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Old 02-24-2009, 01:37 PM   #15
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Limited slip axle - must have?

Greetings CB!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cbgenrich View Post
Reasons *not* to get 4x4 (I lean towards 4x2 but postings here have me thinking):

1) Degraded fuel economy (even if only because of the extra weight)
2) Initial cost higher
3) Tow & payload limits reduced (due to extra weight)
4) More maintenance issues
5) Vehicle higher off the ground

If not for these, everybody would always get 4x4? Did I miss any reasons why you wouldn't want 4x4?

-CB-
I have had 4x4 tow vehicles since 1995, and have only used it on three ocassions, and on two of them, it would have been eintirely possible to handle the situation with a posi-track differential. Both my '95 Chevrolet K1500 Z71 pickup and my '99 Suburban have had different but expensive and continuing transfer case issues. My Suburban was purchased new and now has 200,000 miles and in that time, the $750.00 electronic transfer case control module has had to be replaced 11 times by two different GM dealerships. My '95 had the manual shift transfer case, but it was just as problematic as it always would stick in 4x4 and it would have to be take to a dealer to have the vehicle returend to 2-Hi (this vehicle was also purchased new by me). Today, I have adopted a policy of ignoring the 4x4 -- I won't chance shifing into 4x4 as I know if I do it will be sutck in 4x4 until I spring for another of the replacement modules -- at least as it is, when the current modules fails, the truck will be stuck in 2-Hi.

Good luck with your decision!

Kevin
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:55 PM   #16
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There are some good points here. Final drive ratio is more important the rear differential gearing. Modern five and six speed transmissions have influenced rear end designs. For the Titan, one of the best aftermarket additions is the TrueTrac.
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:09 PM   #17
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CB, you've summed it up well the 5 issues regarding 4WD. However, it also depends on the vehicle. I have had 6 Toyotas and have never had any problems with the 4WD. All these vehicles have plowed through anything and there have been no serious skids or worse. Good M/S tires are also a big part of it and duals can't hurt as a substitute for 4WD. Incidentally, some SUV's and pickups do not come with M/S tires anymore. 4WD with an all season tire negates a lot of the reason for 4WD. A friend got the cheapest Toyota Tacoma with 4WD, but it has all season tires. He slid off my driveway and I had to drag him out with my M/S tires.

Thinking back to earlier vehicles with 4WD: 1978 Subaru, 2 Isuzu Troopers (on the 1986 one it didn't work, fixed under warranty; 1995 fine), 1990 Nissan pickup, 1972 Jeep (piece of junk in every way), mid '70's International pickup (another piece of junk, though 4WD worked fine), pretty much low maintenance, especially with newer ones. Maintenance is an issue with some, but not all manufacturers, and is much better than it once was.

Weight is a few hundred pounds and may or may not be important depending on how much payload you need; gas mileage difference depends on individual vehicles and on some, is minor. It does cost more, but resale is better unless you live in south Florida. The vehicle will be higher off the ground, though that difference is less than it used to be. It's easier to get underneath and fix things, but there may be some loss in safety because of higher center of gravity. But, different vehicles are more or less stable because of many factors that go into engineering stability so height alone is not the whole story.

Another question is where you use it and how much will you tow in what seasons? Will you go north in the Fall, Winter or Spring? Will it snow in Georgia? Will you want to visit places on dirt (possibly muddy) roads? Will you boondock in a wet grassy field? You may think you won't go there, but will you change your mind? You may not want to tow in snow, but you may have to? You may leave the trailer at a campground and have to get to town in mud or snow. But you may only go to Key West and will stay off the sand at Daytona.

Making these decision requires much research and analysis. You're going about it methodically and are honest with yourself, so you'll probably make the appropriate decision for you. I know Toyota dealers can find a specific vehicle from many miles away on their computers, so don't settle on what's close. I imagine any dealer that sells anything can do the same. Especially now they are very eager to sell you anything you want.

