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 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.
Likes Our Online Archives
Reader: I like the archive stuff you've been doing from the '70s. I think the stuff looks funny probably because I'm old enough to remember most of it. Keep up the good work.
Editor: Thanks. We enjoy posting that stuff too. We're archiving old material from past issues of FW on a near-weekly basis now, so check back frequently at fourwheeler.com for future updates.
"Attacked" By An Xterra?
Reader: I was attacked by an '09 Nissan Xterra last month. It was a rental unit that I was driving while bodywork was being done on my '08 MegaCab Cummins Dualie. I was coming down my driveway (half-mile long), when the side airbags went off. That's right, they just went off. No wheeling, no stunts, just went off. There was not a scratch on the vehicle, which only had 8,000 miles on it. The dealer thought it was a faulty rollover safety sensor. I had to laugh when I saw your pics at your Four Wheeler of the Year test (Feb. '09). If it is in your long-term fleet, wear a helmet. The bags hurt, and I got hit in the head by a flying grab handle blown off by the bag. Have you heard of this before?
Editor: We've never heard of this before with this particular vehicle, and we had no issues at all with our tester during our brief time with it. Based on our experiences with other vehicles in the past, we know that the manufacturers take these kind of safety-system failures very seriously, so it's altogether likely your experiences were relayed directly from the dealership to Nissan's engineering team. We'll be receiving a long-term Xterra for testing soon, and we'll relay any problems if they occur, but based on our experiences with this platform, we'd guess what happened to your vehicle was an anomalous occurrence.
Looking For Midwest Jambo Info
Reader: When is this year's 4-Wheel Jamboree in Lima, Ohio? I'm from Tennessee and would like to go but can't find a schedule anywhere.
Somewhere in Cyberland
Editor: This year's Lima Jambo takes place May 15-17. You can find out more details, and the complete Jamboree nationals schedule, by logging onto www.familyevents.com.
Wants F-Truck Rear-Disc Conversion
Reader: In your recent article on an '89 Ford F-250 disc-brake conversion ("Stopping the Sterling," Feb. '09), Christian Hazel said you used TSM in Castle Rock, Colorado, for the kit. We tried getting the number for them in Castle Rock, but information says there is no TSM. Do you know how to get in touch with these guys? We need the conversion kit.
Editor: Here's the contact info we have for them: The Streetrod Manufacturing Company Inc., 4321 E. Willow Creek Rd., No. 16, Castle Rock, CO 80104, 303/688-6882, www.tsmmfg.com. Good luck with your conversion.
Leveled Ram "Clanks" On Compression
Reader: I recently installed a Pro Comp leveling kit on my '08 Dodge Ram 1500. At the time the truck only had about 3,000 miles on it. Now, every time I hit a bump, there is a clanging noise in the frontend. I have removed the entire coilover assembly on both sides twice, checked to make sure everything is tight, and reinstalled. I didn't find anything wrong, and neither did the mechanic who checked my alignment, but the noise is still there. I have noticed with the truck on the ground I can grab the shock stem on top and slap the shock inside the assembly making the same noise so I'm pretty sure that's what's happening. I just don't know why. I am running the factory shocks. I don't know if the shocks are the problem or if this is just common with this kit. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Editor: Sight unseen, it's always a dicey proposition to diagnose the source of problems like this. But off the top of our heads, the only things we can figure is that if you didn't get or install the coilover spacer to compensate for the height increase, you may be overextending the shock. You might want to call the guys at Pro Comp's customer service line (619/216-1444); they'll probably know what you need to do to make everything right again.
Re-Gearing For Bigger Tires
Reader: I need help in gear selection on my '03 F-250 Super Duty with the 6.0L. I installed 10 inches of lift and it's cool and rides nice with 38-inch tires. I feel the 3.73:1 gears when I tow a 16-foot trailer thru the upstate mountains. Can you or your staff help with the proper gears to put me back near stock rpm?
West Islip, NY
Editor: There's a more precise (and complex) formula to calculate this, but an easy one that'll put you in the ballpark is:[new tire size old tire size] x axle gear = new gear
In your case, the Super Duty's stock 235/85R16 tires were 31.7 inches tall. So, plug in the numbers:
[38 31.7] x 3.73 = 4.47
So, you'd normally want to run a ring-and-pinion in the nearest available ratio, which in this case would be 4.56:1. However, your 6.0L Power Stroke produces its peak 550 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, and since you say you tow with it, we'd recommend gearing even lower-to, say, 4.88:1-to keep your revs down at highway cruising speeds.
Letter Of The Month
The Bible Of Wheeling?
Reader: I just wanted to thank you guys for making a good, tough magazine. Like other readers, your magazine is my bible while I make an offering to the porcelain god, and this is where it stays. I'm sure you'll be glad to hear that my Four Wheeler magazines are the only magazines/parts catalogs/any other of the sort that does not warp from the steam of the shower, thus allowing a full month of ripple-free reading until the next Four Wheeler gets here. Heck, I've still got some from the '70s that my dad had! I just thought you guys should know that not only is your magazine full of material on the inside, it's the material on the outside that preserves it. Kinda like a coconut...sorta.
Editor: Flattery will get you everywhere. A deluxe box of Four Wheeler swag is on its way to you. Thanks for writing in.