Why Trucks Suck

Far too many people make irrational choices of vehicle, and manufacturers continue to use obsolete engineering in their trucks.

By Ted Mitchell
Published February 26, 2007

Several unfavorable safety statistics belong to trucks and truck-based SUVs. The chance of a single vehicle crash resulting in death is about 50 percent higher in trucks. Also, drivers are more likely to be male and drunk, especially in rural areas.

If you keep your eyes open, it is difficult not to conclude that truck drivers are more aggressive on average. A Transport Canada engineer once told me that this crowd makes the worst possible combination: the most aggressive, young, undereducated male drivers are drawn to vehicles that have the least stability and pose the most danger to other road users.

I could quote more statistics, but imagine this: you are driving a top rated, Canadian built Honda Civic about to get T-boned by another vehicle, which do you choose: a) another Civic, or b) a 2,300 kg 4x4 truck?

It is no stretch to assume the truck can kill you when the Civic will not (further details of vehicle incompatibility risks are available from NHTSA). What if that truck is actually just a commuter vehicle, as is the case most of the time? Your death will be due to the other driver's vanity.

Buying an Image

Stylish truck: this may look like a working truck, but that impression is wrong. It is primarily a fashion accessory. (Image Credit: Autoweek)
Stylish truck: this may look like a working truck, but that impression is wrong. It is primarily a fashion accessory. (Image Credit: Autoweek

Despite a rapidly urbanizing population with unpaved roads as rare as common sense, sales of light trucks continue to climb. If we were being sane, this graph should show a downward trend:

Market share of LTVs (trucks, SUVs, vans). (Image Credit: NHTSA)
Market share of LTVs (trucks, SUVs, vans). (Image Credit: NHTSA - click on the image to see larger)

The growth in market share of trucks and SUVs is so counter-intuitive that forces other than practicality must be strongly at work. For anyone who watches TV, you should be aware where the problem starts: marketing.

After years of enduring a barrage of ridiculous claims and innuendo, the public no longer can see the exaggeration. We accept phrases like "rethink truck", "professional grade engineering", "like a rock", and other assertions of toughness, reliability, and patriotism.

Advertisers are keen on encouraging settings with a masculine look and country music in the background, emphasizing family values and nostalgia. Buy the truck and apparently you become like this.

Most of the time their claims are greatly exaggerated or simply outright lies. For example, one of the earliest Mercedes M-class ads had a picture of a whitewater kayak beside the SUV.

I recognized the kayak model because I owned it. It turns out that the kayak was longer than the inside of the SUV, which did not have a roof rack. Picture that fancy Mercedes driving down the road with a kayak sticking out the back, hatch half open and tied down with yellow rope. Why don't they make honest commercials like that?

The truck is not a truck anymore. It is a fashion accessory, a declaration of personality and values, a sex symbol, and compensation for low self esteem for those who confuse the terms "tough" and "mean". It is a patriotic statement not only in association but in actuality, since the solvency of the Big Three depends largely on the high profit margin of body-on-frame trucks and SUVs.

Vanity Trumps Need

Now if you try to match your actual needs with the attributes of various types of vehicle (my last essay dryly describes this process), it is very difficult to justify owning a truck.

Perhaps 15 percent of truck purchases can be defended, and these are overwhelmingly by contractors and farmers. For the SUV, this number is more like one percent. However, you will find that SUVs are perfectly suited for touring the African savanna.

An SUV in its element. If you concentrate really hard, it kinda looks like the QEW. (Image credit: Savannah Champs)
An SUV in its element. If you concentrate really hard, it kinda looks like the QEW. (Image credit: Savannah Champs)

So internalized are the factors I speak of that it is probably useless to try convincing the purchasers of trucks of what they are actually doing.

Expect silly rationalizations about why they in fact "need" a truck. If that excuse falters, well, "it's a free country". Yes, unfortunately; free to cause harm to others, effectively in the name of a style fad.

So we don't need more efficient, cleaner trucks, hybrid trucks, etc. We need fewer trucks, and more people to stand up and say no, that truck you own is ridiculous.

Truck bed cover: Does anything say 'this truck doesn't do real work' better than this accessory? It reduces the utility of a truck bed to that of a car trunk. Why not buy a car? (Image Credit: Auto-Trim)
Truck bed cover: Does anything say 'this truck doesn't do real work' better than this accessory? It reduces the utility of a truck bed to that of a car trunk. Why not buy a car? (Image Credit: Auto-Trim)

Crimes Against Engineering

In the mid-1970s, cars and trucks looked the same underneath. That is, body-on-frame, non-independent rear live axle on leaf springs.

Five to ten years later, coil springs replaced the leaf springs in cars, and minor upgrades were made to the front suspension as well. This improved suspension tuning slightly, but the big benefits had to wait for the unibody frame.

Leaf springs allow heavy loading but are never really "tuned" properly because of the wide range of sprung weights. Tuned for no load, a full one will make it bounce violently. Tuned for the rated load, it is very jittery and hard to control when empty, which is the usual case.

The solution to this is adjustable suspension like the air shocks in transport trucks. But that is not an option as it costs money. It is easier and cheaper to buy performance via clever advertising.

By the mid '80s, unibody cars started showing up in numbers. These first iterations were not so amazing, but after a few design refinements the benefits were boldly apparent. By the early '90s, cars were nearly all unibody and vastly outperforming trucks, which had not developed their frame technology at all.

Today, only the beastly Crown Vic retains body on frame, and you can still see the lumbering monsters wallowing around in the guise of taxicabs and police cars.

The Impression of Sportiness

To the uninformed, modern trucks can give the impression of sportiness. Mostly this is a function of fancy paint, chrome, advertising and words like "Sport" suggestively painted on the back.

But trucks also have firm suspension, so they superficially resemble real sports cars. Only, in a truck, once you lose traction, things get ugly. These simple suspension designs have a very low cushion for error, especially when paired with grippy low profile tires.

Unibody / four wheel independent suspension cars allow you to predictably squeal all four tires in a fast corner, but don't try that in a truck, the result is generally not predictable, especially on uneven surfaces.

Now here is a technical breakdown of where manufacturers should be indicted.

1. All jacked up and nowhere to go.

Why is this truck so tall? Because it looks tough and sells better that way. This rare marketing photo actually shows the rear differential, usually photos are aligned to hide it behind a tire. (Image Credit: Ford Canada)
Why is this truck so tall? Because it looks tough and sells better that way. This rare marketing photo actually shows the rear differential, usually photos are aligned to hide it behind a tire. (Image Credit: Ford Canada)

Tall vehicles, from an engineering perspective, accomplish nothing positive. More ground clearance in the centre of the vehicle is of no use when driving off-road if you have a massive differential hanging down from the axle, asking to snag on rocks and stumps like an overgrown scrotum.

Orchitis: If you were designing a real off-road vehicle, where would you want the most ground clearance? (Image Credit: University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine)
Orchitis: If you were designing a real off-road vehicle, where would you want the most ground clearance? (Image Credit: University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine)

The negatives of height are numerous: increased instability and loss of control, greater rollover propensity, difficult entry and exit, and harder to load cargo.

Of course, the most heinous is the increased risk to other road users, where the longitudinally stiff frame can override a passenger car's door sills. This is the "battering ram aimed at the head and torso" of car drivers.

2. Too much unsprung weight.

The live axle shown above is very heavy. In unibody / independent suspension designs, these components are part of the sprung weight. The difference is remarkable. Excess unsprung weight is all bad. Ride is rough and traction is impaired.

3. Non-independent suspension. (Live axle)

When one rear wheel hits a bump, the other wheel's motion is affected negatively. This adds to the rough ride and poor traction.

4. Low frame stiffness in torsion (twisting)

The equation that governs twistability says that torsional stiffness is proportional to the width of the frame cubed. That is, since truck frames are about half the width of the body, there is a factor of 23 = 8 times the stiffness due to frame width alone.

In addition, the geometry of unibody frames is more favourable than the truck ladder frame for torsional stiffness. Taking both factors together, ballpark a difference of 20 times between the torsional stiffness of car and truck frames.

It is common to see truck beds visibly wiggling over small potholes. Perhaps nothing is as necessary for a performance car as a torsionally stiff frame. Not only does this enhance handling and ride quality, it also reduces noise and vibration.

The Bottom Lines

Body on frame vehicles have two overwhelming advantages. Low assembly cost means high profit margins keep the Big Three alive. Second is manufacturing flexibility, which means that many different bodies can be fitted to the same frame.

Consequently, sheet metal is rapidly adaptable to changing styles, a fantastic advantage in an industry based on fashion fads.

If trucks were to be made with unibody frames, they would have the following advantages:

What you experience:

What others experience:

What Next?

30 years ago, cars and trucks were on a level playing field. Today, the differences in frame and suspension engineering are massive. There is only one truck, the Honda Ridgeline, which uses unibody technology. It is also top rated in performance.

Recall this is the first attempt Honda has made at a truck, versus nearly a century of experience for the domestic competition.

Think about this proposal: if you drive a commuter vehicle, that is, not a heavy commercial truck, it should meet uniform criteria for stability, gas mileage, emissions, and crash compatibility. (Currently, such criteria either do not exist or different, arbitrary standards are used for cars and trucks.)

The easiest way for manufacturers to meet such criteria is to use unibody technology for trucks. Otherwise, if the vehicle can't meet criteria, a relevant business license and commercial driver doctor's exams should be required.

Given the massive risks posed by large vehicles, commercial drivers should also meet performance criteria for collision history and have psychological profiles that exclude high risk drivers.

Or, we could revert to the time honored ideology that the market knows best. Given the auto sector's track record, we know roughly what to expect: serious resistance and misinformation campaigns, capitalizing on patriotism and other clever marketing ploys.

Expect auto journalist whores to label the Ridgeline a "pansy, urban boy toy”, not tough enough for real men who need real trucks.

So the verdict is in: You do not "need" that vanity vehicle, and it is more obsolete than you can imagine.

