We came up with this “TFL pickup truck quiz” to test our trucker knowledge. When we talk about being a trucker, we are referring to guys & gals who enjoy their pickup trucks. We are NOT referring to big rigs and semi-trucks.
Here are the questions and answers for the “Pickup Trucker Quiz”.
Q: What’s the difference between midsize, full-size, heavy-duty, and medium-duty pickup trucks?
A: The pickup truck classes are defined by the vehicle’s GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).
- midsize is Class 1: GVWR of 0 – 6,000 lbs (this also includes compact pickup trucks, such as the Hyundai Santa Cruz).
- full-size is Class 2a: GVWR of 6,001 – 8,500 lbs (this includes the Chevy Silverado 1500 or Ford F-150).
- heavy-duty is Class 2b & 3: GVWR of 8,501 – 14,000 lbs (this includes the Ram 2500/3500 or GMC Sierra 2500/3500).
- medium-duty is Class 4, 5, & 6: GVWR of 14,001 – 26,000 lbs (this includes the Ford F-450, F-550, or Chevy Silverado 6500 HD).
Q: Which axle ratio is better for efficiency and which is better for towing?
A: The lower the numerical axle ratio number, the better the truck’s efficiency. For example, Ram 1500 trucks use 3.21-to-1 for efficiency. A higher numerical axle ratio number is better for towing. For example, Ram 1500 trucks offer a 3.92-to-1 rear axle ratio for heavier towing.
Q: What does the Tow/Haul mode actually do?
A: It’s not the same for every manufacturer. This mode mainly changes the automatic transmission gear shift schedule. This means a certain gear is held for a longer time while accelerating, and Grade Shifting helps you decrease speed while on a downhill by selecting lower gears automatically (sometimes in a more aggressive fashion).
Q: What types of trailer braking systems exist?
A: Surge brakes (mechanically actuated hydraulic brakes, mainly on boat trailers). Air brakes (such as on semi-truck trailers). Electric brakes (majority of small to medium trailers, usually associated with drum trailer brakes). Electric-over-hydraulic brakes (often used on larger and heavier trailers that are not semi-truck trailers).
Q: How does an exhaust brake work?
A: This typically applies to turbo-diesel engines. Either the turbocharger veins are adjusted to provide back pressure to help slow down the vehicle, or a separate valve is partially closed to add back pressure in the exhaust system.
Q: What’s the difference between a Full exhaust brake and an Automatic exhaust brake?
A: This is a newer feature made popular by Ram HD trucks. The driver can select between these two modes. The Full exhaust brake will provide maximum pressure to try and slow down the vehicle to a near-complete stop. The Automatic exhaust brake system will apply just the right amount of pressure to maintain a speed set by the driver while on a downhill. This speed can be set by the driver simply letting off the accelerator pedal while on the downhill, or using the truck’s brakes to bring the vehicle to a certain speed. This may also be tied into your truck’s cruise control system.
Q: What’s the difference between a C-channel and a Fully-boxed frame?
A: The open C-channel frame has more flex built into it. It may be better for overall chassis compliance over bumps and for suspension articulation. It may weigh less than a comparable fully-boxed frame. The Fully-boxed frame is generally much more rigid. This is not a bad thing. It can provide the chassis engineers more precision to tune the suspension springs and shocks for more precise ride quality. A fully-boxed frame offers a better platform for towing a heavy trailer with full-size or heavy-duty pickup trucks.
Q: What is the first thing you should do when connecting or disconnecting a trailer?
A: Make sure the trailer’s wheels are chocked, and the truck’s parking brake is engaged.
Q: What percentage of the trailer’s weight should be on the truck’s hitch (tongue weight) for a properly loaded conventional trailer?
A: 10%-15% of the trailer’s total weight.
Q: What percentage of the trailer’s weight should be on the truck’s hitch (tongue weight) for a properly loaded 5th-wheel or gooseneck trailer?
A: 20-25% of the trailer’s total weight.
Q: What is the difference between the 5th-wheel and the gooseneck trailers?
A: A gooseneck trailer has a “neck” that goes down and attaches to the center of your truck’s bed and onto the gooseneck ball. It clamps on. You have to have security chains. A 5th-wheel trailer uses a set of jaws and a pivoting plate on the truck’s side to connect to the kingpin of a 5th-wheel trailer. There is a locking mechanism for the metal jaws. You don’t have to use security chains with a 5th-wheel trailer. A gooseneck trailer connection is generally rated for a higher weight rating than a “mini” 5th-wheel.
Q: What can happen if the trailer weight is improperly distributed?
A: Too little tongue weight can result in dangerous trailer sway. Too much tongue weight can overload the truck’s suspension.
Q: List some of the items you must check on the truck/trailer connection before leaving on any trip?
A: The trailer tires are properly inflated; the trailer coupler is properly connected to the hitch and locked; the trailer jack(s) is raised; safety chains and breakaway cable are connected; trailer lights are checked; trailer brakes are checked; tire chocks are removed.
Q: What’s the first thing you should do when you are heading off on a solo off-road adventure?
A: Hopefully, you have a companion vehicle. If not, tell somebody else about where you are going and how long you may be gone.
Q: Why should you not have a death grip on the steering wheel when you are off-roading?
A: An obstacle may force the steering wheels to turn suddenly and this may hurt your thumbs or hands. “Thumbs up” for good off-road driving. This is especially important with older vehicles.
Q: What is the difference between a 3500 (class 3 truck) and a 5500 (class 5 truck) other than its payload, weight class, and power specs?
A: The medium-duty 4500 / 5500 trucks generally have a wider front track axle and can make significantly tighter turns than class 2b or class 3 trucks.
Q: What is the typical payload load range rating on 2500 series or 3500 series heavy-duty truck tires?
A: These trucks have load range D or E tires. The E-rated tires have a higher payload capacity for heavy towing or carrying a slide-in camper. E-rated tires can handle a higher pressure for maximum weight-carrying capacity, but these tires also tend to be heavier and stiffer than lower-rated tires.
Q: When should you deflate (aka. air down) your tires when you go off-roading and what benefit does it provide?
A: You should do this when you plan a slower-speed off-roading trip (aka. rock crawling or driving over mud or sand). This provides a better grip and/or floatation as the slightly deflated tire has a larger contact patch with the surface. This also provides a more compliant ride over rough terrain. Do not lower the tire’s pressure too far. The lower the PSI of the tire, the higher the likelihood of the tire’s bead separating from the wheel.
What do you think about these questions and answers?
Better yet… Perhaps there is just one simple way to know if you are a trucker or not. How do you park your pickup truck or large SUV in a parking lot with perpendicular spots? Or how do you park in your driveway? If you back the truck into the spot nearly every time, then you are a pickup trucker. If you attempt to nose in and fit into a tight parking space, you may be there a while trying to straighten out your truck.