Kevin, sorry to hear about your horrible experience with your 4WD. I'd be screaming so loud they'd hear me in Detroit if I had the same problem, but they've been somewhat deaf in Detroit for quite a while.

Gene
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:20 PM   #18
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My family has been in the logging business for decades in Montana. It was the 1970s before the family business bought its first 4WD. During the 50s and 60s, standard equipment including a come-along, a high-boy jack and tire chains. When it comes to inclement weather, I'll go with V-Bar Tire Chains over 4WD. They aren't cheap, but they do have some giddyup.

I wager 99 percent of the folks who own 4WD vehicles don't really need them. And more than a few folks haven't figured out that 4WD doesn't make you stop any faster. I keep a set of chain under the rear seat of the Titan. I've used them once in the past five years. And having them let's me run nice, smooth AS radials year around rather than the mud/snow tractor tires.
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Old 02-24-2009, 03:31 PM   #19
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Get 3.73 and limited slip. Duals are horrible with a open diff, now you have two wheel drive except both drive wheels are on the same side. Traction control will help if you drive in a zombie like state, but mostly it will just burn up your rear brakes. 4x4 is nice but not very nessicary,unless, you live in mountain-snow country,then it is handy. Five & six speed trans are nice but no substitute for a lower final drive. For all around driving & towing 3.73 is a good choice. For straight towing you would be hard pressed to beat 4.10 gears. Adios, John
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:07 PM   #20
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tire size

Don't forget to factor in the tire size for final drive ratio. A taller tire will lower the cruise rpm with a 3.73 where as a 3.55 may run nearly the same rpm with a shorter tire. My '86 suburban w/ 3.42 gear and 30 inch tires runs about the same rpm in high gear (not overdrive) as my old chevy truck w/ 4.10 gear and 35 inch tires. I also vote for limited slip with or without 4x4. Lockers work great in bad conditions but be careful on wet roads as you might find yourself sliding through a turn.

Mike
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:45 PM   #21
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I tow with an F-350 4x4 diesel with 4.10 axle ratio and an open differential.

In my opinion, the limited slip is almost a necessity. I've had my truck stuck in the mud twice already, and I'm convinced that a limited slip would have made a big difference. One of these times required a HUGE farm tractor to get it out, and probably would've been very expensive had I called a wrecker. If you get the limited slip, be prepared for the extra expense and be absolutely sure to change the oil on the prescribed intervals.

If you decide to get a 4x4, make sure you get the manual shift and manual hubs. The shift-on-the-fly feature is nice, but very unreliable and expensive to fix. These systems are also known to go boom when trying to get the truck out of a sticky situation.

In addition, if you do get a 4x4, I would definitely steer clear of the Chevy/GMC. As a previous poster mentioned, the four-wheel drive system on these trucks is pure junk and very expensive to fix. I'm not knocking GM, just the four-wheel drive system that they use.

I am also a big fan of chains, but I also know the limitations that they impose. They are time consuming to take on and off, especially for a newbie. There is also the constant battle of taking them off and putting them back on, sometimes two or three times per trip. And, they are extremely dirty, if you are wearing your Sunday best.......well those clothes aren't your Sunday best anymore. I use chains when I'm going deer hunting or mud bogging, and don't have to worry about personal appearances.

The 3.73 is probably a better "all around" axle ratio for those that want fuel mileage when not towing. I opted for the 4.10 because I am also hauling around a bed full of tools.

Oh, and get the diesel. You'll thank me later. I get 20 mpg on the highway, and 14 towing.

Woody
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Old 02-24-2009, 06:12 PM   #22
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There are different kinds of hubs:

1. Manual—you get our and lock and unlock them yourself. A pain.

2. Automatic—go through some stuff and they usually lock or unlock without getting out. Subject to problems.

3. Fixed or permanently locked. No problem, front differential always is engaged, but if well built should be fine. Toyota uses this system.

I've had them all, I like #3, no muss, no fuss.