Final Note

Critics may pan the 'theoretical' nature of this essay. That would ignore some 2,000+ hours of off-road driving experience I accumulated during my youth in northern Ontario. As any northerner knows, the performance of real off-road vehicles such as dirt bikes, ATV's and skidders will thoroughly embarrass the most capable of four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs.

Despite using a truck for its intended design: 12 cords of wood a year, countless loads of garbage, tractor parts, hay bales, camping trips, etc. ad infinitum, our family did not "need" a truck.

A car with a roof rack and utility trailer would do most of those chores easily. If it would not, there was always the tractor and hay wagon.

Ted Mitchell is a Hamilton resident, emergency physician and sometimes agitator who recently completed a BEng at McMaster University. He is fascinated by aspects of our culture that are harmful, but avoid serious public discussion.


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By Bossfan (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2007 at 12:46:56

Monday, Feb. 26th, 2007

Dear Dr. Ted,

I agree with you on many counts. The Honda Ridgeline pick-up is a good example of new thinking in trucks: unibody construction and independent rear suspension. I've driven the Ridgeline and its ride is very smooth yet will still tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Vancouver, B.C.

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By BigRam (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2007 at 23:28:50

You seem to have a personal problem with big trucks. And your arguement is simple enough. Heavy vehicles do more damage to lighter vehicles when they crash, absolutely true. But what do you propose, boycott large vehicles?

I drive a 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up truck which I bought after driving a Ford Focus for 4 years. My truck tows a boat during the summer, a utility trailer with a snowmobile in the winter, holds all my camping gear and drives through the snow and mud in 4x4 mode when the roads get bad better than any vehicle I have ever owned. Since I can only afford one vehicle, a truck is the most versitle.

I also drive a semi truck, one of the largest vehicles on the road. Talk about doing some damage when they crash, semis top the list. But what are you going to do, get rid of those too?

Or better yet, tell the manufacturers that they are building them all wrong, and that they are obsolete unless they are unibodys?

Maybe we should all eat tofu, alphalfa sprouts, and organic tomatoes because killing cows and chickens is bad for the planet.

You can drive your Honda Ridgeline or Toyota Prius or whatever you want as you drive to your office in the city. The rest of us will choose the vehicle that suits our lifestyles as well.

Good Day Sir!

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By perplexed (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2007 at 02:10:43

A new SUV legend emerges. This one seems to imply that a 2 ton vehicle is lighter than air, or has verticle take-off capabilities.

Why else would the drivers park their vehicles on a 3 ft. deep snow filled ditch, & expect the snow to hold them up?

I have seen 2 incidents in 2 weeks & some 'Deep Rut' evidence of more. In one case, another SUV was trying to pull the 'dead' one out of the ditch with a 1/4 inch poly boat rope.
In another, the tow truck driver was bemused by a large SUV showing it's tummy & knickers to the world. looking like a dead rhino with limbs in the air.

I guess I have to ask...Why would anybody think their vehicle, (no matter how Miraculous!) would stay upright in those circumstances?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 27, 2007 at 09:10:30

To Bigram:

It seems that you are one of the few on the road who actually employ their trucks the way they were meant to be used. Do you really think that's all that common?

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By A Robot (anonymous) | Posted March 01, 2007 at 21:46:24

Another aggressive, drunk, rural male checking in. I just want to let you know that your article is shit. RTH eds should know better.

p.s. Those auto journalist whores at Motor Trend gave their Truck of the Year award to the Ridgeline.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted March 02, 2007 at 11:18:31

ONe further note on four wheel drive. Because of its obvious ability in deep snow etc, it is tempting to conclude that this gives some sort of safety advantage.

It's always fun to tally how many 4wd vehicles have snow tires. In my neighbourhood I've seen only one all winter. I guess the laws of friction don't apply if you have the forces of marketing behind you.

You will scour road safety statistics to find any evidence that 4wd/awd is safer and find nothing. In some cases, the trend appears to be worse. This is certainly true for 4wd trucks compared to the same models in 2wd with respect to rollovers. Not surprising, laws of physics say taller vehicle = more rollovers.

Further to what is the major factor for crashes; aggressive driving or vehicle engineering, this is difficult to extract for all crashes, too many factors to examine mathematically. But at least for rollovers this has been done in establishing the "SSF" static stability factor that translates into a 5 star system for NHTSA rollover ratings.

They found that 88% of rollovers were mathematically accounted for by the SSF (purely a vehicle factor).

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By driving me crazy (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2007 at 16:21:30

Atta way to throw around insults without any pesky facts or arguments there Robot.

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By stillperplexed (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2007 at 22:53:17

Thurday (Mar. 1st) was a Real SUV day! I'm heading up the Mountain behind a line of cars going about 40km/hr., & we keep dropping speed as we climb. Finally, the line is gimping along at about 10km./hr. & slowing down. It's looking like if one of the cars get's bogged dowm, we will all be stuck.
I can finally see what's holding us up when there is a curve, & it's an SUV!! 'Nothing in front of it for at least 1/4 mile, & a long line of cars behind it. (I thought those SUV's had superior traction in snow conditions?!) I was safely making better time in my front wheel drive tuna can. If people feel the need to purchase an SUV, at least learn how to drive it.

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By the_experience03 (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2007 at 08:26:05

I have mixed feelings about this article. I will agree with the fact that there are WAY too many body on frame based SUVs and trucks on the road today. However, they do have their place.

Nevermind the logistics of who should and shouldn't be driving a truck or SUV. I'd like to address some of the physics.

The frame:
Please do not confuse rigidity with strength. In terms of all out raw handling, a properly braced unibody vehicle will do better in fast corners on a road track. However, even many of these flex. Don't believe me? Just look at all the ads for subframe connectors and strut tower braces. Theys are to help with that torsional rigidity you claimed unibody vehicles inherently have. The ultimate in torsional rigidity actually comes from a tube frame such as that which a race car has. It also offers amazing driver protection.

So then...where does that leave the full frame? Simply put, to bend is better than to break. Watch a semi the next time you are at a stoplight next to one. When they let off the clutch in first gear you will see the whole frame twist. The front left tire will unload tremendously. This is due to the incredible torque. Pickups are no different with amounts of torque not seen in smaller vehicles. The current Duramax diesel makes over 650 ft lbs of torque. Show me a common unibody vehicle that deals with those kinds of forces without ripping apart.

The frame gives a solid mount to mount items such as the suspension and hitches to. Unibodies get scary in the engineering department when it comes to this.

The unibody SUV and truck is nothing new. The Jeep XJ Cherokee, MJ Pickup, ZJ Grand Cherokee, WJ Grand Cherokee, WK Grand Cherokee, and KJ Liberty all are unibody. I am an avid offroader and many of the people in my club have the XJ Cherokees as they are affordable and capable. However, an XJ is the only vehicle I have ever see pop its windshield out on a trail. The reason? All vehicles have some degree of body flex. In a body on frame vehicle, this is taken up by the body mount bushings such that the body is relatively unaffected by frame torsion. This is not the case on the unibody vehicle where the A, B, and C pillars which support the windows also serve a role in preventing vehicle torsion.

The suspension:
Short-Long arm independent suspension is king of the road course. However, it is flawed when it comes to hauling a large load. The same properties of SLA suspensions, that is changing camber with varying load, that makes it reign supreme at speed on sharp corners is what makes it unsafe in a towing or hauling application. As the camber changes, the load is shifted more to the sidewalls of the tires. This will happen when a load squats the rear of the truck. This is where live axles reign supreme. A load will squat the suspension, but save for some sidewall flex (which the SLA IRS will also suffer from), the contact patch remains the same.

Leafsprings will be king of the towing-hauling world as long as air ride is prohibitively expensive in small vehicles. Air ride has its own set of disadvantages which I will not get into in this post. Leafsprings are predictable, simple, inexpensive, and provide one thing your beloved coil springs cannot offer; controlled down travel. What I mean by this is that leafsprings have a neutral point. It will take a certain amount of force to bend them up or down. Coil springs also have this property, but are not mounted such that they can take advantage of it. If you start to get body roll with coils, you're done. If you get body roll with leafsprings, the inside spring will unload and will require a force to continue flexing past its neutral point. This force is exactly opposite of that which is causing the body roll in the first place and as such they will neutralize each other. This is not a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but rather proven offroad physics. I would direct you to search for competition rock crawlers mounting Fox Air Shox. Most often they will have the Air Shox in the rear for the suspension travel will having leaf springs in the front to control body dynamics (i.e. not flopping on the roof).

Live axles also have the advantages of being stupidly simple. They suffer less from parasitic loses when compared to an IRS setup. They are also well suited to large loading with bearing designs being easy, size requirements for flex resistance being easy, etc. Again, the proof can be seen in the fact that semis and trains both use live axles. An IRS designed to take the load of a 10.5 inch AAM 14 bolt full floating rear axle (1973-2000 GM 3/4 and 1-ton trucks) would be incredibly large and heavy. Compare the front end of a 1994-2008 Chevy 1-ton (IFS) to that of a Honda Civic and you'd be amazed. Even more amazing is that the front end GAWR is far FAR less than the GAWR of the rear axle. It is impractical to independently spring these vehicles.

I could go on for a long long time, but what it all boils down to is that you have an issue with the people who own and operate SUVs and trucks that do not belong in one and I can agree with you wholeheartedly. A Ford Windstart will seat 8 comfortable, gets great mileage, can be had with AWD, is incredibly safe etc. These are the reasons soccer moms buy SUVs when their needs could easily and more properly be satisfied with another vehicle.

However, your article attacks the engineering of the trucks and SUVS themselves. They are not flawed. They are built for a purpose. You are mismatching the vehicle and the purpose. Would it be fair of me to write an article about how terrible my Honda Civic is at towing an 18.5 foot boat? Of course not. The designed use of the vehicle must be matched to the actual use of the vehicle.

Basically, I'd just like to recommend that you write a post about the horrors of people buying the wrong vehicle rather than criticizing the vehicle itself for being purchased by these people.

