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Old 12-05-2011, 11:23 PM   #1
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Preparing for cold climate

I'm about to graduate college and I got a job in Marinette, Wisconsin. Since I have lived in [the WARM, SUNNY parts of] California all my life, this will be quite a change for me! I'm taking my Tacoma out there and I've got a few concerns about it.


---#1: Winter Driving---
I love my truck and despite the 2wd and 4 cylinders, I don't want to get rid of it. That being said, how much of a hard time will I have in the cold weather?

When I get there, I plan to pick up a used set of rims to mount "snow" tires on and just swap 'em out as necessary. While I don't know much about tire sizing and how that works, I know from experience that my rims are an odd size and not many tires are available for 'em. The tires on my truck right now say "205/70R15." That means 15" rims, right? Is that small? Last time I bought tires I only had like 2 options. Also my truck has 5 lugs, not 6, so I'm having difficulty finding some used rims in my area.

Last, my truck is stock height so will I have trouble fitting a different set of rims on there? It seems I wouldn't be able to get a much bigger tire to fit, based on eyeballin' it.


---#2 Getting a camper shell---
I plan to pick up a camper shell once I get out there, for camping and general utility purposes. Now, I've loaded up my truck with a lot of weight in the past (sandbags when it rained, moving across town, dirtbikes and camping gear), so I know what it feels like to ride the bump-stops on the rear suspension. And while I've noticed that a little bit of weight in the bed improves the highway ride quality tremendously, I'm afraid the weight of a camper shell might be too much and I might have to beef up my shocks. Considering this thread, with this post in particular, I believe that my suspension needs some love regardless of the shell. I'm getting close to 110k and I think the only maintenance my suspension has EVER received was when I replaced the rear shocks last year. I'm the second owner of the truck, and lately I've noticed it's getting much less comfortable at speed, with lots of bouncing around and vibration, even after I got the brakes done and the tires aligned. Furthermore it dives pretty easily with every bump, and I've been scraping on things like downhill driveways with sharp gutters at the bottom and whenever there's a sudden dip on the highway.

I'm hoping someone will chime in with experience on the difference in "sag" (is that the right word?) with and without the camper shell. Will it weigh down my ride height considerably?


---#3: Remote Start---
Can I buy a remote start unit for my truck that has no alarm nor power locks? Furthermore, I really like the Viper alarm/remote start systems, but they're pricey. Can I buy a remote start system (no alarm) and eventually add an alarm with power locks that will work with it or would i have to buy the whole unit at once and do both the locks and the remote start? I only want remote start right now.


---#4: Dash Kit---
Anybody got a good line on where to get a dash kit for my first gen Taco? I installed a police scanner this year but never did find the right kit to clean it up. There's about an inch of gap on either side of the scanner with nothing holding it in, and it's just kinda flappin around in the space that used to be a pocket under the radio.
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:14 AM   #2
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Most shells weigh a couple hundred pounds at most I think, so that shouldn't really cause you to sag much unless your leaf springs are completely shot. If you're at 110k miles and they are stock, that could be the case. The weight of the shell will really help you get around in the snow with 2wd, too.

And for the auto starter, yes you can get them for vehicles without alarms or power locks. And yes you can get just the remote starter installed first and add the alarm later. I bought a compustar remote starter/alarm system but only had them install the starter because I did not want to spend the extra 150 on top of the 600 I already paid. Once I get my double din and subwoofer installed I will add the alarm as well.

Good luck with your move. I had some family in Wisconsin for a while and I loved visiting there. The coldest weather I've ever been in was while I was there. And I've lived in Alaska my entire life, lol.
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:53 AM   #3
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There's a tire size calculator that may be useful. http://www.csgnetwork.com/tireinfo4calc.html
It may give you ideas on equivalent standard tire sizes so you'll have more options. I think 15" wheels are a common size.
For a spare set of wheels I have had good luck using craigslist and local sales network. There always seems to be deals on used wheels on there.
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:56 AM   #4
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Here's a link on reading metric tires:
http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tirete...e.jsp?techid=7
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:03 AM   #5
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Cool, thanks guys! Is it easy enough to replace weather stripping around my truck and/or insulate the cab more?
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ffirg View Post
The coldest weather I've ever been in was while I was there. And I've lived in Alaska my entire life, lol.
Hahaha! Awesome. Dear god, what have I gotten myself into.
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Old 12-06-2011, 01:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pidro_el_pirata View Post
Hahaha! Awesome. Dear god, what have I gotten myself into.
I can attest to that as well. I grew up in WI and also lived in AK for 4 years, so I know what he is talking about. My grandma lived in the Fairbanks AK area for 25 years and always said it was better there than in WI in the winter.

As for the winter tires, I don't think it is legal to run studded tires in WI, but you can get studless snow tires and they will help out a lot. I learned to drive in WI in a 1985 S10 2WD, with good tires and some weight in the back you will do just fine. Find a parking lot when you get there and test out how your truck feels when you loose traction and practice!
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Old 12-06-2011, 02:42 PM   #8
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Thanks that's the vibe I'm getting. Cool! Any other cold weather mods that I should look into?
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Old 12-06-2011, 02:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pidro_el_pirata View Post
Thanks that's the vibe I'm getting. Cool! Any other cold weather mods that I should look into?
My favorite cold weather mod is a good jacket, pair of gloves, and a warm hat. I normally keep a sleeping bag or warm wool blanket with me too just in case. A shovel and a bag of gravel is always nice to have if you get stuck. Look into Blizzak tires. They are not studded but are amazing on ice.
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:16 PM   #10
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Not really a mod but it may be a good idea to do some preventative maintenance on your rig if anything needs it. Depending on the distance you commute breaking down could be dangerous in the cold winter there. I would especially check your cooling system. Make sure you have a good mix of water/antifreeze to prevent freezing and a good working thermostat so your heating system is working optimally. Also an emergency winter kit with extra blankets and stuff just in case.
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pidro_el_pirata View Post
Thanks that's the vibe I'm getting. Cool! Any other cold weather mods that I should look into?
Another thing you should do is get your coolant flushed and replaced with coolant that is good down to -30 or so. Also before you leave CA, use all of your washer fluid and replace it with good washer fluid that is rated to -25 too. I drove my jeep wrangler from northern CA to WI one year and half way through Wyoming, my washer fluid was a block of ice. That did not make the rest of the drive very fun when I would have to stop and clean my windshield off because the washer fluid was completely froze!

