4x4 AnswerMan: Off-Road Tips on Tires, Suspension and More

Nov. 22, 2016 By Jaime Hernandez

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.

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September 2016

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Hey Off-Road.com,

What tires should I get for my truck? It’s a 2000 Ford Super Duty. I would like something that works in the dirt but also drives good on the highway. Not looking for anything too aggressive or noisy.


Hi Hank,

There are many truck tire options today for diesel pickup trucks. Your heavy-duty truck is designed for hauling and towing, so make sure that whichever tire you end up getting, it needs to be a Load Range E. Running a Load Range C, or even a D may be questionable if you plan on retaining the truck’s full load carrying capacity. 

Many of the major tire manufacturers will have an all-terrain tire, which is a good in-between. More manufacturers are making a hybrid tire that shares some of the characteristics of a mud tire, but without the hangups of noise, road wandering or poor thread wear. These hybrid tires are designed to perform in dirt, mud, sand and snow. They are also well mannered on the highway, and deliver surprisingly long tread wear life.

For example, the Nitto Ridge Grappler provides the best of both worlds, incorporating mud-terrain and all-terrain technology. The dynamic hybrid tread pattern delivers a quiet and comfortable ride. The deep, aggressive sidewall lugs and tread pattern make it a great choice for dirt and street.

You can read more about it here: Nitto Ridge Grappler Tire Review.
Maxxis has also just introduced their new RAZR MT.  Although the tire is classified as a mud terrain, it is nowhere as aggressive as some of the other off-road tires in Maxxis’ lineup. The RAZR MT was designed to strike a balanced between on- and off-road driving performance. It’s well balanced, not loud, and tracks really well on the highway.  

The tire features a new off-road compound with new chemical fillers for maximum tear and chip resistance as well as tread life. We’ve put a few miles on the RAZR MT and can vouch that it works as good off-road as it does on-road under the weight of a heavy-duty diesel truck. It’s also backed by a 40,000-mile warranty.

Look for a full tire review here on Off-Road.com very soon.



Rumors are flying over the interwebs that Toyota might be working on a new four-wheel-drive vehicle. It all started with the filing of the term “Toyota FT-4X” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. We’re not 100% sure if this is in fact a new vehicle, but certain clues point in that direction. 

Some Off-Road.com readers got excited with the news a possible new Toyota 4WD. Andrew says, “Hopefully the new Toyota 4×4 could be modeled after a Land Cruiser and not the FJ Cruiser. So live axles diesel, locking differentials, manual trannies, low range gears.”
Even SoCal Farmer is excited about the possibility of a new Toyota off-road model. “God I loved my FJ. I had two kids and traded it in a year ago for a mini van along with my manhood. If a new FJ were to return it would definitely be a consideration.”
So what do you think, FJ Cruiser 2.0 or something new?
Please comment below.

You can read more about it on What is FT-4X? Is Toyota Making a New Off-Road SUV? 



Some exciting news was recently released on the new Mercedes Benz pickup truck. The premium luxury model is definitely taking form and has moved beyond the drawing board. Some sources say that the X-Class may be available as early as 2017. We are told that Mercedes-Benz plans to launch the X-Class in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. No official word on bringing the X-Class to North America just yet.
You can read more about the Mercedes-Benz Concept X-Class 

You can also check out video of the Mercedes-Benz pickup concept.

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What are your thoughts on the Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup truck?  We want to know. Please comment below.



4x4 AnswerMan,

My name is Joshua Evans and I just picked up a new project that I could use some knowledge on. It's a 1992 Nissan Hardbody d21 2wd with a carbed 350 as well as 350 turbo trans. It's got a homemade body lift of about 12"s. The only reason I am guessing for the lift is the firewall will not clear the distributor so is there anyway or part to fix this. Also I heard that I could use the torsion bars, lower control arms, and torsion bar bracket off of a k1500 as an upgrade with no modification. Supposedly direct fit. Is this true? I am worried of the extra weight.  What upgrade I could do to strength the durability of the truck?   How do I get a better ride than the block-muled wagon ride I'm getting now. Thank you for any advice help.

Hi Joshua,

Sounds like quite the truck you got there. The GM small block 350 V8 matted to a TH350 automatic transmission is going to be a blast. As far as engine fitment, it sounds like you may need to massage the firewall some to get additional space between the engine block and the body. The last thing you want is to have the engine rubbing against the sheet metal. Your boots may also start to melt from the engine heat transfer.

As for the suspension, you might be able to run a K1500 IFS suspension set-up up front, but it’s definitely not a bolt-on application. It’s going to require some fabrication to get it mounted up to the frame. The track width will also be wider than a stock Nissan Hardbody, so be prepared to either run fiberglass fenders or make some custom tube fenders. There’s nothing you can’t build if you have a welder, tube bender and some fabrication skills.

The GM K1500 pickup truck suspension should give you a smooth ride up front and more travel than the short stock Hardbody A-arms. In the rear, you could try running some longer GM leaf springs to soften up the ride, and also give you more suspension articulation. Shocks are also going to be key to keeping your ride smooth and under control.

If you can pull it off, this will be one heck of a build.

Good luck!



The new Duramax HD turbo-diesel engine looks good and has the numbers to back it up. It’s rated at 445 hp, 910 lb.-ft. of Torque. This is exciting news for Duramax diesel fans looking to buy a late model truck, but maybe not so good for the diehard blue oval fans.

