Jeffrey Bowstead – Tootgarook, VIC
"My name is Jeff and I live with my family in Tootgarook. I have a 1991 Nissan Patrol and have been 4WDing for 6 years. I love driving the hard stuff in mud, and hill climbs. I have a 5in lift with 35in Cooper STTs. In the future I would like to put a winch, dual-batteries, lockers and lights on the Patrol, but due to limited funds it will be a long time before that happens.
As I am driving, my 4WD sometimes pull to the left, and when I put my brakes on, it pulls right badly. What do you think it could be?"
"Now, Jeff was actually featured on one of the 4WD Action DVDs and I went down to have a look at his Patrol. I’m relaying this information here because it may well affect other people. We first checked tie-rod ends – you’d feel them and they weren’t loose, but put them under strain and they’d really move. We put a complete new tie-rod on the vehicle, with new ends. The castor was also totally out- we put the correct castor bushes in the vehicle. We also got him to do a tyre rotation and balance, and we’ll talk more about that soon, but the tyres were wearing unevenly and caused a lot of trouble. He wrote back to us after all that and told us that it was like a different vehicle, and now drive well.
They’re fairly obvious problems, and those fixes certainly worked for Jeffrey and his Nissan!"
Jason from Guildford West, NSW asked:
“Hi, I have a 1994 dual-cab HiLux 4WD 2.8D. She has a 2in suspension life, ARB winch bar, 33in STTs, dual batteries, ARB air compressor, Engel fridge, two driving lights, four roof lights, exhaust system, snorkel, UHF radio and a few other home-made accessories. I have been 4WDing for 5 years now. I would like to tour around Australia and see what this great country has to offer. I have removed the rear seats and made a false floor to hold the fridge and other tools and accessories, and I am also in the process of making a set of drawers for the ute body.
This is the problem I am having at the moment; the two front tyres keep wearing on the inside only, and I have 2° of negative camber on the front. I have taken it to get a wheel alignment and they fixed the problem, but the tyres still wear on the inside. The axle seals keep leaking; I replaced the deals last week and they are already leaking again. Also, the front sags lower then the back and the leaf packs keep going straight. I don’t know what to do!”
“Jason, if they were Terrain Tamer springs that were sagging, I’d be horrified! If you were in Victoria and could drop down to see me, I would certainly have a look at the suspension. With the front end issues, I’d suggest that the diff housing is bent. If you pull the diff centre out which would then allow the axles to come out, you can actually look through the middle of it and measure to check whether it’s bent. There are a couple of companies around who know how to straighten diff housings, and can run some checks on yours.
They are the things I’d look for, but it doesn’t look good at the moment.”
Peter Hepworth, Wheelers Hill VIC
“G’day, I’ve got a Prado set up for touring and fishing. I’ve had 4WDs on and off since I was 20 years of age. I did the round Australia trip in 1974 over 18 months in a Nissan three-speed-soft-top. I’d like to travel more in the Outback remote desert areas.
The Prado is set up with bulbar, Superwinch, Hella driving lights, Brown Davis under-body guard [a lifesaver for Prado], roof rack, Foxwing, rear park sensors, ARB snorkel, drawer system and cargo barrier modified for fly fishing rods, a home-made water system, an auxiliary battery for the Engel fridge, a GME UHF, turbo timer and brake controller.
My problem is that my average fuel economy has increased from around 11.5L/100km, to 14.5L/100km. Prior to the desert trip, if I removed the roof rack and used Bridgestone 684 tyres, the fuel economy reduced to under 11L/100km. I set the vehicle up for a Simpson desert trip, by adding a winch and under-body sump guard, and during and since the trip I’ve averaged that 14.5L/100km. Any ideas?”
"Peter, you’ve got to understand that injectors are basically worn out by the time they’ve done 100,000km. They’ve pulsed millions of times in that period, and they must be worn. It’d pay to think carefully about them, and maybe pull them out to get them checked. I think you should be running the Flashlube diesel conditioner all the time in your vehicle; it will certainly help economy and emissions. Some people reckon it’s almost like an extra gear to them and certainly an economical way of taking care of your engine.
I’d put the vehicle across a weighbridge to tare it - you’ll get some idea of what the weight is now. You should definitely make sure the vehicle starts okay – one of the good indications of the general health of a diesel engine is whether it starts easily. I’d be inclined to look at the tyres you’re running; oversized tyres can chew up to an extra 1.5L/100km simply because of the extra drag created. They’re certainly something else worth considering. Hope that helps Pete."