Q I’ve been told that I have a C-clip rear axle and apparently that’s not a good thing. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the C-clips or do I need to get a new rear axle?
A C-clip axle is still a semi-float axle that uses a C-shaped clip to secure the shaft inside of the differential carrier. Unlike other semi-float axles that use a bolt-in-style backing plate to secure the axle in place, the C-clip-style relies solely on the clips to keep the axleshafts from shooting out from under your rig. C-clip-style axles can be found under everything from Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees to Chevy pickups and SUVs. There are companies that manufacture C-clip eliminator kits depending on what type of axle you have. Ditching the C-clips won’t necessarily improve the axle’s strength, but it will make for a safer and more secure way of affixing the axleshafts in place. Tire size, use, and whether you run it open or with a locker will all play a part in how reliable your C-clip axle will be.
Manual vs. Auto
Q I am looking to get my first Jeep Wrangler and wanted to know if a manual or automatic transmission would be better? I grew up on a farm and have experience driving both types of transmissions. Most of what I have to wheel in my area is mud, but I would like to do some rockcrawling once I get a Jeep. Most of the Jeeps in my price range have been four-cylinders with five-speed transmissions. I don’t mind the four-cylinder, but I want to make sure that I won’t regret the manual.
A The manual versus automatic debate is one that has raged since the first automobile was produced. A manual transmission gives you great control over your vehicle and is way more fun to drive in most circumstances. In your case, a Jeep Wrangler equipped with the four-cylinder is already underpowered, and putting a power-robbing automatic transmission behind the inline-four will only exaggerate the situation.
With that being said, the AX-5 manual transmissions that were fitted behind the ’87-’02 four-cylinder Wranglers don’t have a great reputation for strength or longevity. Fortunately, with a little work, you can upgrade it with a moderately stronger AX-15 five-speed manual. If you find that you are doing more rockcrawling than mud bogging, I suggest upgrading the Wranglers stock transfer case with a 4.0:1 kit from TeraFlex (www.teraflex.biz). The Wrangler’s NP231 2.72:1 low range ratio is excellent for just about everything except rockcrawling. The 4.0:1 will act as a torque multiplier and allow your Jeep to more easily crawl over the rocks. While the 4.0:1 can be a tad low for playing in the mud, you can always use Third or Fourth gear to churn through the slop (another benefit of the manual). Ultimately, a manual transmission in your case is a no-brainer.
Q I have a Nissan Hardbody pickup and would like to install a body lift. I have heard that body lifts are not as good as suspension lifts. I am on a tight budget and plan to do the install myself. Any advice is appreciated.
A Body lifts come in many shapes and sizes. Did you know that at the OE level, manufactures have been known to install mild body lifts to make room for larger powertrains? In general, we tend to shy away from body lifts over 2 inches. A 1- to 2-inch body lift often provides that extra bit of space needed to tuck underbelly components out of harm’s way. For those looking to place more cubic inches under the hood, it is a great way to free up space. Of course, body lifts are also an effective way to clear larger tires.
A body lift simply raises the body above the frame via spacers, while a suspension lift modifies the suspension geometry or architecture in some way. As with most modifications, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. One of the best benefits of a body lift is that you don’t have to modify any of your suspension components. This means that your factory driveline and steering angles all remain the same.
As for installing the lift yourself, it can be an at-home install, but it will be a time consuming process. Be sure to soak every body-mount bolt and nut with penetrating lube like WD-40 or PB Blaster a day or so before the install. And while the concept of reading the directions may seem obvious, it will be especially important when installing a body lift. Since you are extending the gap between the body and the frame, items such as wiring, fan shrouds, and hoses will all need to be addressed. Failure to remove a hose or un-clip a harness clamp can result in a costly mistake.
Q I just purchased a used ‘95 GMC pickup that has a 6-inch lift and 35-inch tall tires. I noticed that the front stance seems wider than the back by a few inches. I was thinking about putting on a set of wheel spacers on the rear axle to even things out. Is this a good idea or is there something that I can do to make the front not as wide? My plan is to use the truck for hunting and do a little mud wheeling.
A It sounds like your truck is equipped with what’s known as a knuckle-style lift. Those lift kits became very popular in the late ’90s as they proved to be a more efficient and cost effective way of lifting IFS (independent front suspension) trucks and SUVs. The drawback on many of the kits was that the new knuckle made the front of the truck wider than the rear. There isn’t much you can do to change that, barring installing a different style suspension system, which isn’t a cheap or easy option. Wheel spacers used to be a rare upgrade, but they are now commonly used (especially in the Jeep community). So long as you follow the install instructions and use Loctite on the spacers, you’ll likely be trouble free. As is the case with anything that is secured by a nut, you’ll need to check and make sure everything is tight from time to time.
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