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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 can also be reached through the website at www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.
What Hits, What Fits, What Quits
Reader: Regarding your "What Hits, What Fits" chart (Aug. '09): I own a 1979 F-150 running 35x12.50s BFG Mud-Terrains with only a 2.5-inch suspension lift, and the tires rub slightly when turned and hit a bad pothole. Great mag!
Via the Internet
Reader: I have an '06 Toyota Tacoma that has a 3-inch suspension lift on it, and I have 31x10.50/16 SSR tires on it now. What's the tallest tire I could fit on it with the 3-inch lift?
Via the Internet
Editor: Trying to estimate the precise amount of suspension lift needed to fit a specific tire diameter to any arbitrary amount of lift is likely a fool's errand (which, of course, is why we try it). There are so many intangibles to consider, such as your tire's actual diameter (which can vary quite a bit from its stated size), your truck's sprung weight, the weight of your engine, and your wheel diameter and offset. Long story short, the information we include in our "Hits & Fits" chart should only be taken as a ballpark guesstimate for any given vehicle. The only way to know for sure what fits your truck is to get down in the wheelwells, break out a tape measure, and start taking some notes.
According to our best information, a 33x12.50 should fit in a 3-inch-lifted Tacoma, though there may be some rub at full lock, and you may lose some suspension uptravel.
Looking For IFS Sonoma Lift
Reader: I have a 2002 GMC Sonoma 4x4. I am looking for a suspension lift for this truck and having a difficult time of it. Can you point me to a manufacturer that makes this kit? Looking for a 4- to 6-inch lift.
Editor: At this point, there's not much to choose from if you're dead-set on that much lift. Superlift had a 6-inch kit for your truck; they may still have some in stock, or you might be able to find one via a mail-order outlet such as Rocky Mountain Suspension. Otherwise, you are looking at mostly torsion-bar and/or body lifts in the 2-inch range. Good luck.
Mud-Terrains Better Than All-Terrains In Rain?
Reader: After receiving your August issue with the tire tests, along with all the rain we are having here in the Northeast, an observation: I own a '99 Ford E-350 4x4 van and a '95 Dodge Ram pickup. At first, I was running all-terrain tires on both, then switched to a set of Pro Comp M-Ts on the van and Super Interco TrXus M-Ts on the pickup. The tires were worn out this past fall, so I put General Grabber AT2s on both trucks, hoping to get better fuel mileage. I noticed with the first snow that the M-Ts worked way better in the snow but also in the rain-especially when you hit the standing water on the highway. The M-Ts never hydroplaned-probably because of the larger voids-and I haven't had any increase in fuel mileage after the switch.
My question is: Why do manufacturers rate mud-terrains with lower wet weather ratings? I find the opposite to be true. How about a test?
Editor: Actually, what you mention is not a "wet weather" rating, but a "traction" rating, which manufacturers use to rate a tire's overall performance in both dry and wet conditions, both in straight-line driving and when encountering lateral g-forces (i.e., cornering). Yes, those generous voids on your mud-terrains will help channel water away from the tread, but they also leave you with less of a contact patch compared to, say, a conventional passenger-car tire, which will adversely affect the tire's ability to grip (particularly under braking), and hence its overall traction rating. Also, hydroplaning can be caused by a variety of factors: Driving speed, water depth, and inflation pressure, as well as tire design, so the fact that your mud tires have behaved themselves in the wet stuff probably says as much about your rainy-day driving style (i.e., safe and sane) as it does about anything else. Regarding mileage, assuming the tires you're swapping are the same exact size, and you're running the same rims and recommended inflation pressures, the variances in rolling resistance between the mud-terrain and the all-terrain likely won't be sufficient for you to notice any appreciable effect on mileage. At least that's been our experience in the past.
Slip-Yoke Eliminator for P/W?
Reader: We are the proud owners of a 2008 Power Wagon with the six-speed manual. Man, do we love our truck. I would like to know if it would be beneficial to try to install a slip-yoke eliminator on this truck. I have heard Fords use the same transfer case, only without the slip yoke-it has a fixed shaft instead. Is this even possible to do?
Via the Internet
Editor: You're correct about the differences in the rear outputs between the Dodge and Ford versions of the NVG 271 (manual-shift) or 273 (electric-shift) transfer case. We don't know anyone who makes a slip-yoke eliminator kit for this application, but unless you're going to subject your truck to severe use (i.e., extreme rock crawling), and you don't have any plans to lift it or stretch it, we're not sure why you'd need to consider one. Based on our experience with this truck, the Power Wagon's driveline (AAM 10 1/2-inch rearend with diesel Ram HD shafts) is one of the stoutest you can find in a factory application, and it should hold up just fine to virtually anything you can throw at it.
Wants Suburban Lift Info
Reader: I was looking at some old magazines in my room the other day and came across your February '08 edition. I currently drive a 1998 Suburban and have wanted to modify it for off road use. I saw your "Suburban Conversion" story and was wondering if you could send me a list of parts, costs, and where you suggest getting them from. Also I'm not the most proficient at working with cars, so could you also send me the end cost, and who in my area would be best to do the work.
Editor: The Rough Country part number for the 4-inch '88-98 Suburban kit is 274S (six-lug only); list price as of press time was $970.95. Rough Country estimates installation time at six to eight hours, so the cost of installing it will depend on whatever rates your local wrenches are charging. Shipping? Rough Country's located in Tennessee, so it shouldn't cost you a heckuva lot. You can find out more info at www.roughcountry.com. Where to find a good shop or mechanic in your area? You're on your own there, but we'd suggest contacting some 'wheelers in your area for recommendations. Where to start? How about the Virginia 4WD Association? They're on the web at www.va4wda.org.