Gene
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Old 02-24-2009, 06:43 PM   #23
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I'm using the 4.10 with limited slip on my 3/4 ton van. That gave me 9,900 lbs. towing capacity with the 6 liter gas engine. I've been in situations pulling some large hill gravel roads in the rain where you felt one wheel start to spin with the other continuing to provide power on the climb.

Personally, I wouldn't be caught towing without limited slip.

Jack
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:00 PM   #24
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Interesting set of issues. Personally, I've never owned a truck without 4x4 since the 1960s (and have never had any serious maintenance issues), and all have had either limited slip rear axle or better, locker rear axle. Then again, I live in Michigan and hunt and fish a lot and own farm land in Wisconsin, so I also off-road a fair amount, and sometimes in deep snow, sand, or mud. Lots of my Southern friends get by with 2wd machines and do fine IF they don't get into snow and IF they stay on pavement all the time (or carry chains). [In lots of mountain passes where I've driven, if they get snow, the authorities won't let you drive the pass without chains, no matter what your drive system.]

Just a few times, I've had issues when parking (or unparking) the trailer on fairly loose soil / sand, where I started to get some wheel slip until the locker kicked in or I turned on the 4wd system and then just eased on away. You won't ever need it until you need it, and then you'll wish you had it.

ONCE (early learning experience) I was towing the A/S, and was on wet asphalt, headed uphill, stopped at a light. Light turned green and I got a little too enthusiastic with the throttle and started to get wheelspin. (Sometimes a diesel has TOO much torque!) But long before I could react, the rear locker axle locked up and the wheelspin stopped in milliseconds. Right now.

As you can see, I'm a big fan of things that help my truck go, whether I'm towing or not. When I was younger, I used to get stuck in odd places all the time with 2wd machines (not towing). I came to not like being stuck in sand, mud, etc. But only once have had a problem when I had 4wd and a locker axle, and that was due to my own stupidity, not the truck. I'm happy to pay more up front and a little more in maintenance, rather than calling for a wrecker, etc.
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Old 02-25-2009, 12:55 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
There are different kinds of hubs:

1. Manual—you get our and lock and unlock them yourself. A pain.

2. Automatic—go through some stuff and they usually lock or unlock without getting out. Subject to problems.

3. Fixed or permanently locked. No problem, front differential always is engaged, but if well built should be fine. Toyota uses this system.

I've had them all, I like #3, no muss, no fuss.

Gene
Gene,

You are absolutely right, but you left one thing out.

With the #3 system, your fuel mileage will suffer due to having all those extra parts moving all the time.

Dodge uses this system on their trucks, coupled with a sealed ball bearing in the hub. These bearings are nowhere near large enough for the abuse that these trucks are given, and usually have to be replaced every two years or less. These bearings are also very expensive.

I know that Toyota is using the same system, but they must have oversized the bearing, cuz I haven't heard anything bad.

In either case, mileage improves with the manual hubs. Dyna-trac makes a retro kit for both vehicles that uses the old style double tapered roller bearings and Warn hubs for those that are interested.

Woody
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Old 02-25-2009, 02:53 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbgenrich View Post
It's not the cost ($300), but the constraint. The choices are these:

1) 3.15 Non-limited slip axle ratio
2) 3.55 Non-limited slip axle ratio
3) 3.55 Limited slip axle ratio
4) 3.73 Limited slip axle ratio

I know that higher ratios tow more weight, and lower ratios get better fuel economy and are somewhat quieter to drive in non-towing situations (lower RPMS).

Seems like 3.55 is the way to go, rated for 9700 lbs, in case I want to pull some bigger Airstream some day, without being overkill. It's also the most common and available.

Is there a down side to having limited slip?

If I buy a new truck with non-limited slip, will I regret it? Is limited slip a must have?

-CB-
From these specs you are talking about the 2009 Ford F-150. Limited slip is good if you are in a lot of really bad weather sitations but if you buy 4wd do you need limited slip????? probably not.

