Tag Archives: truck

The GUTA RV Tire Pressure Monitoring System Is Great For Vehicles That Lack Real Time Monitoring

We had a 2,200 mile trip planned expensive things are with a 2016 Ford Transit 150 that had six year-old tires on it – yeah, they need to be replaced but money is tight with inflation thanks to the politicians. The tread was definitely above the wear bars but the outer layer of rubber was starting to crack. So, I really wanted something to let me know how the tires were doing during the trip.

One thing I really like with my 2021 Ram 2500 is that I can see the tire pressure in real time. Our 2016 Transit has a basic tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) but doesn’t report to you what the pressure is – it has has an indicator light if something goes wrong. I really wanted something real time for the van and had seen aftermarket TPMS units that had a receiver and sensors that went on the tire valve stems in place of the caps before.

I started doing some research and while there were a lot of different cheaper models out there, I went with the M20-4 (meaning 4 sensors included) model from GUTA on Amazon based on reviews. I’m actually writing this 1,100 miles into our trip and am quite happy with the unit so let me tell you more about it.

Out of the Box

Literally, the unit comes ready to go other than needing a quick topping off of the main receiver’s battery using a Micro USB cord. The sensors have their batteries loaded and are already programmed to the unit.

What you see on the box was included along with 4 sensors and 4 spare O-rings. I didn’t use their adhesive pad and just opted for a couple small pieces of velcro.

The unit recharges its batteries via the solar panel or you can plug it in – the provide both a car/truck cigarette lighter to USB adapter as well as a short cord, I planned to just run via solar so I didn’t bother.

I bought the four sensor model and in the box there are four ready to go sensors with their batteries installed already programmed to the receiver. The are labeled LF (Left Front), LR (Left Rear), RF (Right Front) and RR (Right Rear). Left and right are from the driver’s perspective looking forward.

All of the sensors were labelled, had the 2032 battery already installed and were programmed to the M20 receiver.

One of the reasons I bought the GUTA M20-4 was that nobody reported needing any extra antennas to pick up the data from the TPMS sensors. Our Transit is a full size 150 model so the wheelbase is about 148″ so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have a problem.

In terms of the sensors, they just go on the valve stem in place of the valve cap. Be sure to put the right sensor, such as the LF- Left Front – sensor on the right tire of course.

To install them you put the jam nut on first and thread it to the bottom. Then screw on the sensor until it stops – you will hear air leak for a second until the sensor seals as you continue threading it on. You then use their special wrench to snug down the jam nuts to lock the sensor in place. Done.

Here you can see the brass jam nut. By snugging this up against the back of the sensor you are pretty much locking the sensor in place due to the tension it creates. Note the elevated black plastic on the sensor under the jam nut – this is where you use the other end of the wrench to open the sensor to replace the battery when it dies.
This odd looking wrench serves two purposes – the left end us for unscrewing the battery cap on a sensor unit. The right end is offset to make reaching behind the sensor to tighten or loosen the jam nut easier. The offset allows the wrench to clear the sensor body and appropriate engage the jam nut. I put this wrench and the spare O-rings to seal the battery compartment in a clear plastic storage bag and put them in the van for future use.
Rather than use their supplied mounting material, I used some industrial Velcro. You stick it on to a clean surface and let it cure for 24 hours. It does a great job after that. The reason I did this was I wanted to be able to move the unit around some without the Velcro showing.
To give you a sense of scale, you can see the van’t instrument console and my hand – I wear an XL-sized glove. The receiver is small but I find the numbers of the display very easy to read from a normal driving position.
The top back of the unit has the solar cells and I have found they do the job. I let them charge during the day and just let the unit run. I don’t turn it off. By the way, there’s a little sun icon that means it is charging and there is also a battery charge indicator in the display as well.

The Device’s Configuration Screens

Well, the mechanical installation was very easy. The set up screen took a few minutes to figure out but wasn’t too bad. The set up screen lets you select pounds per square inch (PSI) or Bar, whether you want Farenheit or Celsius and then the Low and High pressure literally for each tire. An alarm will sound if either the low or high pressue is exceeded – I’ve experienced that. There’s also a high temperature tire warning that applies to all tires.

For the van, I set the low pressures all to 65 PSI and I set the max to 100. The tire temperature was set to 158F by default and I left it at that figuring I would see what happens and adjust accordingly – I had no idea what to expect actually. I did do some reading and somewhere between 190-225F is the maximum safe temperature for a tire to reach – it depends on your tire’s temperature rating.

The unit supports two modes – Mode 1 is for normal street driving and Mode 2 is for offroad or something. I had no need to explore this as our van isn’t going to go offroad.

By the way, you can add sensors or reprogram/pair sensors if need be and the instruction manual tell you how. They sell versions of this system with more and more tires supported and different displays let you see the status. Again, I just bought the model for four tires. I could add sensors to support a trailer though even with the model I have.

The Results

Honestly, I am very happy. It’s been intriguing to see how temperature affects tire pressure – that one I expected. In general, as temperature increases, the volume of a gas increases so this means that the pressure would increase in the tire.

What I didn’t really expect was to see that with driving, the back tires were a tad warmer than the front and also had about 2 PSI more pressure than the front. Tire temperatures where about 10-15 degrees warmer than the outside tire temperature when driving. It’s 95F here and when we were parked on asphalt the heat of the day would take the tires up to about 101-104F and then they would cool down as we drove.

