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I have a 1998 dakota sport that is 2wd and was wondering what the best way would be to get 4x4 capabilities because I live where it snows so it would really be helpful. Two options that I was looking at is either a conversion of a manual locking diff.
 

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If by "conversion", you mean convert your 2WD to 4x4, it's far, far, far less trouble and expense to sell your 2WD and buy a 4x4.

A manual locking differential is only really necessary when you're doing serious off-roading and one of your drive wheels is very lightly loaded or in the air. The diff-lock can make quite a racket, and are not really ideal normal driving, as (depending on the type) they only drive the inside wheel when cornering, unless that wheel starts to slip. In slippery conditions on normal roads, the best thing is a limited slip differential (LSD). Chrysler's version of the LSD is called a Trac-Lok. You can buy a Trac-Lok carrier assembly to replace the open carrier you have. I recently found one at my local wrecker that I intend to install in the next few months.

I've driven 2WD pickups for decades here in Canada, where we get our fair share of snow and ice. Realistically, the best things you can do for winter driving traction, are:

1. New winter tires, rather than all-season or all-weather. They should have this mountain/snowflake symbol:


2. Put 200-400 lbs of weight in the back. Sandbags, Rubbermaid totes with pea gravel, etc. Just make sure they won't slide around as you drive. An added bonus is you have something to throw under the tires if you or another driver are stuck on ice.

3. Carry tire chains sized for your tires, and practise putting them on at the beginning of each snow season. They are excellent for when you have to get up that steep road where the snow isn't extremely deep, but is packed and slippery, or there is a solid surface not far under the loose snow. The combination of tire chains and a load of snow in the back of my truck have made it just as capable as a 4x4. Note that your speed is restricted to 20-30 MPH when using chains, which is usually reasonable if conditions are that bad.

4. (I've done this far less often than 1, 2, or 3.) If you have to drive some distance in deep snow, let some air out of your tires to increase the contact patch, giving your tires more ability to 'float' over the snow. You can safely drop to as little as 12 PSI, as long as you can air back up before traveling at highway speeds.

Also, always carry a shovel, preferably with a D-handle and a square nose, like a coal shovel or grain scoop. Often the best way to get a stuck vehicle moving is to shovel the snow out from around the tires, and if needed, shovel a six foot path in front of the vehicle to get momentum. If your shoveling around your truck, toss the snow in the back instead of off to the side.
 
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