HERE IS SOMETHING TO CONSIDER that might be more important than limited slip rear ends. Ford offers an 11,300# towing configuration on some of their F-150's. That comes with aditional options like, heavy duty frame, E-rated tires, heavy duty 7 lug wheels, upgraded tranny cooler and radiator, a 3040# cargo capacity (thats by far the most in the half ton world).
These things come with the, HEAVY DUTY PAYLOAD PACKAGE, AND THE MAXIMUM TRAILER TOW PACKAGE. these options dictate 3.73 axel ratio and you can add 4x4 if you think you will need it. Remember you are towing a tailer some of the time, and probably most of the time empty. BUT, buy what is best for towing and live with what that gives you. You'r going to buy an 09 F-150 and believe me you will NOT be disappointed with the HEAVY DUTY PAYLOAD PACKAGE AND THE MAX. TRAILER TOW PACKAGE. After all...YOU are buying this to tow your Airstream and it will leave options open for down the road if you want a really big trailer.

The truck is quiet, powerful, and has traction control and trailer sway control,,,,,and don't forget to order the factory trailer brake, its the best there is because you truck computer contols the trailer brakes in tandem with the trailer sway and traction control....its just the best way to go.
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Old 02-25-2009, 07:00 AM   #27
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Limited slip is nice to have but not a must have. There is really no downside to it, except the $300 bucks which doesn't bother you.

I vote for the limited slip 3.73. If you needed 4 wheel drive to get around you would know it by now. If you do not get into a jam at least 1 or 2 times a year where you swore your next vehicle will have 4WD, you don't need it.

Unlike limited slip, 4 wheel drive has some serious compromises. You don't want it without good reason.

Without knowing a few more facts like what kind of vehicle, what you are towing, what kind of country etc. it's hard to narrow it down. I am assuming here that this particular vehicle is rated to tow your trailer with the 3.73.

Again I have to ask what has your experience been so far? Does your present tow vehicle show signs of distress during your normal trips? Do you frequently wish you had more power so you wouldn't have to downshift and slow down? If so, consider a lower gear ratio. If not, the higher one should be fine.
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:26 AM   #28
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Quote:
I have to ask what has your experience been so far?
My experience so far is that I have car-tent camped from time to time over my lifetime, and spent a week in my sister's fifth wheel.

But I think I know what to expect, and I don't expect it to be all that challenging. I plan to (note the "Currently looking..." status in my profile) buy an Airstream and a truck soon, and over the coming months transition to full-timing in that as I sell my stick home.

I will avoid extreme climates by moving around the country. I will not be rushed and will avoid repositioning during inclement weather - if I need to pull the trailer on dirt roads I will wait until it isn't muddy to do so whenever possible. I want my life to be driven more by circumstance than clock/calendar. If I need to be at some particular place at some particular time, I will allocate plenty of time to get there.

I will from time to time prefer isolated camping areas like the ones in the National Forest areas with perhaps several miles of dirt roads to access them. Basically no where I haven't been in a 2 wheel drive car. Much of the time I'll be at full hook-up sites with pavement and Internet access.

I'm looking seriously at a 27FB (7,000 to 9,000 lbs fully loaded) and an F-150 with the largest engine and the highest axle ration (5.4L V8 & 3.73). It isn't as easy to find the 3.73 in that, but this thread has convinced me that it is the way to go, and that one's limited slip. I will get 4x2, I'm pretty sure.

I feel like I should get the 6' 6" bed (another harder to find feature) because it's not inconceivable that I would switch to a fifth wheel some day, and I would like to keep that option open. I think plenty has been written about fifth wheels and 5' 6" boxes, but probably not on this forum. But I plan to invest heavily in the truck and don't want to be limited in that way (but I also don't want to go diesel, super duty, etc.).

I think I'm good, as they say (not a comment about my own qualities as the words seem to imply).

-CB-
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