Lifting Your Truck?

Lifting Your Truck?

Purchasing a new or used truck is exciting. I bet you can already see yourself personalizing it to suit your needs. Believe me, when I tell you, the truck might be the cheap part.

I have seen over the years people spend upwards of $25,000 or more on customization. One of the more popular things to do these days is installing a suspension lift along with larger tires and wheels. Installing a suspension lift requires some hard work, along with some mechanical experience.

If you’re going to tackle this yourself, here are a few things you should know.

Installation:

Many manufacturers offer manuals for installing lift kits onto certain vehicles; however, some setups are quite intricate, requiring some welding or cutting to add some necessary components. In this case, having a mechanic or a few knowledgeable friends around will help make the job go smoother.

Additional Modifications: 

Upgrading to taller tires also means that some components may require part upgrades or some tuning to compensate. For instance, a truck’s engine is tuned at specific gear ratios to propel the vehicle. When adding taller tires, the gear ratios must be changed accordingly, since the engine has to spin significantly more weight with the new tires. You will also be required to purchase a speedometer re-calibration tool, so you have an accurate reading. Again, consult with more experienced individuals for further insight.

Highway Driving:

Larger, wider tires can sometimes result in instability on roads or a noisy, uncomfortable ride, particularly at high speeds. Also, more aggressive off-road tires tend to wear faster on the highway and traction might not be as great as you would expect on wet roads. 

Weight:

Larger tires are more substantial, which can put a lot of strain on your suspension, particularly if it is a stock suspension. Trusted, durable suspension components and lighter aluminum wheels can sometimes help to reduce the stress.

A Few Useful Accessories: Before installing a lift kit, it’s a good idea first to examine if any components will be affected by your vehicle’s new height.

Here are a few useful accessories that may need upgrading:

  • Brakes
    • Stock brakes do not always accommodate larger tires and will wear quickly due to the added strain.
  • Drivetrain and Differential
    • Axles, gears, differential covers, lockers and more ensure that your drivetrain is up to par with your suspension.
  • Replacement Parts
    • Longer Control Arms and Track Bars to compensate for the additional height of your truck.
  • Shocks
    • For those taller lifts, longer shocks will ensure the smoothest performance both on and off the road.
  • Other Parts
    • Steering linkage, slip yoke, driveshaft length, u-joint angle, and brake lines are all worthy of consideration before installing suspension lift kits.

Search the internet. There are many sites which offer complete instructions on various suspension lifts. You can download a copy before you make the purchase, and know exactly what type of work will be involved.

All images are thanks to BDS Suspension, which can be found in Canada through
Action Car and Truck Accessories

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Advice

Winter Backroad Safety – Advice

Winter Backroad Safety – Advice

The snow is starting to accumulate in the mountains and although its early in the fall season for us at sea level, it will start to look like the middle of winter up in the mountains. If you are heading out on a winter excursion whether it’s to go camping, fishing, backcountry skiing, or any other outdoor activity there are certain precautions you should take.

Give some serious thought about what you would do if a major breakdown occurred, roads and highways get closed or you become plain stuck. Ask yourself if you are prepared for situations where you may be waiting potentially hours on end for things to clear up or for help to arrive. With temperatures dropping below zero, this could lead to a life-threatening situation, and you should never go it alone on a remote, seldom used trail.

This is one of the reasons 4×4 clubs are popular. Even if you do not choose to join a club, trail ride events are scheduled most times of the year and everywhere in the province. There is security here, with all kinds of help if you have any problems. It is also the best way to gain off highway experience.

If you do choose to go off alone, always give yourself an out, and do not go further than you can walk out to find help or shelter. Carry food, water and winter survival equipment in case you must spend the night with a broken-down vehicle. Be prepared for an accident with first aid supplies and training on how to deal with injuries. Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.

There are lots of things that can cause mechanical failures off-road. If you drive your vehicle regularly these things should show up when and where it is easier to deal with them, than it is out in the bush. Every situation is different, so it would be impossible to list every possible cause and repair procedure for a breakdown.

Here are two of the most common types:

  • Getting a flat tire is by far the most common type of breakdown. Always carry a good full-sized spare tire. You might want to pack a plug kit, but most of the tire problems I have seen are either not reparable, or simply a lost bead. One of the first essential items everyone that goes off road needs to get is a good air compressor. Airing down to gain better traction is only outweighed by the increased ride quality. This will increase the odds of a lost tire bead, however. Make sure your jack is in good working order, and if you carry a High Lift Jack on the outside of your vehicle, check and oil it often. Another handy item for tire work is a nylon winch hold down strap. These can be put around the center of the tread and tightened to re-seat the bead.
  • The second is breakage due to over-working your vehicle. The weakest link in the drive train seems to be the U-joints. If you break a U-joint there is a good probability that you will damage the yoke as well. This usually is not a trailside Just remember that you are driving a four-wheel drive vehicle and you can most often get home with either the front or rear driveshaft disconnected. You will need to remove the drive shaft with the broken U-joint so that further damage is not done, then drive out in two-wheel drive. If this is a front axle steering knuckle U-joint, the half shaft will need to be removed and a rag stuffed into the end of the open axle housing.

