4x4 AnswerMan Responds to Reader Truck and SUV Questions

Sep. 19, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez
4x4 Rock Racer flying over dunes at Pismo Beach, CA.

Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to editor@off-road.com. Please include your name and location, and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

More 4x4 AnswerMan Columns:
August 2012

July 2012

June 2012


Hello 4x4 AnswerMan,

Is Troy’s email or phone number being included so that he can be contacted if anyone wanted his machining expertise? Nice article, Rick. I've been enjoying it.

Thank you,
Jana Cervantes

Hi Jana,

That Project Samurai is impressive. It’s amazing what people with mad fabrication skills can put together. Rick Sieman (a.k.a. Super Hunky) has been doing a wonderful job bringing this project to the readers and making it come to life. 

Here is the information you’re looking for: Troy Salisberry at Race Tech Machine 480-255-9382.

Rick Sieman “Super Hunky”

For those of you who haven’t seen or read any of Project Samurai’s stories, you’re missing out. Do yourself a favor and check out this build. It will blow your doors, all four of them.

Project Samurai, Part 6: Exhaust, Driveshafts and Lighting



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 1985 Dodge 150 long wheelbase that I am restoring. The truck is solid all over except the driver side bedside. Where can I order a whole bedside? I would like to keep the rest of the bed if at all possible. Any information would help. 

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Hi Chris,

Sounds like a good project. We found a company that has what you need. Mill Supply, Inc. out of Cleveland, Ohio, carries rust repair panels and parts for classic Dodge trucks. Give them a call or check out their website for more info on bed repair panels.

Mill Supply, Inc

Good luck.


The center measurement... did you put the end knuckle on the shaft and thread all the way and lock with the nut... then measure from the end of the nut back to the ram housing to figure center?
Joe Powell

Article sparked by Project Retro F-350: AGR Performance Rock Ram

Hi Joe,

AGR provides complete instructions on how to properly install the Rock Ram. To answer your question specifically, here is an excerpt from the installation guide:

Once you know where you are going to mount the Ram, bolt the mount tabs to the Ram’s rod ends and locate the exact points to attach the mount tabs to the vehicle.

Be sure that you have the Ram's piston rod centered in its stroke and the front tires are aligned straight. To figure the center of the stroke, do the following:

— Push the piston rod completely into the cylinder (you must remove shipping
caps from cylinder ports first), then take a marker and mark the piston rod at
the face of the cylinder.

— Next, fully extend the piston rod and measure the distance from the face of
the cylinder to the mark you made on the shaft.

— Divide the measurement by two, then measure from the face of the cylinder
and mark this point. This should be right in the middle.

— Collapse the shaft to that mark and this should have the stroke centered.

More info at AGR Performance



4x4 Answer Man,
I own a 1993 Nissan Hardbody pickup truck. Almost everything on it is stock. I am looking for a way to lift up the front end to level out the body. I've heard a lot about a torsion bar lift, but I am skeptical about doing so. What processes should I take?

Hello Andrew,

Good question. To get 1-1.5 inches of lift in the front, you can turn up the torsion bars. You don’t want to go anymore than the 1.5 inches because it will ride very rough and will also put extra stress on CV joints. There are companies that make a 1.5- to 2-inch suspension lift that will allow you to turn up the torsion bars more but include parts like upper control arms to correct alignment and suspension geometry.

1986.5 - 1997 Nissan Hardbody 1.5-2" Suspension by Rough Country

If you want to go bigger than that, then you’re looking at a complete IFS suspension kit with drop-down brackets and spacers for the transfer case. It all comes down to how tall the lift needs to be in order to fit the size of tire desired.  There are many articles on Nissan Harbody suspension here on Off-Road.com.  Just use the search box for further reading. You can also try our Nissan truck forum to talk with other Nissan Hardbody owners: http://forums.off-road.com/nissan-all/

Enjoy the ride!



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

Great work on the Dana 70 Brake Swap article.  I would love to do the same to my truck, but I was wondering what you did for a handbrake and if you needed to do anything to the brake proportioning valve to maintain the correct front rear brake balance?

Thanks for resurrecting this old tech article from the archives. The Dana 70 rear end disk brake swap is a trick mod. In this particular story, there was no solution to the E-brake. Good news is that we’ve found one for you. If you run a Cadillac El Dorado caliper, the e-brake is built into it. You can get a set directly from 4x4parts.com along with any of the brackets or hardware needed from the source noted below to complete the disk brake conversion.

As for brake proportioning valve, some need it, some don’t. You really don’t find out until everything is running. It wouldn’t hurt to add one if you can, that way you can make adjustments if needed.