The pressure is real time but the temperature cycles from tire to tire every 5 seconds, Note the pressure when the temperature was 61F. So you can’t tell which tire was sending the temperature in the photo but in real like, the little tire part of the graphic would be flashing so you’d know what it’s temperature is.
Here are the pressures at 77F – again, one tire was at 77F and I bet the others would have been very close to that.
This one is close to 91F. Note, all of these photos are with the same tire pressures. I filled the tires, installed the sensors and have just watched the numbers change. We had ten hour days with me driving so it gave me something to do in addition to staring outside, self-mediation and pondering existience 🙂

I think the manual said the 2032 batteries in the sensors would last about 6 months. I guess we’ll just have to see about that. Cold Michigan Winter weather takes its toll on batteries because as the temperature drops so does the chemical reaction in the batteries and thus less voltage is produced. I’m really not worried because I did open a sensor and it is real easy to replace the batteries.

To sum it up – The installation was very easy and I like being able to see the pressures at a glance. Knowing that there would be an alarm if a threshold is passed or the pressure starts dropping rapidly too are all reassuring.

So, I like the system and would buy it again.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



How to repair a broken brake light lens with a 3M film you can buy at a car store or Amazon?

Okay, it was late the other night and I was tired. I backed up my 2021 Ram 2500 and heard the truck hit something. “Crap” I thought as I remembered my Western plow was disconnected and sitting on the ground in the area where I was backing up. Well, I hoped I had just nudged the plow frame with my rear bumper but when I got out, it turned out that one of the lights on the plow frame had busted out a golf ball sized part of the passenger side red brake light lens – it was a good thing I was going slow at least but what to do?

If you notice the scuff mark on the back edge of the light, that’s what hit the passenger side tail light and busted the lens. I’m definitely glad I wasn’t going fast.

Well, first I have to tell you I felt pretty stupid. I literally forgot the plow was back there but then my next thought was “how do I fix this?” It was about 11:15 at night, 9 degrees out and snowing. If there’s one thing I have learned about myself, it’s that my patience is gone when I am tired and that was the not the time to try and fix something. I didn’t want the light assembly to get a ton of snow in it so I just lightly stuck some duct tape on it and work on it the next day.

Looking For A Quick and Easy Fix

First thing I did was to get online and order a new right side tail light assembly (68361714AD for my Tradesman) and that will take some time to come arrive – I literally ordered it yesterday morning and am waiting as I write this. At any rate, I needed to apply a temporary fix to the busted lens. In college, I’d used a red self-adhesive tape to “patch” a busted brake light. I figured I would do something similar because I wanted the lens closed and also you can get a ticket for having either a white light showing from a brake light or an inoperable light. The other thing was given the weather and supply chain problems these days, I wasn’t sure how long I would be waiting for the replacement light assembly so off to Autozone I went.

Autozone carries two type of repair kits both from 3M – one was a roll of red colored translucent tape ($4.99) and the other was a semi-rigid red translucent film ($8.99). I opted for the latter because I could cover the hole without seams and figured it would blend in a lot better. Now I have not used the 3M tape but the one I used in college 30+ years ago faded in the sun and didn’t stick to red hot so I just wasn’t that gung ho on it but I will tell you that my general experience with 3M is that they turn out top notch stuff so I am sure it would have been better but I went with the film and not the tape.

3M High-Strength Red Lens Repair Film 03441

The package has a 3.75×7.75″ piece of thick red film. It’s stiff but it will bend and 3M says it measures about 6-6.5 mils (1 mil =1,000th of an inch) thick. For example, if a credit card is around .03 inches thick, it measures 30 mils to give you an idea.

This is the front of the package in case you are hunting for it.
I read and followed the instructions.

As you can see in the photos, it was snowing and 16 degrees out when I did the repair. I cleaned the lens real quick with 409 – a general purpose cleaner. I then wiped it dry and brought over the film and a pair of scissors.

The break in the lens had a slight curve so I worked the material around in my hands to get the basic curve I needed and trimmed the material so it could sit flat on the surface. I then removed the rear backing materials and kept pressure on it while working out air bubbles. I figured it might need the heat of my hands to both stay bent and to bond so I did this for 1-2 minutes. For some reason, after I applied the patch was when it dawned on me that I did not take a photo of the hole – why? I have no idea.

Here you can see the hole covered with the film. I have a pretty good seal except for at the bottom where all the cracks are. There’s a raised ridge there that the film cant conform to so I called it good enough and stopped there. I figure this only needs to last maybe 2-4 weeks but wanted it good enough that it can go longer if need be.
It was definitely snowing and cold. This is a piece of film left over after the patching so you can see it.
The lens cracked but did not come apart of the top right side. If you look close you can see a rectangular piece of film I stuck there just to make sure the track doesn’t get worse.
You step back a few feet and you can’t even see the film. I checked the bond the following day and it feels like the film has really bonded to the lens. I’m genuinely impressed.

The Results

I’m surprisingly happy. I didn’t know for sure if it would work but it’s holding up just fine and from a distance you wouldn’t even know it is there.

If things change, I’ll be sure to post an update but so far, so good.

2/19/22: Still holding up just fine. Nothing has changed at all – adhesion and color are just fine. I’m still waiting on the Mopar parts dealer to send me the tail light assembly. Thanks to the film I’m not in a rush and it looks just fine from a few feet away – you wouldn’t even know it is there.

2/19/2022 – still holding up just fine a week later. No sign of the plastic film letting go from the base tail light lens. It’s solid. We’ve had weather ranging from snow and 12 degrees to rain and 15 degrees. It seems to be a solid repair.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.




Add A Glass Blind Spot Mirror To Your Car Or Truck For Safer Driving

Have you ever noticed that when you look in your side rear view mirrors of your car or truck that there is a “blind spot” that vehicles can disappear into? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a surprised motorist beep their horn because I didn’t see them when changing lanes or turning. There is definitely a way to fix that with what are known as “blind spot mirrors”.

