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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 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.
Ugly Trucks, and An Owner's Good Luck
Reader: The "Ugly Truck" contest (March '09) was a great idea. I was looking at the winner and noticed a few things. Is that a grocery cart that is now the grille? Also, the front left spring shackle is right up against the frame. That has got to be one harsh ride. I would much rather look at this/my kind of truck. Did anyone submit an Avalanche?
Reader: I really enjoyed the March 2009 issue, especially "Eyes Of The Beholder." One question: who chose the Grand Prize Winner--Stevie Wonder? Sure, the '54 Chevy isn't a handsome vehicle with the ladybug paint-job, but that truck is solid. The hands-down fugliest truck award should have been given to that '70 Scout with the severe case of body rot, "optional" driver's door, and hand-crafted bed that's probably held together with shellac. Next time you should post the 10 finalists and have the readers choose the loser--I mean, winner.
Editor: That's a great idea, and the next time we hold an Ugly Truck contest, we'll do it online and let our loyal readers vote for their favorite(s).
About editor McColloch's... Stevie Wonder's pick, well, let's just say it was a tough competition, and any of the rigs we featured would have been a worthy winner. We were looking for something uniquely ugly, however, and that old Chevy is a pretty rare specimen. Its owner also sent us some pretty funny stories about it, too, and that certainly didn't hurt his cause either. And nope, nobody submitted an Avallanche. Not this time, anyway. Thanks to all who sent in pix of their rigs.
Better MPG: No Tailgating?
Reader: I'm writing in response to a popular and long standing misconception about fuel economy with trucks, as brought up in Letters (Feb. 09).
Driving with your tailgate down does not actually net you better fuel economy. Having it down actually will create more drag. Here's why: With the tailgate up, the air passing into the bed creates a circular current. This pocket of rotating air allows the air passing over the back of the cab to flow more efficiently over the bed instead of into it. If you take away that pocket of air, you end up with more drag at the back of the cab. Much respect for the mag-keep up the good work.
Reader: I hate to be argumentative, but Mr. Eckert's statement that lowering the tailgate will improve mileage is totally false. I have seen several tests supporting this. The tests that I have seen were wind tunnel and road tests. With the tailgate up, the bed fills with air and acts like a smooth topped cover. With the tailgate down, a vortex is created that causes drag. Thanks for printing a magazine that inspires thought and debate.
Editor: We weren't too certain about that mileage "tip," either, but we thought we'd let our knowledgeable readers weigh in on the subject. Thanks to all for writing in.
More Power or More Noise?
Reader: I read with great interest your "Power Play" article (Feb. '09). Given that the intake/exhaust upgrades provided about a 20-percent increase in horsepower for the '05 Unlimited, has the ability to make freeway grades improved to the point where the driver is satisfied? I am in the same situation and looking for increased power.
Stevenson Ranch, CA
Editor: Robin Stover responds: Yes, the midrange power improvements are quite noticeable, and the top end is a lot better. The intake note is quite impressive at WOT now, and the Jeep is able to keep pace with traffic on the mountain passes between the San Francisco Bay area and Lake Tahoe, California, even when loaded with tools and camping equipment. We're also looking for a quiet freer-flowing exhaust system to install on that Jeep to see what additional power is being robbed by the restrictive factory muffler. If we find an after-cat system that is quiet, you can bet we'll be doing a story about it.
Four Wheeler Of The Year Gearing Goof?
Reader: I was reading through your Four Wheeler of the Year article (Feb. '09), and saw that the Toyota Sequoia that was tested has 3.06:1 gearing. Was that a special order? When I purchased my wife's, they said you could only get 4.10:1 or 4.30:1 gears with the 5.7L V-8. The Tow package came only with 4.30:1s. I know that this doesn't change the outcome of your winner, but I thought I would point this out. I've been reading your mag for more than 20 years now-keep up the good work.
Editor: Looks like we need to improve our tooth-counting skills. The Tow package indeed comes with 4.30:1 gears standard; without the Tow, it's 3.91:1. Thanks for the catch.
Wants Plow and Locker For F-250
Reader: I have an '06 F-250, mostly stock for now except for some intake, exhaust, and Toyo MT tires. I'd like to be able to plow with it, but I'm not interested in reducing my approach angles to zero. So I'm wondering if anyone's making a plow frame that doesn't kill approach angles or ground clearance. I don't mind cutting holes in the bumper (already got two there for my tow hooks).
My next problem is, the truck's not locked yet. I wanted an Ox electric locker but they don't make one for my truck (with a Sterling V475 limited-slip rear axle). Where can I buy a dependable locker for this truck?
P.S. Love your side-by-side wheeler upgrades, and now that Honda is making one, I might actually buy it.
Editor: If you're looking for a good all-around plow for everyday chores, why not take a look at the SnowSport by Agricover (866/414-5412, www.agricover.com)? It uses no hydraulics-so there's no plumbing, pump, or vacuum issues to deal with-it costs about half as much as a conventional hydraulic plow, and it can be set up to fit just about any light truck or SUV. Our own Senior Editor Brubaker uses one for the multilevel parking structure at our Midwest Bureau each winter, and for general all-around plowing chores, he says it works great.
As far as lockers go, both Eaton (Detroit Locker) and ARB makes locking diffs for your axle.