For the record, I own a body-on-frame truck AND a Honda Civic so I feel as though my opinion can be taken at face value. I do not care to be accused of being one of those truck driven' young redneck males, even if I am one.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted March 06, 2007 at 12:42:20

I think the biggest problem is that the manufacturers have huge profit profit potential in tarting up a work truck with all sorts of fancy gimics (leather interior, navigation, high end stereo, etc...) and advertising them as commuter vehicles.

How many of those big trucks do you think are sold as true work horses vs the number sold as ego enhancers?

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By the_experience03 (anonymous) | Posted March 07, 2007 at 00:13:01

Well...General Motors offers several trim packages, the bottom of which is "W/T" or work truck. I won't deny that there are an awful lot of people driving trucks that don't belong in them. At the same time, the lux packages would be nice if I were driving crosscountry with an 18,000 lbs load of 4 cars on a trailer, a place that some trucks do find themselves.

I stand behind my opinion...the problem is not the vehicles themselves or the is the people that drive them.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted March 10, 2007 at 20:34:55

If trucks were only used by those who really needed them, I would have had no reason to write this article.

When trucks are used as on-road commuter vehicles, they are completely unsuited for this purpose like fish out of water.

Neither are they very good off-road vehicles, because of non-independent suspension, that rear differential exactly where you least want it etc.

For both on and even off- road, unibody / four wheel independent designs are superior. No, they are not suitable for very heavy duty loads or towing. In engineering there are always tradeoffs.

The problem is twofold: 1. Manufacturers using slick marketing to push vehicles unsuitable for commuting on typical suburbanites (especially, rural commuting defacto suburbanites) This is ethically irresponsible corporate behaviour.

  1. the millions of gullible who swallow the bait hook line and sinker.

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By the_experience03 (anonymous) | Posted March 11, 2007 at 19:40:25

You are CLEARLY not an offroader. Live axles front and rear reign supreme offroad. This is not anecdotal or opinion. It is fact.

I know you're going to come back at me with the HUMVEE example so let me dispel that one right away.

The Humvee uses a very unique independent suspension design. It uses heavy planetary gear boxes at the wheels which multiply the torque downstream of vulnerably weak constant velocity joints. These joints are necessary on independent front suspensions while the relative lack of compound angles allows regular carden style shafts to be used in the rear.

The HUMVEE suspension is heavy. Everything about it is overbuilt (yet it still has many failures). This is to give it enough weight to sink in water and it's down low to make it more stable (read: easier for the untrained to drive). Indeed, the US Military has made great strides towards dumbing down their equipment over the last 25 or so years. Automatic transmission, torsen planetary gear style limited slip differentials, etc are meant so that less training is required.

Still, the HUMVEE suffers from many of the offroading shortcomings of independent style suspensions.

Shortcomings of independent suspensions offroad:

-Changing ground clearance

Sure, differentials hang low on solid axle rigs, but they are built stronger. Most are housed in cast iron while independent suspensions typically use an aluminum housing. The Jeep KJ Liberty, for example, has a Dana 35 based front differential in aluminum while the TJ Wrangler has a cast iron center section Dana 30 front axle. The cast iron is stronger and less prone to deflection from impact than aluminum.

You also know where the differentials are in a solid axle rig. You learn this early on. You simple drive the tires over the highest point such as a rock jutting up on the trail. The ground clearance remains relatively unchanged. However, with independent suspension, the differential bottom is not constant with the centerline of the wheel. As one side of the suspension is compressed, the differential's location relative to the center of the wheel drops, thus reducing ground clearance. It is difficult to determine what your ground clearance actually is at any given suspension compression point.

Not to worry, though. The differentials are cradled in a weak stamped steel cradle that will likely break long before the differential itself is damaged by a rock, right?

-Lack of wheel travel and articulation

Wheel travel is just what it sounds is the amount a wheel can travel up or down. It is determined by any number of factors, but the limiting factor is often the length of the locating system for the axle. With coil springs this means the control arms and leaf springs, the springs themselves are the locating members.

Control arms on independent sprung vehicles are limited in length by the engine. Unless you want an engine that sits WAY up, the arms must be short enough to clear the block and oil pan. This means reduced travel. The longitudinal arms of a solid axle sprung vehicle are limited only by wheelbase.

The typical independently sprung rig is limited to about 7 inches of actual wheel travel while only typically utilizing 5 inches of this. That is up and down travel combined. Without wheel travel, you will not have traction because tires will not stay in contact with the road.

Articulation is the amount of height that a front right tire, for example, can vary from a right rear tire. In our previous example with IFS having limited wheel travel of 7 inches, this means with the front tire fully stuffed and the rear tire fully drooped we have a whole 7 inches of articulation. This will lead to picking up a tire, which in turn causes a loss of traction and stability. Not cool.

With a solid axle, for every inch a tire on one side moves up, the tire on the opposite side of the axle will move down an amount. this gives far better articulation.

I suggest you look up "RTI ramp." RTI stands for ramp travel index and is a measure of articulation. A score of 1000 on a 20 degree ramp means that a vehicle can drive a front tire on one side of the vehicle up the ramp all the way until the rear tire on the same side touches the ramp without picking up any other tires. Please show me an independently sprung vehicle that can score a 1000 or even a 700 (70% of the wheelbase before picking up a tire).

CV joints are necessary on independently sprung vehicles. It is unavoidable. In straightline travel they are generally stronger than a carden style joint as you would find with a solid axle style vehicle because they have more points of contact. A carden joint has two while a typical ball bearing style CV will have 6. However, when you turn, a carden joint will still have 2 points of contact while a CV joint will often be reduced to a singular point of conact (on a single ball) with less surface area. The result is breakage.

Another point about strength is in frame attachment points. With an independent suspension your contact points are all close together and towards the front and rear extremes of a frame. With leaf springs the frame contact points are well spread apart and spaced at the ends and the middle of the frame. Control arms with a solid axle coil sprung rig put the frame contact points on the bottom of the frame rather than the sides of the webbing. The moment of inertia is greater on this plane making the mounting points stronger. The brackets are also closer to the center of the frame, thus reducing the torque moment on the frame. With a parallel 4 link with panhard bar such as the system in the rear of the TJ Wrangler, the lateral and longitudinal forces are even directed to different points on the frame to reduce stresses.

Many independently spring vehicles actually use combination motor mounts and suspension hard points. My Toyota truck prior to the solid axle swap is a fine example. How foolish! All the stresses from both the suspension and engine are directed to a single node. If independent suspensions and unibodies are so strong, I have to wonder why subframe connectors between front and rear suspension hard points and across the strut towers in the front are so popular. There must be a reason why there is an aftermarket for parts to spread the load of the suspension across more points.

I could go on and on, but I think you're getting my point.

Your comment about unibodies being superior offroad blew me away. The only unibody rig I can think of that is even remotely popular in the offroad community is the Jeep XJ Cherokee and there are a host of aftermarket goodies to strength its weak unibody. Please, set me straight and give me some examples of superior unibody offroad vehicles because I am at a loss.

I do not wish to contend your points about the foolishness of the vast majority of truck and SUV owners out there. However, I cannot stand by idly while you contend points that are simply wrong about the engineering of the vehicles for the purpose they were intended.

I can't help but wonder if your opinions of these vehicles in heavy duty towing and offroad applications, the very setting they were intended for, is simply based on theory. I have experience both with IFS and solid axle vehicles both on and offroad. They both have their place. The unibody, independently sprung vehicle does not belong offroad, atleast not in its current form.

I implore you to do some research. Look at various offroading websites. Open the pages of a magazine dedicated to the hobby. You will quickly see that what I am saying is not simply the opinion of one man. For real kicks, research Walker Evans' offroad buddy. He tried an experimental rig with swing arm style independent suspension, but finished the season with Dynatrac Dana 60's to try and salvage some points in his professional rockcrawling season.

I look forward to your rebuttal as I'd truly like to understand where you are coming from. I respect many of your points, but fail to see the basis for opinion in others. Please let me know what your background is in the field. It will better help me understand where you are coming from. If you have desert raced, for example, I can see where you're coming from on your independent suspension arguments.

I will go first...
I am a 22 year old male who has been offroading since I got my license at age 16. I have owned cars, trucks, SUVs, and even a bus. My offroad rigs have had both IFS and a solid axle. I am also a junior in the field of mechanical engineering with an emphasis on materials sciences and machine component design.

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By the_experience03 (anonymous) | Posted March 11, 2007 at 19:43:00

I read your profile (I should have done that in the first place) and see that you are also a mechanical engineering student. Cool! This explains where a lot of the theory comes from. Now I just want to know where the reality comes from.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted March 15, 2007 at 22:55:16

responding to the experience about practical experience:

I have no "serious" off road experience, meaning the hobby of taking street-legal trucks into places where you get them stuck. I think that whole thing is ridiculous, especially when you can get a used dirt bike or atv for about $2K that will leave the jeeps far behind in almost any surface conditions, especially in the muskeg and rock of northern ontario that i'm most familar with, and it's a lot more fun!

I'm essentially a farm boy, as in drive everything you can as soon as you can reach the pedals. When very young I recognized the severe limitations of trucks on roads, paved or not (especially gravel!) and I never appreciated the vicious lateral roll imparted by the live axle on the occasions I've driven off road.

so for the purpose of light off-roading, which is all that the typical suv ever sees, i find that the predictable traction of unibody / independant systems is superior to "real" 4x4 off road vehicles up to the limit of their much lower ground clearance. it is much, much harder to get a fwd car stuck than a rwd truck for example!

Most of my off road driving is on atv's and snowmobiles. I built a hovercraft once (don't do this without an effective dust filter so you can breathe) and a kind of airboat on snow skis (also don't do this, I was lucky enough to only have a broken foot before packing that one in)

So dude, i don't really understand the off roading minutiae rant, when what you say applies to 1 in 1000, compared to what I'm saying that applies to 900 in 1000.

And get a dirt bike. Cheaper, easier to fix, and more fun! You don't need a winch on it either. You can even tow a couple of them with a honda civic, although that ride may be worthy of too much laughter from the "real men" in the off road fraternity.

