If you are just getting started in 4-wheeling, or have been away from
the activity for a while and are a bit rusty on the do's and don'ts,
here's some basic information to get you on ('er I mean off) the
road in a safe and responsible manner and get you and your vehicle back
in one piece:
4 wheeling doesn't have to stop when the snow starts falling, it just
changes. The 97-98 winter was my first real opportunity to drive my
4Runner in real snow (unlike that plowed/sanded stuff that coats major
highways :-). Here's some hints I found useful when driving the
unplowed white stuff:
Air down those tires
One spring afternoon, the sun and warm temperatures had softened the
2-3' Sierra snow pack to Slushy consistency. I hit the
start of the snow, which had some fresh tires tracks in it, dropped
into 4-Hi and got about 1 truck length before stalling and digging in
(this was at highway pressure). So, I aired down my 33x9.50 BFG M/T
tires to 10 PSI, which is lower than I had ever gone before. This got
me going, but I found I had to keep the tires spinning faster than I
was traveling to maintain my momentum. At the bottom of the hill, I hit
a deeper stretch of snow and stopped. I tried digging out in front of
the wheels then behind and all I did was dig in deeper. I ended up
winching myself out. After turning around, I faced the daunting task of
climbing up the hill I had so much trouble getting down. I decided to
air down the tires to 6 PSI. I was truly amazed that the same hill I
was spinning tires on coming down, I now crawled up without slipping at
all. Even in the spot where I had high-centered before, I could hear
the axles dragging through the crust (as I was sitting an inch lower
now) but I didn't even slow down. In colder, harder snow, I've had good
luck at 13-15 PSI.
To summarize, the softer the snow the softer the tire.
Easy on the gas
As soon as you begin to lose momentum, get off the gas. Try to shift to
reverse and ease back then take another run at the obstacle/soft spot.
If you can't move backwards of forwards, you are stuck. Spinning the
tires will only make it worse. If you get off the side of the track,
back up far enough so that you can get your tires back on the track.
Winch under power
I was once stuck with both axles hung up on the firm crust. I spooled
out the winch cable, wrapped a strap around a tree and took up the
slack. As the cable tightened, the front of the truck sank and the 9000
lb. winch stalled. So, I fed the control cable into the cab, put the
truck in gear and eased off the clutch. With the front wheels now
turning, the front end just popped right out of the snow. While snow
doesn't cause the suction effect that mud does, it does tend to freeze
up around axles, tires, etc. No amount of straight line pulling will
free you, but getting the tires turning and biting into the snow in
front will get you out.
I useRedline Gear Oilin
my Toyota 4WD drivetrain, it costs about $7-8/qt. and you can order it
by clicking on the links below (if you can't find it locally for that
price - its good stuff, but I wouldn't pay $10 or more for it!):
MTL or MT-90 in the manual transmission:
GL4 rating, I find MT-90 makes the tranny run quieter than MTL and it
shifts just as smooth.
You want to avoid running a GL5 oil in the transmission. The EP
additives in a GL5 oil can attack the brass synchro rings on
transmissions not rated for GL5 oil (the Toyota transmissions are rated
GL4/GL5) and they can make the oil too slippery for proper synchro
operation (shifting will feel sluggish - and this does apply to Toyota
Another minor advantage of the MT-90 oil is that it has a much milder
odor than conventional gear oil and I find I perodically get a whiff of
gear oil fumes inside my truck if the crosswinds blow from just the
right angle and speed. I do plan to add breather hoses to both the
transmission adn transfer case shifters at some point, since they do
not have that in stock form and instead vent hot air up past the
75W90 or 75W90NS Gear oil in the transfer case:
You can also run MT-90 (GL4) in the transfer case, especially if you
are worried about the transmission and transfer case oils mixing.
Heavyweight Shockproof Gear oil in the differentials:
GL5 rating (note Hypoid = GL5)
75W90 or 75W90NS gear oils also work fine
I've also run Shockproof oil in the transfer case, it worked fine, but
I don't think its really needed for the simple bevel cut gears in the
You can also run the lighter weight Shockproof oils as well, I would
just watch that the cold weight (1st number) is at least 75W.
I like the heavy weight oil because it has the most of the shockproof
additives for greater gear tooth cushioning and it sticks, I have an
axle I drained over 2 years ago and there is STILL a film of red
shockproof coating the inside!
I also run Water Wetter in the radiator:
It doesn't make a thermostatically controlled engine run any cooler,
but it does eliminate hot spots caused by cavitation and it greatly
reduces the surface tension of the coolant.
also carries Redline oil and has a fixed $7.95 handling charge for
free UPS Ground shipping
My Oil Shop is
another good on-line source, use dealer code 675421 to get
an additional 10% off
These are the oil types, weights and grades that I use.
I based these choices on my requirements and reading the Redline Oil web pages for
product descriptions and applications.
You may have different requirements than me. I encourage
you to read the Redline pages, evaluate your needs and make your own
choice. I find my choices of oils works very well for my needs.
My truck is not a daily driver (although it could be and
is driven daily sometimes), but it does see a lot of highway miles to
and from the trail, lots of hours of low range 4 wheeling, etc.
So, while my truck is mainly an "off-road"
truck, a typical off-road trip is 150 miles of driving to the
mountains, 5-10 miles on the trail and 150 miles back. So out of 300+
miles, it sees about 3% of its miles "off-road". So hare's an
"off-road" truck that see's 97% highway miles, go figure!
While I have modified my truck for off-road use, it
is no trailer queen, it drives to and from the trail. I run a
drivetrain made of stock components for the most part, a stock
transmission, a stock transfer case (plus a second reduction box), an a
V6 rear diff and an FJ-80 high pinion front diff, sure they are not
original to my 22RE 4Runner, but they are stock parts on some Toyota
truck or another.
I can go from sub-zero temps on a mountain snow run to
100+ desert heat in the course of a month, so I need an oil that works
well over a wide temperature range, which I feel a good synthetic oil
I also like that I don't *have* to change the oil
periodically and I don't (at least on purpose). I seem to be opening up
an axle or gear box every few years for some reason or another, but
since switching to Redline, I've never drained the oil just to change
Amsoil also has a good line of
synthetic gear oils
Below are some vendors who I have used but others have had trouble
with. Note I am not recommending these vendors, merely listing them
with some explanations of issues folks have had with them. You are of
course free to choose to do or not do business with any or none of
them. I feel its better to list them with some supporting information
to educated folks instead of not list them and have someone not know
one way or the other.