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Improving capability of 2wd Hardbody?

Discussion in 'Transportation' started by Donald Devall, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. Donald Devall

    Donald Devall Tracker

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    Though I've spent my whole life doing things that would warrant a 4x4, I've never owned one. All the factors have just never lined up. Finding an affordable, aftermarket supported, older 4x4 that isn't falling to pieces has just never lined out for me. Yet somehow I've only gotten myself hopelessly stuck with my 2wheelers 2 or 3 times, I just have to avoid the big holes made by the locals with their 500 hp F-whatever's.

    I currently drive a 1997 Nissan pickup, extra cab, 2.4 liter, auto trans. I was thinking that for my relatively minor off-roading, I could do a few things to help the little scooter out.

    A small (2 inch or so) suspension lift, and bigger/wider off-road tires, as well as a simple bumper and smallish winch are all easy.

    Where I'm having trouble is the rear end. Lower gearing and an LSD or some sort of locker would be almost a must. This thing is geared pretty high. Great for highway, bad for everything else. Any ideas?

    I know this is a pretty specialized series of questions, but I figured it was worth a shot if we have any off-roaders here that are familiar with such things. Thanks!!
     
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  2. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Supporter Bushclass I

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    My Wrangler has open diffs, so 2 wheels will spin under power even when 4 wheel is engaged. Locking would get you one solution but think of all the places you have gone just driving smarter. I must use 4 wheel drive for regular road driving 5-6 times a year in the snow where I live. I have gotten into places I have no business going because of 4 wheel drive.
    Getting a decent education on vehicle self-recovery will go much further with using what you have. A shovel, chalk blocks, bottle jack, tow straps and pre-set tow points on your vehicle will go a long way of getting yourself out.
    Here is a cheap solution for winching with out spending much money.
     
  3. colter

    colter Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    On the cheap you could get it lincoln locked. Otherwise Id recommend an aussie, spartan or lockrite in the rear. All the same thing, known as a lunchbox locker. You can install it yourself. Id go to eastcoastgearsupply.com Also, instead of a lift, have you considered just taking a sawzall and opening up the fenders some for clearance for bigger tires? Judging by the 92 i have in my yard, you could probably take about 3"s out.

    Maybe put a frame mounted receiver hitch up front and get a multi mount winch.
     
  4. Horseman

    Horseman Tracker

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    I dont know what terrain you frequent, but before undergoing the work and expense of swapping out the rear, I would try tire chains. They will get you through a lot. Add a winch,sling,jack and short plank you should be able to overcome almost any poor off road decisions.
     
  5. Donald Devall

    Donald Devall Tracker

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    Hmm. I may actually just start to learn about self recovery and such. Heck of a skill to have. And most folks don't have it.

    It looks like In order to actually get the rear end locked and geared usefully, would be a colossal pain in the tookus.

    Chains are also an Idea I like. Thanks guys!!
     
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  6. BFH

    BFH Tracker

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    Why not just sell it and buy a pathfinder? They are dirt cheap around here. I got mine for $1300.

    That said. You could crank the torsion bars up front, pull a V6 SE rear end out of a junkyard with the spring over leafsprings. Some of them came with LSD. I'm not sure everything you would need but I would think it would be cheaper to just sell it and buy a 4wd.
     
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  7. marbleman

    marbleman Supporter Supporter

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    @Donald Devall Assuming you have shop and tools, there are many improvements possible. Or, keep looking?
    In Midwest USA, I found a '93 Toyota T-100 4x4 for $3k. It needed about $500 of touchup normal wear and tear repairs , but seems to be good for the last few years.

    18mpg, with a little weight in the back, it won't get stuck unless I am being stupid.
     
  8. Tanner68

    Tanner68 Scout

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    Get an air compressor that hooks up to the car battery. Can be had for around $50. Makes airing up and down convenient. Airing down can really save you when you are stuck, or keep you from getting stuck in the first place.

    Little cheap air compressors work, but are slow and overheat.
     
  9. Horseman

    Horseman Tracker

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    With an air compressor you can also jack the truck with an air bag. Faster than a mechanical jack and you dont have to dig out as much to get it under the truck. I did a lot of farm work back in the 70s and 80s The folks I knew were not going to spend the extra money for fourwheel drive.
     
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  10. atlastrekker

    atlastrekker Salty Sea Dog Supporter Bushclass I

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    My vote is to save your money, and in the mean time use what you have and enjoy what you can with it. Once you've saved for a while, buy something else more fitting.
     
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  11. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    i'd not go wider on the tires; they tend to just float on top of the sandy clay we have down here and spin, instead of getting down and getting grip. i used to go some ridiculous places in a little ford ranger and the mazda copy with some weight in the bed over the rear axle held in place by a cobbled up 2x4 frame. now you might level up your truck, install heavier duty shocks, and raise it just a bit for taller tires but make sure the front end is aligned after you get done. i've always liked the looks of the tacoma pre-runner; you could go for same with your nissan. get a nice high-lift jack, 100 feet of quality strap, and learn to use the jack as a winch ...
     
