4x4Wire

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General information about the various mods available to 4x4 vehicles covering pros and cons to assist in the decision of "Is this the right mod?"

John Stewart

A Crescent Wrench and a Creeper: Tips for Maintenance of an Off Road Rig

When it comes to 4x4’s, (Jeeps, trucks, toys, buggies, etc.), it’s as simple as a crescent wrench and a creeper. It may sound a bit simplistic, but it’s about getting under the rig and touching and checking for lose, broken, about to break or leaking stuff! Find it before it’s a problem. For side by sides, ATV’s, snowmobiles, etc., it’s more about the touching and looking, but the idea is the same.

Use a simple large Crescent wrench to check all important nuts. If they appear to be loose, use the Crescent or get out the right tool; but get it tight! If something is supposed to be torqued to specs, use a torque wrench and do it right. The handle of the Crescent can be used to pry and nudge things like long arm connections and Heim/flex joints. If you have unusual movement, figure out why and fix it.

For smaller “toys” that you can’t get under, something as simple as cleaning and touching the parts and connections can help you find lose or worn parts. Be sure to look for welds about to give up the ghost also. I like to clean my toys to the point of ensuring I touch about everything important, or at least give it a good eye‐balling.

An online parts seller friend of mine, Mike Monahan, known as Parts Mike (http://www.partsmike.com) says that in his experience it is steering components that fail the most often on 4x4’s. “Stock steering linkage and parts are not engineered to withstand the stress of bigger build ups and tires,” says Parts Mike, “and the best solution is to buy the right stuff and improve what the factory gave you.”

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John Stewart

Do It Yourself U-joint Replacement

Painless Axle Shaft U-Joint Changing

Changing front axle shaft U-joints, what could be simpler? If you are asking that question you have obviously never dealt with severely rusted joints from an older street driven Jeep that's never been in 4wd and has an open knuckle front end. Many a Jeeper has discovered that newly acquired Jeep that has 'never been off-road' equals rusted front axle shaft U-joints that are thoroughly seized into the shafts as well.

The question of the easiest way to change those U-joints at home is a common one for the new owner of a vintage CJ5 or CJ7, so I'll give my explanation of the best way that I've see that doesn't involve expensive tools. I saw this done by Ken Niles of Ken's 4x4 and tried it myself after seeing how easy it was. I've tried a variety of other methods in the past including the 'hammer and sockets' method and using a 20-ton press, but over the last two years I'm convinced that the method I'm about to describe is the best for a home shop.

Read more of Do It Yourself U-joint Replacement on 4x4Wire Archives.

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Tommy Ponder

Winch Remote Extension

I did not want to purchase a wireless remote due to the fact that if the batteries die in it you're out of luck. I also did not want to buy an in-dash remote merely because of the price. What I decided to do was run into the local ACE Hardware and bought 15ft of the wire that has the three individual wires inside of the insulation (like extension cord wire) this cost me about $10.

I decided against merely buying an extension cord because I wanted it to look a little better so I got black wire to match. I was able to choose exactly how long I wanted it, and it was cheaper than buying an extension cord. I then cut my existing remote cord in half and spliced the three wires to the 15 ft section I bought at ACE.

Keep in mind, this method only works with the 3 pin remote plugs, I'm sure there is a way to do it with the 5 pin remotes, but I have a 3 pin. I also used shrink tubing to help secure the connections and I wrapped it up with electrical tape to no end. Good luck!

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John Stewart

Moving your lifted 4x4

If you call a legitimate auto shipping company and tell them your jeep or truck has been lifted/modified they should be asking you questions like: “How big is the lift kit?” and “What is the vehicle’s height at its tallest point” or “What size tires are the the jeep?”  Things like this are very important in the eyes of the trucker because the way the trailers are setup to move the vehicles.  Trailers are built with the idea of moving just standard cars/trucks/jeeps.  So when your truck has a 6” lift and 35 inch tires with a light rack on the top you could be adding upwards of a 12+ inches to the overall height of a standard truck.  This is key because that additional height is going to be eating the space of what kind of car can go in underneath it.  Generally throughout the U.S. our trailers can’t be over 13’ 6” from the ground, so when you are stacking two vehicles on top of each other and there is a lifted truck that makes a noticeable difference.  When you look at the space between the cars on trailers it is not much, there is an obvious safety margin but there aren’t feet to play with, more like inches.  So depending on the overall height of your vehicle you may end up paying for two spots on a trailer.  OR, the alternative is to go on a flat deck trailer (if the transport isn’t cross country), where you will pay a surcharge because we are hauling less cars at a time.

With the range of prices I received, how do I know who to use?

Pricing is relative in this industry to the reputation of the companies.  Sadly there are many auto transport companies who will tell you what you want to hear, give you a great quoted price in writing and tell you they can specifically meet your date requirements for transit.  However, they could also tell you they were a famous TV actor and you wouldn’t really believe that would you?  So we always advise people to review the companies they got quotes from on the Better Business Bureau website.  Whether they are members or not is not important.  What IS key is to see the number of years they have been in business and number of complaints.  Don’t be tricked by review websites as often the companies and employees themselves write the reviews about how they are the best auto shipping company ever.  While the review websites make an effort to avoid this, it is difficult to catch everyone.

Do your homework on each company and use who makes you feel the most comfortable.  Don’t ever prepay a deposit and 9 times out of 10 it will be a smooth transport for you.  Good luck.

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Margie Schwartz

Cheap Trick - Spark Plug Adapter Tool

My spark plug socket failed to allow me to retrieve my old spark plug, which I wound up recovering with a magnetic retrieval tool. This was fine, but what about reinstalling my new plugs way “down thar”? Few of us have the fancy T-tool also used for spark plugs, so I came up with this cheap trick.

Using one of your old spark plug wires, cut the cord off near the head of the hex-shaped end of the probe. After gapping and lubing the spark plug threads with anti-seize compound, insert the plug in the end of the probe, and start threading the plug by hand back into the head. After tightening as much as you can by hand, use your spark plug socket to finish tightening the new plug and install your wire.

When pulling plugs, first loosen the spark plug with the socket, then use the old probe to grasp the top of the plug and remove it. The space where the spark plugs are mounted are tight enough to fish around until you feel the probe seat on the plug. Installing new plugs this way also allows you to feel the plug being threaded, and likely will minimize the chance of cross-threading a plug in the future.

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