Blind spot mirrors have been around for many years and basically are a 2″ convex (meaning bugled outward) mirror that sticks onto your OEM side view mirror with a piece of double sided tape. They worked but many had a weakness – because they were made from cheap plastic, the mirror finish sound start to fade/oxidize over time and instead of a perfect little mirror, you had black spots obscuring your view and defeating the whole reason you bought the little things.

A few years ago I ran across a vendor on Amazon of glass (not plastic) blind spot mirrors known as “Ampper”. These glass mirrors don’t break down like the plastic ones — at least they haven’t yet on our vehicles. I bought our first set in June of 2019 and have slowly replaced the plastic old plastic blindspot mirrors as they failed. In the case of my new 2021 Dodge Ram 2500, I bought the mirrors and installed them right after I got the truck.

Note, they come with some little plastic swivel mounts that you can optionally use. I find them too light for my liking and instead just clean the vehicle’s mirror and stick the blind spot mirror directly on the OEM mirror.

The Ampper mirrors come in two packs – two mirrors and two swivels mounts – enough to do one vehicle. Note, I don’t use the swivels. Click here for the Amazon listing.

Even though my new 2500 has giant mirrors, I felt like I was more likely to catch a vehicle by the side of my truck by adding the blind spot mirror.

You can see the blind spot mirror provides a different perspective of what is going on next to the truck. I have them on both the driver and passenger.

Summary

I’d honestly recommend these for any car or truck to help reduce or eliminate the blind spot but ultimately you need to figure out how best to make sure there aren’t obstacles/vehicles in your way. You can get them off Amazon [click here] and they are cheap insurance.

I hope you find this helpful.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Looking For A High Quality 5-Gallon Gas Can? Check Out Wavian

I’ll keep this post short and sweet. A couple of my many-year old plastic gas cans are getting brittle and I needed to replace them. Some years back I bought some steel Chinese ones off Amazon that are doing relatively okay other than starting to rust a bit inside – I looked it up and I bought them in 2014 for $54.50 each so that’s not too bad. I wondered what some higher quality options might be so I did some digging and came across Wavian.

Honestly, when I saw their name I assumed it was some cheap import but then started reading more. Wavian cans are made in Latvia and they are a NATO supplier. After getting mine, I can tell you they are the highest quality cans I have seen since my dad’s old surplus cans from WWII or Korea.

A Bit of History

The “Jerry Can” design dates back to 1937 created the Vinzenz Grügenvogel, the chief engineer of Müeller engineering in Schwelm, Germany. An interesting design requirement of the Wehrmacht-Einheitskanister was that a German soldier needed to be able to carry two full cans or four empty ones hence the size and triple top handle design.

There’s a far more complete historical narrative on Wikipedia including what America did if you are interested – click here.

Fast Forward To Today

Folks, these are really nice cans. At any rate, they have some cool features and I just want to highlight the ones I noticed and want to share:

  • They are rated for 20 liters which is actually 5.28 gallons of gas
  • The color you choose, I picked red, is powder coated on and a nice deep color and is gas resistant
  • The welding and assembly is excellent – cheap cans use tack welds that do let go.
  • The steel body is 0.9mm (which is 0.0354″ and puts it a tad thicker than 21 gauge (.034375″ 0.873mm)). Cheaper cans use thinner metal.
  • There is an internal coating to protect the steel – I doubt you will see this in a cheap can – it’s not present in my Chinese cans.
Leave it to the EPA to screw up easy to use gas can spouts. At least Wavian tried to do what they could with the mandate.
The cap closes very securely and the cadmium colored pin you see locks it in place. The pin itself is flared on the far end on purpose so it can’t be accidentally removed all the way and lose – that’s a nice design detail I think.
Brand new Wavian on the left – cheap 8 year old Chinese can is on the right. In all fairness, it’s held up for holding gas but I don’t really transport gas in it. The Wavian is built like a tank.
Here’s a close up of the Chinese can’s filler tube, It’s discolored with age but it works. The con is the it does flip-flop around when you are trying to start pouring. Again, it’s held up being outside all year long so I can’t knock it too hard.

The negative is that they come with a God-awful EPA compliant nozzle. I absolutely hate any nozzle where I have to pull something back and hold it back while trying to hold a can with up to 33.8-37.7 pounds of gasoline in it. Folks, I am 54 and it’s not that easy any longer. At least Wavian tried to do what they could with the mandate. In many cases, if you can push the spout into a filler port on a vehicle, the pressure would keep the spout open but not all gas tank filler ports are shaped that way – for example it will not work on my lawn tractor or generator that both have horizontal gas tank filler ports.

So, I did spend the extra money for a more traditional steel goose neck nozzle that does not have all that EPA stuff on it so I can manage holding and positioning the can with both hands and let the nozzle do it’s thing. By the way, it’s not like Wavian really has a choice – they are mandated to supply a self-closing nozzle but at least they can still sell the aftermarket nozzle.

The EPA-compliant spout is on top. The optional spout that you can buy separately is on the bottom and far easier to use. I will install the longer spout when and where I need it vs. leaving it on the can.

Note, growing up my dad had the old style Jerry cans and kept his nozzles separate from the tanks. I’m going to do the same thing. I’ll grab the nozzle and the gas can I need when it’s time to pour gas.