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  12. Birdman

    Birdman Guide

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    87-95 v6 4x4 pick-ups and pathfinders have lsd rear ends. I'd swap that rear end in, and get decent tires.
    Beyond that, i wouldnt throw a bunch of money at it. You're better off with a 4wd when the going gets really tough.
     
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  13. americanstrat98

    americanstrat98 Supporter Supporter

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    I have contemplated putting a winch on my Toyota many times, but in the end it's still stock. It would be nice to have a locking diff just for snow, or boat ramps. These days I stay out of the gnarly stuff, and don't go into the mountains unless it's thawed out. I have more reasons in my life to not have a lifted truck than I do to support it. Every time I see a pristine condition 4x4 roll past me with a lift, I smile and am thankful of my decision to keep it stock. Self recovery, a tire pump, and a come-a-long are my best friends. Also keep an E-tool in the truck for such situations. I have not been stuck in the last 6 years that I've owned it.

    I had a 4x4 89' Toyota and got it stuck 3 times, blew one motor, and drowned another. So there's that (not claiming to be too smart). As mentioned before I find that I stay out of bad situations now that I'm in a 2wd and have suffered no ill will because of it.

    I remember two years ago I rented a Ford Focus and traveled to the top of James Peak lake trail in Colorado. When I got to the top there was a crew of off-roaders up there with their $40k 4x4's with lifts and a broken down Jeep Cherokee( the big V8 model, looked cool as hell). They were a bit struck with me, and just couldn't believe it. Going slow will get you through about 90% of bad situations, and for the other 10% I don't believe any amount of lift or luck could get you free. That's what shovels and friends are for.
     
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  14. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Instead of a suspension lift get a simple 2" body lift kit (easy and cheap), and a locker. Though "clunkier" in operation lacking the smoothness of a limited slip diff I prefer the shear ruggedness of a locker over a LSP with no clutches to burn out.
    When I was in high school in the mid 1970s there was no such thing as a 4x4 mini-truck yet. I owned a '73 Datsun Pickup with 1.6 liter SOHC engine that I believe screamed out 97hp. For driving offroad I just got knobbier mud/snow tires and relied on driving skills picking the right track and developing momentum when needed. I took that truck places that even mazes me that I'd be crazy enough to try, and succeed. My VW van actually drove even better offroad like a stretched dune buggy. That was my surf mobile no problem driving that van over soft sand.
     
  15. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Supporter Supporter

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    I say keep it and use as you have been doing. Best off road woods vehicle I ever had and the 3 4wd since was a 68 VW Bug I bought in 73 and ran off road, dry stream beds, jeep trails and no trails in the Maine North woods until 84. Solid pan bottom and with a spruce lever pole and/or hand come along never had a problem getting unstuck the few times I did in mud ruts or hung up on rocks, tree stumps, tipping over ect.. I always carried a small hatchet, small Swedish aluminum frame buck saw and hank of rope in the front luggage compartment for pole cutting. Wish VW still made those today for sale in the U.S.
     
  16. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    I do a LOT of off-road driving in my FJ Cruiser in Colorado and have made it up, over, and down things I never would have dreamed I could do. I very rarely use 4Lo or my front or rear lockers.

    I use 4Hi a lot, any time I am off pavement. When you hit bumps and washboarding, 2WD with the rear wheels powered will push you into the bump, making it more bumpy. In 4WD your front tires will pull you over the bumps which makes them much more smooth to drive on.
     
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  17. colter

    colter Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Aint no replacement for displacement either.
     
  18. Lichen

    Lichen Supporter Supporter

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    In my old 2WD Toyota, I put an add-a-leaf and a lunchbox locker in the rear. I only got it stuck really bad one time in 14 years. Now I drive a FJC and it will go almost anywhere a Jeep can.
     
  19. 1773

    1773 Guide

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    I am with the crowd that says leave it alone, often by the time you sink the money into mods to make the vehicle "more capable" you have more invested in it than what a 4WD would cost. If you are patient deals can be had on them, last generation F150 4X4s can be had relatively inexpensively and are solid trucks plus they get as good of mileage as the 4wd Toyotas and Nissans. If you can find a short bed, single cab they are really nice in the woods. I currently have a 95 Toyota Tacoma that I bought used 10 years ago for 3500 dollars and have put 100,000 miles on it since then, a lot of them woods miles so I guess I have gotten a pretty good return on my investment.
     
  20. drobs

    drobs Scout

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    Had a 2004 extended cab auto Nissan Frontier 2wd. Truck was a dog. No recovery points. Got stuck in snow and thought to myself - what was I thinking buying a 2wd pickup.

    Traded it in 2007 for my current Nissan Frontier 4x4. Won't be without a 4x4 ever again.

    [​IMG]

    If you live in snow country - I'd recommend looking on Craigslist for a spare factory set of rims and getting dedicated snow tires for the winter. I carry snow chains, recovery straps, and a come along in my truck + other survival gear to include a 5 gal Jerry Can with Spout.
     
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