I have an ’89 Toyota 4x4 pickup that is my daily driver and my toy. I’m looking into purchasing a locker for that extra traction, as the limited slip just doesn’t seem to be enough at times. I can only afford to do one axle at a time. Would it be better to put the first one in the front or the rear? And what type of locker would you recommend for a daily driver?
No matter if it’s a dedicated trail rig or daily driver, in my experience locking the rear axle first will practically always net you the most off-road performance gains. Sure, a front locker makes pulling the front end over obstacles much easier, but once the front end is over, your rear will be a one-wheel wonder trying to heave the rest of the pickup over. A front locker will also put more stress on the front-end components and steering. And since your ’89 pickup is equipped with the factory independent front suspension and solid-rear axle, we’d opt for spending money on the stronger and more reliable rear.
Dropping a locker into the rear axle of your truck will be a much easier and cost-effective upgrade. Also, when engaged off-road, a rear locker doesn’t harm your steering or handling as much as a front locker does.
As for a choosing the best locker for a daily driver, selectable lockers such as the ARB Air Locker (www.arbusa.com), OX-Locker (www.ox-usa.com), or Auburn Gear Ected (www.auburngear.com) are all sound options.
While there are various types of selectable lockers, each is designed to give you the best of both worlds. When a locker is set to open, most act like a standard open differential, though some work similarly to a limited slip. When engaged, the units lock 100 percent and allow zero differentiation in axle speed between the shafts. When unlocked, this equates to better on-road handling with less tire and equipment wear over a full-time or automatic locker.
Nuts, I’m Confused
I have an ’02 Nissan Frontier 4x4, and I’d like to start competing in mud bogs and hole-and-hill races. Should I sell my Nissan and buy an older truck or build the Nissan? I don’t want to run over 35s on whatever I decide to build. The main thing is I’m on a budget and will be doing all of the work myself. Any help is appreciated.
Growing up in the South I always loved going to the local hole-and-hill and mud bog races. Over the years I have seen everything from $300 clamped-out beaters to $100K tube buggies race through the mud. Without question my favorite class has been the street guys. Your Nissan Frontier is a great pickup, and the aftermarket support isn’t too shabby. The independent front suspension can make it a little more costly and challenging to build, but with a little time, research, and tools you can build it up in your driveway without breaking the bank.
Body lifts, cutout fenders, and a good set of mud terrains are commonplace in the street class. While body lifts won’t do anything to improve your suspension travel, a mild 2- to 3-inch body lift will give you more room for some bigger cleats, and they’re a good bit cheaper than most complete suspension lifts.
Another popular upgrade for the Nissan is swapping in the 1⁄4-ton running gear from a Nissan Titan. This conversion will be a bit more involved, but many of the parts required can be found on the cheap at wrecking yards across the nation.
As for the older fullsize truck option, they are great for bogging as well. Classic fullsize picks are generally simple to work on and can be lifted on the cheap, and most have solid front and rear axles. One of the drawbacks for fullsize truck mud running is that most are pretty heavy. When you’re wheeling in the mud, light is might. The lighter your rig is, the easier and faster it will skim through the muck.
Just remember: Where there is mud there is usually water, so keeping your daily driver and mud racer one in the same will require plenty of cleaning and routine servicing and greasing.
Since your questions brings back so many great mudding memories I’m choosing your letter as our Nuts, I’m Confused letter of the month. You’ll receive a $200 gift certificate from Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts, a company that has been building driveshafts for mud runners and rockcrawlers for years and has a variety of constant-velocity, long-travel, and high-angle drivelines to pick from. Now when your mud runner needs a heavy-duty shaft upgrade you’ll be ready. To find out more about Tom’s drivelines, visit www.4xshaft.com.
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