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By the_experience03 (anonymous) | Posted March 18, 2007 at 18:00:06

Like I posted before...I have no issues with your rant in reference to people driving a truck or SUV that have no place in one. My issue was with your attack on the engineering of the vehicles themselves. Perhaps we will just have to agree to disagree. Get your degree and go to work for an automaker. Perhaps you can prove to the entire offroading community, myself included, that independent suspensions and unibodies do work. Until then, I will continue to be one of those people who drives a vehicle that is like a fish out of water safely and efficiently both on and off the road. Heck, I'll even continue to drive my Civic to prove I'm not biased.

I can't see continuing to post on this thread. I still feel as though my points have yet to be countered in any sort of technical fashion. Clearly you are annoyed with my long posts. I can understand why, but please realize that there is not one ounce of untrue information there and my references to various vehicles and technologies most certainly can be verified. I could go on for hours and hours, but it is clear that it really doesn't matter. You are entitled to your opinion and I to mine.

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By rsquared (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2007 at 15:21:13

You seem to have neglected several key points.
1) Somewhere between 60-75% of those killed in rollover accidents weren’t wearing their seatbelt
2) Alcohol was involved 1/3 of the deaths
3) Excessive speed was involved in most rollover accidents.
And the data is skewed because
4) SUVs tend to carry more people than cars
5) people tend to use 4X4s when the weather is bad.

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By miniyaris (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2007 at 15:38:32

Yeah, but for your first three points, SUV and truck drivers are more likely to not wear their seatbelt, to drink and drive, and to speed (some kind of macho thing perhaps?), and for the last one, you could just as easily say, people who own SUVs tend to think they can drive them in bad weather when they really can't. Also, I know when you correct for these other variables, people are still more likely to roll over in SUVs/trucks and are still more likely to die in accidents involving SUVs/trucks.

As for #4, you got me. I hadn't heard one way or another, but I'm guessing it's not going to make a big difference.

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By rsquared (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2007 at 10:00:00

The real question is not whether or not you like trucks, but why does the NTSHA allow vehicles to be produced that do not meet the required design envelope. For example airplanes are required by the FAA to meet all flight conditions in order to be certified. Car manufactures can produce vehicle that do not meet the required design parameters that are required to drive down the highway. For example about 1/3 of vehicles produced can't even make an evasive manuever without rolling over.

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By rsquared (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2007 at 11:17:11

The real question is not whether or not you like trucks, but why does the NTSHA allow vehicles to be produced that do not meet the required design envelope. For example airplanes are required by the FAA to meet all flight conditions in order to be certified. Car manufactures can produce vehicle that do not meet the required design parameters that are required to drive down the highway. For example about 1/3 of vehicles produced can't even make an evasive manuever without rolling over.

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By jesseTheBody (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2007 at 20:56:28

Know why trucks suck? They use twice or three times as much gas as cars and almost none of the people who own one actually need it for any of the things a truck is good at. People who say "Yeah what about going off-road? Huh?" are just blowing smoke up your ass. The trucks I see driving around the city are hardly going off-road, especially the ones with bed covers and sparkly paint jobs. Hamilton's got some big potholes, but COME ON!

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted March 29, 2007 at 17:32:58

Sorry to beat this to death, but as far as I can ascertain, the federal budget has a total exemption of the gas guzzler tax for pickup trucks.

Mea culpa, all those trucks have been deemed necessary by the divine feds.

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By the_experience03 (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2007 at 15:03:59

Ok...I have to jump back in here. In the US most trucks and SUVs do actually have to meet with emissions and fuel mileage standards. A truck that gets 15 mpg when CAFE standards say the light truck division of a company must get 20 means that they need something that gets 25 to offset that 15 mpg truck.

There are exceptions to vehicles that need to meet with the "harsh" standards, but I don't think you see too many diesel powered dual rear wheel trucks out there as daily drivers.

What REALLY fries my ass is that vehicles with fold flat seats and AWD can just get passed the definitions of SUVs. What in God's name makes it right for a Subaru Legacy to fall under the same rules as a Chevy Tahoe?

By the way...the Subaru Legacy is classified as a light truck, has independent suspension on all 4 corners, and has AWD. It also gets light truck mileage while polluting that same as well. So what's the difference? Capability!

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By GUEST (anonymous) | Posted April 05, 2007 at 20:29:10

What about those of us who have businesses and other activities that require the heavy duty truck but cant afford a second vehicle. Some times people are forced to use a truck for commuting. As for the idiots that have no use for a truck and buy them well thats typical of most americans today more money than brains i guess.

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By Scheinwerfer (registered) | Posted May 11, 2007 at 13:57:58

You raise some indisputably valid points in this article, Dr. Mitchell. However, your credibility is dubious when you advocate for unit-body construction of trucks and vans, for a few reasons. Two of them have already been discussed by others: the existence in the market of unit-body SUVs, and the unsuitability of unit-body construction for many types of service into which pickup trucks are legitimately placed.

The additional problem I see is that you evidently didn't carefully research the history of vehicle construction methods and trends in North America. You write, inter alia:

"In the mid-1970s, cars [were constructed with] body-on-frame, non-independent rear live axle on leaf springs. Five to ten years later, coil springs replaced the leaf springs [...] big benefits had to wait for the unibody frame. By the mid '80s, unibody cars started showing up in numbers [...] By the early '90s, cars were nearly all unibody."

There are significant errors here-

1) "Unibody" is a trademark, not a generic term. This is admittedly a minor point, but if you're after a generic term for the unitised construction you are referring to, use "unit-body" or "monocoque". The former is more commonly used in North America, while the latter is favoured in Europe.

2) Mass-produced unit-body vehicles were first offered for sale in North America in the mid-late 1930s by Chrysler Corp (the Airflow models). These didn't sell well due to their unconventional styling. The second attempt -- this time a successful one -- in North America happened in 1960, twenty-five years before your "mid 1980s" figure. And the unit-body vehicles that arrived in the early '60s weren't just a few exotics, either. Chrysler Corporation introduced the unit-body Valiant and Dart models in 1960, switched their entire passenger car lineup to unit-body for 1962, except the Imperial which was switched to unit-body for 1967. These cars were very popular and highly rated by consumer reviewers (who liked their durability, reliability, and handling-related safety characteristics) and motor-trade reviewers (who liked their performance-related handling characteristics). Ford introduced their unit-body Falcon in 1960, and offered an increasing number of unit-body cars after that date. And there are numerous other examples as well. Certainly there were plenty of body-on-frame cars being sold in the mid '70s, but there were also plenty of unit-body cars at that time.

Furthermore, good unit-body designs did not suddenly materialise in the late '80s or 1990s as you claim. As you must certainly know, even the most elegant engineering concept is only as good as its implementation. There were many poorly-designed unit-body vehicles in the 1980s and 1990s for reasons having more to do with overly cost-averse manufacturers than with the (nonexistent) novelty of the concept.

3) Your comments regarding coil vs. leaf springs have some validity, but not as much as you seem to think. There are many variants of the three primary types of automotive suspension springs (coil, leaf, torsion bar). The simpler, less-costly versions of each tend to have a narrow load window through which handling can be considered "good". Additional refinement tends to improve the baseline handling, widens the load window, and increases the cost -- no matter whether the system incorporates coil, leaf, or torsion bar springs. As with unit-body vs. body-on-frame construction, the devil is in the details (or, more to the point, the handling quality is largely down to the implementation rather than the concept).


There is a definite mismatch between what is offered and what is genuinely needed by most buyers of trucklike vehicles (i.e., a passenger cab + cargo box). Remember the Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero and Subaru Brat? They were car-based trucks, essentially station wagons with a cargo bed instead of a station wagon body with rear seats and a tailgate. You can't get them any more in North America, but Australians can still buy car-based RWD pickups, which offer safety, fuel efficiency and cost-effectiveness vastly superior to truck-based pickups, while remaining amply capable of handling the needs and wants of what most individuals buy pickups for. "Utes", they call them, short for "Utility". See Ford's at and GM-Holden's at , for example.

So, why don't we have those vehicles here? Marketeering plays a part, but there are larger forces at work. Through the early '70s, the North American vehicle market was a pure oligopoly, i.e., it was fully controlled by GM, Ford, Chrysler, and if we're being generous, AMC. Now we've got all the world's biggest automakers selling cars in North America, but the oligopoly still exists in a more insidious form: US vehicle equipment and construction regulations (and the Canadian standards forcibly kept nearly identical by the US auto industry's "free trade" tactics) are based almost entirely on SAE standards, which were written almost entirely by US automakers. Vehicles conforming to the internationalised (originally European) ECE regulations are allowed or required throughout the entire rest of the world, but such vehicles are banned from North America because they don't conform to the NA regulations.

The claim is made (or at least strongly implied) that ECE vehicles aren't as safe as NA-spec vehicles, but a mountain of high-quality data shows that is not the case. If it were, the US would have the lowest number in the world of deaths and injuries per vehicle-distance travelled and per vehicle registered, and that is not the case. The US is #16 on one list, and #10 on the other. Canada (where vehicle regs are almost identical to US) is a few slots better on both lists, because Canadian seatbelt usage rates are over 90% compared to around 70% in the US. But neither country is at the top of the list. All the countries higher (better) on the list use ECE vehicle regulations, not the NA regs. That doesn't necessarily mean that if all vehicles in North America were magically transformed into ECE compliance overnight our safety would improve, but it does mean the NA regs don't do a better job than the ECE regs, and there is no safety-related reason for banning ECE vehicles from North America.

So...why are they banned? Easy: They are banned so that the US automakers (including the US operations of foreign brands) can continue to control what vehicles do and don't enter the North American market. We have decided to buy into the highly questionable notion of "free" trade, so tariffs and local-content laws and other ways of protecting domestic jobs and industry are now considered backwards and taboo. As a result, we hide our trade restrictions in technical regulations, claiming the need for different regulations is based on safety while excluding vehicles demonstrated to be safe in countries like Germany, the UK, Australia, and other countries with faster, higher-density traffic and fewer deaths and injuries on the road.

