Techline: Your Top 4x4 And Off-Road Tech Questions Answered Here

Techline

Stopping F-150
I own a '90 Ford F-150 4x4. It has a front TTB Dana 44 axle with a tag number 610335-3. I use Warn Premium locking hubs. I need to find some new wheel hubs or hub and rotor assemblies. Per my axle tag number, The Ford hub and rotor part number is f3tz-1102-aa. I am unable to find these anywhere. They are obsolete.

Raybestos produces a hub part number 4943R and a hub and rotor part number 66297R. Some sell and advertise these parts for fitting '80-'86 and '89-'92 trucks. Although, some claim these will only fit '80-'86 models. I contacted Raybestos and the company said these will not fit my '90 F-150, only '80-'86. The company claimed to have at one time produced a wheel hub and rotor for my F-150, but no longer do.

I know the '87-'88 models had a change to a pancake hub and '93-'96 were different. From what I have gathered, the '80-'86 and '89-'92 trucks used the same Dana spindle, inner and outer wheel bearings, brake rotor and pads. To add confusion, some aftermarket hub and rotor assemblies are advertised to fit both the F-150 and Bronco years of '76-'86 and '89-'93.

Do you know if these Raybestos parts would fit my '90 F-150? Would the same year hub and rotor assemblies for a '90 Bronco work (part number f3tz-1102-b)? Would the rotors be machined to the wheel axle hubs when sold as an assembly complete with wheel studs or would I need to have them surfaced? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Name Withheld
Via email

Your F-150 should have the traditional Dana front brake parts, which includes the two-piece wheel hub and rotor assemblies held together with the pressed-in wheel studs. The Raybestos (brakepartsinc.com) rotor part numbers appear to be the same for the '76-'93 Ford F-150 and Bronco, including Raybestos part number 6048 and 6048R. However, I did find the oddball one-piece brake hub and rotor assemblies that only fit the '87 to mid-'88 F-150 and Bronco, which likely adds to the confusion. Even with this midstream change, the wheel hubs should be the same for the '80-'86 and mid-'88 to '92 Bronco and F-150. This can be confirmed by other Ford parts sources, such as Jeff's Bronco Graveyard (broncograveyard.com). The company offers the '88-'93 Ford F-150 4x4 and '88-'93 Ford Bronco hub and rotor assembly under part number 32574A, which appears to be Raybestos part number 66297R. Jeff's Bronco Graveyard also offers the wheel hubs separate under part number 32094. If you're still not sold, give Jeff's Bronco Graveyard a shout. The company specializes in older Ford trucks and SUVs, and I'm sure they will be happy to get you the correct brake parts for your F-150.

When you purchase a hub and rotor assembly, the rotors will be machined and come already mated to the wheel hub with the new pressed-in wheel studs. However, you will want to clean off the rotor and bearing race surfaces with a quality brake cleaner. Most hub and rotor assemblies come with a coating to prevent corrosion. This coating will keep the brakes from working properly and could gum up the wheel bearings.

Death Wobble Reduction
I love my '13 Jeep JK on- and off-road. The streets here in Southern California are horrible and polluted with manholes that kill your suspension. How the heck do you get rid of death wobble? My Jeep has a 2.5-inch lift and 33-inch Nitto tires. My wife is scared of driving the Jeep to the store.
Victor Cardenas
Via facebook.com/fourwheelermag

Despite all of the off-road-worthy modifications available for the '07 to '18 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited JK, most of the miles put on these Jeeps are still on the street. As such, on-road ride and handling are extremely important. Lift kits, bigger tires, wider wheels, and additional weight can change the dynamics of the vehicle and wear out some components prematurely. Worn or improperly installed suspension, steering, and axle parts can lead to what is known as death wobble. Death wobble usually starts as a slight shimmy that you can feel in the steering wheel. Typically around 35-45 mph, this shimmy becomes a violent shaking of the entire vehicle. Chasing down death wobble can seem like a fruitless task after throwing parts at your Jeep for weeks or even months. The most common cover-up is to add a steering stabilizer or two, which is the worst thing you can do. A more powerful steering stabilizer will simply mask the real problem. You need to locate the worn-out or loose components and address them. Proper tire balancing and correct steering caster are also important. You mentioned a 2.5-inch lift. Did you have the caster set to compensate for the increased lift via adjustable control arms or adjustable control arm bolts? If not, you'll need to look into making that modification for proper alignment.

