Configure Your Truck to Your Route

By: G. Ray GOMPF, CD

In the March/April 2023 issue, there was a companion article about tires. This article is going to be similar in nature, but for the truck itself.

If you’re ordering a new truck, you will be sitting down with a specialist who will be asking you a considerable number of questions, particularly questions on what you will be doing with this truck. You will be specifying the engine, selecting the horsepower, and specifying the manufacturer of the engine. You want to specify that engine and horsepower configuration, so you haven’t over specified and more importantly not under specified. The object of the exercise is to balance power, torque and fuel economy. But you can’t specify the engine without it being matched with the transmission; a transmission that will give you the versatility of gear options to meet your needs. Then there’s the differential gear ratio that provides the final “to the road power”. The lower or closer the differential ratio is, the faster the truck will go with a low rpm of the engine. Fast trucks don’t like hills, so you need to know the terrain on which you normally travel.

All of this mathematics required to have the engine at a desirable rpm for that sweet spot of adequate torque at a low rpm matched to the gear box (transmission) matched to the differential is why the specifying specialist is going to be asking the right questions. Also, in this equation will be the tire circumference. A 24-inch wheel is going to be creating a slightly lower rpm of the wheel than a 22 inch. All of the mathematics must work to arrive at the proper power train.

The next part is to configure the suspension to match the weight of the loads to be hauled. Will you need leaf springs or will you need air ride. Again, the specialist should have at the tip of his or her fingers the calculations necessary to match your needs to what is specified matching your particular use.

Then come the details of the creature comforts for the interior of the truck. The seats are arguably the most important creature comfort. The bunk configuration is also important, should it be needed at all.

When purchasing a used truck, you must find all those specifications that are going to match those specs you would have should this be a new truck. It’s not just about pretty, it’s about will this truck work for your application

So, what are some of the questions you need to consider: What will you be using this truck to haul (what commodities)? Will you be mostly running mountainous regions or flat land or rolling hills? Will you need a wet line for hydraulics? Will you be running back country as in logging operations? How much fuel capacity do you need?

Don’t forget to ask others that are doing what you’re going to be using this truck what their opinions are regarding the specs for your truck. Research, research, research.

Specing a truck, whether new or used, to match your specific needs is the best way to ensure the truck is going to serve you to the best of its ability for the longest most efficient manner. It’s your money: spend it wisely, spend it informed.

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