There are lots and lots of vehicles we don't get in North America that consume less fuel while doing as well or better at serving the needs and wants for which we buy vehicles. That is because in other countries, fuel is taxed at higher rates, so people have more personal incentive to demand fuel efficiency. And I'm talking about all classes of passenger cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans, not just microcars. But, the cost of certifying a vehicle to North America's different-but-not-better safety standards is immense -- multiple millions of dollars -- and so those vehicles aren't allowed in this market.

Why? Follow the money!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted May 15, 2007 at 09:31:48

Thanks Scheinwerfer, that was a fabulous read...

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By Solofara (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2007 at 23:57:44

And thanks to the_experience03. You said everything I wanted to say when I discovered this blog, but in a far more articulate and informed manner.

I do agree that there are far too many people driving trucks/SUVs - the majority of which don't see anything more challenging than a speedbump. However, that is a problem with the mentality of the consumers, NOT the equipment or its engineering.

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By Land Rover Salvage (anonymous) | Posted May 23, 2007 at 18:05:51

Jesus what a load of bollocks - are you trying to tell me that the entire basis of my company in selling recycled Land Rover parts to the 4 corners of the world is a fad - there are a lot of places in the world where the only vehicle seen is a Land Rover, by recycling used parts we save another being built, all this tosh about ladder frames and coil sprung and the differentials hanging down with a reference to a ballsack, if you bothered to discuss this with an enthusiast you would realise that a box section ladder frame is stronger than a unibody, live axles flex better over obstacles my diffs dont get hung up - they have armour plated covers and front and rear air lockers, no the vehicle is not a gas guzzler as prior to emigrating with it i had it converted to duel fuel propane as is the norm in europe and we have the network and government tax credits hence its more efficent than a civic, where we live in Ontario you need full time 4x4 as were on dirt roads, have you priced the cost of a replacement battery for a Prius yet? $4000 CDN which means that for all the doo goody sandal wearing right on brigade thats going to hand there car back on lease end are going to ignore the fact that once that battery is toast someone in 5-6 years is going to cane that small 3 cylinder until it pollutes more than a log skidder, besides which hybrids produce Clorine gas as a by product of gassing batteries!

This notion that the trucks kill innocent pedestrians half the time its boy racers in civics street racing that kill more people and thankfully themselves street racing, as for pedestrians and cyclists hmmm how about actually using good manners and road sense rather than assuming the world will yield to your stupidity - personally these people should also carry liability insurance.

Its so typical to see these anti 4x4 rants based upon dodgy data guilded as fact - are you the Taliban authority telling me what i should drive? no fraid not but i can assure you that my business supports the countryside provides rural jobs (we just took on a coop student only 2 kids at the school got jobs before graduating & he is one of them), it also encourages tourisam and exploring the planet and Land rover is one of the few companies that is owned by Ford that contributes millions to enviromental causes even the born free foundation it is companies like these that are owned by the majors that are coming up with better standards for the bread and butter brands and people like you wish to cease a huge industry by saying ONLY farmers can own them? what next farmers can only own a mule cos the wagons too big?

Lastly i would really like to know how a unibody truck can slide over a rock or winch out a stranded motorist when there's no where to mount a winch! - please dont think that a Land Rover is an SUV - its a Land Rover.

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By Fordtruckman (anonymous) | Posted August 19, 2007 at 08:02:05

I think this article to retarded, I'm assuming you are a tree hugging hippie, secondly what does it matter to you what people drive? It's not your business nor your money to decide what people buy. For fuck's suck my lug nuts take more torque than your little honda makes. Let people drive what they want to drive. I will drive my gas guzzling 6250 pound 4x4 all day every day if I want to and be much safer as well. Maybe you should just man up and buy yourself a truck then you won't have to worry about your little Civic getting totalled. The Ridgeline is also shit. Waste of time, money, and space. A Grand Cherokee with a straight 6 can pull more than that piece of shit. Imports are junk all around I don't understand why all you idiots think they are so great... Honda, Toyota, Nissan... all the same JAP CRAP! You are an American, buy American automobiles!!! Also, on the Ridgeline why would you put a stupid door instead of a tailgate? Why don't they put something useful back there like a ramp? The Ford's give you a step because they actually have clearance and that is a useful feature. Go hump and damn tree and mind your own fuckin business.

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By Fordtruckman (anonymous) | Posted August 19, 2007 at 08:38:19

Another note... You are talking about being safe and all that stupid hippie talk, driving a four wheeler or dirt bike? You think THAT is safe? What a hypocritical fuck you are. That is more dangerous than anything!(Granted I also do, but that is a risk I am willing to take and I don't whine and bitch about it.) Also think about this one genius... Everything, including your stupid little import, at one point in time has been transported by guess what... A TRUCK!!! If you think trucks should be obsolite, then they world is fucked dumb ass!!! Trucks are essential in this world, and again as for the people that drive them just because that is what they choose to drive, don't worry about them, let them drive what they want to drive! Here in the great USA we allow people to have freedom to choose and drive what they want to drive. Saying 4 wheel drives don't help in winter? As far as ice I can agree with that, nothing is good on ice, as far as snow 4 wheel drive is the way to go, after buying a 4 wheel drive winter driving has been a lot less complex, I don't know where you get your information on that one...

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By Fordtruckman (anonymous) | Posted August 19, 2007 at 08:43:04

I don't expect you to answer my other posts, but answer this... How is the Ridgeline top rated in performace? How can you justify yourself in saying that? It can pull less than half of what REAL trucks can pull(by real I mean domestic). Just enlighten me on how the Ridgeline is top rated for performace... I could use a good laugh.

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By trey (registered) | Posted August 22, 2007 at 10:18:55

Can someone recommend an anger management class for this person?

..........cyclists should take more caution? what he means is not drive on the road at all, so he has more room to speed and act reckless. A bicycle or a pedestrian will always loose in a collision with a motor vehicle. It is this reason why pedestrians and cyclists ALWAYS have the right of way.

Half the accidents are caused by Civics? of course he has stats to back that up. But more bothersome is that he's glad they die in the accidents.?? And the ignorant racism shows as well. My Honda was built in Ontario, and GM is building in China, automotive companies' nationality is not relevant anymore.

I'm glad this person lives in the country 'in the great USA' and not in Hamilton Canada. Obviously he has a problem with fellow human beings. Self imposed solitude is probably a good idea for someone who shows such disregard for other people. His attitude is exactly why the Great USA will collapse.

Peace and Love.... and sandals and tree hugging.

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By fordrules (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2007 at 16:04:40

haha, this argument is stupid. I think unibody pickups suck, secondly, American trucks are the best, thirdly, without the USA asshole, your fucked

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By rulefords (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2007 at 16:35:46


Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

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By Truck mag Editor (anonymous) | Posted September 25, 2007 at 11:09:03

You seem to have a personal problem with trucks. Your writing actually compares with that of a child and you whine about trucks like a 3-year old. The redundancy in your article is funny and your feeling on trucks really doesn't matter to anyone. Don't ever mention Honda in a truck article. There are 3 major trucks in America Ford, Chevy and Dodge, That is it!

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By cowtown guy (anonymous) | Posted October 03, 2007 at 17:16:27

Well my Ted you obviously are not the "average guy". I loved my truck because it was useful for the 4 trips to the dump I do a year and for hauling the lumber, patio-stones, trees etc., I added to my yard, fence and deck. Oh and don't forget the hauling of bicycles for my family and I (4). Also very efficient when my friends and I go skiing/snowboarding, five of us in the truck, all our gear in back, all chip in on gass...pretty efficient way to travel. Why can't you just admit that some folks use their truck and last time I looked it was a free country to buy what ever kind of vehicle we want! I was recently broad-sided by a large car and now my truck is written off. THE CAR WAS IN THE WRONG, MAKING AN ILLEGAL LEFT RIGHT INTO ME! Had I been in a tiny econo-box I wouldn't be here right now. So when I get my insurance money I am going to go buy another half-ton truck!

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By wokintos (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2007 at 20:08:15

I don't believe that trucks should be obsolete, when you need a truck you need a truck. My issue is with trucks as daily driven vehicles. The argument that I need a truck and can't afford another vehicle is crap. Add up what you spend on gas to drive that truck to work and back everyday and you will soon find, as I did, that the amount you spend on gas will damn near make the payment and pay the gas bill for the second vehicle.
I live 30 minutes from the city that I work in and was commuting with an 87 Jeep YJ with a 5L V8 that has a 7inch lift and 36 inch tires. I was getting 15mpg. It was annoying me that I was spending over $100 a week in gas and noticed that 3 of 4 vehicles that pass me every morning is a truck with one passenger. I did a little math and now drive a 98 Neon that gets 46mpg and costs just about $32 a week. I have my Jeep still and will never sell it, I use it for offroading, pulling my boat to the lake, and driving in bad weather. The amount I save not driving my jeep to work pays for the gas and insurance on my car and makes half my boat payment.

The problem is people using trucks and SUV's as daily driving vehicles. You can't tell me that $200 a month for a new Toyota Yaris which gets 50mpg and has low emissions is more than you would save by leaving your truck in the driveway in the morning everyday and only using it when you need it. Most people would be surprised by how often they actually NEED their truck. At the same time I'll never sell mine, but I won't use it as a primary vehicle either.

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By wokintos (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2007 at 20:33:42

Also Ted if you want to say that trucks are deadly ram rods on the road you should look at it from a motorcyclists point of view. I also drive a motorcycle and view cars as a ram rod. A friend of mine and his wife only own 2 motorcycles, no cars or trucks. We have winters with minus 30 weather and blizzards and they still drive their motorbikes. They argue that when equipped with the proper tires a bike handles as well as a car in bad weather. He says that when you dress properly it's not the roads or the weather that are going to kill you it's people in cars or trucks. They live in the city and have bus passes for when a bike is just too dangerous. They have 2 kids that are involved in sports, a hockey bag just doesn't work on a sport bike, but his daughter was insistant on playing. Before he had kids he had never even considered buying a car. When they were infants he has close but stood firm. Now that his girl plays hockey he's close again, but so far the bus still goes close enough to all the arenas she plays in. His parents died in a car accident where the opposing driver hit and killed them while driving his car and talking on his cell phone. He believes everyone should be on motorcycles and the streets would be much safer. Being inside their cars people get preoccupied and distracted because they are too protected. On a bike you don't get that feeling, so you're attentive all the time. I think that the two of them are crazy, but he says that your view on trucks is the same perspective he has on cars, and trucks. From a safety perspective it's not the vehicle that is the problem, it's the retard behind the wheel who's the potential danger. You can't ban trucks because bad drivers prefer them. A retarded driver could still potentially kill someone from the seat of a car.