More info at https://www.4wdfactory.com

Cadillac El Dorado E-Brake Calipers


I’m having vibration problems with the transmission at highway speed. The lift is about 6 inches. Would a double-cardan work?

Hi Michael,

If you ran this setup with no problems before, first thing I would do is take the drive shaft to a driveline shop and have them re-balance it, especially if you notice bad U-joints. Sometimes the U-joints will fail, and it takes a while before you catch it. During this time the drive shaft may get out of whack. 

I would also recommend new U-joints while you’re at it. If the ones on there look halfway decent, pack them away as trail spares.

Now if your issue just started after lifting the truck, and you notice the driveline angles are extreme, you may need to shim the rear axle to correct the angle.  If you need more adjustment, then a double-cardan driveshaft may be in order.

The best guys to talk to about this are the folks at Tom Wood’s Driveline. They can help you figure out what you need exactly and build it for you. They also have a lot of good tech articles on their website that talk about drive line angles and problems. Give them a try – we’ve had great luck working with Tom.

Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a lifted 2000 Chevy 1500. Every time I hit the brakes doing 35 mph or better the front tire hops, not shakes. It’s not a worn rotor and nothing seems to be loose. Is an oval tire possible?

Hi Cory,

The oval tire theory doesn’t sound like the problem. Tires aren’t usually oval, and blemished tires rarely make it to market, so you can put that one to bed. Unless you hit something hard, the tire should be good. If you notice any bulging or deformation on the tire, replace it.

I’m wondering if it’s the ABS activating? It might feel like hopping and sometimes it even gives pulsating feedback through the brake pedal. If the ABS is acting up, you will have a “Check Engine” light come on the instrument cluster.

The fact that it only happens when you hit the brakes make me think that it’s brake or suspension related. Try to isolate it to the right or left side, then re-check everything with the wheel lifted off the ground.

If after all that you still can’t find anything, I would highly suggest you have it checked by a suspension shop. They should be able to find the gremlin before it gets out of control.


4x4 AnswerMan,

I am looking to fit a 6.2 diesel V8 into my HZJ78R and am wondering how I need to set the diffs up and how difficult that would be. I am pretty handy but have never worked with diffs before.
-Steve Zaretzky

Hi Steve,

If you actually own a Land Cruiser Troop Carrier, I’m very jealous and would ask you to re-consider swapping a GM 6.2 Diesel into the vehicle. You have a very reliable diesel engine already. If you’re looking for more power, then consider upgrading the turbo/injectors first. Heck, if you’re looking for more cylinders, try one of the newer Toyota V8 Diesel engines.

Toyota 78 Series Land Cruiser (Photo Toyota Motors).

In any case, gears are tricky when it comes to diesel-powered 4x4s. Typically, your diesel engine will have more torque than a gas engine. This means you can actually get away running higher gears than a gasoline-powered vehicle. What factors in heavily is the tire size you run. If you’re still running 4.10 factory gears, then you should be able to get away with anything up to a 33-inch tire. If you’re running 35s or larger, then it gets into that red zone where you probably should upgrade to either 4.56 or 4.88 for overland off-road driving.

Hope this helps. If you still have questions about gears, I recommend you find a local 4x4 shop that is familiar with diesel-powered Toyotas so they can set you up with the correct gearing.



4x4 AnswerMan,

Myself and another man just changed the 350 Chevy engine that was in my 1971 to a 350 crate motor that was in a 1983 pickup. The crate motor has 35,000 miles on it and had not been started for a year—the reason of the change was the old engine in the ‘71 was worn out—checked all 8 cylinders with compression tester and one had 100 and the rest varied between 55 and 65—checked the “new” engine and it had 145-150 in all 8. Got it all hooked up and the engine ran well after we discovered and fixed a wire short going to the distributor—but as I started to drive it home the trans would not shift out of low gear. Worked fine with the old engine and is not low on fluid. Am pretty sure it is a vacuum line I did not hook up but was told it could also be something to do with the carb, has an Edelbrock that also worked well before we changed the engine. Everything from torque converter to bell housing, etc., seems to be hooked up correctly. What is your best guess?

One more thing we did. We are going to hook up a transmission cooler. The old engine did not have one and I was told it would be a good idea to have one. So we did not hook the lines back up to the radiator and only made a dead end loop of them. Can that make the trans not shift?? Did not drive it over a quarter of a mile to home and did not push the engine trying to make it shift when I could see it was not going to. Thank you for your help.


GM TH350 Automatic Transmission with cooler line fittings on the left side of housing (Photo Compliment of Novak Adapters).

