle, and we'd be happy to trade the Compass for it. We'll keep you posted whenever we hear any news.

Word From The Binder Brotherhood
Reader: Being the owner of an IHC pickup, I'm sad to hear of the big IH haulers' "quiet killing" ("RPM," Jan. '09). But hey, if you can't buy a used one, they should still have the basic parts. So order a 4x4 chassis/cab and then "dude it up." What IH should do is bring the Scout back. I am sure a four-cylinder diesel is available, though I'm not sure what gas motor they could use, or what V-8 they could cut in half. Get to work, International! By the time it's ready, the economics will be in line for buyers. Cornbinders never die! But mine is trying. (Damn rust!)
Michael Beeson
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Wants Big Tires For Big Jeep
Reader: I have an '87 Jeep J-20 pickup. I am having a hard time finding a lift kit big enough to run 38-inch tires. If you could help it would be great.
Heath Patterson
Twinlake, MN

Editor: To the best of our knowledge, there are no lift kits for your rig that will allow you to clear a tire that big without additional modifications. There are still some 3- to 4-inch lift kits from Skyjacker, Rough Country, Black Diamond, and Rocky Mountain which should give you room for (maybe) 33s; there may be other 3- to 4-inch kits as well out there. A spring-over conversion will give you another 4 inches, but even then, you will probably need to lose a fair amount of fender sheetmetal to fit 38s--assuming you don't want to go to the trouble of retrofitting an expensive long-arm suspension kit to your application, of course. Either that, or get some custom springs made by Deaver, National, or any other quality springmaker.

Looking For Top Truck DVDs
Reader: Do you still carry the Top Truck Challenge videos? If so, great. If not, are you able to direct me to who might?
Kristine Albrecht
Brussels, Ontario, Canada

Editor: We sell our TTC videos in cooperation with our amigos at 4-Wheel Parts Wholesalers. Log onto www.4wheelparts.com, and they should be able to take care of you.

More Northeast Wheeling Options
Reader: Hey, I'm a wheeler outta south Jersey, and I saw the letter from Nick ("Letters," Dec. '08) asking about places to go four-wheeling in New Jersey. I didn't read your "101 Places to Wheel Before You Die" (June '08), so I'm not sure if you guys included Carranza Memorial Park in Tabernacle. There is a wide variety of different mud holes small enough for a stock truck to go through, and big enough for a deuce to get buried in. I wheel my truck out in Wharton State Forest every weekend, and mostly Carranza too. It's a blast.
Max Nelson
Maple Shade, NJ

Reader: I've been reading this magazine and four-wheeling in my woods since I was a kid. Now I'm trying to go out on wheeling adventures with friends to new places. When I read "101 Places to Wheel Before You Die" (June '08), I was not happy...you didn't have any trails from the Northeast listed. I live in Connecticut and we have nothing. I wouldn't mind taking a trip up to New Hampshire for some trails, but I don't want to drive much farther than that. Are there any trails in the Northeast for four-wheeling? If there aren't any, can you guys help us four-wheelers in the Northeast get some trails open?
Daniel Baer
Prospect, CT

Editor: Try the Central Connecticut 4-Wheelers (www.cc4w.org) or the Northeast Jeep Organization (www.northeastjeep.org) for information on wheeling resources in your state. Another good source of information is the Northeast Association of 4WD Clubs (www.nea4wd.org), a clearinghouse for all sorts of New England wheeling information.

Thanks for the info about more Jersey wheeling locations. We hadn't heard of Wharton before, and we're happy to be enlightened. Whenever we get good tips like this from our readers, we'll publish them here.

Armed with a limited-slip, the '09 Ram TRX4 did surprisingly well on our Pickup Truck of the Year test.

New Ram Upgrades: Lockers And Lift
Reader: In his "First Drive" review of the '09 Dodge Ram, Douglas McColloch stated that he "would like to see a locker back there as a part of the TRX4 package."

Question 1: Which locker would he recommend? I am planning to purchase a 2009 TRX4 and was thinking of installing an OX Locker in my truck. What is your opinion of this locker? I was planning to install BFGoodrich KM2 35X12.50/17 tires.

Question 2: How much lift will I need to accommodate these tires?

Question 3: Which wheel and size would you recommend?

I am a new subscriber to your magazine.
Adolph Ernst
Lacombe, LA

Editor: First, thanks for subscribing! We're always delighted to welcome a new member of the Four Wheeler family to the fold.

OK. When it comes to lockers, we are big believers in selectable lockers, and the OX is just one of many options out there that include products from ARB, Auburn, and Eaton. They're pricier than mechanically actuated pieces, but they give you the benefit of an open diff on pavement and the advantages of traction on the trail. It all depends on your budget, and how much time you're likely to spend on the street versus time in the dirt.