Off-Road.com reader Hoolia thinks it’s cute. He says, “Ford is twisting 440/925.”  The horsepower and torque numbers are close, but Off-Road.com reader Todd brings up a good point about getting the power to the wheels: “GM has the Alison transmission, a much more reliable slush box when compared to other diesel transmission options available in the diesel truck market (3/4-ton, 1-ton).”

True performance and reliability on the new 2017 Duramax HD turbo diesel truck is yet to be seen, but if history holds any weight in your book, this new power plant is sure to keep diesel truck owners happy and the competition looking closely.

You can read more here: 2017 Chevrolet HD Duramax Diesel Unveiled. 



Joke or no joke, surviving a Zombie Apocalypse can quickly become a serious issue, especially when choosing your bug-out vehicle. Off-Road.com contributor Justin Fort digs right into this fleshy subject with some tips on what to look for.

How to Prepare Your Off-Road Rig for the Zombie Apocalypse

For us, a two-wheel dual sport bike with a long-range fuel tank would also be a great plan B option if your Alpha rig gets stuck.

So what would your Zombie Apocalypse bug out vehicle be? Please comment below.



I have a 2nd gen Grand Vitara that I use as a trail rig. I am wanting to put a set of p78 bias ply tires on they are roughly a 235 85 16 and run stock suspension or as low as possible for center of gravity. Is this possible with only cutting fenders? It being a dedicated trail rig, would wheel spacers be an option?
William Howell

Hi William,

Running P78s tires on your Suzuki Vitara would look awesome, especially if it’s a trail rig. They’ll be super aggressive, so hold on! This is a real mud tire. As for modifications to run such an aggressive tire, several sources tell me the P78 is actually larger than you think. The P78-16 Bias tire has roughly a 32 inch diameter (32x10.50-16). That’s a lot of tire for such a small wheel well. You might be able to wedge them in, but it would take some sheet metal cutting and suspension modification to get more lift for better wheel clearance.  You might have better luck with a N78-15 tire, which is roughly a 31x9.50-15, but even then, it will require modification to make them work.
Another option is to try a mild lift and some 245/75/16 tires. The 30-inch diameter will work better on your rig. Check out Rocky Road Off-Road, they have the set-up.

Wheel spacers are always an option to help with widening the vehicle stance and helping with any suspension clearance issues. It’s an economic way to add wider wheel track and stability while also allowing for better wheel spacing. Just make sure you get strong ones made with quality materials, like the ones from SpiderTrax. The last thing you want is to lose a wheel on the trail.

Good luck!

Related story: Spidertrax Wheel Spacer Review 



Not everyone needs a 3/4- or 1-ton pickup truck to haul and tow with. That’s not to say that truck enthusiast don’t want a 1/2-ton diesel. We recently learned that Ford is working on giving consumers what they’ve been asking for very soon.  Off-Road.com has spy photos of Ford’s F-150 test mule being powered by a 3.0-liter diesel.

Off-Road.com readers are taking note, and it’s interesting to see all the different opinions on the blue oval’s latest undertaking.

You can read more about the new Ford F-150 diesel pickup at F-150 Diesel:
Images Confirm Ford Turbo-Diesel Engine


The all-new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is here for 2016 after a successful 10-year run. For 2017, Toyota gave this next generation mid-size pickup the TRD Pro for 2017, and Off-Road.com had a chance to be one of the first to actually drive the truck off-road and really see what this new off-roader is all about. 

You can read more about it and even see the video here: 
2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro First Drive 

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Hi Off-Road.com,

My Z71 runs hot whenever I go off-road. The weird thing is that I have never had any problems on the highway or driving around town. I took the thermostat out but that hasn’t helped. What else can I do?

Hi Franky,

Sounds like you got one heck of a hot mess on your hands. With the heat waves we’ve been having across the US, its probably not helping. But don’t worry, we’ll try to help you cool things off. 

The thermostat is one of the easiest things to replace and rule out on most trucks when having overheating issues. Believe it or not, having some pressure in your cooling system actually helps your engine perform at optimal level. If you took it out because it was stuck or faulty, make sure you replace it as soon as possible.

A bad radiator cap can also raise havoc on your cooling system if it’s not allowing for pressure to build up, or worse, leaking cooling fluid. They’re relatively cheap and easy to replace and can be the solution to your problem.

You also want to keep an eye on the radiator itself. If its never been flushed, and you can see some rust build up or sediment floating in the fluid, chances are you may need to have it serviced. Most radiator shops can flush it out and pressure test it to rule out any problems.

The radiator fan and fan clutch also play an important role in keeping your rig running cool. If the fan blade is missing any blades (it happens), or the fan clutch is not keeping up with the RPMs, you’re going to have cooling issues. They do wear out, and some of the newer models even have an electronic clutch actuator that can be faulty.

Since most off-road travel is at lower speeds with low to mid RPMs, keeping your vehicle cool can become a real problem. This is especially the case if the vehicle has been modified and not getting enough airflow through the radiator. In these cases, you may want to upgrade to an aluminum radiator, which is designed to get rid of heat faster than steel and plastic tank radiators. Adding an auxiliary electric fan to help push/pull air through the radiator will also help keep the temps low.

Check all of these items, fix or replace worn parts, and be cool my friend.  
Good luck!

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.

Previous 4x4 AnswerMan Columns
September 2016

July 2016 

May 2016

“Like” us on Social Media for the latest off-road news and developments.



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