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By Chiefjeep (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2007 at 12:41:03

Dear Ted

have you had a bad experience with trucks?

your points of view are legitimate, some are irritating and others pose good points.

but most of your logic points at a distaste for trucks on a personal level and thats not a good way to write a public article...

i own a jeep cherokee, not really a truck, as its probably lighter than most cars, and though my cherokee is lifted, heavily armoured, and has larger tires and wider stance, its been my daily driver for years, and i can assure you, with upgraded suspension and brake/steering components, its capable and no more dangerous on the road than most cars.

i drive a chrysler day to day now, as my jeep is mostly an off road toy. but i condsider my jeep street worthy. higher though it may be its still only 3200 pounds, while my intrepid weighs in at roughly the same, and with upgraded brakes and steering, it handles no different and stops the same as most anything else ive driven.

its a good machine, and though you might say its a 'fashion statement' i can assure you its ugly as sin. but ill tell you what ted it runs excellent, its very reliable, and when its not broken from a weekend of offroading, its nigh indestructible. my cherokee is what you might call form over function, its designed to be a good vehicle first and on hunting trips and offroading excursions it does extraordinarily well for its size and weight. so ted when you see a big dented beat up four by four on big tires, chances are that guys not posing a fashion statement, or look at how huge i am. this is rarely the case, especially in the abscence of nice paint, fancy rims and chrome, most of the time that guy in the beat up truck is enjoying the opprotunity to drive something he has spent countless hours building and perfecting as an all around well performing machine.

i will agree that there are those of us with truck and SUV's (particularly the luxury crossovers) that have no buisness owning a truck, i become enraged at them myself because its clean, shiny, and has low profile tires... so why is it 4wd with a monster v8? take that thing to a trail i run my cherokee on it wouldnt even make it down the dirt road to get to the trail.

but my point is ted that some people in fact DO use their SUV's and trucks for a purpose, there is a reason we have them. im part of a group in my city that are on constant call for the use of our trucks in emergency situations, i live in northern canada and we can see snow storms of crippling proportions during winter months, and it is part of our calling as 4x4 owners in the city to go out and help those in need, your 'well handling and much safer' cars become death traps as they are buried in impassible snow and road conditions, our big lumbering trucks that day are a saving grace, and most people are so happy to see a big four by four pull up next to their car it makes them weep.

so ted not all lifted trucks and 4x4s are useless in fact some are essential to the lifestyle of certain parts of the world.

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By lowbox (anonymous) | Posted October 17, 2007 at 17:16:54

Well it seems that some are missing the point here. The trouble with small cars is they are small, I drive a diesel powered XJ here in England. I have driven a V8 Range Rover, a Nissan Egt Ltd, Defenders, and quite a few other vehicles over thirty years of driving.
My Egt was a great saloon, fast, well equiped, built in Britain by Nissan and one of the best chassis around. However I could not fold the seats down and carry ten bags of rubble, nor could you do that in a Civic. In the last few weeks I have driven my XJ with the grandchildren in to the zoo. The following day, I took a lawn mower up a mile of dirt track to cut a half acre of grass. The next day I took the Mrs shopping with the half a ton of top soil to the recycling centre. Later that week I helped a recover a Rover 25 swamped by heavy rain, driving thru upto six inches of water to get there. A couple of days later I was camping, two of us with all the gear you think of. No compact can do it, I tried in Canada, no just does not happen.
I have solid axels with a small lift and a few off road mods. The XJ can run on bio diesel or ordinary and unlike new eco vehicles do not cost the earth to make or recycle.
A Isuzu Trooper is not as capable off road, but larger, it has a solid rear axle, but IFS up front hence not as capale, but it has a seperate chassis. My Defender had seperate chassis, the comfort factor of a tractor, but one of the best of off road capabilities any where, and used world wide to get where you can't go in a Civic or for that matter an Egt.
SUVs are a cross over from serious off road vehicles such as the Nissan Patrol, used by the U.N. to more road type vehicles such as Volvo estates or station wagons.
Car companies learnt quickly, well some more than others, that vehicles such as the XJ were what the public wanted. Now you can buy an X-Trail with all the safety features of a Volvo, and more. It has monocoque or unit body, IS all round, and can perform moderatley well stock off road, though I have not seen one do the Rubicon.
The facts speak for them selves, no need for rudeness or for that matter any rubbish about who country has best vehicles, my Jeep XJs body made in US, engine Italian, alternator is Japanese, fluids are from the US, Saudi, the North Sea, France, and out the tap (water), build was in Austria, and thats what I know about. I won't go in to what is the best off road vehicle or SUV or road car, or what are the most predestrian friendly.
It is down to your needs, hauling lumber of the shopping. I do not see the need for Mums to be driving a Land Cruiser to take the kids to school, but I do understand the safety issue, they are safer than a Honda Civic. An X-Trail I could understand more, or any modern SUV, but I do not see why people take them out in the snow, I end up pulling them out. Even I have had a few intresting experinces in the snow.

You have to define what you want from you vehicle, mine, even if Jeep has stopped making them, is one of the most universal vehciles around. It is not as heavy as a full size 4x4, or be as capable as a Defender, but it does for me.

Like it or not if you buy a new vehicle you are using more of the earths resources, not less, you should have a think about that next time you moan about old 4x4s. Most modern vehicles can not be repaired on the street or in your drive, they require special electronics made with presious metals such as gold and platinum, nor can you go to work knowing what ever the changes in weather you will still get home. There are many factors involved.

The only point you have is things like crumple zones and the like which unfortunatley proper 4x4s were not made with. SUV are much better than they used to be, but they are still SUVs, crossovers, compacts, or saloons, minivans, etc, use more plastic than ever before, yet deaths have not fallen, the maths do not happen, more cars more people. Get a grip and know a little about what you are talking about.


So there you have it - comminication is the response you get..........

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By Scout (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2007 at 11:52:53

Anybody dumb enough to start a FWD vs 4WD/AWD in a limited traction scenario needs to go back to school.

Its as simple as this. Your silly little civic will spin its passenger side tire.

My Grand Cherokee's transfer case can shift power front to back(52/48) and the LSD's can further shift the power to the side with traction. Even with a full split in power I can put more toque down at either axle then your silly little one wheel.

You can also talk crap about a rear diff being the lowest point if you want to but have you looked at your own damn car? Your whole chassis would be ripped up by the time I even have to consider ground clearance.

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By Trailerguy (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 17:55:20

I realized a long time ago that one vehicle can't do everything I need. Now I buy tow vehicles and have trailers (RV and Dirt dumper currently). Unfortunately, a tow vehicle today means a truck. So big deal that the Ridgeline can tow 5000 pounds. It doesn't come in a two-wheel (rear) drive. My S10 can tow 5600, but it's a pickup. I missed out on the last good Vans. Vans used to be small trucks. Today a small van is not good for anything but for Mama to take the rug rats to ballet practice, and the trucks and full size vans are all so bloated that they require two lanes and higher bridges.
Why can't somebody build a vehicle that carries five or more adult passengers comfortably, tows 7000 pounds, and sits as close to the road as cars did in the 50's and sixties, doesn't drink outrageous amounts of fuel when running without a load and fits in my garage? I have great hopes for the new crop of 3 litre diesels as a high torque economical power plant to power such a vehicle. Now the problem is to get a manufacturer to build such a vehicle.

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By anyone (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2008 at 12:27:08

trucks rule

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By Driver1 (anonymous) | Posted March 01, 2008 at 21:57:14

Your opinion on trucks is flawed as you tend to identify drunks with trucks. Drunks are all over not just in trucks. It's not the truck's fault a drunk is driving!

Also, I have over 30 years of professional driving and believe you don't have any imperical evidence to back up your arguments.

I do agree that trucks may cause lots of injuries in accidents but NOT usually to those in the truck if they are properly belted- etc.. In fact, with the numerous drivers from third world countries passing the driving test after a short period of time being here it makes a good argument for driving a truck as it affords more protection. Survival of the fittest is not only a jungle rule it is the rule of survival everyplace.

Unfortunately, the price of gas will drive us out of our trucks eventually but someone will complain about those who drive battery cars because they are unsafe for bicycle riders.


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By Jalb92 (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2008 at 11:46:03

My name is Jason, and I know how strong of a word this is, but I "hate" people like you. If all you want to do is complain and cry about people who can afford bigger and better things than you, you arn't worth anything. I am a country boy and I was raised with trucks. I guess you are from the city, lol, sombody needs to toughten you up... maybe check out a farm sometime.. because trucks are not your problem, you just need to stop whining... remember, LIFE ISN'T FAIR! :) have a good day

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted April 25, 2008 at 12:33:59

Wow Jalb92, I guess reading comprehension ain't your strong suit. I guess you missed this part,

"The truck is not a truck anymore. It is a fashion accessory, a declaration of personality and values, a sex symbol, and compensation for low self esteem for those who confuse the terms 'tough' and 'mean'. ...

"Perhaps 15 percent of truck purchases can be defended, and these are overwhelmingly by contractors and farmers."

No need to wonder if he's "from the city, lol", by the way.

"Critics may pan the 'theoretical' nature of this essay. That would ignore some 2,000+ hours of off-road driving experience I accumulated during my youth in northern Ontario. As any northerner knows, the performance of real off-road vehicles such as dirt bikes, ATV's and skidders will thoroughly embarrass the most capable of four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs."

Oh, one more thing,

"Dr. Ted Mitchell is a Hamilton resident juggling life as a physician, parent, and mechanical engineering student at McMaster University."

I'm guessing he makes more money working one day a week as a doctor than you make working full time.