Start with the Jeep sitting on the ground. You'll need to make use of a buddy. Have your friend hop in the driver seat, turn the key to the on position with the engine off, and saw the steering wheel back and forth about an eighth of a turn several times. While your buddy is sawing the wheel, you can inspect the front end to look for any unusual movement. This would include loose hardware and worn parts on the steering and suspension. Inspect the track bar and drag link very closely. Nine times out of ten, death wobble is caused by a worn front track bar joint or loose track bar hardware. Inspect the track bar brackets for cracks and wallowed-out boltholes as well. Replace any worn joints and properly torque loose hardware. Broken brackets and wallowed-out boltholes will require welding, complete bracket replacement, or reinforcement using a heavy-duty aftermarket part from companies such as Artec Industries (artecindustries.com) and JKS (jksmfg.com).

Another common area for wear is in the JK ball joints. Some of the more abused lifted JKs will see as little as 10,000 miles before the factory ball joints become worn, loose, and in need of replacement. These can be inspected by safely raising the front of the Jeep on jackstands. Grab each front tire at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions to check for slop. Have a buddy inspect the joints for movement while you apply back and forth pressure to the tire and wheel. Heavy-duty aftermarket ball joints are available from companies like Dynatrac (dynatrac.com), Skyjacker (skyjacker.com), and Synergy Manufacturing (synergymfg.com). They are much more robust than the stock parts. Some are even rebuildable.

If you don't see movement in the ball joints but can still feel slop when grasping the front tires at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions, you could have worn wheel bearings. Have a friend watch the knuckle and brake rotor areas for movement while you apply pressure back and forth. JK wheel bearings cannot be rebuilt or repacked. You simply replace the entire worn unit bearing assembly.

The factory Wrangler JK Dana 30 and Dana 44 front axlehousings are notorious for bending and sometimes breaking in half when combined with larger-than-stock tires and even mild off-roading. A bent housing increases camber and can cause handling issues, especially on uneven roads. The stock axlehousings can be marginally strengthened with the installation of tube sleeves and other aftermarket weld-on reinforcement brackets, but it has to be done before the housing bends. A better long-term solution is to install a heavy-duty aftermarket replacement front axlehousing. These new axlehousings are available from companies like G2 Axle & Gear (g2axle.com) and Dynatrac. They are reinforced in all the critical areas and allow the use of your factory axle internals and brakes to cut costs. Some are available complete with lower gears and your choice of traction-adding differential.

The factory JK tie-rod ends and drag link ends are fairly robust and usually good for more than 100,000 miles. However, high-mileage and abused Jeeps may need replacement parts. Inspect the ends carefully for wear, torn dust boots, and other damage. A bent tie rod should be replaced, and the toe-in should be set to 0 to 3/8 inch. Although, in some cases we have seen death wobble cured by setting the toe-out to 3/8 inch.

The stock Jeep JK Wrangler steering box is usually good for a couple hundred thousand miles with up to 35-inch tires. High-mileage, 37-inch tires or bigger, and rough off-road use can cause wear inside the steering box that can lead to death wobble. A complete ram-assist system from a company such as PSC (pscmotorsports.com) will help protect the steering box, improve on-road handling with big tires, and increase steering power on- and off-road.

It's not as common as some of these other issues, but sometimes worn control arm bushings can be partially responsible for death wobble. When compounded, the combination of only slightly worn suspension and steering parts can create enough movement to cause steering and handling issues. Replace any suspension bushing or joint that looks worn or damaged. Don't forget to check the tightness of the mounting hardware and inspect for wallowed-out mounting holes.