So, do I like the Wavian can? Absolutely – I just bought a second. If you are looking for just about the best can out there. Get a Wavian. I’ve not seen a modern can even remotely close to this level of quality. I bought both of mine and the fill spout from Amazon:


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Save a Boat Load Of Money Installing Your Own Tow Hooks On A 2019 – 2021 Ram 2500 or 3500

In September I bought my first new truck from a dealership – a 2021 RAM 2500 with the 6.4L Hemi engine. It was a Tradesman with a crew cab and the 2GA customer package group – meaning it had the Snow Chief, Chrome Appearance, Tradesman Level 2, Shift on the Fly transfer case, Power Black Trailer Mirrors, LED bed lighting, and Trailer controller. What it didn’t have was front tow hooks — seriously. I was actually surprised by this. I’ve used front hooks so many times over the years that to not have them wasn’t an option but I figured I could add them later and bought the truck.

Wow – Have You Seen The Price To Add Hooks?

Well, this surprised me. I shouldn’t have assumed the cost wouldn’t be bad. Let me itemize this for you real quick:

  • Tow Hook – Mopar 68349551AD List $132 Online around $93.36 each – you need two
  • 4 hex flange mounting screws / bolts – Mopar 6512808AA. List $5.10/ea and online they are around $3.84/ea. Again, you need four of them – two for each hook
  • 4 hex flange lock nuts – Mopar 6512809AA. List is $5.10 each and online is about $3.84/ea. Thread is M16x1.50mm. Again, you need four of them – two for each tow hook.
  • That adds up fast. The list total is $304.80 and online is $217.44 – a savings of $87.36 but that does not include shipping or taxes
  • This does not include the bezels / changes to the bumper if you do it by the book
  • This does not reflect labor of maybe 2-3 hours or the shop supply charge either.

Also, confirm with the supplier if they have something before you buy it. When I was looking, hooks were hard to find in stock at any kind of discount plus some dealers say they have things but they do not.

So, this definitely wasn’t looking cheap either in terms of parts or labor if I had a dealer do it or even if I went will all new Mopar parts.

How to save money and not sacrifice quality?

What is quality? Quality means meeting my requirements and what did I require? I cared about brute strength. I talked to some guys and they all told me to go with the Ram hooks but to get them off eBay because salvage yards put them up for sale at a huge savings. Wow, they were right. You can get both hooks off eBay that look like new for less than half the price but usually with no fasteners included.

Search on eBay for 68349551ac or 68349551ad tow hooks. The letter designators (aa, ab, ac, and ad) tells us there have been minor changes and the most current version as of my writing this is the “ad” release. I can’t speak to all of the versions but I can tell you I am using the “ac” hooks, no problem. You could search for an earlier release such as “aa” or “ab” if you wanted – I’m just telling you what I did. If you can get a great deal on the newest version, go for it.

When I looked at the Mopar site, it seems to be the hook for all of the trim styles (Tradesman, Big Horn, Laramie, Limited, Limited Longhorn, Lone Star and Power Wagon) of both the 2500 and 3500 series trucks for 2019-2021.

Note: some eBay sellers list two hooks (meaning the pair) in an eBay listing and some just list one so pay attention.

I also always look at how many sales they have done and their rating as well. I’ll pay more for an established seller vs. gambling on a seeming deal from a relatively unknown seller.

I also noticed some sellers put all of the part numbers in their description so searches pull them up so read the listing carefully.

Click on the following to search for:

  • The 68349551ac hooks (this is what I bought and installed on my 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman)
  • The current 68349551ad hooks

By the way, the RAM 1500 hook is not the same so make sure you get a 2500 hook for your model year truck.

Okay, for the bolts and nuts, I did actually go with Mopar and bought them online. I have read posts of fellows going to the hardware store and buying Grade 8 – 5/8″ x 4-1/2″ long bolts, washers, lock washers and nuts. It’s an option but I didn’t want to gamble with the metallurgy so I bought the bolts and washers from https://store.mopar.com/ and there are other online sellers you could go to as well.

As far as the bezels and stuff go, honestly, just cut the fake plastic grill out of the way. Yeah, you could spend the time and money to make it look factory but this is a work truck and the tow hooks are near the bottom of the bumper so nobody is going to be looking for the bezel behind realistically.

As for labor, you can totally do this yourself in less than an hour. I think it took me about 30 minutes.

These arrived via USPS Priority Mail maybe 2-3 days after I ordered them. They are like new – I doubt they were ever used. Yes, they do weigh a ton. I guess I could have weighed them but that didn’t occur to me as I really didn’t care. The point is that they sure are beefy. These are the 68349551AC series hooks by the way.

Installing The Hooks

You can totally do this if you are comfortable with cutting on your truck (some guys aren’t and that is okay – find a buddy who is and bribe him/her with beer, BBQ or whatever) and can turn a wrench. I kid you not, you only need a 15/16″ socket, 2-4″ extension and a big ratchet wrench to do this after your cut the little grills out of the way. A torque wrench capable of 80-90 foot pounds is handy but not essential.

This is my 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman. The hooks go in the openings located right under the left and right sides of the main grill or the next opening over from where the fog light covers are.
That is the driver’s side tow hook opening with the soon to be cut out plastic grill in the way.
The part of the frame rail where the town gook goes is that square opening straight back from the center so I planned to cut the top three horizontal pieces out of the way.
This is an Ingersoll Rand model 529 reciprocating saw used for body work and what not. This thing is amazing. Cheap reciprocating saws have a ton of vibration when they run but not this one. It makes cutting sheet metal as easy as soft grill plastic 🙂 This is a fine 24 tooth blade. Use a fine blade on plastic to avoid any snags and tears. Your other option is to look for one of the small hack saw blade holders or other small saw where you can reach in. The more teeth per inch, the better.
This is right after cutting. I haven’t cleaned up the cuts or blown out the plastic cuttings yet. The tow hook will go straight into that center opening and you will need to jiggle the hook around to get the two bolts through.
This is what I cut out. A fine tooth saw really does a nice job – fast and clean.
Here are the hooks, bolts and buts.
I wanted you to see the side profile of where the bolts engage the hook. The front groove actually has a retaining ring cast into it. I installed the front bolt first – and it will take some wiggling around to get it in and then I did the rear. I did all of this with the truck on the ground by the way, Also, I think the design is pretty interesting. They know the force will be applied by pulling forward so that is where they put their emphasis. The sides of the frame rail clamping against the sides of the hook will further lock it in place not to mention the inevitable rust that will happen sooner or later.
/lbThese are the four Mopar bolts and lock nuts. The wings/tabs on the nuts go into openings in the frames so you can focus on tightening the bolt down to 80-90 ft/lbs. They also limit travel of the nut over time to keep the whole assembly secure.
So push the bolts from the outside of rain through to the inside. This is the driver’s side.
So here you can see the bolts with the lock nuts in place.
This is the passenger side. I had just started the bolts into the nuts when I took this picture.

