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Unsafe Off Road Trucks - Don't Build Like This!

Posted in How To on August 1, 2010
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Before I start, let me just say that I am not singling out, nor blackballing any company. And in fact this type of truck is the fault of either the truck owner or the shop that modified it. But it absolutely turns me red when I see something like this rolling down the highway. In this particular case, a poor guy who knew nothing about trucks bought this used, pre-built truck from a car dealer. It was probably at the dealership because the last owner quickly realized how crappy it drove and traded it in on something decent. I have no knowledge as to who originally built this truck, nor do I know (or want to know) where this package came from. All I know is that if we do not regulate ourselves within the off-road industry, you can be sure that the government will eventually step in and do it for us. And I can promise you that no company, nor enthusiast, will like the government's way of doing things. I think that a little education and more (industry) internal regulation can stop vehicles like this from ending up on the roads.

This pictured scenario is the result of someone trying to fit giant tires onto an inadequate platform (inadequate to accept such a large tire) and mixing a variety of methods to do so. The big problem is that doing things like combining lifts and adding spacers and wide-offset wheels can allow a builder to fit a tire that is clearly too big for the suspension, drivetrain, brakes, and steering to handle. At that point, the vehicle becomes unsafe to drive. That may be okay for a show truck, but not for a street-driven rig.

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This is not to say that large tires are dangerous, by the way! One-ton Dodge or Ford trucks are more than capable of handling the same size tire that's adorning this compact truck. But that's because they have much larger drivetrain, steering, braking, and suspension components that can handle the added load that a large tire puts on a truck.

Do you know how I came across this particular truck? The front 2WD unit bearing's studs had broken off and allowed this truck to hit the ground, knuckle first, and ground part of the knuckle off. A tow truck brought it straight to my friend's shop to see what he could do. The scared owner had no clue that the truck he had just bought a week before was unsafe. And now, with little money left in his pocket, he doesn't know what to do.

PhotosView Slideshow

Please do everyone (including me, my staff, and the entire off-road community) a giant favor and help keep unsafe truck builds off the road. If you see one, don't be afraid to help educate the owner a little bit. The chances are that he/she has no idea how unsafe the vehicle really is; otherwise he/she wouldn't be risking his/her own neck in it. Unsafe trucks are not lost causes, but they do need to be fixed by either installing smaller tires, adding larger components, or fixing whatever is built incorrectly.

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