10 Tips for Driving on Big Tires Every DayPosted in How To: Wheels Tires on April 30, 2015
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Sure, we wanted our 1977 Ford F-150 to be streetable, but we never had intentions of driving it every day. The truck has a healthy 460ci engine built by LA Speed with a bunch of performance parts from Summit Racing Equipment, and it rides on 41.5-inch Pit Bull Rocker tires. That is about as far from a Prius as you can get. But when our daily driver went down for expensive repairs (no, it is not a Prius!) we were forced to call the Ford into action. Fuel prices are the lowest they have been in years, so the timing could not have been better.
If you have ever dreamed about joining us on the Ultimate Adventure, daily driving your vehicle is a great way to find out just how comfortable you will be on UA, where we live out of our vehicles for an entire week and typically cover over a thousand miles. In our case we learned a lot about what we like about our Ford, what we don’t like, and where we had to compromise. Perhaps the biggest revelation is how much attention we got when traveling down the highway. Don’t plan to fly under the radar if you speed, run red lights, or pick your nose while you are driving. Everyone will notice, and you will just reinforce the stereotype that off-roaders are lawbreakers (or nose pickers). Don’t plan to talk on the phone, text your buddies, or drink your latte either because driving a vehicle on 42s requires your full attention.
1. Functioning Choke
Our Holley carburetor has an electric choke, which has been helpful to start the Ford when it is cold outside and let the truck warm up without our having to sit inside the cold cab. The only downside is that the truck does not have a functioning parking brake, so we either have to park against a curb or use a wheel chalk to warm up the truck in the morning.
2 Working Heater/Defroster
If you drive your truck in the winter, a functioning heater makes those cold mornings more tolerable. And if there is any precipitation, windshield wipers and a defroster are crucial for visibility—and in many places required by law. Rain-X and antifog work, too, as a short-term solution, but having a heater and defroster allows you to drive your truck 12 months a year.
3. Radius Arm Front Suspension
Nate’s Precision built us a radius-arm front suspension that is used with BDS coil springs, Rancho shocks, and rear leaf springs. The radius-arm design has more inherent bind than a three-link or even a four-link suspension, but that bind acts as a sort of sway bar that provides excellent handling on the street, particularly when combined with the rear leaf springs.
4. Adequate Fuel Capacity
The old joke goes that with the rowdy 460 engine we can pass anything but a gas station. Fortunately the 33-gallon replacement tank we got from LMC Truck means that we don’t have to stop at every station in town. Today’s low fuel prices (let’s hope they stay!) make it less painful when we do have to fill the big tank.
5. Accurate Gauge Cluster
When daily driving your trail machine it’s helpful to have as many working gauges as possible. Things like low fuel, overheating temps, and undercharging electrical may be a fun trail fix when you’re wheeling,but when they happen in your daily driver they could make you late for work (or dinner) with a ticked-off boss (or mom).
6. Balanced Drivelines
Square drivelines made from box tubing is an inexpensive way to make strong driveshafts at home that have plenty of slip travel. You don’t want to travel at high speeds with these drivelines though, because they can destroy bearings in short order and make you feel like you are riding around in a paint shaker. The drivelines that Bayshore Truck built for us use 1350 U-joints and flanges at both ends to run smooth at any speed.
7. Rearview Mirror
When the beltline of your truck is level with the roof of most of the vehicles around you, it is important to have situational awareness. This convex Longacre Racing mirror was designed for roundy-round cars, but it works perfectly in our daily driven trail truck. We picked up the mirror from Summit. It even comes with clamps that bolt right to our 13⁄4-inch rollcage. We also like to add convex round mirrors to our side mirrors to see little cars in our side blind spots.
8. Free Up Bed Space
A 42-inch spare tire takes up a lot of real estate, even in the bed of a fullsize truck. If you are just running around town, leave the spare at home. That way you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen, you can shed over 100 pounds, and the bed is free to carry home parts from the wrecking yard or hardware store. But keep your Auto Club card or a buddy’s phone number handy in case you get a flat.
9. Power Port
Even though it is too loud in our old Ford to talk on the phone, it is still nice to have the ability to charge your electronic devices so they are ready for use when you get to your destination. When we rewired the truck with a Summit wiring harness (Dec. ’14) we made certain the cigarette lighter was functional.
10 Headlamp Dome Light
Our truck is equipped with a dome light. However, we covered most of the light’s output when Nate’s Precision put a rollcage in our truck. So we strapped a Snow Peak Snowminer headlamp to the cage where it can function as a dome light or be easily removed to use as a headlamp when we’re outside the vehicle.
It isn’t all Rainbows and Unicorns
Living with your wheeling rig every day is kind of like moving in with your girlfriend when you are OCD. When you are just dating, you might find her little quirks cute and endearing. But after you are with her 24/7, you realize that couples therapy is in your future. Your wheeling rig is no different. These are the five main things we would change about our Ford for daily driving