Hi Tony,

Sounds like quite the project. The “dead end loop” on the transmission cooler lines is alarming. You should at least make them loop so the line returns and oil can flow freely into the transmission. Don’t just cap the line. This could be part of the problem you are having with the transmission not shifting correctly. 

The other thing to look at is the cable linkage. It may need to be adjusted to shift correctly. With the truck “off” and parking brake on, have a buddy shift through the gears while you look at the shifter lever on the transmission. If you don’t see it shift when your buddy shifts into P-R-N-D-2-1, then you need to adjust the cable.

Once that’s taken care of, you may or may not need to adjust the transmission kick down cable that goes up to the carburetor. The main purpose of that piece is when you step on the accelerator to pass a car or to head up a hill, it will force the transmission into a lower gear that will give more torque and power to the wheels when you need it most.

Just a little fine-tuning and you’ll be back on the trail.

Happy Shifting!



Hi 4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 97 Nissan pickup XE 4x4 with the 4 cyl. 2.4l I just bought.  The owner said it has a 3-inch lift. The tires are 31/10.50/15. Some friends say the tires are too big and too heavy for the small truck.  Now that I need to change tires do you think I should use the standard 235/75/15? Thank you.

Hi Romel,

I’m not familiar with your truck or the gearing in the axles, but I would say to either stay with the same size or maybe go down one size if you’re really concerned with the tire size and weight. Don’t go back to stock size. It’s going to look weird with the 3-inch suspension lift and small tires. At that point, you might as well sell it and get a stock truck.



4x4 AnswerMan,

I have a 1991 k1500 with 2-inch lift blocks in the rear and I cranked the torsion keys in the front for a 2-inch lift to fit 33s on 15x10 rims. I am getting a set of 35s and I need to know how much more lift I need to fit them. I'm thinking a 2-inch body lift on top of what I already have will do the trick.

Garrett Duncan
Morning View, KY

Hi Garrett,

The quasi 4-inch lift you’re thinking of doing should give you enough clearance to run 35s. There may still be the need for trimming of the front bumper and fender due to rubbing at full lock or flexing. You’ll find out soon enough once you take it off-road or make a U-turn. 

Good luck with that.


Hi I'm looking for some people to hang and ride with. We have a lifted trooper on 36s (wife’s rig) and I have a lifted full-size blazer on 38s. We love to get out and ride. I'm bored and tired of siting at home. Hope someone will hit me up wanting to go ride. I do drink sometimes.

Hi Mike,

We don’t mind you drinking, as long as it’s off the trail and after you’re done driving for the day. Nothing wrong with enjoying a little adult beverage while sitting around the campfire. Moving on to your dilemma, I would start by showing up at a 4x4 club meeting in your area. You’ll get to meet new people, some that may even share the same interest. You’ll also have the opportunity to go on club runs with them, and even make your own runs if you choose to with new off-road buddies. 

Check our listing of 4x4 clubs in Oregon and go to the next meeting--seriously.  It will help you from being bored and stuck on the couch.

Happy Trails!

Oregon 4x4 Clubs



Hello 4x4 AnswerMan,

How are you? Could you please give me the part number of the Old Man Emu steering stabilizer, I just got me a 1996 TLC and I'm starting to do some of the mods on it.

Thank You!

Question sparked by Old Man Emu Steering Stabilizer – Review

Hi RJ,

Glad you found us. The Old Man Emu Steering Damper is still working great on our trail rig, even after 15,000 miles of off-roading and highway driving. It definitely made a positive difference to the way the Land Cruiser handles and drives. The part# for the Old Man Emu Steering Damper is OMESD24 and it will fit 1991 - 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Also, make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter and “Like Us” on Facebook.  We are still making improvements on our Land Cruiser test mule, so be on the look out for future articles.



4x4 AnswerMan,

My husband is changing the entire rear end of our 1992 Toyota one-ton dually truck (a.k.a. Motorhome). He wants to know what the number 233 means on what he refers to as the pinion flange? Also, on the new (salvage) one the number 385.

Pat Bowers

Hi Pat,

I’m not very versed in the 1-Ton Toyota motorhome axles and can’t seem to find any useful information for the number stampings on the pinion. I would say that if you can compare the pinions side by side, take some measurements, and if everything is the same, then you should be okay. They may just be different number stampings from different manufacturing batches.

If you really want to get more information, a place to start would be on this Toyota Motorhome website we found. The members are really informed on these particular motorhome models.

Toyota Motorhomes


Have a truck or SUV question for the 4x4 AnswerMan? Send your questions to editor@off-road.com. Please include your name and location, and be as detailed as possible about your questions.

More 4x4 AnswerMan Columns:
August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

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