As far as suspensions go, since the Ram is a brand-new truck, there aren't a heckuva lot of suspension options to explore quite yet, but we expect to see a number of offerings from the aftermarket in the coming months. Fortunately for you, one suspension upgrade that's just been released is a 6-inch kit from Pro Comp that's said to clear 37-inch tires. And like we said, you can expect to see more Ram suspension kits coming down the pike.

Wheel size? Well, if you want a 37x12.50/17 tire, you kinda answered your own question already--or at least half of it. You can save yourself some cash by retaining the stock 17x8 rims the Ram comes with, or go for wider 17x9s or 17x10s via the aftermarket. You'll need to make sure you've got a rim with the proper backspacing and bolt pattern, naturally, as well as checking for any clearance issues involving the A-arms, tie-rod ends, brake calipers, shock mounts, and so on. Generally speaking, a wider rim will give you a stiffer sidewall (more distance between the beads), which generally translates into better performance on the road. On the other hand, a "tighter" sidewall will transmit more "road shock" to your suspension components, and renders the rim more vulnerable to damage. We'd recommend consulting the tire manufacturer you choose for their recommended rim width.

Tire Tips & Trash
Reader: You have helped me before and hopefully will now as well. I read with interest your tire reviews, including some E ratings on rockcrawling. Do you believe an E-rated tire will be too harsh/stiff on a fullsize SUV (Sequoia/Tahoe)? Specifically, I'm looking at a 275/70-18, and the selection is good for E-rated tires but that's about it (it's the tallest that will not require major trimming). Thanks for your advice.
Roy Cook
via fourwheeler.com

Reader: While bogging around the other day in my '76 F-250, I ran over some metal banding with my 39.5x16.5 Boggers and slashed a 4- to 6-inch gash right in the center of the tread. It's terrible--they were only four months old. I just paid $500 per tire with shipping to get them up here, and now this. Does anyone sell tubes this size? Or an extremely heavy-duty patch and tube? I understand it won't be as durable as before, but I am just looking for options so I don't have to chuck 500 bucks out the window.
Sam McCullough
Talkeetna, AK

Editor: Well, yes and no. You can probably find a tube that's big enough from a supplier such as OTR (www.otr-offroadtire.com), which sells tire tubes for ATVs, heavy-duty trucks, farm implements, loaders and graders, and everything in between. Still, unless you can seal that gash sufficiently--both inside and out--the tire will be basically useless. If it were us, we'd wouldn't take the risk--namely, trash the tire, buy a new one, chalk it all up to experience, and watch where we drive more closely in the future.

A load-range E tire should work just fine on a fullsize SUV--and we'd probably recommend it if you plan on towing frequently, or you haul lots of cargo and/or passengers. Yes, your ride will be a bit stiffer when unladen, but for carrying lots of weight, they're hard to beat for a conventional light-truck tire. Also, since you're running an 18-inch wheel on that heavy vehicle, you'll want a good stiff sidewall, either for cargo hauling or for aired-down trail work.

Looking For Trailex Buildup Info
Reader: Just read your article about the TraiLex GX 470. I own an '05 Wrangler with a 4-inch and 33s, and I also have a stock '06 Lexus GX. I was very intrigued by it--awesome job--and I too have realized the off-road potential of the truck, taking it off-road on more than one occasion. If I wanted to get mine lifted, do you have any advice? (By the way, I already ordered a Yakima Megawarrior--it looks too badass to pass up.)
Brendan Beckett
Morsetown, NJ

Editor: The TraiLex project was a lot of fun, and it generated a ton of reader interest. Sadly, it went the Way of All Loaner Rigs a couple of years ago and is likely a little metal cube in some junkyard by now. However, your Lexus is based off the Toyota 4Runner chassis and is not that difficult to work with if you've got some basic fabrication skills and a lot of imagination. Log onto fourwheeler.com and check out all of our past articles on how we built this way-cool rig. They're archived on our site right now.

4Runner vs. Tacoma: Which Is Best?
Reader: I have an '03 4Runner with a V-8, full-time four-wheel drive, X-Reas suspension, and an '05 Tacoma access-cab TRD four-wheel drive. One will be replaced by a sedan (gas mileage), and the other will be lightly modified with a 2-inch lift, 265-75 tires, and some body mods so I can handle trails such as Moab's Elephant Hill. Given your extensive experience with such vehicles, which do you think offers the most capable platform for such use? It will remain a daily driver, and either vehicle can meet all of my other needs. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Ed
Redding, CA

Editor: Some of this will depend on what you need your truck to do. If you need seating for five and lots of secure storage space for valuables, well, obviously, the 4Runner is the way to go. If you don't need the extra interior space for passengers or gear, we don't see how you can go wrong with the V-6 Tacoma. It'll fetch considerably better mileage than your V-8 'Runner; the TRD Off-Road package--with a rear locker and premium shocks--is one of the best on the market for making an already-wheelable truck even more capable in the dirt; and there are plenty of mild suspension options already available for it. How's that work for you?

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