Torque Down The Bolts

Some guys reported that their hooks rattled and I think they were not torquing them down enough. Yes, they will rattle when you insert them in the frame but not once you tighten them down. Thanks to the WWW, I could not find an absolute “here’s what RAM said for the 2500 tow hook” torque spec. I saw numbers all over the board.

I took a different tact, Mopar says the nut is a M16x1.5 on their website so when I look that up, a class 8.8 bolt has a 245 Nm spec and a class 10.9 has a 335 Nm spec. Converting 245 Nm to ft lbs gives us 180.7 ft lbs. Wow. I divided that by half and took the nuts to 90 ft lbs and called it even. No rattling and the hooks feel solid as a rock. If they loosen up, which I highly doubt, I’ll search around again for the torque spec and/or apply Loc-Tite. Given the design of the locking nuts, I really do not think this is going to happen.

If you don’t believe in torque wrenches, do whatever works for you. Due to a variety of nerve factors, I can’t feel how much pressure I am applying any longer so I torque stuff down to spec.

If you do know a definitive value, please email me and I’ll adjust accordingly.

This is big Ed my 50-250 ft lb 1/2″ torque wrench. I have “bigger Ed” that is a giant 3/4″ unit. I also have a number of 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 torque wrenches for different applications.

The Result

They are rock solid. I haven’t used them yet but am ready for winter.

Driver’s side. I think I could have left the one top section of the grill but I am also not sure if it would have gotten busted off anyways from shackles, hooks, etc. I also can’t get rid of the slight angle of the hook left to right despite trying to make it flat several times so I am not going to worry about that either,
Passenger side

One last comment, I did go in a week or two later and spray painted all of the exposed bolts and nuts with black paint to slow up the rust on the fasteners. In Michigan, fighting rust is an art form and also a losing battle – that salt that gets put on the roads gets everywhere and eventually takes its toll but I sure do try to delay that 🙂

Summary

You can definitely do the hooks yourself. Save some money and get them off eBay, do what you want with the bolts and then trim the front grills so the tow hooks can slide in. It looks pretty good and will do the job.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



How To Easily Assemble A Removable LED Light Bar For Your Truck Or Car’s Roof

Okay, I’m the proud new owner of a 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman and the original halogen lights were pretty anemic. I did two things to address this – first, I replaced the high beams with Lasfit LED emitters and that’s a story for another day. With that said though, I’ll tell you that upgrading to the Lasfit LED high beams was stunningly worth it – I can’t tell you the last time I was so happy with an upgrade.

Now that I am done gushing over the high beam upgrade, the second thing I did was to investigate installing a LED light bar on the truck. That’s really the focus of this post.

I guess it must be the pandemic because there aren’t a lot of custom fit aftermarket options right now but there are still a ton of lighting options using general fit LED light bars – the kind that you normally bolt on to a bumper, roll bar, etc.

My first thought was to mount a light on the bumper but I run a Western plow in the winter. I could have mounted a 26″ bar behind the front lower plastic grill in the bumper or even cut it out for a clear shot but it wasn’t really appealing to me.

Then I got to thinking about how tall the truck was. My 2021 Ram 2500 with the snow package is sitting pretty tall in the air. The top of the cab is about six and a half feet (80-ish inches) off the ground. If I mounted a light bar up there, it would have the elevation to cast a ton of light.

Lighting Options

Over the years, I’ve used a number of inexpensive light bars off Amazon and had while some brands weren’t so great due to leaking water into the LEDs, I’ve had pretty good luck with Nilight. You’ll read mixed reviews of their customer service but fortunately I’ve not needed to work with them.

So, I started looking at NiLights and was particularly interested in their triple row light bars as they can output a ton of light. Honestly, for any of these vendors, take their lumen and wattage claims with a huge grain of salt – there’s a ton of marketing hype. In general, bigger bars and more emitters give you more light – that’s just a rule of thumb to go by.

So, I’ve had light bars up to 12″ wide in the past but they were double row and nothing to spectacular in terms of light output. So, I figured I wanted another Nilight and some width greater than 20″ and they have a bunch of options.

In terms of mounting, I really didn’t want to go drilling into my new truck. On one hand I could mount a light behind the plastic lower grill in the bumper but I really wanted to go high because I do plan to install LED fog lights in the future.

Magnetic Mounts

So, one way to mount is to use rubber coated magnetic mounts. They are removable and hold pretty good but they honestly do have limits and will blow off the truck if you don’t think things through carefully. I really wanted to go this route, at least for now.

Going with magnetic mounts does require you to think about some things. First and foremost, are they strong enough to hold the light in position? What you will find is that they tend to be very strong and pulling a magnet straight off a good metal roof is genuinely hard but that’s not the real issue. You need them to not gradually slide backward and come off at the speeds you plan. In general, the bigger the surface area of the light (width x height).

