4x4 AnswerMan: Your Off-Road Truck and SUV Questions

Mar. 01, 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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Off-Road.com recently got a first look at the 2017 RAM Power Wagon during the Chicago Auto Show.  It’s an impressive truck, but there’s no official word on pricing yet.  Some speculations are that it will be near the 2016 model price range.

John Smith via YouTube says that his guess, “starting at $40k-$50k range.” 

What do you think?

Check out the the full story and video: ‘17 Ram Power Wagon Unveiled in Chicago



Hi I'm trying to build an 82 Malibu wagon into a true bad ass off road 4x4 vehicle, I'm currently sitting on a stock suspension and don't know where to start I want to be able to go 4 wheeling and have enough clearance to fit 35 to 44 in tires, I already switched the motor to a 454 big block Chevy out of a 91 k 3500 dually any info would help greatly.

Aaron Fulkerson

A great representation of a Chevy Malibu 4x4 conversion submitted by Paul K.

Hi Aaron,

Sounds like a fun Frankenwagon you’re building, a real lady-killer.  Although you could modify the factory frame to accommodate solid axle suspension, most of the 4x4 station wagon conversions I’ve seen use a truck chassis already set-up with four-wheel drive.  A Chevy Blazer or pickup chassis should do the trick.  Just make that it has a similar wheelbase, ideally you want the wheel wells to line up with the wheels below.  Some custom body mounts, firewall work and you’ll be ready to cruise the Blvd and mud bogs. 

One thing to remember: if you’re going to register this fine work of metal madness, the title follows the chassis in most states. This might make a difference if you are planning on really hot 454 big block.

Good luck, and please send us and update once you get rollin’ on this project.




I have a 03 silverado 4x4 what is the manufacturer front differential used in these vehicles gear ratio I was told it was stock any help would be great

Hi Martin,

Most of these model trucks are equipped with 3.73 gear ratio from the factory. There are a few with 4.10s, but we tend to see this more in the 3/4 and 1-ton models. There’s a chance you might find some information on the gear ratio if you look on the build sheet or decal found either on the driver-side door or glove box.  You could also take the front differential apart and do a teeth count on the ring and pinion to determine your actual gear ratio.  Here is the formula:

Ring Teeth / Pinion Teeth = Gear Ratio
e.g. 39/8 = 4.88

Good luck.

Want to learn to re-gear your GM K1500 Z71 Pickup? Check out:

Project K1500: Richmond Gear and Powertrax Extreme Traction System 



Ford’s F-150 diesel pickup is on its way. Off-Road.com contributor Brian Williams recently captured a diesel test truck making its way through Michigan. It already has Ford fans and diesel junkies excited about what’s to come from the blue oval.

Off-Road.com reader xXBurntBaconXx says, “Sounds like a small capacity diesel. Could it be the 5-cyl model from the transit/South America?#” Fernando Diaz says he already owns an Ecodiesel, but this is pretty cool.  He can’t wait to see the numbers on it.# simjet22 is loving the engine tic and says, “Yessssssssssss diesel goodness.”#

What do you think about having another Ford diesel truck option?  We want to know.

See and hear this diesel powered F-150 for yourself here.




I just re-geared the rear diff in my 95 Runner, everything’s perfect, except now 4WD feels like the wheels all want to go in their own directions?! I think it's some kind of sensor we forgot to wire back?? Help please!!

Pete Anderson

Hi Pete,

I’m not sure what kind of voodoo switches your Toyota is equipped with that would cause it to act crazy in four-wheel drive, but it wouldn’t hurt to triple check everything.  This includes the front diff, transfer case and rear differential plugs and wiring. I would also check the wheel sensors for any damage that may be throwing off the traction control (if equipped).

Also, if you re-geared the rear differential, you also need to do the front differential. The gear ratio needs to match in both axles in order for the front and rear wheels to spin at the same rate. If they are geared differently, they will be spinning at different ratios and may even feel like they’re slipping – because they are. 

The higher gear ratio axle will be spinning the wheels faster than the lower geared axle.



Hey Off-Road.com,

How about a look at the [TRD Pro] 4Runner? I'm really glad Toyota is keeping it in the lineup.#

Gray Man

Comment spakred by 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Unveiled at Chicago

Hi Gray,

Glad you liked the video. There’s a lot of excitement regarding the new Tacoma in TRD Pro form. As for the Toyota 4Runner and Tundra version of the TRD Pro, both returned for 2016 and remain unchanged from last year. 

Want more on the 4Runner? Check out Off-Road.com's 4Runner TRD Pro Review 




I'm purchasing a stage 5 long block 22r from lc engineering. installed will be a 2.6l stroker kit 10:2:1 pistons with gapless rings, h-beam rods. Crank scraper, stage 5 head, stage 5 cam, head studs. Question is, how do I know my Rev limit? My internals are pretty much taken cared of. Please get back to me, or you can email me at davidquenga@hotmail.com thank you for yoi time. 

David Quenga

Letter sparked by Toyota 4 Cyl. Engine Information

Hi David,

Sounds like a powerful sun of a gun you’re building. These 4-bangers can rev pretty high, maybe not Gixxer high, but they do rev up.  Most stockfish 22r start to whine/redline at 5500-6000 RPM.

To be honest, since you’re already working with LC Engineering, I’d give them a call to see what they say and recommend for a Stage 5 engine.  They’ve been building these things for over 20 years and would be the best to answer your question.

In the meantime, here’s a little 4-cyl LC Engineering Stage 5 pumping 200HP to keep you motivated on the engine build. 

Get the Flash Player to see this player.