So how about a little less "hate" and maybe try actually, lol, "reading" the article before saying silly things about it.

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By FJ (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2008 at 10:07:41

Great article. Even the Honda Ridgeline just isn't necessary...good for football tailgating with its lockable in-bed trunk, that's about it. Most people DO NOT NEED pickups, and honestly, I feel even in America they should be limited to those with commercial license plates - business only, with exceptions resulting in automatic, annual gas-guzzler tax and an annual renewable road safety/different-class license.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 09, 2008 at 17:56:11

Well, they won't suck for much longer:

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By TRAINSTRAINSTRAINS (anonymous) | Posted June 09, 2008 at 17:30:32

Trucks suck. Trains rule!

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By infamous (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2008 at 01:05:53

I thought this article was a great read, Ted. I typed trucks suck into google after my Maserati was nearly run off the road by two different pick-up truck drivers within the span of the same minute. As a defensive driver, I assume every other driver on the road will make the wrong decision, to keep me safe and on my toes. Actually being able to see both of those pick-up truck drivers' smiling and laughing faces as we passed each other, after they risked our lives and nearly wrecked my vintage sports car, really irked me, though.

This type of aggressive behavior seems more prevalent among pick-up drivers in my experience. Many use the overwhelming size of their vehicle to intimidate other drivers and clear their own path thru traffic. The fact that the F-150 is the best selling car in America is more proof to the point that the majority of pick-up drivers base their purchase on style and emotion, since it's hard to believe that the majority of Americans actually need to haul stuff in their daily, weekly, or even monthly lives.

I've gotta go, but I have to say it seems like most truck supporters responding to this article decided to go on a tirade halfway through reading it (if they even got that far) because they consistently assume the writer has little experience off-road, despite the fact that Ted states he has considerable off-road experience. I suppose it should come as no surprise, however, that they suffer from premature aggravation. Among other things. ;)

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By Love Life (anonymous) | Posted February 10, 2009 at 09:41:30

Can you say biased? Anytime you go out on the highway it becomes a calculated risk you choose to take. Because you prefer a small car you make the choice to put yourself at risk of being hit by a larger vehicle. There is nothing wrong with driving a truck if one prefers. It comes down to the skill of the driver and not whats being driven. A vehicle only does what the person driving it makes it do. I cannot think of a practicle way to bring home sheets of plywood, piece of furniture or other large item in a civic or similar vehicle. Some people use thier trucks for nothing but buying groceries or taking the kids to a function. Many others use thier trucks for what they do best; moving stuff from A to B. Keep driving your little car, or better yet take the bus. That way you wont have to be paranoid of having your civic smashed by an evil truck. Instead, the other civic owner can have his rolling tin can flattened by the bus you are riding in.

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By Livin' Large (anonymous) | Posted February 10, 2009 at 16:05:01

@Love Life

"Can you say biased?"

If we're talking about your comment then "yes we can!"

"Anytime you go out on the highway it becomes a calculated risk you choose to take."

But the risk is far higher -- to yourself and others -- in a truck.

"Because you prefer a small car you make the choice to put yourself at risk of being hit by a larger vehicle."

Small cars are still safer because they're better at handling -- low center of gravity = less flips, small turning radius = sharper turns, light weight = shorter braking distance -- and absorb more of the energy in an impact protecting the people inside.

"It comes down to the skill of the driver and not whats being driven."

For one car yes. For a fleet of cars on the road with a distribution of drivers in all of them it comes down to the car's handling.

"I cannot think of a practicle way to bring home sheets of plywood, piece of furniture or other large item in a civic or similar vehicle."

I've got a Yaris with a roof rack. I have no problem carrying those things home. If I can't fit it (like a full size couch which wouldn't fit on most truck anyway) I just have it delivered -- even paying the delivery charge it's still WAY cheaper than a truck.

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By whats the point (anonymous) | Posted May 19, 2009 at 19:47:52

I think a point is being missed here. In general public transportation in the U.S. is no good. Im not sure how it stands in Canada but I dont imagine its much better. If there was a viable public transportation system I believe people would use it. Instead people are forced to buy personal automobiles to move from place to place. I have not lived in the city in years but the mountains of Colorado have no public transportation and a whole lot of truck on the road. If there was a way for me to get to work without driving I would welcome it. When I lived in Washington DC I took the Metro to work on a daily basis and found it a reliable and FAST way to get to just about anywhere I needed to go around town. Since not all places have public transportation people "luckily" have a choice of what to drive. The beauty of America and Canada is that we have that choice and that that there is not some know it all telling us what we can and cant drive. If I want to drive my monster truck bus conversion 200 miles to work with one person in it its my damn business. I dont think people from California should be allowed to drive anywhere outside of California but thats just my opinion, its offensive and statistically lacking but its how I feel. You dont see me making a web page about it. Be glad you have the choice or even a car at all, it could be a lot worse.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted May 20, 2009 at 12:47:02

"I have not lived in the city in years but the mountains of Colorado have no public transportation and a whole lot of truck on the road."

That must be it. Everyone in the US who owns a truck lives in the Colorado mountains and has no choice.

"If there was a way for me to get to work without driving I would welcome it."

Would you welcome it enough to support a higher gas tax so we can afford to fix the "no good" public transit system?

"If I want to drive my monster truck bus conversion 200 miles to work with one person in it its my damn business."

It becomes my business when the pollution and greenhouse gases from your monster truck affects my health and wellbeing. Is it my own damn business to punch you in the nose just because I feel like it? No. I'm not allowed to just do whatever I want if it hurts you. If your "choice" hurts me it's not really a choice because I didn't get to choose whether to breathe your carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.

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By whats the point (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2009 at 20:16:38


I think again a point is being missed. I, as with most people do not want harm to befall me at the expense of others bad "choices." I believe that when making the choice of an automobile no one knowingly searches out the one that causes the most harm as a key buying feature, with harm being direct from accidents and indirect as from pollution. People find one that they like and buy it. Every one in the united states could drive a monster truck and the pollution it caused would be marginal compared to the same kind of pollution caused by other sources and other entire countries. Going on a modern day witch hunt for trucks in the US only shows that the world is slow to change its ways and grasp the reality of whats happening. If there was a truck that had zero emissions that has the same capabilities as say even a ford f-150, I think people would buy it but there is not one to date that does. I would gladly pay for public transportation by way of taxes or direct charges, if it replaced the need for a personal automobile. I did this when I lived in Washington DC, I had no automobile for two years and never had a problem getting around. Many friends live in NYC and do not own vehicles because there is no need for them. Today though, there is no such public transportation in my region.

In regards to punching people in the face:
In some countries it is perfectly within your rights to smack someone that you dont like for no better reason than you dont like them. Hell in some countries you are perfectly within your rights to stone someone because you disapprove their actions. Look at alcohol, why is it not illegal? Its arguably very bad for you and any one around you while you are drinking. A majority of the people like alcohol and majority rules. Some time in the future the majority may denounce the pollution of the atmosphere by personal automobiles. But as long as people have no viable zero emission solution to get to work the personal automobile is king. The time of zero emission automobiles is not upon us and although it may be sooner coming to the US, many countries may never adopt emissions policies. So where does that leave us? Science has shown that pollution changes our ecosystems on planet earth. At the point we are at the solution may be worse than the problem. Its easy to see that something is harmful after you have done it but much much harder to predict the consequences of your actions in the future. The solution is smarter people, not banning automobiles. If we were smart we would not have automobiles in the first place because they are grossly inefficient in many aspects when looked at as mass transportation which is what 99% of drivers in the world use them for. Until I have an other option I am glad that I can choose a vehicle that suits me, whether that be a Prius or a 10 ton pickup truck.

Do you have any opinions on personal firearms and the danger they pose?

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By Jim (anonymous) | Posted July 19, 2009 at 09:44:33

I hate pickups and the large SUV's. They are too clumsy, unnecessarily high and make it very difficult for drivers with cars to see, especially in parking situations and intersections. I think it is comical that 9 times out of 10, the pickups and ginormous SUV's you see rolling around have one occupant, the driver.

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By yourmoms (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2009 at 04:56:11

you are all dummmmmm

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By Jester (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2009 at 01:07:31

Read the post from Fordtruckman.. Is that a joke or something?

There is so much stupidity it's not really funny.

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By ForeignAutoCompaniesSuck (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 00:08:55

I'll drive a rusty, old, Ford pickup truck over a new Toyota or any other foeign peice of shit any day. American trucks are built and engineered to last and to use for work. What kind of jackass wants a Honda Ridgeline? The Honda Ridgeline is a sad excuse for a truck. Buy a real truck that looks great and you can use to do work with and haul stuff around.
And what the hell does it matter if people want to drive their truck everyday? I agree there are some people that shouldn't be driving trucks or big SUVs but don't forget there are probably just as many people driving their little foreign peice of shit cars that probably shouldn't be behind the wheel as well. Everyday I usually see at least one person driving their little Mitsubishi or their Mazda that sure as hell don't know how to drive it. There are some people that it just doesn't matter what they drive whether it be big or small because some people just suck at driving.
American trucks are great vehicles and are very versatile. They can be used to drive around the family, drive in the snow if you have 4 wheel, towing, and much more. Really the only vehicle any one needs is a truck because it can be used to take care of all your needs. Where is a Honda Civic or a Toyota Prius going to get me in the winter when there is 6 inches of snow on the ground? I think I'll take my truck because I know it won't let me down. You take your Civic and call my when you get stuck so I can have a good laugh.

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By somair (anonymous) | Posted December 28, 2009 at 07:07:20

Experts have talked about this before. How many times have you read about the importance of ‘adding value’ for your audience? How many times have you read about ‘building trust’ with your readers/prospects?
Many, many times. You know it well. Every marketing guru has spoken about this topic. I’m sick of hearing it. But it STILL bears repeating.