Always remember if you pack it in then pack it out. The outdoors is not a land fill. These remote areas of our Province are pristine, so let’s keep it that way so future generations can enjoy it.

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Off-Roading Tires – Advice

Off-Roading Tires – Advice

Off-road driving is fun activity many people enjoy. Driving down a gravel road to get to your favorite fishing hole or a day out with your family brings lots of wholesome outdoor enjoyment.

Getting there requires the proper gear, starting with the most important part, tires. Rocks, potholes, and rough terrain will require your vehicle to need a different type of tire to safely and efficiently make it from point A to B.   The main function of any tire is to provide traction, and having good traction tires will help off-roaders get to where they need to go without getting stuck.

When looking to purchase a set of off-road/on-road tires there are a few things to consider. Cheap tires are not necessarily the best option. You get what you pay for definitely applies here. Some things to consider are high mileage tires and tread wear ratings. Aggressive deep treads like those found on mud tires tend to wear a lot quicker than an all-terrain tire. Another important thing to consider is tire size. You can contact the manufacturer or check tire charts that give you a variety of sizes to fit your vehicle. The height of your sidewall is important and should be chosen based on the conditions where you drive your truck most often. If you only drive on the street then a low-profile truck tire will be fine, but if you go off-roading then you are going to want more tire in between your rim and the ground. That way you will not bottom out on the rims when the tires encounter rough terrain off-road.

The size of the rim is a personal preference. Popular today is the larger sized rims, with many from the factory floor trucks coming equipped with 17,18 and even 20” Rims. Just make sure that the rim and truck tire you choose will fit inside the wheel well of the truck, and don’t forget to upgrade your brakes to help stop this increase in weight.  The wheel rim width varies from truck to truck. It can be custom made to suit both on and off-road driving conditions. The wheel rim width is rounded off to the nearest half inch of the tire. Usually, the best choice is to have the rim width at about 90% of the tread width of the tire. Adequate air pressure is important for a good tire life, handling, and traction. Look through your truck’s owner’s manual, on the sticker inside the driver’s door, or look on the tire itself to find the correct air pressure that you need to maintain them. 

Seasonal changes can affect the air pressure of the tires. Cold temperatures are responsible for dropping the air pressure of the tires, and warm temperatures are responsible for increasing the air pressure. A 10% swing in the temperatures causes a 1lb. change in the air pressure. Sudden changes in temperature are a good time to check the pressure of the tires.  You can reduce the wear and tear of the truck’s tires by rotating them often. Rotating the tires keeps the tread wear balanced and can really help out when slippery and wet conditions occur. A simple rule about rotating your tires is to do it on every other oil change. Doing this consistent basis, will make the tires last longer and allow a comfortable ride for many, many Kilometers.

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Advice

Importance of a Winch

Importance of a Winch

There has been very few times that I have gone four wheeling and not run into a situation where a winch is required. Sometimes it may be our group, and sometimes it is someone who is not as prepared to get stuck as they should be. It can be an important tool is safely plucking a vehicle from an impossible situation, or righting a truck after a rollover. A winch can also be used to clear properties of logs or rocks. A winch is an important tool, and if you travel the back-roads of British Columbia, you should never be without one.

There are a few things to know before you operate your winch for the first time. What appears to be a simple operation can quickly turn dangerous if basic safe winching practices are not used. Most winches are equipped with a varying length of wire rope, and the length of the rope is determined by the winches load capacity. The wire rope should regularly be inspected to ensure that it has not become crushed, pinched, frayed, or kinked at any point. Should the rope be damaged, it should be replaced before use to avoid injury. All winch owners should have a winch accessory kit to properly and safely recover a vehicle. The average kit includes a 3-meter choker chain, a clevis, snatch block, 5-centimeter tree trunk protector, gloves, and a carrying case. Price is $250 to $375 depending on the manufacturer.