There’s mixed love out there for the new 2016 Nissan Titan XD Cummins pickup truck. Off-Road.com reader Bfgai says, “So the company that brought us the third least reliable vehicle is now going to produce a truck that no one has a use for. Are they sure they aren't running for a political office somewhere?”

So what’s your take on the diesel Nissan? Love it, Hate it…Ehhh?  We want to know.

Read the full review at 2016 Nissan Titan XD Cummins First Drive 




In my research thus far I have found that the 95 4Runner and my 07 Rav4 front strut mounts have the same dimensions. So I purchased the Daystar KT09117BK 1" front strut spacer kit. That will give me 2" of lift in the front. My question is, Can I use the Daystar KT09100BK 1-1/4" Rear Suspension Leveling Kit (Pair) for Toyota 4Runner on the rear of my Rav4 to give me about 2.5" of lift in the rear???

John Nevison

Hi John,

It’s hard to give you a clear answer since these parts are not designed for the RAV 4. That said, there’s no reason you can’t try them out. For the $35 price, it’s worth getting a pair to measure up and install if they fit. 

Another option would be to contact Daystar directly to see if they’ll give you dimensions for that part before you buy it. Keep in mind that they probably won’t recommend it for the RAV 4, even if it fits.

Since you’re building a Toyota RAV 4, we highly recommend you check out the rig built by Justin Fort for even more fun-sized action here on Off-Road.com:

Toyota Rav4 Crawling: Recapping our Build of the Trucklet 

Rav4 Crawler: New Tires and Wheels 

Rav4 Crawler: Trail Testing


Hello Off-Road.com,

I want to dress up my 1985 rocky, so I have few questions. I have one 1990 Hilux Ln106,I want put front and Rear axle to my rocky and I want use rocky original front and rear leaf to over axle to dress up, so the front and rear shift is use Hilux? How about the transmission gearbox use Hilux?  Finally, how about the steering system? I want to use Hilux steering is well but how about the steering box? because I don't know the Hilux steering box can fix to my rocky.

Can you give Hilux (ring and pinion ratio) and (transmission gear box) to me because I want to change 33' x12.5x 15 inch tire.


A fine example of a built Hyundai Rocky from Rockzilla @ Pirate4x4.com.

Hi PongPong5hk,

Sounds like an interesting Daihatsu Rocky build you're doing. The Hilux straight axles will give your Rocky a wider track, with more stability and options for axle upgrades down the road.  As for the stock drive shafts, they may work with some slight modification. I’m not 100% sure if the U-joints are the same size, so you may need to modify the axle yoke as well.  You should be able to run the existing transmission and transfer case, unless you want to run the Hilux drive train.

As for gear ratio in your Hilux axles, the best way to find out exactly what you have is to open up the differential and count the teeth on the ring and pinion.  Here is the formula. 

Ring Teeth / Pinion Teeth = Gear Ratio
e.g. 39/8 = 4.88

You can also try and decode the gear ratio.  According to BEERDOG from Australia, The Toyota Hilux has ID plates in the engine bay with the 'Axle' code originally fitted to the vehicle. As an example a RN25 Hilux manufactured during the 2/74 has the 'Axle' code "G142". The letter "G" signifies it has a "G" series differential and therefore an 8" diametre crownwheel (aka Ring). The next two digits, "14", nominate the ratio, which according the ratio table below is 4.875:1.  The last digit, "2", is for the type of center, in this case 2 Pinion & Open centre as per the center table below.

Code Ratio Code Ratio Code Ratio Code Ratio
01 3.300 13 4.790 25 4.556 37 3.583
02 3.360 14 4.875 26 5.571 38 3.417
03 3.545 15 5.125 27 3.364 39 3.154
04 3.556 16 5.286 28 4.300 40 5.375
05 3.700 17 5.600 29 4.100 41 3.308
06 3.889 18 5.714 30 3.727
07 3.900 19 5.833 31 3.909
08 4.110 20 6.167 32 6.591 or 4.807
09 4.222 21 6.667 33 7.503 or 5.583
10 4.375 22 6.780 34 6.781 or 4.786
11 4.444 23 6.833 35 7.636 or 5.600
12 4.625 24 7.640 36 4.778

Type 2 is a two-pinion open diff, Type 3 is a two-pinion limited slip diff, Type 4 is a four-pinion open diff, Type 5 is four-pinion limited slip diff.

Good luck!



Hello Off-Road.com,

My name is Garrett and I have a 98 Z71 extended cab step side and I am getting 20x12 -44 off set Fuel lethals with 35 in firestone destination MT's and I only want my front end lifted so that my truck squats but I don’t know what I need to do like can I put a 3 in body lift just in the front? Or what is the best way or the best height that I need to lift my front end?

Garrett Pittenger

Hi Garrett,

You will need a 4-inch lift minimum to run 35-inch tires on a K1500 Z71 Chevy pickup (unless you don’t mind cutting up sheet metal on fenders and quarter panels).  Since your truck utilizes a torsion bar front suspension system, you should be able to crank them up so the nose sits higher that the back.  Also, instead of running a 2-inch block in the rear, you could opt for a 1-inch block instead to make your nose sit higher without much adjustment to the torsion keys.  If you crank the torsion bars too high, the truck will hop around like a pogo stick and have very stiff suspension.

Good luck.


My family camps and quads around north of Silverton every year, and we always had to pack a week's worth of equipment because we couldn't get back to Silverton without taking down the camper. This quad and Razor law is perfect.

Timothy Johnson

Letter sparked by
Off-Highway Vehicle Access to Silverton Sets OHV-Friendly Standard 

Hey Timothy,

Glad to hear you’re out quad ridding and camping in the San Juans. It sure is amazing country our there with miles of trails to explore. 

If you thought Silverton was great before, its about to get even awesomer!

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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