Archives for category: – Projects

P1080035

For the last couple years or so my 4-wheel-drive system has been engaging intermittently. Normally I’d shift the transfer case lever into 4 High and the green lights in the instrument cluster, indicating the status of the front wheels, would blink (four-wheel drive engaging), then go solid (in four-wheel-drive). In the last couple of months though, the lights wouldn’t stop blinking, a sign that the system wasn’t able to engage the front axle.

I had ordered the factory shop manuals for the truck a while back, so I decided to see if I could fix it myself. Also, my mechanic explained to me that my Gen 2 Montero engages 4-wheel-drive by connecting the right-front axle shaft to the front differential by means of a vacuum-powered actuator. (That’s different from the Gen 1, which has auto-locking hubs.) Armed with that knowledge I looked up the actuator in the manual and noticed that it recommended greasing the actuator rod.

I got under the truck, removed the skid plates, pushed aside the rubber boot and saw that the grease, where the rod entered free-wheeling clutch housing (red arrow), was old and jelly-like. I cleaned out the old crud, packed it with fresh grease, reattached the boot, and left the whole thing sit while I reinstalled a pair of marker lights in the bumper.

When I took the truck for a test drive an hour later and shifted into 4 High, the indicator lights flashed briefly, then immediately went solid. Whoo-hoo! An easy fix!

I recently had a set of ARB locking differentials installed in the truck and it was irritating that I had this great new gear and yet the basic four-wheel-drive system wasn’t working. That made this quick fix all the more satisfying.

Update 02/04/2015

This situation came up again recently. I think water crossings may be a factor since the boot on the actuator rod isn’t water tight. Again, I cleaned out the old grease, sprayed WD-40 to drive out any water, then re-greased both ends of the rod. It’s working again.

I also found this link helpful:
http://www.pocuk.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=87530&highlight=actuator+rod

P1070825

A few months ago I thought it would be cool to convert my turn signals and brake lights to LEDs. I had seen them on my friend Greg’s truck and I liked the crisp on/off quality. I thought it updated the look of the truck and, of course, LEDs use much less power and last practically forever. In this post I’ll tell you everything you need to know to make the switch to LEDs, and I’ll also tell you why I opted not to do it, for now. Read the rest of this entry »

P1080009
I’ve been very happy with my ARB Bull Bar bumper and its on-board turn signals, except for the fact that they’re not waterproof. Every now and again I’ll drive the truck through a stream, which inevitably rusts out the bulb sockets, corrodes the contacts, makes the bulb hard to change, and sometimes cause the light to fail.

My solution: waterproof the lenses.

The first thing I did was order a set of replacement lights. My friend Greg tipped me off that they’re the same lights as used on the Mark 1 VW Golf/Rabbit, so they’re easy to get. You can find them here at German Auto Parts. Read the rest of this entry »


I changed the oil on my ’95 Montero myself recently for the first time. It was messy but easy enough, until I tried to find the oil filter that is. It turned out that I needed to remove the skid plates to get to it, which I did. Then I began to wonder if all of the shops I’d been to in the past had gone through the same trouble or had just skipped it. All of the grease fittings looked pretty dry too. Hmm—had these been neglected as well? I decided to continue doing oil changes myself to make sure everything was done right.

That said, I wasn’t looking forward to cleaning up a small oil spill every time from oil that missed the recovery container. My friend, Greg, recently told me about a product called the Fumoto Qwik Valve. It’s a valve that takes the place of the drain plug. Some versions even accept a hose to drain the oil, which eliminates all the mess. Lifting the tab and turning it 90˚ opens the valve. I just ordered one. They’re about $30.

Greg’s been using it for three years and is really happy with it. They also sell spring clamps that keep the valve from opening in harsh off-road terrain, though I don’t think that’ll be an issue on my truck, given the drain plug placement.

Thanks, Greg!


All photos: Gregory McDonald

I’d been wanting an extra margin of water fording safety and a cleaner intake source than under the fender well, so I ordered an ARB Safari Snorkel. A couple of weekends ago my friend Greg — awesome guy that he is — came up to help me install it. It worked out pretty well and took about 5 or 6 hours from start to finish (including a trip to the hardware store for last minute supplies).

If you install one yourself here’s a list of things you’ll need. Read through your instructions fully before you go to the hardware store to get supplies. I didn’t, hence the extra trip.

Apart from the standard tools, you’ll need:

• an 86mm (3-3/8″) hole saw (this may be different for your truck)
• Loctite
• drills up to 1/2″ diameter (the instructions call for larger but if you follow this method, you won’t need them)
• silicon sealer
• ratcheting box wrench (to tighten the nuts inside the fender well without removing the fender)
• a step drill, if you already have one (they’re about $50 so I just used a series of drills)

Here’s the biggest tip of the whole exercise: use the template only to drill the big, 86mm hole. Mark the small, snorkel bolt holes as well but use the bolts themselves to determine their exact positions. The template may not be accurate — it wasn’t for us. Use the same method for determining the positions of the A-pillar holes and you’ll be dead on.

Be sure to follow along with your instructions, if you do this yourself. I’m only going into a general level of detail in this post.

Read the rest of this entry »

My Montero gets a new set of Yokohama Geolander A/T-S tires.

I took my truck to Kahn & Keville in San Francisco today have a new set of Yokohama Geolander A/T-S tires installed.

These tires perform well on the street and yet sacrifice little off-road. I’ve taken them through mud, water, rocks, dirt, and snow, and never felt like I needed more tire. The only time I’ve noticed them lose traction is in snow deeper than a few inches, but that’s what chains are for.

If you’re looking for a versatile set of all-terrain tires, I recommend them. This is my second set. The first set lasted about 40,000 miles.

If you get new tires, don’t forget to rotate them every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Read the rest of this entry »