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By henrylow (anonymous) | Posted December 29, 2009 at 23:27:03

Influence can be defined as the power exerted over the minds and behavior of others. A power that can affect, persuade and cause changes to someone or something. In order to influence people, you first need to discover what is already influencing them. What makes them tick? What do they care about? We need some leverage to work with when we’re trying to change how people think and behave.

latest trend

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By FordTrucks (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2010 at 13:02:35

quit your bitching about trucks just because it can flatten out your foreign piece of junk. the problem is not with trucks its the dumbass people behind the wheel that are the problem

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By Voldemort (anonymous) | Posted November 03, 2010 at 00:25:45

Dear truck lovers,

Name a truck that has been to 240 MPH and beyond (currently 265 MPH, thank you Bugatti)
Name a truck that can generate more than 0.5G of turning force
Name a truck that gets more than 50 MPG
Name a truck that can go around the Nurburgring in less than 8 minutes
Name a truck that can eat a quarter mile in less than 13 seconds

P.S. I'm talking about production vehicles.

Also, It seems like a lot of trolls are popping up on this post...

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By Fordtruckman (anonymous) | Posted November 03, 2010 at 16:10:41

Voldemort, what kind of idiot are you? Trucks can do all that stuff! Look at the Nascar Trucks. I bet they would whoop your gay ass foreign "racetrack", and "eat" your quarter mile in less than 13 seconds. 50 MPG? Who cares? that's hippy ass shit. I would also like to note that trucks cost well over half a grand. Mine cost in the vicinity of 40G! Trucks can do everything your gay little import pieces of shit can do, and then some. I would like to see your import ramp over a bus 12 feet in the air, land, and keep rolling! You pansy ass queefs make me sick. With your imports, Earl Grey, and your gay ass tree fucking hippy shit. You guys are just dumb asses.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 03, 2010 at 19:08:58

Well I for one am convinced by Fordtruckman's compelling argument.

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By Fordtruckman (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2010 at 00:17:29

At least one of you dumb asses have some common sense.

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By brothertrucker (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2011 at 22:18:16

Its real amusing that some people cant tell a truck from a Veyron or a Honda. By the way Honda does make trucks. Guess you didnt know that. the veyron gets lousier gas mileage then any pickup truck by the way and how many bales of hay can you pack in the back of one of them. Theres a reason trucks are built like trucks you know, they haul stuff. Did some one tell you the veyron was a stock vehicle? I always heard it was some kind of a million dollar race car? Perhaps you could enlighten us further with your remarkable intelligence. Why do people who know absolutely nothing about trucks insist on telling the world how little they know. Keep it up. With lots of practice you might make troll some day. Heres some real facts you can measure up against all the dishonest ones you have presented. I have a 95 Dodge 1 ton flatdeck that gets 31 miles per gallon on diesel, imperial gallons, and runs the quarter in the low 12s. THis truck is not exceptional in any way. I have a lot of friends with Dodge pickups that do equally as well and when the day is over I can pick up your Veyron and take it home for you all the time polluting less then a Honda. Thats what performance is all about but dont believe me, ask any Dodge owner that knows how to tune his truck.

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By brothertrucker (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2011 at 00:42:49

Its too bad you did no research before you wrote this Ted. I just read the whole thing and could not believe the amount of false information in there.

To qualify what I am about to tell you simply let me say that I inherited a trucking company from my father that has been around since 1943 and in my life have owned trucks big enough to move houses ans some as small as minni trucks such as my Mazdas and Nissans.

What I usually drive around in now is a Mazda truck that is about on level with a Honda or Minni Cooper and gets around 30 or 35 miles per gallon. I usually dont drive, I ride a bicycle to stay in shape and save the planet while my wife drives an electric vehicle in the summer.

#1 the Honda ridgeline is certainly no truck and its not the only one of these toys with unibody. They have been around for years, theres the Dodge Rampage and the Volkswagon Rabbit pickup to name a couple. Both these were unibody. Thats not even getting into your SUVs, the majority of SUVs are unibody.

Im surprised you used the Ridgeline as an example of how unibody trucks could be lower when it is the tallest of the minni pickups. Frames are put in trucks so they can haul something. Would you want to haul the 12000 thousand pounds I haul quite regularly on my dodge pickup on a Ridgeline?

Do you know how heavy a unibody would need to be to haul this kind of weight? Your not really that stupid are you?

Your hatred of trucks is certainly illogical and has lead you to make many irrational statements. Everything you own came on a truck. Even the materials you built your home from came on a truck and Im not just referring to them big tractor trailers. Thousands of people in your city make their living daily driving trucks that range in size from a couple of tons to 1/4 ton courier vehicles and vans.

Your statement that 1% of the population needs the use of a truck in their employment shows how much out of touch with reality you are. Are you really trying to tell us that all the farmers, contractors, mechanics, half the small business owners and small truck drivers, couriers and freight haulers in this country make up just 1% of the population? 60 or 70% would probably be more realistic.

You know nothing about solid axles and the extra weight involved in an air ride suspension. A reliable compressor is one of the requirements for example. They make after market air ride suspensions but they are usually used to augment springs, not replace them. I would certainly never use an all air ride suspension on a work truck. Theyre for custom trucks.

Coil springs became popular in the 30s, not the 70s as you stated and unibodies were real popular in the late 50s not the 80s. Every Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth manufactured since 57 has had it.

I will not comment on the further errors you posted as I think this is sufficient to show how far from reality your little story is.

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By garfield (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2011 at 11:06:15

I need to find someone who does heavy duty towing near my home. My car broke down and I didn't know of any service, so I used the one the insurance company "recommended." It cost me a fortune.

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By Refjel (registered) | Posted July 16, 2011 at 02:15:29

A manufacturing flaw in the steering system has resulted in a large recall being announced by Chrysler concerning the Dodge Ram truck series. Chrysler is recalling almost 243,000 of the full-size pickup trucks in the U.S., including all Ram pickup series from the 2008 model year to the present. I found this here: Chrysler announces Dodge Ram recall over faulty tie rods

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By Dark Knight (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2012 at 22:23:41 in reply to Comment 5652

Ha! Right trucks suck ass! Their the reason why the gas prices are going up because of trucks has lowest mpg rate.

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By TruckHader (anonymous) | Posted November 07, 2012 at 23:23:54

I rather enjoyed this article. Trucks keep getting bigger and bigger while the cities get more and more crowded -- with trucks. Trucks, especially big luxury ones, are totally obnoxious and ridiculous. Most of the time its one person driving the big truck. Usually a teen or a meat and potatoes dude. They rarely pay attention to anything going on outside of their mobile apartment which is highly dangerous as the article points out.

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By bikemike (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 10:49:30 in reply to Comment 5652

Yeah, I know -- you can't do without a truck. I haul motorcycles (street and dirt - three at a time), 900 lbs of gravel, refrigerators, and everything I need behind my Accord on a Holsclaw trailer! My driveway is over 1/2 mile long and it's DIRT! It'll do 95% of everything you can do in yo' truuuck. Oops! 'Cept mud-boggin'. Don't do no muuud boggin'!

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By bikemike (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 11:53:18 in reply to Comment 5724

I have mixed feeling about your posting as well. You missed the point while making it. No one will question that a 1920 technology is adequate to haul pigsh** around the planet. Keep the 'live-axle' on the farm. By the way - IRS can be just effective and more so, if designed and calibrated correctly for the job, and could be used with leaf springs just as effectively. It would be many times as costly, but would have the advantage of superior handling in addition to load control. Bottom line - the actual springing medium serves only the question of space allocation on the vehicle, and return on capital. Domestics will not go there as pander to the bottom line (stockholders) is more 'useful'. Where your logic centers break down is, that these type of vehicles SHOULD be kept on the farm, and not in the mix with vehicles whose bumper heights are a two foot mismatch, and high speeds render heavy antiquated solid axles a handling hazard General consensus of most grey-matter subscribers is that, marketing is a pure substitute for engineering costs on a sales chart. It's probably no secret that, this is a somewhat technologically challenged target segment. Dirt, and an American flag are an awesome substitute for ........ other things.

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By lbc (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2016 at 20:13:02

So many angry truck drivers here go off and play right into the hands of the article's author's treatise. Noticed that he said that one of the come back lines would be all about "it's a free country, I can drive what I want". You all have fallen back on that line. Of course you can drive what you want. The author is not advocating a ban (at least he shouldn't be). That's not the point. He was appealing to reason in using your free will in consideration for the environment around you, both on the road & in general. By all means, you choice is yours, but any wrong action that is not illegal can still be the wrong course of action. The safety aspects he highlighted bring that out. Secondly he said that y'all would end up falling back on a lot of flag waving, patriotic (and in some cases racism as in using the term "jap crap". Jap is a racial slur). You are being played so that the powers that be & their corporate surrogates in Big Oil & Big Auto can make a killing while we have to slave at our 8 hour jobs while we think we are having an awesome life. This attitude is why many in the world see us as the ugly Americans. We may think they are envious and all want to come here, but go over there and see many do not. I'm not saying in any way that we are the problem, but hey whether we like it or not the other guy's opinion is important, especially if'n you got to work with him, that's all. Just because we have more doesn't mean we have to waste more just because. And anyway, I can't stand the Saudi royal family who funds terrorists with the money that they make off our gas usage. Gas guzzlers put food on their table for them and their harem.
Also, Foreign cars are not inherently weak tin cans. Many have far better reliability (there's that word) than many domestic cars have. Again, look beyond the patriotism and think about the money spent on breakdowns of the so-called domestic cars with Chinese parts. Who says American cars are reliable? JD Power? Car & Driver? Motor Trend? Consumer Reports? What country are these guys in? Yes,they have a vested interest in cahoots with the Detroit Big 3. Now ask those that bought the recommended domestic cars they push. "Oh, I had to take her in for a broken---, but just this one time. It's been a good truck". A month later: "Yeah but just this one repair" again. And a month after that. Sure is a lot of "Just this one" repairs. Reliable? Really?
Drive what you like, but don't be surprised when folks look at you cross because of your choice. And by folks, I don't mean hippies. Not everyone who doesn't like excess is some sandal wearing freak. Many are just as responsible in insuring our grandkids will have something left, or are just fed up with Middle Eastern & OPEC bastards having us by the *** and are looking forward to watching their cash cow dry up as quickly as possible.

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