As I thought about it, I reigned in my length to 26″. I sure debated the 37″ bar but there were two reasons why I went with the shorter bar. First, guys reported that the actual draw of the 26″ Nilight 18025C-A light bar was around 5 amps and that was good because I planned to power the light from the dash mounted cigarette lighter – more on that shortly.

Second, I wanted to lower the risk of the light sliding around. The 26″ Nilight 18025C-A bar comes with three mounting points but I wanted to add more to make sure it didn’t move so I ordered additional set of the Nilight 90035B mounting brackets. That then gave me the ability to mount five of the magnetic bases. I figured that would do the job.

Powering the Nilight 18025C-A Bar

With all of the lighting gear on order, the next thing to consider was the power. Since it was going to be removable, I wanted the power to be mobile as well and not hardwired.

For those of us old enough to remember the old cigarette lighters you know where the name comes from. For those of you wondering what I am talking about, I am talking about the odd looking tubular 12 volt power receptacle in your car or truck. Back in the day, there was a little plug that you pushed in that would cause a little heating element to get red hot and you could light a cigarette or stogie from it … or anything else for that matter – it was like a little red hot space heater or stove element.

In most vehicles, the units can provide 15-20 amps. In a Ram, my understanding is that the center dash unit has a 20 amp fuse. If you are trying to calculate watts, volts x amps = watts so a 20 amp 12 volt circuit can provide 240 watts.

Remember my earlier comment about light bar watt and lumen claims typically being higher than reality? The 26″ bar listing says 540 watts. That is a ton of juice — maybe it’s what it would be if some old incandescent bulb was used but it’s not really drawing that.

There are these really cool switched plugs that have a on/off switch along with a momentary switch and a 10 foot cord. They are well made but I do wish the wire was thicker but it didn’t cause a problem. Note, you can buy these with either the ground (negative) or positive being the momentary switched circuit. I opted for the positive momentary switch because I could just turn the light on for second, let go and it would shut off. If you don’t want it at all, you can just cut off blue momentary wire.

Adding The Mounts To The Nilight 18025C-A

I should point out that I did try just using the original three mounting points that came with the bar and three magnets. During some highway driving tests during the rain I thought it moved some and didn’t think that was secure enough, at least not to my liking. The lights are modular so adding a couple more mounts was easily done.

The first thing I did was to unscrew the end cap from the end without the wire. I removed the end cap and the gasket so I could then slide in two extra M8 hex nut for the two extra mounts I planned.

I removed the cap from the end with no wire, moved the gasket out the way, and slid in two new M8 nuts. I was then careful to make sure the gasket was positioned correctly when I inserted and started the little bolts by hand before using my power screw driver to run them down snug.

In terms of the mounts, I found that their supplied allen/hex socket screws were really a bad idea on their part. You can’t access them easily at all and they limit adjustments so I switched to regular hex head M8 bolts.

With an M8 bolt in place, you can turn the rubberized magnetic mounting disc and tighten or loosen it accordingly. I replaced all of the little hex head socket bolts with hex heads as shown above. I took the little hex socket bolt into my local Ace Hardware and found replacements of the same length.
As with the bolts on the rubber mounts, I replaced the hex sockets on the body too. I honestly have no idea why they opted for sockets vs. head head bolts. The hex heads allow for more rotation and easy access with an open end wrench.

I did apply blue Loc-tite to the bolts going into the rubber pads. In hindsight, I think this might have been overkill. If I ever want to take the pads off, it will take a bit more effort but then again they aren’t going to vibrate loose so easily either.

To make the spacing symmetrical I just moved in X screw heads from each end, centered the mounting block and tightened it down. In my case, I wanted the light to point straight head so I did have to play with that a bit and then match all of the mounts to the same angle.
Here’s the rear view. Once I figured out the position for the light to be straight ahead, I approximated the angle on the others by paying attention to the location of the top of the mount relative to the cooling fin.

Wiring The Nilight 18025C-A

Wiring is very straight forward – red line in the light’s short lead cord to the red line on the power cord. If you want the momentary positive to trip the light also, connect the blue and red cord together. Only do this if you buy the momentary positive version of the cord.

Here’s the switch assembly and it’s cord with the black cord from the light swooping in from the top left. The small black tool is used to trim back the protective outer
case on cable assemblies so you can then get to the exposed individual wires. They are cheap and very handy. The alternative is careful slitting with a box cutter/razor.
Red to Red, Black to Black and combine the blue momentary positive to the red positive on the power cord – I just twisted them together and then soldered. Only do this if you made sure to buy the momentary switched positive version of the switch. If you mistakenly bought the negative momentary version you will pop the fuse in the nose of the switch housing because that will be a dead short. That fuse is replaceable by the way.

As far as wiring goes, you can use any of the solderless crimp on connectors or you can just solder the lines together. If I know I will need to take something apart then I will use good crimp on fittings. Otherwise, if I want a slim connection that will last, I use a soldering iron and resin flux core solder.

Be sure to test everything before you close up the circuits. I tested the LED light bar itself before I did anything else.

After soldering, I like to put shrink tubes over each line and then over the bundle to keep moisture out and reduce strain. By the way, if you aren’t familiar with shrink tubing, it shrinks when heated – I prefer to use a heat gun but have also used a lighter in a pinch.

If I want to reinforce it further then I may add on a layer or two of quality 3M electrical tape – overkill I know but I don’t want things to fail easily from flexing or moisture.

Shrink tubing assortment sets are very handy to have around.

I also looked at where the light cord was going to rub on my truck’s roof and added a piece of thick decal vinyl to protect the paint.