 

Going Commando
I have a '70 Jeepster Commando with a 225ci V-6 and a TH400 transmission, which I am planning to restore and update all at the same time. My plan is to purchase a '01 or '02 V-6 Camaro with a 4L60E automatic transmission, rebuild the motor and transmission and swap them into the Jeep. This would get me an even-fire fuel-injected V-6 with an overdrive automatic. Novak makes the adapter for the transfer case. Since the engine is just another V-6, it should have all the same basic dimensions, making it a relatively easy swap. The axles feature 3.73:1 ratio gears with a Torsen limited slip in the rear. I plan to change the brakes and put four-wheel disc brakes on the Jeep at the same time. Has anyone tried or considered putting ABS on an older Jeep? I was thinking the ABS on the donor Camaro should work. I could relocate the tone generator on the transmission tailpiece to the transfer case output and feed the Dakota Digital instrument cluster and the ABS. The rear wheels would be taken care of, but how do I add front disc brakes with tone generators? Is there a kit out there for the front that would have the tone generators? If I can find a solution for the front wheel speed sensors, the Camaro ABS should work. Also, do the tone generators all have to match in frequency? Does the front have to generate the same signal as the rear, or is the ABS fine as long as it can read movement at each wheel? I have also considered narrowing the GM 10-bolt rear axle from the Camaro. With a hub kit I would have a full-floating rear axle and a stronger rearend than the Dana 44 with two-piece axles, which I have already broken twice in a previous Jeepster with the standard V-6. I plan on using 16x7 wheels and 265/75R16 tires. This project is in the planning stages so I still have options. Your ideas are appreciated.
M. R. Meyers
Madera, CA

The fuel-injected GM V-6 and four-speed overdrive automatic transmission sound like great upgrades to modernize your Jeepster. Unfortunately, adding an ABS (antilock braking system) to your Jeepster is not as simple. An ABS requires the proper tone rings to function correctly. The good news is that a factory GM ABS has been adapted to older GM muscle cars, but it's not as simple of a task as you make it sound. It would not be a bolt-on conversion. It would require a lot of custom machining to add the proper tone rings and the wiring would be challenging, among other things. Because the ABS EBCM can't be reprogrammed, you'll need to find a donor car with a similar weight, front and rear weight distribution, center of gravity, roll rate, and wheelbase. The Jeepster is nothing like the Camaro in any of these categories. Your efforts to adapt the Camaro ABS could result in a poorly performing ABS, if it works at all. A better route might be to try and adapt the aftermarket Bosch (bosch-motorsport.com) M5 ABS kit to your Jeepster. The Bosch M5 ABS kit was developed for front-, rear-, or four-wheel-drive vehicles. A vehicle-specific wiring harness is included in the kit. Individual vehicle parameters like vehicle weight, vehicle track, wheel weights, wheel circumferences, wheelbase, and more can be calibrated with software free of charge. In order to use the kit, you'll still need to add the ABS tone rings at each wheel end, which will require custom machine work.

ATF Steering
What's the downside to running ATF as power steering fluid?
@davidfreiburger
Via Instagram @cappaworks

Even pseudo old-timers remember the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) as power steering fluid debate. The simple answer is that nothing is wrong with using ATF if that's what the power steering system requires. Of course, it is true that power steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid are both hydraulic fluids. As such, it's not uncommon to find ATF as the recommended fluid for old and new power steering systems. I was surprised to find that my '04 Dodge Ram 1500 requires ATF +4 fluid for the power steering system, and I was downright shocked to read that even my '97 Toyota Tacoma manual recommends Dextron ATF for the power steering system and not a specialty Toyota fluid. In ultra-abusive off-road applications that might see high temperatures, I often prefer to use synthetic power steering fluid from companies such as AMSOIL (amsoil.com) or Red Line Oil (redlineoil.com) if I can. Just make sure your steering system is compatible before making the switch to synthetic power steering fluids. Ultimately, it's always best to refer to the manual when topping off or changing any of the fluids in your 4x4.

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