Keep warm clothes in your taco in the winter, never know when you might get stuck or end up in the ditch and have to wait it your for a while in the cold. If you do end up in the ditch, make sure to clear the snow from your exhaust pipe so you can keep the engine running!
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pidro_el_pirata View Post
I'm about to graduate college and I got a job in Marinette, Wisconsin. Since I have lived in [the WARM, SUNNY parts of] California all my life, this will be quite a change for me! I'm taking my Tacoma out there and I've got a few concerns about it.


---#1: Winter Driving---
I love my truck and despite the 2wd and 4 cylinders, I don't want to get rid of it. That being said, how much of a hard time will I have in the cold weather?

When I get there, I plan to pick up a used set of rims to mount "snow" tires on and just swap 'em out as necessary. While I don't know much about tire sizing and how that works, I know from experience that my rims are an odd size and not many tires are available for 'em. The tires on my truck right now say "205/70R15." That means 15" rims, right? Is that small? Last time I bought tires I only had like 2 options. Also my truck has 5 lugs, not 6, so I'm having difficulty finding some used rims in my area.

Last, my truck is stock height so will I have trouble fitting a different set of rims on there? It seems I wouldn't be able to get a much bigger tire to fit, based on eyeballin' it.


---#2 Getting a camper shell---
I plan to pick up a camper shell once I get out there, for camping and general utility purposes. Now, I've loaded up my truck with a lot of weight in the past (sandbags when it rained, moving across town, dirtbikes and camping gear), so I know what it feels like to ride the bump-stops on the rear suspension. And while I've noticed that a little bit of weight in the bed improves the highway ride quality tremendously, I'm afraid the weight of a camper shell might be too much and I might have to beef up my shocks. Considering this thread, with this post in particular, I believe that my suspension needs some love regardless of the shell. I'm getting close to 110k and I think the only maintenance my suspension has EVER received was when I replaced the rear shocks last year. I'm the second owner of the truck, and lately I've noticed it's getting much less comfortable at speed, with lots of bouncing around and vibration, even after I got the brakes done and the tires aligned. Furthermore it dives pretty easily with every bump, and I've been scraping on things like downhill driveways with sharp gutters at the bottom and whenever there's a sudden dip on the highway.

I'm hoping someone will chime in with experience on the difference in "sag" (is that the right word?) with and without the camper shell. Will it weigh down my ride height considerably?


---#3: Remote Start---
Can I buy a remote start unit for my truck that has no alarm nor power locks? Furthermore, I really like the Viper alarm/remote start systems, but they're pricey. Can I buy a remote start system (no alarm) and eventually add an alarm with power locks that will work with it or would i have to buy the whole unit at once and do both the locks and the remote start? I only want remote start right now.


---#4: Dash Kit---
Anybody got a good line on where to get a dash kit for my first gen Taco? I installed a police scanner this year but never did find the right kit to clean it up. There's about an inch of gap on either side of the scanner with nothing holding it in, and it's just kinda flappin around in the space that used to be a pocket under the radio.
As for the police scanner, check local laws as well. Not all states allow the use of a mounted police scanner in a motor vehicle.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:41 AM   #13
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Scanner info: http://www.afn.org/~afn09444/scanlaws/scanner5.html

It's a gray area meaning there isn't any legislation written about scanners in particular as of right now, but as long as youre not committing crimes while listening or broadcasting on police freqs it is permitted.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:45 AM   #14
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Haha I second the notion of changing your washer fluid out. A few years ago I had my Saturn I was driving in college shipped up from Seattle and didn't bother to change it. I was pretty naive and just assumed all washer fluid wouldn't freeze. Of course it was solid from the time I drove it off the barge. Luckily it was just a short drive to a heated garage to thaw it out.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:48 AM   #15
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Hahaha yea, thanks for the tips guys I've got a long list of things to do now. If I don't get a camper shell I'll definitely get a tool box to keep all the winter essentials, spare food/sleeping bag/warm clothes/first aid/shovel/ice scraper/bags of sand/semi-elastic tow rope for recoveries/jack and tools/etc.
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:59 PM   #16
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When are you moving out there? I have my stock 5 lug rims sitting at my house with bald 205/75/R15 Dueler A/Ts on them right now. I'm kinda on your way too where I'm going to school (Rapid City, SD. If you're going on I-90 you'll go right past me). If it works out I could bring them up with me next time I'm home and you could pick them up on the way by.
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:19 PM   #17
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as far as snow and ice go in Wisconsin, ya you are defanitly going to want snow tires and chains as back up when it gets bad. And your suspension will sag alot with the topper. The 2wd suspension is as stiff as a marshmallow. If you plan on getting a topper and putting sandbags in the back to help with the snow, you will want substantially stiffer shocks.
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