So the plug and switches work quite well being in the center dash plug like this. Very easy to reach and turn on or off. When on, the little red LED lights up so you do have an in-cab reminder that the bar is on (trust me, at night, you’ll know it’s on).
You can see how I have the cord run. Again, this is meant to be removable and something I can move around as needed. So yeah. there is a loose cord but it is manageable.
So the light us up top and I run the wire in actually just behind the pillar between the driver and passenger doors in the crew cab. I then run the wire behind the driver’s headrest and down along the center console. Note, there is thick vinyl decal paint protector where the line touches the pain – and about two inches on either side just to play it safe.
So the cord runs under the driver side headrest and then up and out the passenger rear door in the crew cab. I wish there was another 2-3 feet of cord so I could have run it to the floor and around the bottom of my chair but you know, it works. I could have spliced in more wire with pros and cons but I decided to keep it simple.
It really clamps down well on the flat portion of the roof but not in the back with the reinforcing bends. I center the light by eyeball aligning the center mount of the bar with the center roof marker light. The actual bottom of the light bar (not the mounts) is about 81-ish” off the ground. Also, you can’t see it but as mentioned, there is thick 3M Vivid vinyl decal material under the cord.
It’s hard to get the 3M Vivid tape to show up unless you get the angle just right to see the edges. There are two pieces here – one wrapping over the edge of the roof and a second wider piece to protect the paint if the cord is blowing around in the wind much.

Nilight 18025C-A Results

Let’s look at some photos that I took at night and the measures at all based on my laser range finder that I measured before hand from the front of the truck:

These are the stock OEM low beams. Notice how they really limit upward light. The bright oak tree trunk you see slightly left of center is at 23 yards. If you can see the silver tarp in the background, that is at 47 yards.
Ok, mow this one is with the Lasfit LED high beams turned on. The leaf pile in the woods is at 57 yards.
Alright, this is with the low, high and LED light bar running. The light output is amazing. You can’t see it in the photo obviously but the light bar was lighting up a ton of stuff to the left and right as well. The next big tree in the left of the photo is at 31 yards and the swing set is at 44 yards. There’s just a ton of light. This is exactly what I wanted – the Nilight LED bar I bought has a mix of flood and spot emitters to generate this much light.
Low beam only from about 7 yards.
Low and High beam lights at 7 yards. The big shadow is the top left light of my plow.
Low, High and Light Bar at 7 yards.

Summary

First off, it is stunningly bright and casts it very well both forward and to the sides – the breadth of the field of light cast actually surprised me. So, in terms of the shear volume of light it is kicking out and it’s ability to light things up in all directions, it definitely exceeded my expectations.

The switch works remarkably well. The switches have a nice feel and I like that there is a fuse in the switch assembly protecting the truck’s outlet. At no time did the cord feel warm due to excessive draw and I can’t see that it is limiting the brightness of the LEDs any so that worked out just fine.

Next, it seems to stay put – even during rain. Most of my driving has been around town and 35-45mph. I did go on the highway at 65-75mph for 10-15 minutes a few times but not for hours on end. I also have no intention of putting this through a car wash – I really am not sure how it would fare one way or the other.

I would recommend that you keep a towel in your truck to clean the roof before you clamp on the light and also inspect the magnets to make sure they are clear — otherwise you are liable to scratch up the roof or where ever you clamp the light to.

I also decided to keep the light stored in an old duffel bag under my back seat vs. having any risk of it coming off. I put a micro fiber towel in there too – I mainly bagged it to prevent stuff from getting stuck to the magnets and then scratching things up.

This is the light bar, duffel bag and towel that I stash under the rear seat.

The only downside is that I would need to know before hand that I might need the light and install it vs. leaving it attached all the time. I figure in the Spring that I’ll look into installing the flood lights and then decide if I want to do anything after that.

Last photo for now 🙂

So, I am very happy with the result and hope this gives you some ideas as well.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Why The Mophorn Pneumatic Lift Is a Huge Help When Working On Cars and Trucks But Has One Small Issue You Need To Address

Nothing like getting old and realizing that most of your joints hate you. I bring this up because I have two manual pump floor jacks that I have used countless times over the years and the oldest is probably 25 years old – literally. Well, let me put it this way – I had no problem pumping the handle to lift cars and trucks 25 years ago but starting about two years ago, the action really started to cause elbow and shoulder injuries I had to flare up. It got so bad that I had to make a choice either to stop working on vehicles or to find a different approach.

I work on cars and trucks in our driveway so a permanently installed lift was not an option. It had to be something portable. My first thought was to get a low profile air-over-hydraulic jack that is mounted in its own wheeled carrier. They have an incredible lifting capacity (around 22 tons) but they are heavy (around 80 pounds), slow (air over hydraulic is many things but fast is not one of them) and expensive (they start around $200 and just go up from there). What really stopped me was the weight and the cost. I can’t lift or drag as much weight as I used to and the entry-level units were a tad more than I wanted to spend.

So, I kept digging and ran across pneumatic/air jacks. Think of the air suspensions you see under a big rig. Basically one or more air bladders fill with air and lift the top of the jack. They max out in terms of lift height around 18 inches and 3 tons of lift but it depends on the model. Definitely spend some time researching before you buy. I found that I needed to think about:

  • How low I needed the unit to collapse down to fit under our cars to get in position prior to lifting
  • How much weight did I need to lift
  • How high I needed the unit to lift
  • How much did it weigh?
  • What was it going to cost?

I then started reading listings on Amazon plus paying careful attention to review scores. I also talked to a mechanic friend of mine about the safety of the unit and what his thoughts were. He told me to consider two things: 1) always immediately put jack stands in place and 2) don’t lave the unit out in the sun and weather thus harming the rubber. Those suggestions made a lot of sense to me.

