The first day of the 2016 trout fishing season saw me hit the roads and tracks with renewed confidence thanks to help from the guys at 4 Wheel Drive Solutions in Cambridge.
With the new fishing season still a month away, my beloved 2002 Toyota Prado VX had been showing signs of ageing. Her engine was getting noisy, and the alloy wheels were way past their sell-buy date. As if that wasn’t enough the old Pirelli Scorpion AT tyres were starting to resemble something you might find at a race track – slicks! Not exactly an inspiring combination for heading onto the muddy stuff for an early season fishing excursion. It was time to get busy.
Before spending too much money I needed to know if the engine was up to the job. The 3.4 litre, 24 valve, V6 petrol power unit had well over 300,000k’s on the clock, was seeping oil from the rocker gaskets, had noisy fan bearings, a dodgy thermostat, and the cam belt and water pump were overdue for replacement.
Rodger the Service Manager at 4 Wheel Drive Solutions asked one of his technicians to give the Prado a test drive. The prognosis was good so she was booked in. After a week of automotive TLC I was delighted to pick up a refreshed truck – the engine was smooth at idle, revved freely and pulled strongly throughout the rev range. I’ve been told the 5VZ-FE engines have a very good reputation and can handle high mileages, but the key is regular maintenance, paying particular attention to the cooling system. I suspect this work was a timely intervention.
With the engine sorted, it was time to consider rims and rubber. The more I investigated options the more complex things became. It was time for a chat with Morgan, the owner at 4 Wheel Drive Solutions. I’d already established that I wanted to focus on improving the trucks off road capabilities, and didn’t need to retain the typical Prado ‘look’. In fact, I was quite keen to emphasise the off road intent behind the changes.
After running through a bunch of ideas I decided to go with a set of Mickey Thompson STZ tyres – an aggressive All Terrain tyre that gives an excellent combination of on-road and off-road performance. In terms of rims, we were down to two options, each with a different offset value. Morgan suggested the best way forward was to fit tyres on both rims and try them on the vehicle, to see exactly how they fitted. This proved to be a great idea and enabled me to confidently choose what I wanted. I opted for a set of 16×8 Australian mine site approved ROH BlackTrak steelies with an offset value of 0.
The tyres were christened on a trip to Lake Otamangakau, high on the Central Plateau above Lake Taupo. The weather at this time of year can be grim at times, with extended periods of very heavy rain. Therefore I was not surprised to find many of the tracks around the lake to be very muddy. I’m pleased to report the Prado performed well. While not ‘mudders’ the the STZ’s clawed through the soft stuff with relative ease and got me to the waters edge.
The proof of the pudding is in the catching! Fourth cast and an athletic young Rainbow hammered a black buzzer. A small fish by Lake O standards, but the season was underway.