Most winches are offered with a winch hook strap to ensure that operators do not put hands and fingers in harm’s way. Always wear gloves when operating a winch or handling wire rope.  A single line pull is one of the most basic winching operations. It involves rigging the wire rope to a stable anchoring point and spooling it in to pull the vehicle toward the anchor point. This type of pull can also be used to extract a truck without a winch; the winch equipped truck becomes the anchor point and the stuck vehicle is pulled toward it. It is a good idea to throw a jacket or blanket over the wire rope midway between the winch and the anchor point. This will prevent the cable from whipping back to the truck in the event of breakage. A tree can serve as an excellent anchor point, but never attempt to wrap a wire rope or chain around it. In addition to being extremely dangerous, this improper winching practice can damage or kill the tree. Use a tree saver strap, along with a clevis.

When a truck is stuck, more winching power can be achieved through a double line pull. To do so, un-spool a length of a line from the drum and thread it through a snatch block. The cable’s hook can then be fastened to an anchor point on the trucks frame or tow hook, and the snatch block will secure to an anchor point toward the direction of the pull. This method decreases the number of layers of wire rope on the drum and greatly increases pulling power. A snatch block can also be used to change the direction of the pull, without the wire rope collecting on one side of the drum. If you have followed the basic principle of four-wheeling and brought a buddy or a second vehicle, then chances are you will have some assistance in the recovery. Sometimes all a stuck vehicle needs is a little motivation. In those instances, a quality recovery strap ($53) will work fine. Knowing how to operate a winch correctly is as important as knowing how to drive the 4×4 it is mounted to. Misuse can result in injury or even death, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your winch before reaching a situation where you need to use it.

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Ford Raptor Aftermarket Bumper

Choosing a Bumper

Choosing a Bumper

Ford Raptor Aftermarket Bumper

There are a lot of choices when it comes to aftermarket bumpers, and a lot depends on the make and model of your vehicle. Most pickup truck owners start looking for a replacement bumper because they require more lights to see or a winch to pull themselves out if they get stuck. With today’s technology, LED lights are all the rage, and when it comes to off-road lighting, you need the latest bumpers to provide protected mounting points. The new Dee Zee by Kelderman front and rear bumpers offer built-in mounts to fit a variety of LED lights. The front bumper also has a center slot to accommodate a 22” light bar and heavy-duty shackles to work with a tow strap. The optional winch plate can be used for up to a 16,500lb winch. The rear bumpers have two notches cut out to provide a step on each corner to help bed access.  These bumpers are extreme duty and would look good on any new truck.

N-fab is one of the leaders in cutting-edge design. These master fabricators create unique bumpers and tube products for your vehicle.  If you enjoy watching the desert race trucks compete and want that look for your own truck, then check out n-fab.com. They offer a variety of pre-runner front bumpers that are both functional and stylish. Enough space to mount most off-road lights and strong enough to protect against any brush you may encounter on the back roads. With a wide range of products and applications, they are sure to have the right fit for your vehicle.

Road Armor bumpers are armor for your truck. There are some unique differences between these bumpers.  Providing areas for light bars but moving the lights in the bumper a little further back giving a bit more protection while allowing the light to still function.  The full grill guard is beefy and gives a truck an aggressive look. Anchor points for shackles and an area for winch fitment are standard. A new take on the Texas style full bumper called Vaquero is a true cowboy look.

Iron Cross bumpers are designed to contour the space previously occupied by your original bumper. They are shaped very well and fit very nice leaving little gaps as possible. Slot provided for a hawse fairlead or a roller fairlead and mounting plate to fit up to a 16,500lb winch. The logo is cut into the bumper using a CNC machine for a clean look; this also provides airflow while driving. Matching HD rear bumpers are also available.

Smittybilt have been building bumpers since the late 70’s, and if you are a Jeep JK owner, you probably have seen one or two around your neighborhood. There are endless designs available for Jeeps. You can choose from simple winch mounts or more complicated rock crawling bumpers. The XRC bumper features a winch mount with a raised light bar. The bumper is designed to give you maximum clearance with improved approach angles for four wheeling. Two shackle mounts provide a strong anchor point to pull or drag your Jeep from most sticky situations.  

Driving up to the cabin or working on your own farm usually means encountering something along the way that you may not normally see but can jump up and smash that expensive grill or worst poke a hole through your radiator. Steelcraft has a bumper that will keep you protected. This bumper features a full grill guard that has mesh in the center and wrap around headlight protectors. The lower portion of this bumper is a bulletproof, schedule 40 pipe, contoured steel bumper that has light provisions, front receiver mount that will accept a portable winch and can mow down just about anything that comes in your way.

Check them out at http://www.steelcraftautomotive.com.

There are no right or wrong choices when it comes to choosing a bumper. Looking through magazines or using the internet is a good starting point. Find something that suits your needs and appeals to you. Make your truck your own and customize it the way you want to.

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