On January 8, 2019, I wound up buying a Mophorn Pneumatic Jack, 3 Ton, Triple Air Bag, with a 16″ lift height for about $150 with free shipping. The unit arrived with just little bit of assembly needed. I recall I had to install the handle and the pressure line but that was it.

I get about 15″ of lift at 90 PSI.
Left lever is the exhaust and due to the lever design, you can adjust how slow you want to drain air out. Even if you hit it and have an “oh shit” moment, you typically have a few seconds before the vehicle starts to go down. The middle unit with the pull ring is the safety blow off valve. The far right lever is the air inlet and there is a Milton M-series male plug under the Milton quick connect female fitting. If you want a reliable air system, use Milton fittings – they last.

As you can guess from the sticker above, the lift is made in China and the instruction sheet is pretty terse but it’s really not that hard to figure out. I do want to cover a few specifications with you and convert them from metric to US customary measures – these are from the owner’s manual included in the kit unless otherwise noted:

DescriptionMetricUS
Capacity3,000 kg6,613 lbs
Air Pressure5-10 Kg/cm^271 to 142 PSI
Air pressure from label on handle – presumably the recommended pressure8 kg/cm^2113 PSI
Minimum Height145mm5.71 in
Maximum Height400mm15.75 in
Lifting Time5 seconds5 seconds
Working Temperature-69C to +50C-92F to 122F

What have I lifted with it?

When I say “lift”, I am talking about the front end or the back end – not the whole vehicle.

  • 1994 Toyota Corolla DX
  • 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser
  • 2000 Toyota Camry
  • 2006 Toyota Solara
  • 2008 Toyota Highlander
  • 2016 Ford F150 Transit
  • Others more or less along the lines of a Camry or Highlander

There are a few things I have noticed

First, let me point out that I like this unit and would recommend it but there are a few things I want to point out:

  • The highest my lift will go is 15″ and that may be a function of my only running 90 PSI to the jack
  • I don’t think it actually can lift 3 tons. It bogs down on the front of our old 96 Landcruiser and also our full size F150 Transit. Again, I think it’s my lower air pressure. This summer I might plumb a dedicated 120 PSI line and see what that does. It will depend on time and money.
  • There are stabilizing cones made from steel inside the jack. Maybe 1 in 20 lifts they need a whack to start coming down. I may polish and lube these if I get a chance.
  • The rubber is pretty thick on the bladders. With that said, I do store it indoors away from the sun and the weather. I’m writing this a year later and the bladders show zero signs of wear.

The One Little Thing You Must Do: Blue Loctite Your Screws!!

I have used my jack many times since I bought it. Starting around September I was hearing faint air leak and thought the jack had bent. When I had time I found out that the bottom screws had loosened up and air was simply escaping from between the gasket and the bottom plate. I was surprised and disappointed to note that none of the screws had any thread locker applied to any of them. Many were in varying states of coming lose.

The unit is well made. The air bladders secure to that steel plate you see on them and then that assembly bolt to the dolly.
It’s the screws that attach the bladder to the while disc-shaped plate in the previous photo that came loose. Here are the metal stabilizing cones. I wish I had polished and lubed them when I had it apart and will go back and do that at some point. I did apply air tool oil to the cones after cleaning them of a gritty dust that probably dated back to when they were manufactured.
Before re-assembly I put a thin bead of Permatex Blue RTV gasket seal on the rubber gasket and then applied Blue medium-strength Loctite to each srew and brought them down lightly. I then went criss-cross lightly bringing down each screw to firm and then applied a final torque of 11 NM (about 8 ft-lbs or 97 in-lbs.

I then did the same thing to the top plate as well just to play it safe. No more leaks.

The reassembled bladder assembly then screws back down to the baseplate of the dolly. Note, this photo is actually from when I was taking it apart. The screws were so scuffed up that I just replaced them. Did I mention I use this a lot?

The following is the exact jack on Amazon that I bought and this review is about:

Bottom Line

I would buy this again and recommend it as well – just due the Loctite thing I mentioned. Note there are other Chinese suppliers on Amazon also but they do not get as good of reviews as the Mophorn units so my recommendation is only for that brand.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



These are the Correct Weatherstripping Clips for 1996 Toyota Landcruisers (80-series)

I did some bodywork on my 1996 Landcruiser (an 80-series Landcruiser) this past summer and had to replace the weatherstripping clips on the bottom of the driver side door. I did some digging and found that these clips are the correct size (5mm with a 15mm head) and they worked great for me. The one guy complains that these are green so he only scored it three stars. My originals were a pinkish color so green didn’t matter to me at all plus once installed, you can’t see them.

I popped the remaining originals out with a removal tool. If you don’t have one, they make a world of difference in the removal of clips. In a truck this old, I try to replace old plastic clips when I can as often find them to be brittle and either break during removal or re-insertion.

Here is a clip removal tool. The green clips under it are the brand new replacement units.

The tool you see in the above photo came with the following replacement Toyota Trim Clips package that has helped me out a number of times such as securing drooping engine bay plastic shields on a 2002 Toyota Camry.

Here were the remaining original clips. Note the lovely pink-ish color thus I really didn’t mind what colors the originals were as long as they worked.

Here is the end result – I worked the clips into each hole in the weather stripping and then simply pushed them into the body holes. I think I installed a total of five to six clips. The drooping problem was solved.

The heads securely fit in the holes in the weather stripping and into the body.
No more drooping weatherstripping!

In Summary

These clips worked great. I just did this post to try and save anyone trying to find clips specifically for an 80 series Landcruiser.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.